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Anyone looking for a little peace and quiet on this Earth might think they'd find some at the bottom of the ocean. They'd be wrong. And so were researchers who didn't expect to hear much when they dropped a microphone 6 miles down into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Carlo Rovelli's Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, originally published as a series of essays in an Italian newspaper, was just released in book form in the U.S. on March 1. I read the book by the noted physicist in a single sitting with pleasure and mounting excitement.

It is a very clear book and it is likely to provoke in readers, as it provoked in me, a desire to learn more about space, time, quantum reality, the nature of the gravity, our universe and, finally, about ourselves.

When astronaut Scott Kelly's space capsule touched down in Kazakhstan, it was a familiar scene to Mark Kelly, who is a retired astronaut and Scott's identical twin.

NASA is conducting a "twin study" on the brothers to explore what spaceflight does to the body. Multiple universities are involved in the research.

Have you ever wondered about life in the deepest depths of the ocean? Oregon-based oceanographers did, so they dropped a microphone seven miles down. What they heard came as a surprise.

There's lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight.

The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.

We all know ancestors give us our hair color, but the roots of gray hair have been less clear. Is it genetics, or stress?

Marie Antoinette supposedly went completely white the night before they lopped off her head. And our presidents seem to go gray much faster than those of us with less weighty roles.

It turns out you can blame Mom and Dad, at least a bit. Scientists say they've identified the first gene for gray hair.

Here's an exercise in deductive logic, with implications for our food supply.

Fact: Insects such as bees and butterflies are helpful, and sometimes essential, for producing much of our food, including a majority of our fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Finding success in science requires smarts, determination — and sometimes a bit of luck. NPR's Skunk Bear created the Golden Mole Award For Accidental Brilliance to celebrate that last part.

The Cleveland Clinic says it has performed the first uterus transplant in the United States.

This opens up another possible path to parenthood besides surrogacy or adoption for U.S. women who do not have a uterus, or who have a uterus that does not function.

In Northwest farm-country, tiny blueberry buds are already starting to plump up. But cold snaps could kill them. And that’s a bummer for your morning smoothie. Now, Northwest scientists are trying to help farmers by studying how low blueberries can go.

One of the best ways to understand Zika virus might be to deliberately inject it into volunteers.

That idea may sound a little crazy, but it's not unprecedented. And some researchers are hoping the approach could help speed up the search for an effective Zika vaccine.

Right now, a bunch of labs are pursuing different ways of making a vaccine against Zika, mostly because of the concern that the virus might be linked to the birth defect called microcephaly.

Author Isaac Asimov once wrote, "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny ... ' "

Good scientists search for the significance of surprises, coincidences and mistakes. With a little curiosity and perseverance, they can turn unexpected incidents into new insights.

If this were a Sherlock Holmes story, its title would surely be "The Case of the Disappearing Quasar."

Would you have a computer drive for you?

Some say yes if the computer is accurate and has no bugs in it, while some say no because they want to be in control and they enjoy driving.

A University of Michigan survey found that about 90 percent of Americans have some concerns about the concept of self-driving cars. But most also say that they do want some aspects of the car to be automated.

The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes really suck — literally and figuratively.

They're really good at finding and sucking on human blood. Which especially sucks, because their inescapable, insidious little bites can infect people with the Zika virus as well as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

These buggers — like most mosquitoes -- will bite where we're least likely to notice — at the ankles, behind the knees and at the back of our necks. No matter how much you cover up, one or two will home in on even the smallest cracks of exposed skin.

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.

Mosquitoes have a nasty reputation.

The species Aedes aegypti, for example, is currently responsible for spreading the Zika virus through the Americas and also infects humans with dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.

This raises the question: Should there be an effort to get rid of Aedes aegypti for good?

There have, of course, been many thousands of species that are indeed gone for good. And a U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity has noted: "Every day, up to 150 species are lost."

Today was trash day on the International Space Station, and as you might expect, it's not as simple as rolling a can out to the curb. Instead, a used resupply capsule was stuffed with 1.5 tons of trash and cut loose.

Limacina helicina looks like most any other sea snail — until it beats what look like delicate wings and "flies" through the water.

A newly published study in the Journal of Experimental Biology says the tiny species of sea snail moves through water using the same kind of motion that an insect uses to fly.

Take a look at the "sea butterfly" in action:

Hunger is not the only reason we eat sweets.

Often we eat as a way to celebrate, or sometimes we reach for food when we're sad or bored.

And a study published this month in the journal Environment and Behavior points to another factor that can nudge us to eat: clutter.

On Thursday, researchers announced the discovery of gravitational waves --wrinkles in the very fabric of space-time.

But behind the headlines and news conferences were decades of hard work, hundreds of scientists and more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funds.

Scientists announced Thursday they have found gravitational waves in the fabric of spacetime. One man who leads work at what’s called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory -- or LIGO -- station on the Hanford site, has been working on this singular project for nearly 30 years.

Thursday a group of scientists announced that after decades of research they’d detected massive gravitational waves in spacetime. And after work last night, dozens of physicists and scientists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory celebrated their discovery in Richland, Washington.

For the Midwesterner who likes to eat local, this time of year is a challenge. Browse the produce shelves in middle America — or any place where snow falls in winter — and you'll find carrots from Mexico and peppers from Peru.

Far from our galaxy, in the vast darkness of space, two massive black holes merged into a single, larger hole.

And now researchers say they have detected rumblings from that cataclysmic collision as ripples in the very fabric of space-time itself. The discovery comes a century after Albert Einstein first predicted such ripples should exist.

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross that researchers first tagged in 1956, has hatched what could be her 40th chick, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to call her "an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope."

Born at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (which is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument), the new (adorable) chick has been named Kūkini — the Hawaiian word for messenger.

Law enforcement officials would love to have a clear way to tell when a driver is too drugged to drive. But the decades of experience the country has in setting limits for alcohol have turned out to be rather useless so far because the mind-altering compound in cannabis, THC, dissolves in fat, whereas alcohol dissolves in water.

There aren't a lot of people who have dined on meat from the Pleistocene, prehistoric humans notwithstanding. That's why accounts of the 1951 Annual Dinner of the Explorers Club, a society of scientific adventurers, all agree that the organizer of the night, Wendell Phillips Dodge, threw the dinner party of the century. Legend has it that Dodge served the meat of a woolly mammoth.

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