Science & Technology



Why the imported washing machine you want is getting more expensive

CHICAGO -- At $1,899, one of the priciest washing machines for sale at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill., is Samsung's two-washers-in-one-machine Steel FlexWash. As a result of new tariffs approved by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, that price tag is about to get steeper.

Consumers considering solar panels are going to feel a similar sticker...Read more

Helpware: An auteur who doesn't go by the book

Why is it so difficult to edit a five-minute home movie? Why aren't movie-editing programs more intuitive? Why do they keep crashing? How thick do windows have to be to prevent neighbors from hearing full-throated cussing? Lots of questions; no good answers.

Movie-editing programs have basic moves in common. First, organize the film clips and ...Read more

Tech Q&A: How to fix a PC that's 'out of memory'

Q: I frequently get an "out of memory" message on my Windows 7 PC, and usually have to shut down the PC to get rid of it. What can I do about this?

Margaret Lonergan, Minneapolis

A: There are several possible reasons you got the "out of memory" message, but often it means your PC's RAM (random access memory) is full.

RAM, or computer chip ...Read more

Company aims to digitize paper-recycling industry

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A Minnesota company hopes a new partnership will help make the movement of recycled paper goods more efficient.

Third-party logistics provider C.H. Robinson will work with MerQbiz -- a joint venture between German technology group Voith and Boston Consulting Group's Digital Ventures -- to allow buyers and sellers of ...Read more

Jennifer Van Grove: The smartphone trap (or why it's time to put your phone down)

Are we raising digital monsters? Absolutely. And everyone from parents to Facebook and society as a whole is to blame.

So instead of playing the blame game, I think the most constructive way forward is to take every opportunity we -- not just parents -- have to put the phone down. In the bedroom. While driving. During meals and conversations. ...Read more

Scientists smash thousands of proteins to find four 'Legos of life'

By "smashing" proteins and looking at the broken bits, scientists at Rutgers University say they've discovered four basic building blocks that can be stacked like Legos to build all kinds of different proteins.

The results described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could help researchers better understand the origins of life ...Read more

Tech industry urges US to keep work permits for H-1B spouses

NEW YORK -- Business and tech industry groups -- representing Inc., Google, Visa Inc. and other companies -- are urging the Trump administration not to halt work authorizations for spouses of immigrants who have specialty worker H-1B visas and are seeking permanent residency.

The request, in a letter this week, comes as the ...Read more

Microsoft, Alibaba AI programs beat humans in a Stanford reading test

First, it was chess. Then it was Go. Now it's basic reading comprehension.

The robots are coming.

Two artificial intelligence programs created by Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and Microsoft beat humans on a Stanford University reading comprehension test.

Alibaba took the honor as the creator of the first program to ever beat a human in a...Read more

Inside the global race to deliver a vital radioactive isotope used to detect cancer

JANESVILLE, Wis. -- In a cornfield here, past the shuttered General Motors plant and the Janesville Terrace trailer home park, a facility not seen in the United States in three decades could soon rise: a manufacturing plant that will make a vital radioactive isotope used to detect cancer and other potentially fatal maladies in millions of people...Read more

Getting a bone marrow transplant could give you new DNA, too

Q: Does a bone marrow transplant change your DNA?

A: Well, sort of, but probably not in the way you are imagining. Still, such transplants have led to some mighty interesting real-life cases for forensic scientists trying to sniff out the truth. Here's why:

As you probably know, certain cancers and other diseases may cripple your own bone ...Read more

California congressman wants to ask Intel, AMD and ARM about Meltdown and Spectre

A California congressman wants to meet with the Top 3 microchip makers to better understand the implications of two security flaws that affect almost all computing devices in the world.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, wrote a letter Tuesday to the CEOs of Intel, ARM and AMD to request a briefing. A member of the House Energy and Commerce ...Read more

Tech Q&A: Chip security fix hurts some PCs

Q: On Jan. 8, my 10-year-old, custom-built Windows 7 PC crashed. (I got the "blue screen of death.") My technician wonders whether I'm the victim of Microsoft's software patches for the AMD processor chip security problems, which locked up some computers. (The small Oregon firm that built my PC used a main circuit board from ASUS.)

My ...Read more

Jennifer Van Grove: A streaming TV state of the union

When I started this streaming TV column one year ago, we were at a tipping point in TV and entertainment. Today, the pendulum has swung to the side of streamers, who have more choice and customization options, including sports and local stations, than traditional pay TV customers.

As a result, more people than ever are ditching their providers....Read more

Helpware: Mice that keep you healthy

In the early days of electronic pagination some 40 years ago, I worked for a newspaper that bought the first one on the market. It was a monster of a computer, with a screen that was more than 30 inches wide. The screen's resolution was awful. The monitor flickered anytime a task was performed. The mouse was about as big as a size-15 men's shoe ...Read more

Do moon phases produce big earthquakes? Study debunks that idea

Huge earthquakes are not significantly influenced by the moon, a new study says.

The study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough, looked at earthquakes of magnitude 8 or greater over the past four centuries. And a review of more than 200 earthquakes demonstrated that there is no connection between the phase of the moon ...Read more

Facebook 'fix' needed, early investor Roger McNamee says

Roger McNamee, founding partner of Elevation Partners and an early investor in Facebook, is making lots of noise about how to "fix" Facebook.

In the past week or so, he has written in the Washington Monthly, the Guardian and the Washington Post about Facebook's role in spreading fake news.

"It reads like the plot of a sci-fi novel: a ...Read more

In rural China, calling someone a 'witch' has serious social consequences

Witches continue to work their dark arts in some parts of the world, at least in the minds of their accusers.

For example, in a rural farming community in southwestern China, 13.7 percent of the population has been labeled "zhu," or "witch," by their neighbors, according to a new paper published Jan. 8 in Nature Human Behavior.

"'Zhu' ...Read more

One-two punch of the Thomas fire and debris flows leaves trail of destruction

LOS ANGELES -- Santa Barbara County crews worked through the holidays to defend coastal communities from the second half of Southern California's familiar cycle of fire and flood.

They cleaned out the 11 debris basins that dot the Santa Barbara front country, making room for the dirt and ash and rocks that winter rains would inevitably send ...Read more

Erosion is revealing surprising amounts of water ice on Mars

Thanks to erosion wearing away surface rock on Mars, scientists using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have spotted thick deposits of ice in the planet's mid-latitudes that extend hundreds of feet deep.

The discovery, described in the journal Science, could offer researchers a tantalizing new spot to sample our dusty, rusty neighbor.

"This ...Read more

Lionfish-killing contests help control them, study claims

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- They are festive killing sprees, contests among divers armed with spears and nets to catch the biggest haul of venomous, non-native fish that have colonized South Florida's reefs.

Lionfish derbies take aim at spiky, elaborately decorated fish from the Indian and Pacific oceans that have done to Florida's coastal waters ...Read more