Science

Salmon virus
1:19 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Canadian gov. defends actions in dustup over salmon virus

Scientists testify at the Cohen Commission in Vancouver, B. C., in December. One scientist testified that she feared the government would remove salmon samples from her lab if she reported her findings suggesting a virus was present.
Craig McCulloch KPLU

Widespread concerns that Canadian officials are silencing scientists have not been assuaged by a detailed government response to the accusations. The battle over “muzzling” Canadian scientists has been broiling for months after it was revealed that a virus deadly to salmon might have been discovered in salmon returning to the Fraser River.

The January response crafted by the Canadian government and submitted to the Cohen Commission after three days of hearings in December absolved officials for not reporting “suspected detection” of Infectious Salmon Anemia, or ISA, in waters off the Pacific Northwest.

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Science
11:15 am
Wed February 22, 2012

Leopard cubs due at Point Defiance Zoo in March

More endangered clouded leopards will be born at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in the next few weeks.

Mama leopard Chai Li is pregnant with her second litter. She's due in March.

Chai Li surprised zoo officials last year when she secretly mated with breeding partner Nah Fun. She delivered two healthy cubs in June.

This time around, it's a planned pregnancy. Staffers believe she's carrying at least two cubs.

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Outdoor Safety
3:26 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Air bag becoming standard equipment for skiers

Skier Elyse Saugstad credits the ABS air bag with saving her life in an avalanche at Stevens Pass in Washington
ABS-airbag.com

The air bag credited with saving a woman from an avalanche at Stevens Pass is starting to become standard equipment for back country skiers in the Northwest. The expert skiers who seek the thrill of more remote areas are no strangers to signs of avalanches.

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Science
11:05 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Ocean's future: 'Goodbye big fish, hello small fish'

Screenshot of an ocean visualization put out by the Nereus Program
Nereus Program

In Greek mythology, the original god of the sea was named Nereus. Among other powers, he could prophesy the future. That’s why researchers at the University of British Columbia thought to name a project to predict future ocean conditions after Nereus. Now, the initial computer simulations are out.

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Science
10:34 am
Fri February 17, 2012

When the car is the driver

Chris Urmson (right) and Anthony Levandowski, one of the leaders of Google's self-driving car project, get into the driverless car.
Steve Henn NPR

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 12:06 am

This week the state of Nevada finalized new rules that will make it possible for robotic self-driving cars to receive their own special driving permits. It's not quite driver's licenses for robots — but it's close.

The other day I went for a spin in a robotic car. This car has an $80,000 cone-shaped laser mounted on its roof. There are radars on the front, back and sides. Detailed maps help it navigate.

Do people notice it's a self-driving car and gawk?

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Health
12:01 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Scientists Take Cautious Tack On Bird Flu Research

A government veterinarian worker sprays anti-bird flu disinfectant over birds and fowls at Medan city market in North Sumatra province. Indonesia reported its second human death from bird flu this year in late January.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 8:24 am

Last month, scientists around the world agreed to temporarily halt certain genetic experiments with bird flu viruses. More than three weeks of that 60-day moratorium have already passed. And the scientific community is in the midst of a fierce debate about what needs to happen next.

The suspension of the research came in response to fears that researchers had created dangerous new germs that could cause a devastating pandemic in people if they ever escaped the lab or fell into the wrong hands.

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public health
9:23 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Whooping cough spiking statewide, outbreak in Snohomish

Whooping cough has made a big comeback across Washington. With more than 900 cases statewide, the illness hit its highest numbers last year since a similar spike in 2005. 

It’s reached epidemic proportions in Snohomish County. 

The situation there is serious enough that health agencies offered two free vaccination clinics last Saturday – and plan another one later this month.

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Microbes among us
3:51 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Tech innovation unveils Puget Sound's secret natural recyclers

This graphical map shows how millions of strands of DNA form a tangle of information, from bacteria, archaea, and viruses -- and helps show which ones can be grouped together.
Vaughn Iverson UW

Scientists have deciphered some of the secrets of one of Puget Sound’s natural recyclers. It’s a microbe – which likes to eat sulfur and nitrogen – and might be found near any of our beaches.  

The technique they devised could open the door to a better understanding of microbial life that abounds everywhere – in the oceans, in soils, and in the human body.

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NPR Science
4:02 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

New video sheds more light on dark side of the moon

The south pole of the far side of the moon as seen from the GRAIL mission's Ebb spacecraft.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 3:35 pm

New video from NASA gives us a fresh view of the far side of the moon (or the technically incorrect but way cooler sounding "dark side").

It's from NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft.

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Fighting Depression
10:57 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Could a club drug offer 'almost immediate' relief from depression?

Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for decades. It's also a widely popular but illegal club drug known as "Special K." When administered in low doses, patients report a rapid reduction in depression symptoms.
Huw Golledge flickr

Originally published on Sun January 29, 2012 9:01 pm

There's no quick fix for severe depression.

Although antidepressants like Prozac have been around since the 1970s, they usually take weeks to make a difference. And for up to 40 percent of patients, they simply don't work.

As a result, there are limited options when patients show up in an emergency room with suicidal depression.

The doctors and nurses at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston say they see this problem every day.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:22 am
Fri January 27, 2012

Study: 1 in 14 People Has Oral HPV Infection

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 9:50 am

So how many people have human papillomavirus in their mouths?

Quite a few, say researchers who got more than 5,000 volunteers across the country to spit into a cup and answer detailed questions about their sex lives.

The bottom line: 6.9 percent of people in the U.S. (ages 14 to 69) have oral infections with HPV. Some types of HPV are linked to cancer and genital warts.

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cardiac arrest
3:40 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

You're part of a cardiac arrest experiment in King, like it or not

If your heart stops beating and you’re treated by paramedics in the next few years, which treatment you get may depend on a coin flip. Once again, King County residents are part of  a national study of how best to resuscitate someone from cardiac arrest.

A coin flip sounds pretty random – and that’s actually on purpose. 

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The Two-Way
1:17 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

'Blue Marble 2012': NASA's 'Most Amazing' High Def Image Of Earth So Far

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"Blue Marble 2012." Want to see a really big version of this photo? Click here.
NASA

Originally published on Wed January 25, 2012 2:41 pm

The "Blue Marble" image of Earth snapped by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972 is one of the most famous photos ever taken. When it appeared, we all suddenly saw the world in a much different way.

In the years since, NASA has added other "Blue Marble" photos to its collection, and has used technology to enhance and sharpen the images.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:02 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

NPR science: Your brain on psilocybin might be less depressed

This could be your forest on psilocybin.
Baxterclaus Flickr

Originally published on Tue January 24, 2012 11:37 am

Magic mushrooms are said to blow your mind, but the hallucinogenic chemical psilocybin, the active ingredient, actually reins in key parts of the brain, according to two new studies.

The memorably vivid emotional experiences reported by mushroom users may flourish because the parts of the brain suppressed by psilocybin usually keep our world view tidy and rational.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:59 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Stem-cells show promise as blindness treatment in early study

Sue Freeman, 78, checks her e-mail at her home in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Saturday. An experimental stem-cell procedure last July led to a marked improvement in her eyesight.
Melissa Forsyth for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 23, 2012 8:46 am

Two women losing their sight to progressive forms of blindness may have regained some vision while participating in an experiment testing a treatment made from human embryonic stem cells, researchers reported today.

The report marks the first time that scientists have produced direct evidence that human embryonic stem cells may have helped a patient. The cells had only previously been tested in the laboratory or in animals.

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