Science

Science news

Courtesy of the Burke Museum

  Washington State has its first dinosaur.

Researchers at the Burke Museum say they excavated a weathered, 80 million year old thighbone from a beach on Sucia Island in the San Juans. It is the first verified dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington.

Dean Hochman / Flickr

A group of allergy researchers in Seattle is releasing new recommendations that mark a complete turnaround from the conventional wisdom on when to introduce peanut products to babies. The guidelines come in the wake of a recent major study.

Doctors used to say parents shouldn’t let kids even try peanuts until age three. The American Academy of Pediatrics dropped that advice after incidence of peanut allergy continued to climb, quadrupling between 1997 and 2010.

Courtesy of The Burke Museum

 

When Candice Pearson was a little girl back in the 1950s she visited her uncle in Bellingham who was a farmer. As he was plowing the field, one of the rocks he cleared away was different. Even at age six, Pearson knew it was special.

“I knew I couldn’t carve a piece of rock like that so I saved it,” Pearson said.

 

The rock is a mortar, which is normally accompanied by a pestle. Plants were ground in it. It’s small. You can cup it in two hands. To find out more Pearson took it to the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. Pearson showed the mortar to anthropologist Laura Phillips. It has a face carved on it with eyes.

University of Washington

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a smartphone app to test for sleep apnea, a common but potentially serious sleep disorder.

People with sleep apnea struggle with or stop breathing while they sleep. It affects up to 18 million Americans according to the National Institutes of Health. But getting diagnosed tends to be expensive and invasive. UW grad student Rajalakshmi Nandakumar says it generally involves an overnight stay at a sleep lab, in a less-than-restful setting.

Presage Biosciences

A Seattle company hopes its device will accelerate the development of cancer drugs by letting scientists test multiple drugs simultaneously within a person’s living tumor.

The device, called a CIVO, uses eight micro-needles to inject a tumor with microdoses of multiple cancer drugs. Doctors then would be able test the effects of eight different drugs at once, saving research time.

“What CIVO enables you to do is to have essentially multiple shots on goal,” said Rich Klinghoffer, Chief Scientific Officer of Presage Biosciences which developed the CIVO from research at the Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Stuart Herbert

If you’re a parent, this is not news to you: Kids love the swings. So much, in fact, that little kids seem to be able to swing endlessly, for 20 or 30 or 40 minutes, without tiring of it a bit.

I observed this in my own children and, having liked the swings himself as a lad, decided to hop on one as a thirty-something dad.

Tim Bouwer / Flickr

What does it mean to age? When are we "over the hill?" And what are the side effects of a longer lifespan?

On our most recent episode of Sound Effect on KPLU, we explored the idea of aging with Dr. Dan Gottschling. 

William Walker / University of Washington, Dept. of Bioengineering

Seattle-based researchers have developed a synthetic substance that might help prevent some severely injured people from bleeding to death. The injectable polymer is designed to make blood clots stronger, forming a kind of bandage that can stem or stop bleeding, even from internal wounds. Blood loss is the second leading cause of death following a trauma, such as a crash or gunshot.

Josh Webb

Doing construction on Seattle’s seawall involves moving lots of water out of the way. Engineers with that project are using ice to solve the problem.

Crews replacing the seawall have to deal with water from Elliott Bay on the west side of the wall. And on the east side, facing downtown and Pioneer Square, water seeps up from the ground.

AP Photo/NASA

New findings by University of Washington scientists could change the timeline of how life evolved on Earth, and maybe on other planets, too.

The research has to do with nitrogen, a crucial ingredient of life. Scientists had believed usable nitrogen was in very short supply on the young planet, without the enzymes needed to break it down.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

Ancient gas bubbles preserved in ice are helping scientists figure out what the Earth’s atmosphere was like 40,000 years ago, and how it might change in the future.

The data is coming from a core of ice that resembles a PVC pipe. When the drilling is completed, almost a mile of ice will have been extracted from this inland site in western Antarctica.

Seattle E.R. nurse Marc Bouma is back in the Northwest after treating Ebola patients in a remote part of Liberia.

We all could probably eat more fruits and vegetables. But if forced to choose between whole fruit or a glass of juice, which one seems more healthful?

Hubblesite.org

A University of Washington professor has taken a very unusual picture: It’s the most detailed photograph ever produced of a large spiral galaxy outside of our own. The massive panorama of the Andromeda Galaxy combines about 3,000 images snapped over three years by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Seismologists at the University of Washington are hoping for a few "beast quakes" this weekend from the Seahawks' 12th Man, who can sometimes cause small earthquakes by jumping up and down. 

The researchers hope to test out tools that might someday be a part of a system called Earthquake Early Warning.

Courtesy of Seattle Biomed

A Seattle scientist is set to begin clinical trials of a new malaria vaccine candidate, hoping a new twist on an old approach will finally yield an effective preventive treatment for the disease.

The idea of using a weakened pathogen to stimulate the body’s immune response is not new — it is widely in use in, say, the nasal-spray version of the seasonal flu shot. In that vaccine, the idea is to hobble the virus enough that it cannot hurt the patient, but still allows the body to learn to recognize and fight the invader.

Malcolm Griffes / KPLU

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Creative Commons

The Northwest business that has investors buzzing right now is the Seattle biotech company Juno Therapeutics. It’s going public Friday morning and hopes the IPO will raise more than $200 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq under JUNO.

Juno Therapeutics specializes in immunotherapies to treat leukemia and lymphoma. This involves taking a person’s T-cells, the ones that fight infections in our bodies, and reengineering them to become stronger.

clerk.seattle.gov

Settling ground is affecting the Alaskan Way viaduct, Pioneer Square buildings and underground water pipes, Seattle utilities officials said Monday. Engineers think the sinking is connected to the Highway 99 tunnel project, but it probably has little to do with actual digging.

net_efekt / Flickr

The occasional home visit from a health worker can be strong medicine for people who suffer from asthma. A new study based in King County shows it can have as much benefit, and cost even less, than prescription drugs.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

State health officials are putting a positive spin on the bumpy rollout of the state’s health insurance exchange.

Over the weekend, the Washington Healthplanfinder website shut down just a few hours after it opened for business. It’s now back online after a glitch involving tax credit calculations was fixed.

Cynthia Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Scientists from the University of Washington have managed to get lab mice with Ebola to mimic the symptoms of infected humans. And the findings show genes play a big role in how sick people get.

Scientists want to understand why Ebola makes some people terribly sick and gives others much milder symptoms. Now UW researchers have gotten mice to show a similar range of responses — something that has long eluded scientists. The new development could help them understand exactly how the virus takes its toll, and potentially speed up vaccine and drug development.

Gerry Lauzon / Flickr

A new study finds girls treated with radiation for a rare childhood cancer are much more likely to develop breast cancer as young women. The Seattle scientist who led the study said it shows some kinds of radiation therapy can be risky for children even at relatively low doses.  

The study looked at kids with Wilms tumor, a rare kidney cancer diagnosed in just 500 or so North Americans a year. The study has been going on for 45 years, and statistician Norman Breslow of the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been with it all along.

chichacha / Flickr

A love for coffee may run deep in the Northwest, but now a Seattle scientist says the craving for coffee seems to be written into some people’s DNA.

Researchers from Harvard University, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and elsewhere sifted through the genes of more than 100,000 people, looking for common variants that correlate with heavy coffee consumption. They zeroed in on eight genetic variations associated with that deep compulsion to hoist a mug of joe.

Washington State University

A team of scientists has come up with a way to search for water on Mars, and the person behind much of the research is a Washington State University undergraduate.

At age 19, Kellie Wall was planning to major in communications. She needed a science credit and wound up in a geology course with a professor who was a big believer in undergrads getting research experience. There, Wall learned about a project involving volcanoes and other planets.

“I was really excited about it because there was this buzzword Mars attached to it,” she said.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Surgeons at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle treated a patient for metastatic brain cancer last week with sound in what is believed to be the first procedure of its kind in the world.

Besides drugs, there used to be basically one tool for attacking attack brain cancer: a knife. Scientists have been developing less and less invasive ways to get at brain tumors, and now an early-stage trial at Swedish Neuroscience Institute has shown surgeons can treat a metastatic tumor with high-frequency sound beamed painlessly through the skull.

University of Washington

A researcher in genetics at the University of Washington has won a prominent award, sometimes referred to as the American version of the Nobel Prize, in part for a key contribution to understanding breast cancer.

Mary-Claire King knew that breast cancer runs in some families, but it wasn’t clear why. In the 1970s and '80s, genetic research was much more cumbersome and expensive than it is today, and the very idea that a gene could trigger a complex disease like cancer was controversial.

Kaytee Rlek / Flickr

Seattle scientists have zeroed in on a part of the brain that seems to have an interesting job: motivating the brain’s owner to exercise. The findings could have implications for understanding depression.

The dorsal medial habenula is a little structure tucked inside the brain, above the brainstem. Psychiatrist Eric Turner of Seattle Children’s Research Institute knew it had something to do with regulating mood, but not a lot more.

“People asked me, 'Well, what does it do?' And I actually didn’t know. And when I looked it up I found that very little is known about this area of the brain,” he said.

Texas A&M University Press

A skeleton some 9,000 years old is giving up a few of his secrets. A new book about the so-called Kennewick Man, whose remains were found 18 years ago, is due to hit bookstands in mid-September.

Kennewick Man was found resting in the shallow water of the Columbia River. His early story was that of some strife; a rock-point was found buried in his hip bone.

Zack Gainsforth

An unmanned NASA research mission led by a Seattle scientist has caught what are believed to be seven tiny pieces of distant stars and brought them back to Earth.

The Stardust Mission sent a spacecraft on three trips around the sun, dipping into an extremely faint jet of interstellar particles flowing into the solar system. It grabbed seven motes of interstellar dust, giving us a glimpse of what stars other than the Sun are like.

Pages