Science

The Two-Way
1:34 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Scientists Say They've 'Cornered' The Elusive 'God Particle'

Fermilab and the Tevatron sit in the Illinois countryside near Chicago.
AP

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 2:37 pm

Scientists from Fermilab say they've basically "cornered" the elusive Higgs boson — that's the particle that some have nicknamed the "God Particle," because it is thought to give atoms mass and is also a key component of the Standard Model.

This is complicated stuff, of course, but essentially the scientists at Fermilab say they found a bump in their data that suggests the existence of the particle. That bump corresponds to the evidence scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have found.

Here's a bit of explanation from the Fermilab press release:

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Endangered species
5:16 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Two clouded leopard cubs born at Point Defiance Zoo

Newborn clouded leopard cub at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Seth Bynum Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Two endangered clouded leopard cubs were born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium this morning.

The cubs, one female and one male, are healthy and weigh about half a pound each. For safety reasons, they'll be hand-raised by zoo staff rather than the mama leopard.

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Things from space
5:10 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

Meteorite Hunter Scours The Ground For Bits Of Sky

One of Ruben Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.
Courtesy Jana Becker

Originally published on Sun March 4, 2012 4:03 pm

Every so often, pieces of heaven crash into Earth.

They can come from our own solar system, or millions of light years away. Few of us are lucky enough to get our hands on one of these space rocks. But for meteorite hunters and dealers such as Ruben Garcia, touching a piece of outer space is a daily routine.

The Best Hunting Grounds

One of Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.

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Space flight
2:59 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

What is it about the NW that makes the rich yearn for outer space?

A view of Jeff Bezos' ship taking off during a 'hop test flight' last year taken from a video of the flight.

What is it about our super rich tech guys and local culture that makes them want to send people into outer space?

Yesterday, the space venture backed by Jeff Bezos (of Amazon fame) announced it was ready to conduct a “pad-abort test” in the summer of 2012, according to Flightglobal. The test is a crucial milestone in qualifying the company's New Shepard vehicle for human spaceflight.  

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Salmon virus
1:19 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Canadian gov. defends actions in dustup over salmon virus

Scientists testify at the Cohen Commission in Vancouver, B. C., in December. One scientist testified that she feared the government would remove salmon samples from her lab if she reported her findings suggesting a virus was present.
Craig McCulloch KPLU

Widespread concerns that Canadian officials are silencing scientists have not been assuaged by a detailed government response to the accusations. The battle over “muzzling” Canadian scientists has been broiling for months after it was revealed that a virus deadly to salmon might have been discovered in salmon returning to the Fraser River.

The January response crafted by the Canadian government and submitted to the Cohen Commission after three days of hearings in December absolved officials for not reporting “suspected detection” of Infectious Salmon Anemia, or ISA, in waters off the Pacific Northwest.

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Science
11:15 am
Wed February 22, 2012

Leopard cubs due at Point Defiance Zoo in March

More endangered clouded leopards will be born at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in the next few weeks.

Mama leopard Chai Li is pregnant with her second litter. She's due in March.

Chai Li surprised zoo officials last year when she secretly mated with breeding partner Nah Fun. She delivered two healthy cubs in June.

This time around, it's a planned pregnancy. Staffers believe she's carrying at least two cubs.

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Outdoor Safety
3:26 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Air bag becoming standard equipment for skiers

Skier Elyse Saugstad credits the ABS air bag with saving her life in an avalanche at Stevens Pass in Washington
ABS-airbag.com

The air bag credited with saving a woman from an avalanche at Stevens Pass is starting to become standard equipment for back country skiers in the Northwest. The expert skiers who seek the thrill of more remote areas are no strangers to signs of avalanches.

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Science
11:05 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Ocean's future: 'Goodbye big fish, hello small fish'

Screenshot of an ocean visualization put out by the Nereus Program
Nereus Program

In Greek mythology, the original god of the sea was named Nereus. Among other powers, he could prophesy the future. That’s why researchers at the University of British Columbia thought to name a project to predict future ocean conditions after Nereus. Now, the initial computer simulations are out.

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Science
10:34 am
Fri February 17, 2012

When the car is the driver

Chris Urmson (right) and Anthony Levandowski, one of the leaders of Google's self-driving car project, get into the driverless car.
Steve Henn NPR

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 12:06 am

This week the state of Nevada finalized new rules that will make it possible for robotic self-driving cars to receive their own special driving permits. It's not quite driver's licenses for robots — but it's close.

The other day I went for a spin in a robotic car. This car has an $80,000 cone-shaped laser mounted on its roof. There are radars on the front, back and sides. Detailed maps help it navigate.

Do people notice it's a self-driving car and gawk?

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Health
12:01 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Scientists Take Cautious Tack On Bird Flu Research

A government veterinarian worker sprays anti-bird flu disinfectant over birds and fowls at Medan city market in North Sumatra province. Indonesia reported its second human death from bird flu this year in late January.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 8:24 am

Last month, scientists around the world agreed to temporarily halt certain genetic experiments with bird flu viruses. More than three weeks of that 60-day moratorium have already passed. And the scientific community is in the midst of a fierce debate about what needs to happen next.

The suspension of the research came in response to fears that researchers had created dangerous new germs that could cause a devastating pandemic in people if they ever escaped the lab or fell into the wrong hands.

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public health
9:23 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Whooping cough spiking statewide, outbreak in Snohomish

Whooping cough has made a big comeback across Washington. With more than 900 cases statewide, the illness hit its highest numbers last year since a similar spike in 2005. 

It’s reached epidemic proportions in Snohomish County. 

The situation there is serious enough that health agencies offered two free vaccination clinics last Saturday – and plan another one later this month.

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Microbes among us
3:51 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Tech innovation unveils Puget Sound's secret natural recyclers

This graphical map shows how millions of strands of DNA form a tangle of information, from bacteria, archaea, and viruses -- and helps show which ones can be grouped together.
Vaughn Iverson UW

Scientists have deciphered some of the secrets of one of Puget Sound’s natural recyclers. It’s a microbe – which likes to eat sulfur and nitrogen – and might be found near any of our beaches.  

The technique they devised could open the door to a better understanding of microbial life that abounds everywhere – in the oceans, in soils, and in the human body.

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NPR Science
4:02 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

New video sheds more light on dark side of the moon

The south pole of the far side of the moon as seen from the GRAIL mission's Ebb spacecraft.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 3:35 pm

New video from NASA gives us a fresh view of the far side of the moon (or the technically incorrect but way cooler sounding "dark side").

It's from NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft.

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Fighting Depression
10:57 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Could a club drug offer 'almost immediate' relief from depression?

Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for decades. It's also a widely popular but illegal club drug known as "Special K." When administered in low doses, patients report a rapid reduction in depression symptoms.
Huw Golledge flickr

Originally published on Sun January 29, 2012 9:01 pm

There's no quick fix for severe depression.

Although antidepressants like Prozac have been around since the 1970s, they usually take weeks to make a difference. And for up to 40 percent of patients, they simply don't work.

As a result, there are limited options when patients show up in an emergency room with suicidal depression.

The doctors and nurses at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston say they see this problem every day.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:22 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Study: 1 in 14 People Has Oral HPV Infection

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 9:50 am

So how many people have human papillomavirus in their mouths?

Quite a few, say researchers who got more than 5,000 volunteers across the country to spit into a cup and answer detailed questions about their sex lives.

The bottom line: 6.9 percent of people in the U.S. (ages 14 to 69) have oral infections with HPV. Some types of HPV are linked to cancer and genital warts.

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