Science news / Flickr

There are many computer scientists these days trying to create machines that can make connections the way human brains do; but it is not an easy task.

Now the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is sponsoring a contest to see whose software can best answer 8th grade science questions. 

Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum becomes a glow-in-the-dark, light-up party for the 21+ crowd! Join us from 7-10 p.m., Oct. 16 at Adult Swim: GLOW. Play and experiment with things that glow, watch and learn fire dancing and get your face painted with fluorescent ink. Adorn yourself with light-up jewelry from the bling bar and create a masterpiece in the black light art studio. Tickets:


Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

The maker culture is built around a do-it-yourself ethic. It’s not unusual to meet people teaching themselves carpentry, computer hacking or electrical engineering. But what about DIY biochemistry? or do-it-yourself genetic engineering? or do-it-yourself neuroscience?

Two scientists from Canada and Japan have won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics 2015 for opening "a new realm in particle physics," the Nobel Prize committee says. Working far apart, both Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald showed how neutrinos shift identities like chameleons in space.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Seattle scientists have managed to genetically transform human cells in the lab from HIV targets to HIV killers, and the technique could have implications for cancer and other diseases.

The virus that causes AIDS loves to go after a particular group of white blood cells called T-cells, a key part of the immune system. T-cells have a protein on their surface that the virus attaches to and uses to invade the cell.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

How do you make something called a “slime mold” sound even more disgusting? Call it “dog vomit slime mold.”

It looks more or less like you’d expect, at least from a distance.

“It looks a little bit gross to some people. I think it’s pretty cool,” said Angela Mele.

The Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium has diagnosed a sea otter with asthma and is training the animal to use an inhaler. KING-TV reports Dr. Lesanna Lahner diagnosed the otter, named Mishka, after she was having trouble breathing when smoke from wildfires was in the Seattle area.

 Mishka's trainer uses food to teach the 1-year-old to push her nose on the inhaler and take a deep breath. The medication in the otter's inhaler is exactly the same as what humans use.

Jennifer Wing / KPLU


The National Football League is giving $2.5 million to the University of Washington to study concussions in an effort to make sports safer. The donation, which helps advance work already underway at the university, will help fund the Sports, Health, Safety Institute.

Along with figuring out better ways to prevent and treat concussions, researchers will look at a variety of preventable sports health issues.

Stem Box

Imagine getting a box containing a ball of bones and fur regurgitated from an owl. That’s just one of the gross things a Seattle researcher plans to send to girls nationwide, as part of a new bid to attract girls into science.

Kina McAllister works as a research technician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and she’s the mind behind Stem Box. The subscription service sends out a kit each month geared toward awakening the scientist in young girls.

Dan Burgard


Sewage reveals a lot about our daily habits. With that in mind, the federal government is paying for a study to test sewage water in Washington State to determine how much marijuana people are consuming.


Dan Burgard, an associate chemistry professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, has been collecting waste water samples since December 2013, about eight months before the first legal pot stores opened.

Associate Press


When a man’s masculinity is threatened in a minor way it can lead him to tell blatant lies. This is the finding of a new study from researchers at the University of Washington and Stanford.

Smithsonsian Institute

UPDATE:  After DNA testing confirmed the 8,500-year-old Kennewick man was ancestor of modern Washington tribes, Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting that the remains be returned to Native American tribes.

A pair of college students discovered the skeleton near Columbia River and Kennewick in 1996. The U.S Army Corp of Engineers took control of the bones that are the oldest human remains discovered in North America. Recent DNA analysis proved that the Kennewick man is genetically linked to modern Native Americans.

“Now that DNA analysis has demonstrated a genetic link to modern Native Americans, including those in the State of Washington, I am requesting that the Ancient One be repatriated to the appropriate Tribes as expeditiously as possible,” Inslee wrote in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Our Washington State tribes have waited nineteen years for the remains to be transferred for reburial.

Original Story, published June 18, 2015:

Scientists say they’ve pinned down the origins of a man who lived in the northwest about 9,000 years ago, and their conclusion is the same as what Washington tribes have been saying since the bones’ discovery: Kennewick Man was Native American.

Kennewick Man, known to the tribes as the Ancient One, has been fought over since his discovery in 1996. Researchers have suggested he came from Japanese, Polynesian or even European stock.

But Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen says DNA pulled from a hand bone now makes it clear where Kennewick Man belongs in the world’s family tree.

“Kennewick Man, the Ancient One, is more closely related to contemporary Native Americans than to any other contemporary populations in the world,” said Eske, speaking at a press conference at the Burke Museum in Seattle.

The museum has housed the bones while five Washington tribes have been fighting the federal government over control of the remains. They believe the new finding bolsters their case that Kennewick Man should be given to them, under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

University of Washington


The findings in new study from the University of Washington show that intensive therapy for very young children with autism spectrum disorder appears to have lasting results. The study’s authors say this makes a strong case for targeted intervention where there is an early diagnosis.

The report will be published next month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

  Many will tune in to the U.S. Open golf championship in University Place for the grace of a perfect swing or the elegance of a golf ball’s arc. But people at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center hope you will also watch for the science at the heart of the game.

At the Science Center’s exhibit, “Learning Science through Golf,” you can see how much force it takes to make a four-foot putt or measure the volume of a golf club head by dunking it in a beaker of water. You can even learn what it takes to maintain healthy turf grass in the northwest climate.

Juno Theraputics

Seattle-based scientists are reporting more encouraging results from treating blood cancer patients with souped-up immune cells.

The trial, part of a larger study by Seattle-based biotechnology Juno Therapeutics, involved about 50 people with three different types of blood cancer. Patients in this type of trial typically have not responded to the usual treatments, and are nearly out of options.

Scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center re-engineered the patients’ immune cells and injected them back into their bodies. Dr. Cameron Turtle of Fred Hutch reported Monday that 91 percent of those with acute lymphoblastic leukemia went into remission.

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.


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?

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.