Science

Science & sound
5:15 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

UW physicist turns Planck data into hi-fi sound of Big Bang

This image released March 21, 2013 by the ESA and Planck Collaboration shows the afterglow of the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background, as detected by the European Space Agency's Planck space probe.
ESA and the Planck Collaboration

Close your eyes, press the play button and travel back 14 billion years in time.

That’s the sound of the Big Bang, in high fidelity.

“It sort of sounds like what an airplane sounds like flying over your house in the middle of the night,” says University of Washington physics professor John Cramer who recreated the sound using cosmic microwave data. “A very low frequency that sort of builds up them falls off again.”

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billionaires & rockets
3:58 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

World’s largest garage door: First giant step for Allen’s spaceship

Stratolaunch Systems’ new assembly hangar officially opened March 27, 2013 at Mojave Air and Space Port.
Courtesy of Stratolaunch Systems

Billionaire Paul Allen’s spaceship project has reached a milestone in the form of the world's widest garage door. 

The door will make way for a strange vehicle under assembly in the Mojave Desert. 

Allen's team has the most unusual plan, out of several private space ventures, for sending people and satellites into orbit. They'll launch their rockets from the belly of a gigantic airplane, which looks like two Boeing 747s bonded together. And constructing that bizarre jet requires a building wide enough to shelter it.

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healthy neighborhoods
5:00 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Study: Residents of walkable areas don't always walk more

Cindy Perry is seen taking a stroll around the walkable neighborhood north of the University of Washington.

Having a walkable neighborhood has become a hot selling point for real estate. It’s also supposed to be better for your health — if it gets you out moving more.

But a study in Seattle suggests people don’t necessarily walk more just because they live in a walkable area.

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Sky
10:38 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Watch: Mesmerizing time-lapse video of northern lights

The skies over Alaska lit up with “one of the best displays (of the northern lights) seen in recent memory” last Saturday, according to the photographer who captured it.

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binge drinking
4:44 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Will alcohol policies help WSU finally shed its image?

Kenny Hummel died of alcohol poisoning while attending Washington State University.

Last October, a freshman at Washington State University passed out after consuming hard liquor and an energy drink. The student later died in the hospital. His blood alcohol level was about five times the legal limit.

That led to some soul-searching on the campus in Pullman, Wash.

It turns out an average of 200 students each year end up in the ER at Pullman Regional Hospital for alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries.

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Science
1:00 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Ancient afterglow of Big Bang shows older universe

This map shows the oldest light in our universe, as detected with the greatest precision yet by the Planck mission.
ESA and the Planck Collaboration

New results from looking at the split-second after the Big Bang indicate the universe is 80 million years older than previously thought and provide ancient evidence supporting core concepts about the cosmos — how it began, what it's made of and where it's going.

The findings released Thursday bolster a key theory called inflation, which says the universe burst from subatomic size to its now-observable expanse in a fraction of a second. The new observations from the European Space Agency's $900 million Planck space probe appear to reinforce some predictions made decades ago solely on the basis of mathematical concepts.

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humanosphere
1:51 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

'Gaming can change the world': Research shows benefits of games

LasseSH Flickr

Game designer Jane McGonigal thinks gaming can save the world, or at least help make it a better place.

“I know you’d rather hear that these games are turning kids into brain-dead zombies,” McGonical told a packed room at the University of Washington today, for the School of Social Work’s annual breakfast.

But the evidence suggests otherwise and that gaming is better than harmless. It could be a powerful force for good. Gaming is building a library in Ghana, for starters. More on that in a bit. 

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food and farm
6:00 am
Mon March 18, 2013

WSU team creates Cascades-friendly cousin of Honeycrisp

The WA-38 apple is described as crisp and slightly sweet.
Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center

Good news for fans of the Honeycrisp apple: a similar variety is being developed right here in Washington state. 

Scientists at Washington State University have created a new apple variety specifically designed to thrive on the eastern slopes of the Cascades and win over consumers. It's a cross between the Honeycrisp with a variety called Enterprise, and is described as crisp and slightly sweet. 

"I was very excited by it. It’s a really nice eat," says Kate Evans, an apple breeder and horticulture professor at WSU's Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center.

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Higgs boson
11:18 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Physicists now confident they found 'God particle'

FILE - This undated image made available by CERN shows a typical candidate event including two high-energy photons whose energy (depicted by red towers) is measured in the CMS electromagnetic calorimeter.
CERN Associated Press

The search is all but over for a subatomic particle that is a crucial building block of the universe.

Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

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drugs and alcohol
10:43 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Teen smoking rate drops below pot usage

A vendor points out the variety of marijuana for sale at the grand opening of the Seattle location of the Northwest Cannabis Market, for sales of medical marijuana products, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Washington high school students who participated in a statewide health survey say they are twice as likely to smoke marijuana as cigarettes.

Overall, though, the trends show teenagers are drinking, smoking and abusing prescription drugs less than in the past.

In fact, 8th and 10th graders are half as likely to drink alcohol compared to those in 1998.

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Science
3:09 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

NASA: Rover Data Indicates Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Life

This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 3:50 pm

The group of scientists working with NASA's Curiosity rover made a big announcement during a press conference today: "We have found a habitable environment that is so benign" if there was water there, "you be able to drink it," John P. Grotzinger, professor of geology at Caltech, said summing up the rover's latest findings.

That is, at one point Mars had the right conditions to support living microbes.

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mental illness
11:36 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Lawmakers support emergency lockup during a psychotic break, but will they fund it?

Gun control proposals are having trouble getting majority support in the state legislature. But when it comes to people in a mental health emergency – who may pose a threat to themselves or others -- lawmakers appear more united.

They unanimously approved several measures late Monday aimed at making it easier to hold someone involuntarily.

They have the support of family members who’ve had to deal with a loved one who’s out of control.

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Health
9:15 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Aspirin Vs. Melanoma: Study Suggests Headache Pill Prevents Deadly Skin Cancer

A doctor checks for signs of skin cancer at a free cancer screening day in New York City.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 7:22 am

It's not the first study that finds the lowly aspirin may protect against the deadliest kind of skin cancer, but it is one of the largest.

And it adds to a mounting pile of studies suggesting that cheap, common aspirin lowers the risk of many cancers — of the colon, breast, esophagus, stomach, prostate, bladder and ovary.

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GUN VIOLENCE
2:54 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Scientists see guns as similar to your bike and your car

Lessons from studying car-seats are a model for studying gun safety.
treehouse1977 Flickr

Researchers who study injuries at Harborview Medical Center are asking the Seattle City Council to take on the federal government's role -- and fund an investigation into gun violence. They say gun-related injuries are a solvable problem, from a public health perspective.

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Disease and Injury
6:10 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Living longer, but sicker in the USA

How the leading causes of death are increasing, or decreasing, since 1990
IHME

Americans are likely to live longer than we might have in the past – but the quality of our golden years appears to be getting worse, when it comes to health.

A new study by Seattle researchers shows Alzheimer’s, depression, and back pain have been increasing dramatically since 1990.

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