Science

Science news

NHGRI

It's not officially called Human Genome 2.0. But, key scientists say the research results published Wednesday should re-kindle some of the promise of the Human Genome Project.

One of those key scientists is John Stamatoyannopoloulos of the University of Washington, along with his team of about 40 researchers.

"One of the important hopes here is that this will reinvigorate drug development that’s built around the genome," he says.

Scientists unveiled the results of a massive international project Wednesday that they say debunks the notion that most of our genetic code is made up of so-called junk DNA.

The ENCODE project, which involved hundreds of researchers in dozens of labs, also produced what some scientists are saying is like Google Maps for the human genome.

Before we run through the news of the day, let's pause for something spectactular: a new video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a "massive filament" eruption on the sun that occurred last Friday. As Britain's The Register says, it is "mind-bogglingly gorgeous."

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

The rush is on, to get healthier lunches into public school cafeterias. But administrators say you almost need an advanced degree to comply with the latest rules.

Scientists in Germany have been able to get enough DNA from a fossilized pinky to produce a high-quality DNA sequence of the pinky's owner.

"It's a really amazing-quality genome," says David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It's as good as modern human genome sequences, from a lot of ways of measuring it."

The pinky belonged to a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago. Scientists aren't sure about the exact age. She is a member of an extinct group of humans called Denisovans. The name comes from Denisova cave in Siberia, where the pinky was found.

This paragraph from NASA worried us:

"In one study, astronomers used WISE to identify about 2.5 million actively feeding supermassive black holes across the full sky, stretching back to distances more than 10 billion light-years away. About two-thirds of these objects never had been detected before because dust blocks their visible light. WISE easily sees these monsters because their powerful, accreting black holes warm the dust, causing it to glow in infrared light."

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Officials at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium have decided to take a newborn Sumatran tiger cub from its mother and rear it by hand.

The cub, born August 22nd, is losing weight and not getting enough milk from its mother, Jaya.

Miranda Kelly, a 14-year-old from Sykesville, Md., says she's been sleepwalking since she was 6 or 7. The first time, she says, "I woke up on the couch on a school day. And I'd gone to bed in my bed."

Since that first episode, Kelly now sleepwalks every couple of months. "I wake up in weird places, randomly. I have once woken up in the kitchen, and on the floor of the bathroom wrapped in my sheet," she says.

Liftport

It might seem like a space-age fantasy, but there will be a lot of a serious talk in Seattle this weekend about a “space elevator.”

You might think of it as a space railroad. In theory, the technology could make going into orbit as cheap and easy as buying a first-class airline ticket.

The idea calls for a cable that stretches from a spot on the equator out to an anchor orbiting thousands of miles in space. On that cable, a remote-controlled cabin or elevator zips up and down.

Twitter wasn't built to give voice to Curiosity, the rover currently exploring Mars, but it's awfully well-suited for the purpose.

One of public radios most creative storytelling teams is in Seattle this weekend – turning radio into a live theater performance.

Radiolab calls itself a show about curiosity. KPLU science reporter Keith Seinfeld talked with the show’s two hosts about how they make science come alive, and then turn it into live theater.

(Listen to the interview ... and for serious Jad & Robert fans, we've added an extra 3 minute excerpt that didn't fit into the edited interview.)

(For information about the shows on Friday and Saturday, visit the KPLU calendar page.)

Leaves are falling in the summertime. School starts in early August in many places. Politicos are already talking about the presidential election — of 2016.

Everything is happening earlier.

When astronomers survey the universe, the landmarks are galaxies, those gigantic agglomerates of stars and interstellar gas spread across the immensity of space. A typical spiral galaxy, like our own Milky Way, boasts hundreds of billions of stars grouped along hundreds of thousands of light-years. That means that it takes a beam of light all that time to go from one extreme of the galaxy to the other, traveling, as light does in a vacuum, at 186,282 miles per second.

John McNeill, via UW News

By Todd Bishop of Geekwire

A group of scientists, including a University of Washington atmospheric physicist, wants to test the theory that pumping sea salt into the sky over the ocean would combat global warming by creating clouds that reflect more sunlight back into space.

Six years ago, we told you about a woman, identified as A.J., who could remember the details of nearly every day of her life. At the time, researchers thought she was unique. But since then, a handful of such individuals have been identified. And now, researchers are trying to understand how their extraordinary memories work.

Courtesy of Washington State University

It turns out humans and cattle have some of the same fertility issues.

Researchers at Washington State University have received more than a million dollars from the National Institutes of Health to look into what causes lost pregnancies in beef cattle - and also what that can teach us about miscarriages in humans.

The recent outbreak of West Nile virus in the Dallas area has led to a new round of large-scale spraying for mosquitoes — a method of treating outbreaks that has generations of success, and even nostalgia, behind it.

Although the overall mosquito-killing strategy has changed little since the days when it was pioneered during construction of the Panama Canal a century ago, the chemicals used have become much safer for everything and everyone involved, save the mosquitoes, experts say.

An experimental aircraft that designers hoped would hit 3,600 mph in a test flight over the Pacific on Tuesday "suffered a control failure" and failed in its attempt to go hypersonic, The Associated Press writes.

Its report follows earlier word from Wired magazine's Danger Room blog that it had been told by an "insider familiar with the test" that:

From Curiosity, another Martian landscape

Aug 13, 2012

NASA has released two more pictures from the Curiosity Mars rover.

One is a color image that shows that wall of the Gale Crater and the other is a close up shot of the area excavated by the rover's descent stage rocket engines.

We've posted the white-balanced version of the photos. In theory those should appear more like what Mars would look like if you were using your eyes.

When Michael Phelps came to London for the 2012 Summer Games, he had 14 Olympic gold medals. He's leaving with 18 and a record 22 overall. And now he's retiring at 27, leaving the sport in which he always said he wanted to do things that had never been done before.

At Olympics' End, USA Finishes First In Medal Race

Aug 13, 2012

The last medals of the London Games were just presented at the end of the women's modern pentathlon.

Like it did in the last three Olympics, the United States dominated. Last time around in Beijing, China outdid the States in total gold medals but this year, the U.S. climbed back proving itself in pretty much every category.

Here's a look at the final medal tally:

USA: 46 gold; 29 silver; 29 bronze; 104 total.

China: 38 gold; 27 silver; 22 bronze; 87 total.

Russia: 24 gold; 25 silver; 33 bronze; 82 total

Imagine being able to fly from Los Angeles to New York City in less time than it takes to commute from most of Long Island into Manhattan.

Stockbox

You might have trouble finding any attractive vegetables or fruits if you shop in the wrong stores. It’s especially challenging in poor neighborhoods, where mini-marts packed with beer, cigarettes and junk food may be all you can find.

One solution to be tested in Seattle this month will be in the form of a healthy corner store. Call it a mini-grocery.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. — The mysterious Mars photo has been solved.

A NASA engineer said Friday he's pretty sure a Curiosity rover camera caught the rocket stage crashing in the distance after it landed in Gale Crater Sunday night.

How many calories have I consumed this week? How well did I sleep last night?

What about this thing on my leg — is it infected? What does an ECG for ventricular tachycardia look like again?

Yes, you guessed it. There is an app for that.

NASA

The Mars rover Curiosity has landed ... on Mars! And it's having a pretty lonely but humorous time of it, according to the rover's mock Twitter feed

SarcasticRover: "HEY EVERYONE! Hope you kids have fun writing shitty memes on my HI-RES PICS! After all, THAT'S WHAT I'M HERE FOR!"

First of a two-part series. Read Part 2.

Modern architecture loves glass. Glass makes interiors brighter and adds sparkle to cityscapes. But glass also kills millions of birds every year when they collide with windows. Biologists say as more glass buildings go up, more birds are dying.

Center for Whale Research

BREMERTON, Wash. — A newborn orca calf has been reported off the west side of San Juan Island in the Puget Sound.

The Center for Whale Research reports the new calf was first spotted midday Monday among the adults of J pod, one of three killer whale pods that frequent Puget Sound.

The Mars rover Curiosity safely landed on the Red Planet and NASA has received its first dispatches: A stunning full resolution look at Mount Sharp and a dramatic low-resolution video of its landing.

Seattle’s a hub for cancer research, and usually that means scientists are looking for cures or new treatments. Now a new project will try to tell us if those treatments are worth the price-tag.

Pages