Science

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Max Kaufman / Alaska Volcano Observatory/University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute

Most volcanoes rumble before they erupt, but Washington and Alaska researchers say a big recent eruption was preceded not by a rumble, but a scream.

Alaska’s Mount Redoubt blew its top several times in 2009. Leading up to many of the explosions were a series of little earthquakes—not uncommon for an active volcano. But these quakes began to accelerate, one after another, like a drumbeat building to a climax.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

There’s some truth to Washington’s image as a mecca for the physically active. When it comes to exercise, several counties in the state rank in the top 50 out of more than 3,000 counties in the country. But that ranking hides a less flattering trend.

Chie Kawahara / Cadence Biomedical

A research idea that was supposed to give people super-powered legs is instead helping stroke patients and other people who can’t walk. 

It’s a new medical device, using a combination of springs, cables, and Velcro. The inventors in Seattle are hoping to transform the possibility of recovery for thousands of people.

The idea started with a horse.

University of Washington

Robots are everywhere these days. They’re working in factories, and are the focus of student competitions. They are also teaching us about nature, especially in the case of robotic fish.

It might seem a little Hollywood to talk about "robo-fish." And as an engineering professor, Kristi Morgansen is a little shy about that.

“We usually call them fish robots, or robotic fish,” she said.

I'll never forget the time my big brother sank his fork in the back of my hand after I snitched food off his plate.

But all siblings fight, right? So I was more than a little skeptical of a study saying that sibling aggression can cause serious mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

One way young kids learn to organize the world is by dividing it into living and non-living things. But now that robots vacuum our floors and smart phones talk back to us, do children think of technology as alive? A team of Washington researchers is exploring how kids interact with robots, and what that might reveal about both their brains and ours.

Finding the right treatment for depression can be a struggle. People find relief with the first treatment only 40 percent of the time. Trying different antidepressants or therapies can take months, which means months of suffering.

Scientists are trying to better the odds by searching for signals in the body or in behavior that could be signposts to the right treatment. Researchers at Emory University say that PET scans of the brain may help predict which people do better on SSRI antidepressants, and which would benefit most from cognitive behavioral therapy instead.

wstryder / Flickr

There are two versions of this story.

One is the story of how drug-abuse involving heroin has spiked upward, especially in young adults, over the past decade. Drug experts say people end up on heroin as a last resort, after getting addicted to prescription painkillers.

That version is in the news this week, and has made headlines for the past few years, when annual drug trends come out.

If you've felt smug and safe using built-in, voice-controlled technology for text messages, email and phone calls while driving, forget it. There are some sobering findings about the risk of distraction from the American Automobile Association and the University of Utah.

The proliferation of hands-free technology "is a looming public safety crisis," AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet says. "It's time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars."

We might need to change the definition of a designated driver from noble abstainer to something along the lines of not as drunk as you.

The idea of having one person in a group agree not to drink so that everyone else can get home safely after a night of alcohol-fueled fun has been promoted as a way to reduce the dangers of drunken driving, especially among teenagers and young adults.

Working families without health insurance will get extra attention all over Washington this fall. Health organizations are getting $6 million in federal grants to send health recruiters to libraries, church pulpits, and shopping malls. 

Face-to-face marketing and in-person recruiting are needed, according to the masterminds behind the the new health-care law, because about 25% of the uninsured won’t be able to use the new website.

(white rabbit) / Flickr

Washington state has earned a top grade from the American Cancer Society when it comes to helping people suffering from long-term pain. However, the state’s law on pain medication is unusual enough that the Cancer Society is surveying doctors to learn more about how it’s working.

In the past, many patients in chronic pain—lasting months or years—believed they were just supposed to suffer through it.

Exactly one year has passed since an angry and unstable man killed four people at Seattle’s Café Racer and one more woman near downtown before shooting himself. Ian Stawicki was never diagnosed with a mental illness, but he exhibited many of the signs.

When someone is in a mental health crisis, who decides if the or she gets hospitalized involuntarily?

Planetary Resoruces

A company devoted to space exploration is planning to make an orbiting telescope available to students, scientists, and space enthusiasts.

Bellevue-based asteroid mining company Planetary Resources hopes to eventually extract rare minerals from asteroids. But first the company must prospect, which will involve a fleet of space-based telescopes. Now the company has announced it will deploy an extra telescope for public use, paid for by a crowdfunding campaign on the website Kickstarter.

Associated Press

Doctors are sounding an alarm about marijuana and young children, especially when it comes to marijuana-infused products, or "medibles". 

The rise of medicinal marijuana has brought a growing number of food products that contain the drug and might appeal to kids. Pot brownies have been around for decades, but nowadays you can also find pot cookies, lollipops, bon-bons, lasagna, and more. These products make it easier on someone who needs to use marijuana for medical reasons but doesn’t want to smoke. 

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