Science & Technology





Brain-implanted devices could lead to medical breakthroughs

SEATTLE -- Fred Foy's hands used to shake and tremble uncontrollably from a nerve disorder known as essential tremor, making it hard for him to do the simplest tasks -- from signing his name to eating with utensils.

So in November 2016, he went through experimental surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center to fix the tremors with a...Read more

Gag order: For some toads, these beetles are hard to swallow

Bombardier beetles are known for their feisty response to predators. When confronted, the insects blast their adversary with a boiling-hot secretion of noxious chemicals.

If they get swallowed anyway, they have a back-up plan: Blast their way out from the inside.

In a messy experiment, scientists watched as a Japanese stream toad readily ...Read more

Gadgets for seniors: Ambitious techies roll out robots, smart gear for their elders

For older adults who grew up before the personal computer, iPhones and Amazon Echo became technological mainstays in everyday life, a growing number of startups are working on smart devices with features designed to keep aging minds and bodies healthy.

Personal-assistant robots such as the ElliQ and Cutii, smart shoes that signal a fall and ...Read more

Sound Advice: Oppo 4K Blu-ray players are the best on the market

Q. I just purchased a 55-inch LG OLED TV and I love it! I want to get a 4K Blu-ray player now. What do you recommend and will I see much of a difference with 4K Blu-rays compared to regular Blu-rays?

-- N.L., Eden Prairie, Minn.

A. Oppo makes the best disc players on the market and are well worth the investment. Oppo players are built like ...Read more

Study: Humanity will need to make some drastic changes to keep the 'good life' going

Bad news, Earthlings: It may be possible for everyone on the planet to live a "good" life. It may also be possible for humans to live within their environmental means.

But if present trends continue, there will be no way for both of these things to happen at the same time.

That's the bleak -- if not entirely surprising -- assessment of ...Read more

In Seattle, teachers are going rogue just to take kids on a field trip

Craig MacGowan is a bit of a living legend in local science-education circles.

He created "Mac's Field Guides," handy laminated primers to the Northwest's birds, trees and marine creatures. But mostly he's known for "Mac's kids" -- the more-than-2,000 Seattle high-school students, now all adults, he led on science trips during a four-decade ...Read more

Airplane cabins are crawling with germs, study says

You don't have to be mysophobic to want to slip on rubber gloves when you enter an airplane cabin.

A new study confirmed that various surfaces in the cabin of a commercial plane have many times the amount of bacteria as an average kitchen counter. But the latest study found that surfaces in airport terminals can have even higher germ counts ...Read more

Cellphone radiation not hazardous to your health, government scientists say

If you spend a lot of time on your mobile phone, you'll be happy to learn that your habit isn't hazardous to your health, according to a new government safety report.

The findings, released Friday by the National Toxicology Program, reaffirm the agency's previous research.

"The reports don't go much further than what we had reported earlier, ...Read more

Why diets backfire: A year or more after weight loss, the desire to eat grows stronger

Losing weight is, for most people, the easy part. The bigger challenge is trying to keep it off for more than a year.

New research helps explain why people in this second stage are so much more prone to failure.

In a nutshell, people who have shed a significant chunk of their weight are hungrier and have a stronger desire to eat for at least a...Read more

Galaxies that move together have cosmologists stumped about dark matter

Astronomers have discovered that the smaller satellite galaxies around Centaurus A are engaged in a coordinated dance that seems out of sync with our understanding of the large-scale structure of the universe.

The discovery, described in the journal Science, could push physicists to redefine our understanding of dark matter, that mysterious ...Read more

Nolan Bushnell 'applauds' GDC for rescinding his award amid MeToo

The latest person to be affected by the #MeToo movement is game and tech industry pioneer Nolan Bushnell, who was scheduled to receive an award from the Game Developers Conference but is instead apologizing for his past behavior.

The GDC said Wednesday that it would not be giving the Pioneer Award to Bushnell -- co-founder of Atari and more -- ...Read more

Sound Advice: More washing machine recommendations

This week I have lots of questions and comments about appliances. Readers love this topic!

Q. What model Speed Queen washer do you have? I am interested in learning more.

-- C.O. Boise, Idaho

Q. We bought a new low-water top loading washing machine after being told that in the state of California, these machines are now law. I washed most ...Read more

Facebook bans cryptocurrency ads amid fears about scams

Facebook said this week it is banning ads that promote cryptocurrencies because of concerns about scams and deceptive practices.

The hype around bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has fueled the popularity of the digital assets. But as advertisers also jump on the bandwagon, fears about cryptocurrency scams continue to escalate.

"We want ...Read more

Tech Q&A: Weighing the risks of outdated software

Q: I use Microsoft Office 2007, which I load from a disk instead of my hard drive. After a recent Windows 10 update, most of the icons for my Word documents changed from a blue "W" to an orange "MS."

When I click on those icons, a message tells me that I don't have Office on my PC, then offers to let me try or buy Office 2013.

I checked on ...Read more

Alaska Airlines, Bill Gates team up with to teach how computers work

SEATTLE -- Seat-back video screens on Alaska Airlines flights will now offer a bit more than HGTV reruns or the chance to see a semi-new-release movie.

Alaska has started airing, free for passengers, a series of short videos featuring Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates teaching how computers work.

The new in-flight entertainment comes out of a ...Read more

Facebook urged to pull plug on Messenger Kids

Saying young children are "simply not ready" for social media, health experts and children's advocates are urging Facebook to discontinue Messenger Kids, its new messaging app.

The app is aimed at younger than 13, which until now has been the minimum age of users of Facebook and other social networks. When Facebook introduced it last month, ...Read more

Helpware: A graphics tablet for doodlers

When I was gainfully employed and swamped with meetings that seemingly had neither beginnings nor ends, I'd pass the time doodling. My coworkers on each side of me would look at my doodling, including sketches of the group leader droning on, and there'd be smiles and nods of encouragement. In a typical meeting I'd go through a dozen sheets on a ...Read more

Brain scans reveal that friends really are on the same wavelength

What can an astronaut, baby sloths, a sentimental music video and an MRI scanner reveal about your friends? Quite a lot, a new study reveals.

Researchers put 42 business school students in an MRI machine and showed them a series of 14 videos. As they watched the clips, the scanner recorded the activity in their brains.

Those patterns could be ...Read more

This dinosaur from Egypt is a really big deal — in more ways than one

Introducing Mansourasaurus shahinae, a newly discovered dinosaur from Egypt.

It's a big discovery in more ways than one.

This dinosaur is a titanosaur, so it belongs to the same group as some of the largest creatures that ever walked the Earth.

It's also Africa's most complete dinosaur specimen from the late Cretaceous epoch, researchers say....Read more

Will a machine pick your next medication?

What once seemed like a scene from a 22nd century sci-fi movie is reality today. High speed, big data-processing computers combine artificial intelligence with human know-how to crack complex health care conditions. This deep computer analysis may unveil new patterns that could bolster your provider's ability to prescribe precise therapies, make...Read more