Science and Technology

Commentaries
11:03 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Designing Better Asphalt

Bioasphalt, made from watse cooking oil, would be gray instead of black and wouldn't emit smoke in hot weather.
Credit Hitchster / flickr.com

Asphalt: It’s everywhere and it’s expensive.  And its production is tough on air quality.  But a researcher at Washington State University may have a better way: asphalt made from waste cooking oil. "Rock Doc"  Kirsten Peters explains.

Dr. Haifang Wen grew up in a rural area of Shandong province, in eastern China. In his youth there were not many paved highways in the Chinese countryside.

“Lots of the roads were gravel,” he told me recently. “They were muddy when it rained. I remember riding a cow on them, or going along in a wagon pulled by a donkey.”

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Science
6:50 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Storied Research Subs Visit Northwest Coast

Upgraded minisub Alvin was loaded onto R/V Atlantis at the WHOI dock on May 13, 2013.
Credit Tom Kleindinst

A storied research sub that explored and filmed the wreck of the Titanic is making an appearance in the Northwest. The deep-diving submarine "Alvin" is in Astoria Monday,  August 26 through Friday, August 30 while its support ship changes crews. It's actually one of two well-known submersibles passing through the port town.

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Tracing Chemical Agents
6:31 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Northwest Scientists Discovering New Ways To Trace Chemical Weapons

Carlos Fraga, center, is a Ph.D. chemist for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Along with chemist Brian Dockendorff, left, and chemical engineer Gabriel Perez Acosta. He is trying to find ways to trace chemical agents back to their sources.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

President Barack Obama has been publicly warning Syria’s leaders not to use chemical weapons against their own people. The news is unexpectedly relevant in southeast Washington. Researchers at at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing new scientific techniques to trace chemical agents back to their sources.

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High-Altitude Ballooning Station
6:12 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

High Altitude Ballooning Business Builds Station In Tillamook

A scientific baloon used by NASA
NASA Wikimedia Commons

An Oregon company is building a new high-altitude ballooning station in Tillamook. The Near Space Corporation is spending $6.9 million to build a factory and ballooning station at the Port of Tillamook Airport Business Park.

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Kennewick Man Is From Coast
5:16 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Turns Out Kennewick Man Not From Kennewick

Final Kennewick Man facial reconstruction. Photo by Brittney Tatchell.
Photo by Brittney Tatchell Northwest News Network

Kennewick Man spent most of his life on the coast, not in the region on the Columbia River where he was found. So says the federal scientist who fought for nearly 10 years to study the 9,500 year old bones. The scientist released some of his findings at a conference this week with Northwest tribes

Kennewick Man’s bones give an indication of what he ate, and how he lived. The research shows he wasn’t fond of oysters or clams but instead his menu included big sea creatures like seals.

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Silent Earthquakes
5:12 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

'Silent Earthquakes' Ripple Under Cascadia

The past five weeks saw two swarms of "slow slip and tremor" in the Northwest.
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

Parts of Washington and Oregon are in the midst of silent earthquakes this week. You can't feel this so-called "slow slip" quake and it doesn't cause damage. Still, scientists want to learn more about the recently discovered phenomenon.

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Zombee Bees
5:14 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Newly Detected Parasite Turns Northwest Honey Bees Into 'Zombees'

A "zombie fly" (Apocephalus borealis) lays its eggs inside a honey bee.
San Francisco State University

There's more trouble for your hard-working backyard honey bee. Researchers have confirmed the first cases of "zombee" bees in Washington state and in the Portland area. Infection by a parasite prompts the bees to embark on what's being called a "flight of the living dead."

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Caffeinated Coastal Waters
4:37 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Study: Coastal Oregon Waters Slightly Caffeinated

Is Portland's love of coffee leading to the caffeination of Oregon coastal waters?
Diane Gilleland Flickr

The Northwest is known for its love of coffee. Now evidence of that is showing up in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers have found low levels of caffeine at half a dozen locations on the Oregon Coast.

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Early Human DNA Found
4:47 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

South-Central Oregon Caves Yield Early Human DNA

Archaeologist Dennis Jenkins holds dried feces taken from Oregon's Paisley Caves.
Jim Barlow Univ. of Oregon

An archeological dig at a group of remote caves in south-central Oregon may force some rethinking about how the first humans colonized North America. Scientists found the critical evidence in a form you might not expect.

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Idaho Lab Mishandled Explosives
4:14 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Report: Idaho National Lab Mishandled Dangerous Explosives

The Materials and Fuels Complex at Idaho National Laboratory.
Idaho National Laboratory

Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls has been failing to properly handle and store explosives, putting some workers in jeopardy. That’s the upshot of a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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