UW Today

Science


December 9, 2014

Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane

graphic of bubbles

Water off Washington’s coast is warming a third of a mile down, where seafloor methane shifts from a frozen solid to a gas. Calculations suggest ocean warming is already releasing significant methane offshore of Alaska to California.


December 2, 2014

‘Mirage Earth’ exoplanets may have burned away chances for life

Illustration of a low-mass, M dwarf star, seen from an orbiting rocky planet.

Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars are prime targets in the search for life. But new research led by an astronomy graduate student at the UW indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.


November 25, 2014

‘Subirdia’ author urges appreciation of birds that co-exist where we work, live, play

Drawing of back of bird as it looks over buildings

Surprisingly, the diversity of birds in suburban areas can be greater than in forested areas, according to John Marzluff’s new book “Welcome to Subirdia.”


November 21, 2014

UW-made tool displays West Coast ocean acidification data

hands holding oysters

A new tool developed at the UW displays real-time ocean acidification data for the open ocean and protected bays, helping shellfish growers and scientists see changes in water chemistry.


November 17, 2014

Major brain pathway rediscovered after century-old confusion, controversy

Drawing of brain

A scientist looking at MRI scans of human brains noticed a large fiber pathway that seemed to be part of the network that processes visual information. He just couldn’t couldn’t find it in any of the modern textbooks.


‘Probiotics’ for plants boost detox abilities; untreated plants overdose and die

Two women and willow cutting in lab

Scientists using a microbe that occurs naturally in eastern cottonwood trees have boosted the ability of willow and lawn grass to withstand the withering effects of the nasty industrial pollutant phenanthrene.


November 14, 2014

Portable planetarium takes astronomy to school

_UWA6225

The UW Astronomy Department’s Mobile Planetarium visits Sammamish High School in Bellevue, where students give their own planetarium presentations.


November 12, 2014

Moving cameras talk to each other to identify, track pedestrians

Tracking camera example

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another’s differences.


November 10, 2014

Global warming not just a blanket – in the long run, it’s more like tanning oil

sun and earth

Instead of carbon dioxide, or CO2, creating a blanket that slowly warms the planet, long-term warming happens because a darker surface and more moist air can absorb more of the incoming rays.


November 7, 2014

Undergrads use sonar to uncover Lake Union shipwrecks

ship image on screen

Undergraduates this week were among the first people to try the latest in seafloor mapping technology — and use it to image a shipwreck on Seattle’s urban lake.


November 6, 2014

Zebrafish stripped of stripes

Sideview of fish

Within weeks of publishing surprising new insights about how zebrafish get their stripes, University of Washington researchers now explain how to “erase” them.


November 5, 2014

Incorporate more voices to loosen conservation gridlock, scientists urge

Looking down into treetops and dead snags

More diverse voices could help break a deadlock gripping the conservation community, say 238 co-signatories – including a dozen from the University of Washington.


UW study shows direct brain interface between humans

An example of how the brain to brain interface demonstration would look.

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago.


November 4, 2014

‘Future proofing’: Present protections against challenges to come

Figure 6 - Arctic Building Exterior from SW - DSC_0163

You can’t predict the future, but you can prepare for it — that’s the thinking behind architect (and architecture graduate student and UW staff member) Brian Rich and his principles of “future proofing” existing and historical buildings.


October 30, 2014

Trout trick-or-treat: fish gobble furry animals with four feet

A fish on its side out of wter and a line up of dead shrews

Freshwater fish with bellies full of shrews – one trout a few years back was found to have eaten 19 – aren’t as random as scientists have thought.


October 29, 2014

New study shows three abrupt pulses of CO2 during last deglaciation

This image from December 2010 shows a 1-meter-long section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide core with a dark ash layer.

Increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide that helped end the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago happened in three abrupt pulses, not gradually.


Fires and floods: North Cascades federal lands prepare for climate change

mountain lake

UW scientists worked with managers of federal parks and forests to come up with a strategy to address warmer temperatures, increased wildfires and more flooding in the North Cascades region.


October 24, 2014

Large X-ray scanner to produce 3-D images for labs across campus

A photo of an example of a scanner.

A state-of-the-art imaging machine is coming to the University of Washington for use by researchers in a variety of disciplines.


U.S. Navy awards $8 million to develop wave, tidal energy technology

students on boat

The UW has an $8 million, four-year contract to develop technologies that can harness waves, tides and currents to power naval facilities worldwide.


October 15, 2014

Science communication should consider cultural perspectives

Two images from Native-American-authored children's books.

New research suggests that considering differences among a variety of cultures can have an impact on how well science and scientific concepts are communicated to the public.


October 14, 2014

Orphanage care linked to thinner brain tissue in regions related to ADHD

brain scan image

Psychological studies of children who began life in Romanian orphanages shows that institutionalization is linked to physical changes in brain structure. The thinning of the cortex leaves a lasting legacy that can explain impulsivity and inattention years later.


October 10, 2014

Engineering lecture series focuses on technologies for the heart

2014 flyer image

The University of Washington’s College of Engineering 2014 fall lecture series will feature faculty researchers in engineering and medicine who are improving cardiac medical care with new technologies.


Citizen science key to keeping pace with environmental change

Seven students stand on beach holding bird carcass

Better integration of citizen science into professional science is a growing consideration at the UW and elsewhere.


October 9, 2014

Migrating animals’ pee affects ocean chemistry

school of fish

Tiny animals migrating from the ocean’s surface to the sunless depths helps shape our oceans. During the daylight hours below the surface the animals release ammonia, the equivalent of our urine, that plays a significant role in marine chemistry, particularly in low-oxygen zones.


October 8, 2014

UW fusion reactor concept could be cheaper than coal

A prototype of the UW's current fusion experiment.

University of Washington engineers have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output.


October 7, 2014

Toddlers regulate behavior to avoid making adults angry

A toddler reacts after an adult has expressed "annoyance" at the behavior of another adult.

UW researchers have found that children as young as 15 months can detect anger in other people’s social interactions and then modify their own behavior.


October 3, 2014

Not stuff of musty museums: Enlist evolutionary biology against modern threats

Full-size models of elephant, leopard, rhino on display

Using evolutionary biology is one way to try to outwit evolution where it is happening too quickly and to perhaps find accommodations when evolution occurs too slowly.


October 2, 2014

UW’s Jeffrey Heer wins award to support data visualization research

A data visualization example

Jeffrey Heer, a University of Washington associate professor of computer science and engineering, has received an award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop new theories, tools and techniques for data visualization that help scientists see and understand big data.


September 23, 2014

Dying brain cells cue new brain cells to grow in songbird

Sparrow perches among tree branches

Using a songbird as a model, scientists have described a brain pathway that replaces cells that have been lost naturally and not because of injury.


September 22, 2014

Snail shells show high-rise plateau is much lower than it used to be

The Zhada Basin on the southwest Tibetan Plateau, with the Himalayas to the south.

Geologists have long debated when and how the Tibetan Plateau reached a 14,000-foot-plus elevation, but new UW-led research shows it once was probably even higher.


September 19, 2014

Join expedition online: UW students help install cabled deep-sea observatory

octopus near instrument

UW students have had a unique experience off the coast of Washington and Oregon helping scientists and engineers complete construction of the world’s largest deep-ocean observatory.


Reflected smartphone transmissions enable gesture control

An image showing how SideSwipe works.

University of Washington engineers have developed a new form of low-power wireless sensing technology that lets users “train” their smartphones to recognize and respond to specific hand gestures near the phone.


September 16, 2014

Health Sciences Digest: Wearable Artificial Kidney, worker wellness, chromosome sort safeguard

Wearable Artificial Kidney

Health Sciences Digest: Wearable Artificial Kidney safety testing to begin, low-wage workers value employer wellness initiatives, cells simply avoid chromosome errors


September 11, 2014

UW-built sensors to probe Antarctica’s Southern Ocean

person with float

Floating sensors built at the UW will be central to a new $21 million effort to learn how the ocean surrounding Antarctica influences climate.


September 8, 2014

Geneticist Mary-Claire King to receive Lasker Foundation Award

Mary-Clare King

Mary-Clare King, a world leader in cancer genetics and the application of genetics to justice for human rights violations, will be honored by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.


September 5, 2014

California blue whales rebound from whaling; first of their kin to do so

Overhead view of blue whale swimming in ocean

The number of California blue whales has rebounded to near historical levels and, while the number of blue whales struck by ships is likely above allowable U.S. limits, such strikes do not immediately threaten that recovery.


September 4, 2014

Predicting when toxic algae will reach Washington and Oregon coasts

animation of currents

Better understanding of how a deadly algae grows offshore and gets carried to Pacific Northwest beaches has led to a computer model that can predict when the unseen threat will hit local beaches.


September 3, 2014

Changing temperature powers sensors in hard-to-reach places

The power harvester could be placed outside and runs off of temperature changes in the natural world.

University of Washington researchers have taken inspiration from a centuries-old clock design and created a power harvester that uses natural fluctuations in temperature and pressure as its power source.


September 2, 2014

Dwindling waterways challenge desert fish in warming world

Verde River Basic Oak Creek

One of Arizona’s largest watersheds – home to many native species of fish already threatened by extinction – is providing a grim snapshot of what could happen to watersheds and fish in arid areas around the world as climate warming occurs.


August 27, 2014

New smartphone app can detect newborn jaundice in minutes

A demonstration of how the app set-up looks.

University of Washington engineers and physicians have developed a smartphone application that checks for jaundice in newborns and can deliver results to parents and pediatricians within minutes.



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