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Last October, a freshman at Washington State University passed out after consuming hard liquor and an energy drink. The student later died in the hospital. His blood alcohol level was about five times the legal limit.

That led to some soul-searching on the campus in Pullman, Wash.

It turns out an average of 200 students each year end up in the ER at Pullman Regional Hospital for alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries.

ESA and the Planck Collaboration

New results from looking at the split-second after the Big Bang indicate the universe is 80 million years older than previously thought and provide ancient evidence supporting core concepts about the cosmos — how it began, what it's made of and where it's going.

The findings released Thursday bolster a key theory called inflation, which says the universe burst from subatomic size to its now-observable expanse in a fraction of a second. The new observations from the European Space Agency's $900 million Planck space probe appear to reinforce some predictions made decades ago solely on the basis of mathematical concepts.

LasseSH / Flickr

Game designer Jane McGonigal thinks gaming can save the world, or at least help make it a better place.

“I know you’d rather hear that these games are turning kids into brain-dead zombies,” McGonical told a packed room at the University of Washington today, for the School of Social Work’s annual breakfast.

But the evidence suggests otherwise and that gaming is better than harmless. It could be a powerful force for good. Gaming is building a library in Ghana, for starters. More on that in a bit. 

Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center

Good news for fans of the Honeycrisp apple: a similar variety is being developed right here in Washington state. 

Scientists at Washington State University have created a new apple variety specifically designed to thrive on the eastern slopes of the Cascades and win over consumers. It's a cross between the Honeycrisp with a variety called Enterprise, and is described as crisp and slightly sweet. 

"I was very excited by it. It’s a really nice eat," says Kate Evans, an apple breeder and horticulture professor at WSU's Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center.

CERN / Associated Press

The search is all but over for a subatomic particle that is a crucial building block of the universe.

Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

Teen smoking rate drops below pot usage

Mar 14, 2013
Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Washington high school students who participated in a statewide health survey say they are twice as likely to smoke marijuana as cigarettes.

Overall, though, the trends show teenagers are drinking, smoking and abusing prescription drugs less than in the past.

In fact, 8th and 10th graders are half as likely to drink alcohol compared to those in 1998.

The group of scientists working with NASA's Curiosity rover made a big announcement during a press conference today: "We have found a habitable environment that is so benign" if there was water there, "you be able to drink it," John P. Grotzinger, professor of geology at Caltech, said summing up the rover's latest findings.

That is, at one point Mars had the right conditions to support living microbes.

Gun control proposals are having trouble getting majority support in the state legislature. But when it comes to people in a mental health emergency – who may pose a threat to themselves or others -- lawmakers appear more united.

They unanimously approved several measures late Monday aimed at making it easier to hold someone involuntarily.

They have the support of family members who’ve had to deal with a loved one who’s out of control.

It's not the first study that finds the lowly aspirin may protect against the deadliest kind of skin cancer, but it is one of the largest.

And it adds to a mounting pile of studies suggesting that cheap, common aspirin lowers the risk of many cancers — of the colon, breast, esophagus, stomach, prostate, bladder and ovary.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/treehouse1977/">treehouse1977</a> / Flickr

Researchers who study injuries at Harborview Medical Center are asking the Seattle City Council to take on the federal government's role -- and fund an investigation into gun violence. They say gun-related injuries are a solvable problem, from a public health perspective.

IHME

Americans are likely to live longer than we might have in the past – but the quality of our golden years appears to be getting worse, when it comes to health.

A new study by Seattle researchers shows Alzheimer’s, depression, and back pain have been increasing dramatically since 1990.

NASA

Washington companies could have a major role in future trips to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. NASA engineers are in Seattle this week meeting with contractors working on the Orion program, designed to launch astronauts far into space, well beyond where the space shuttle traveled.

Anyone who says watching TV has no impact on children’s behavior is ignoring a lot of scientific research. The latest study, from pediatricians in Seattle, shows you can improve the behavior of young children by changing what they watch. 

They took this approach after about two decades of trying to get parents to turn off the TV, and severely limit screen time for young kids. They were almost ready to give up. The best they could achieve was cutting TV time for pre-school age children from four-and-a-half hours per day to four hours per day.

That hardly seemed worth the effort.

Rob Griffith / AP

The Northwest hasn’t had a killer earthquake since 1965 – and it’s been three centuries since anything massive shook this region. That’s how New Zealanders felt, until two years ago, when a quake knocked their third largest city to its knees. 

Lessons from Christchurch, NZ, and other Pacific Rim cities, are resonating at a meeting of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, in Seattle this week.

EpiPen

The idea of putting a needle of adrenaline into someone might seem intimidating – but that’s how you save their life if they’re in allergic shock. The legislature is considering empowering school staff to give injections more widely.

Last year, a girl in Virginia died after eating a peanut given to her by a friend.

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