Science

Paul Allen research
10:30 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Microsoft co-founder puts $300 million into 'brain observatories'

What the new technology can reveal: a section of a mouse brain that senses 'touch" lights up, along with its connections to other regions of the brain.
Allen Institute for Brain Science

Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, is more than doubling his investment in unraveling mysteries of the brain – and bringing some of America’s top scientists to a new lab in Seattle. They say they're building "brain observatories," where they hope to answer big questions about how the mind works.

They'll peer inside the brain, similar to how groups of astronomers gather at major observatories to peer into the stars for answers about the formation of the universe.

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taxes and services
1:04 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Sales tax boost would create safety net for mentally ill

If you live anywhere in the Puget Sound region you probably pay a small sales tax to support mental health services. The main exception is in Pierce County.

That may change, at least within Tacoma city limits.

A proposal in front of the Tacoma City Council would raise the sales tax by 1/10th of a percent, or a penny per $10 purchase. That’s the same as residents pay in King, Snohomish, Thurston and many other counties. The revenue would be dedicated to a broad array of services to assist people with serious mental illness or drug abuse problems.

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space exloration
12:06 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

NASA considering space station for Mars dry run

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station may provide the setting for a 500-day pretend trip to Mars in another few years.

NASA said Tuesday that consideration is under way to use the space station as a dry run for a simulated trip to and from Mars. It would be patterned after Russia's mock flight to Mars that lasted 520 days at a Moscow research center. Six men were involved in that study, which ended late last year. They were locked in a steel capsule.

Diversions: Space travel
4:46 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Kutcher becomes 500th Virgin Galactic space customer

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is carried to its launch altitude by a mothership, the Scaled Composites White Knight Two, before being launched to fly on into the upper atmosphere, powered by a rocket motor.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Richard Branson says his venture to launch paying tourists into space has netted its 500th customer, and it's none other than Ashton Kutcher.

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health insurance
10:33 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Centerpiece of health care reform launches in Washington

Consultant David Smith of GMMB recommended this name and logo for the new entity currently called the Health Benefits Exchange - but it made some board members nervous.

Washington is one of the first states to begin tackling the requirements of President Obama's health care reform, even though the U.S. Supreme Court will approve or kill the controversial national system this summer.

The fist step in the reform is to create a Health Benefits Exchange. Each state is supposed to create its own insurance exchange as a new way for individuals and small businesses to purchase insurance.

Washington's board set up to create this exchange had its first meeting on Thursday.

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quality medical care
11:40 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Medical ratings: Western Washington good, but not the best

Where you live definitely affects the quality of your health care. That’s clear in a new report comparing communities across the country. Western Washington is divided into three zones and they all score above average – but not in the top 10 percent.

The best score goes to the Everett/Snohomish/Skagit area.

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Space exploration
4:11 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Cassini spacecraft glimpses new views of moon Rhea

NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this raw, unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Rhea on March 10, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Rhea at approximately 26,019 miles (41,873 kilometers) away.
NASA

PASADENA, Calif. — The pockmarked surface of Saturn's second-largest moon has come into sharper focus in new images released by NASA.

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Cancer
12:24 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Research: Circumcision might protect against prostate cancer

Researchers studying men in Seattle have found more evidence that sexual behaviors and cancer may be linked. In this case, they’re looking at prostate cancer.

The connection is through viruses and circumcision's role in possibly limiting some infections.

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Science
9:57 am
Thu March 8, 2012

WSU studying bear hibernation in hunt for diabetes cure

A group of Washington State University scientists performing an echocardiogram on an adult female grizzly bear named Kio during the hibernation period. Photo courtesy Mike Madel

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 12:00 am

WSU Researchers Studying Bears’ Hibernation To Narrow Down A Cure For Diabetes

030712AK_Bears.wav :57 Wrap 3/7/12 Anna King/CF

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hibernating bears do things that doctors tell humans not to do. They eat fatty foods, lay around for months on end and get high cholesterol. Yet they don’t suffer the same ill effects we would.

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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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