Elaine Taylor

5:30 News Co-host / Reporter

After graduating with a B.S. in Anthropology from the University of Utah, Elaine developed a love of radio while working long hours in remote parts of Utah as an archaeological field technician. She eventually started interning for the radio show Science Questions and fell completely in love with the medium. Elaine is currently taking classes at Utah State University in preparation for medical school applications. She is a host of UPR’s 5:30 Newscast and a science writer for the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station. Elaine hopes to bring her experiences living abroad in Turkey and Austria into her work.

A 12-year-old northern Utah girl passed away on Saturday at Primary Children’s Medical Center from bacterial meningitis. Faith Hunter was a 6th grader at Mount Logan Middle School in Logan.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. According to the Centers for Disease Control, bacterial meningitis can be caused by many types of bacteria, though most of them, including the type Hunter died from, are not easily contracted or transmissible.

SNOTEL collects precipitation data from around the state to help with water management.
Natural Resource Conservation Service

It has been a dry winter so far for Utah, and new data from the precipitation measuring system SNOTEL confirms that the state, and much of the West, is in for a dry year.

Federally run SNOTEL sensors are distributed around the state. They take measurements on things like snow depth and soil moisture levels, which can be used to help water managers decide how to allocate water.

Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. UPR spoke with two Utah organizations located on different sides of the discussion and found  both are concerned about the future of women’s healthcare.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision has become a divisive political issue in the state and around the nation in the 40 years since the court ruling legalized some forms of abortion.


Issenberg spoke about his new book "Victory Lab" on Wednesday.
USU

Elections are still a ways off, but things are getting political at Utah State University. A brand new series titled “Foxley Forums”, named after USU alumn and political advisor, Douglas Foxley, kicked off Wednesday with author Sasha Issenberg.

Issenberg spoke about his book, "The Victory Lab — The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns."

The digital currency bitcoin can now be used to pay for goods on Overstock.com, a Salt Lake City based company.

Bitcoin users can exchange traditional currency, like dollars, for the online currency or “mine” money, by allowing their personal computer to act as a server for the cryptocurrency in exchange for a reward or service fee paid in bitcoins.

ExoMars is scheduled to launch in 2018.
NASA.gov

An upcoming mission to Mars will have the help of one Utah company that will be providing some of the technology to find chemical evidence of life beneath the iron oxide that gives the “Red Planet” its nickname.

Wasatch Photonics makes high-tech refraction gratings and spectrometers that will be used by the ExoMars Mission. Developed by the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency, ExoMars is an astrobiological mission to find biosignatures of life.

Wasatch Photonics C.E.O. Gerald Heidt explains.

coreychristiansen.com

This year’s Grammys are on the 26th and featured on a recording nominated for “Best Instrumental Arrangement” and “Best Instrumental Composition” is a professor from Utah State University.

Guitar Studies Director Corey Christiansen plays on famous jazz musician Chuck Owen’s latest album, River Runs.

tesla motors, electric charging,
Jim Motavalli / DIGITAL JOURNAL

Tesla Motors opened its first charging station in Utah for its electric cars on Tuesday, but its placement in Blanding has left more than a few people shaking their heads.

Janet Bradford works at the Blanding Visitors Center, which shares property with the station. She said she hasn’t seen anyone charge up yet.

“The station’s there and it could be used, there’s still some fencing around part of it…I haven’t even seen anything in town that could use it,” Bradford said.

Chase Fine Arts Center, Design competition
ELAINE TAYLOR / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

Construction on the courtyard outside of Utah State University’s Chase Fine Arts Center began earlier this fall, but it wasn’t until Monday that a final design was selected for the space.

The new design was chosen through a student competition held by the Caine College of the Arts and the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. After an anonymous first round, judges narrowed the field from 34 to 6 designs.

Monday the judges met to hear presentations from each of the finalists and choose a winner. Before the presentations began, finalists excitedly paced the performance hall in suits, talking about their designs with faculty and friends.

Cold air from the polar vortex will not reach Utah.
National Weather Service

Temperatures across much of the eastern U.S. are hitting record lows this week, but meteorologists say the arctic air won’t be reaching Utah.

Air flow at the poles creates year-round vortices, also known as an arctic cyclone. A weakening of the North American winter jet stream can lead to distortions in the shape of the polar air mass and allow for cold air to push southward, like what’s happening now.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Larry Dunn explained it’s not the vortex itself that’s reaching much of the eastern U.S.

sunset, sun
APRIL ASHLAND / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

Saturday is the day the Earth will be closest to the sun this year, but don’t expect a heat wave. NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins said the change is such a small percentage of the total distance to the sun that mere earthlings like us won’t notice any difference.

“At closest, like now, we’re about 147 million kilometers out. At the furthest, it’s about 152 million,” he said.
What does make a difference to Earth’s temperatures and seasons, Wiggins said, is the 23.4 percent tilt of our planet on its axis.

“This time of year we here in the northern hemisphere are tilted away from the sun which means the sun is lower in the sky, it hits us at a much lower angle and it’s also in the sky for much less time than it is when we’re tilted toward the sun, so all of that works together to make it cold,” Wiggins said.

A new report shows there were 22 domestic violence related deaths in 2013, down from 30 the year before. Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Director Peg Coleman said the number is still too high, but does show that progress has been made.

“The good news is that the number of fatalities did go down and I think it is because more systems this past year really have started to work together more closely and understand the intersections of domestic violence with other issues,” Coleman said.

Domestic violence is often paired with factors such as substance abuse, mental health issues, and suicide. Coleman said one of the coalition’s objectives is to bring together domestic violence fighting non-profits with service providers in these areas.

The H1N1 influenza strain is behind the majority of flu related hospitalizations in the state this season.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Salt Lake County Health Department has confirmed the first influenza deaths of the season. Two Salt Lake County residents between the ages of 35 and 64 died in the second half of December. 

According to officials at the Utah Department of Health, the number of flu related hospitalizations statewide this season is closely tracking last year’s higher than average numbers. Salt Lake County saw 21 deaths last year compared to 6 the year before, said Nicholas Rupp of the Salt Lake Health Department.

27 bald eagles have died across the state in the past month.
Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Utah wildlife officials say the mystery deaths of more than 25 bald eagles across the state have been solved. Laboratory results have confirmed that West Nile Virus was the cause of illness, ruling out lead, toxic chemicals and bacterial infections.

West Nile is typically seen during the summer when mosquito populations, which carry the virus, are high.

Assistant State Veterinarian Warren Hess said the eagles may have been sickened by eating the carcasses of eared grebes, a small water bird that lives on the Great Salt Lake. 

Jacob Anderegg
utah.gov

State Rep. Jacob Anderegg is proposing a new state amendment that would ask Utahns to once again vote on the issue of marriage. The amendment, which Anderegg said is still in the works, would protect religious clergy from being required to perform marriages that violate their religious beliefs or doctrine.

Anderegg (R-Lehi) said the proposal is a response to the Federal Government, not to the recent decision by Judge Robert J. Shelby.

Five eagles from across northern Utah have died from a mystery illness.
nps.gov

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports that another bald eagle has died from the mysterious illness that has caused the deaths of multiple birds across the state in the past two weeks.

By Monday four birds held in rehab facilities had died and one was in stable condition after showing symptoms including paralysis and tremors. However, after experiencing worsening symptoms the surviving bird was euthanized.

15 super-volcanoes similar in size to the one located beneath Yellowstone National Park today erupted 30 million years ago in Utah.
nationalatlas.gov

After nearly 30 years of geological research, a team from BYU said they have found evidence of some of the largest volcanic eruptions in the history of the planet.

Around 30 million years ago, when large mammals roamed North America, Utah was the site of 15 super eruptions. Head researcher Eric Christiansen said one of the largest eruptions happened near Wah Wah Springs in central Utah.

“Compared to what erupted out of Mount St. Helens in 1980, it’s about 5,000 times bigger,” Christiansen said.

The Utah Food Bank has seen more online donations this holiday season than in years past.
cabq.gov

Increased need during the government shutdown in October led many Utah food banks to voice concerns over reduced food supplies for the upcoming holiday season. Jeanette Bott from the Utah Food Bank said Utahns have reached out with donations, keeping pantries across the state stocked. 

Bott said the portion of donations made online has grown this year, while typical food donations are down statewide.

The pantry said donations of high protein foods like tuna and beef stew are always needed, as well as kid-friendly products like mac and cheese.

eagle, bald eagle
US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Four eagles have died over the past two weeks from an unexplained illness that has left a fifth, discovered on Saturday, paralyzed but in stable condition. The eagles were discovered across northern Utah in Weber, Box Elder, Tooele and Utah counties.

Dalyn Marthaler is a wildlife specialist with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, which has cared for four of the birds, and said the birds are coming in with the same symptoms.

“They’re coming in with paralysis and tremors, and showing neurological issues. We don’t yet have the cause of that. It’s kind of a mystery at this point,” Marthaler said.

Two new species of spider wasps were discovered by USU researchers in Brazil.
Waichert and Pitts

Two new species of wasps have been discovered by a pair of researchers from Utah State University. Professor James Pitts and graduate student Cecilia Waichert found the new species of spider wasps while examining a century-old Brazilian museum collection.

Named for their method of reproduction, spider wasps lay a single egg on a spider they capture and paralyze. When the egg hatches, the young wasp feeds on the immobile spider.

bilingual, study, students
NYC Department of Education

One Utah State University researcher has found a way to better identify language impairments in bilingual children through English language testing. It can be difficult to identify delayed language development in bilingual children, who show impairments in both of the languages they speak.

Older methods identified problems by testing children bilingually, but USU professor Ronald Gillam said this method has limits.

air quality, mandatory action
UTAH DIVISION OF AIR QUALITY

As a familiar winter haze settles over the state, the Utah Division of Air Quality has issued mandatory action warnings for five Utah Counties. The use of wood stoves and fireplaces is prohibited in Cache, Box Elder, Salt Lake and Davis counties, as well as Utah and Weber counties until the Department of Environmental Quality lifts the limit with the improvement of air quality.

Utah Division of Air Quality Environmental Scientist Ken Simmons said the early warnings were issued to inform the public.

Lauryn Schroeder/ The Medill Justice Project

Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project released some of their findings from an investigation into the rate of legal cases surrounding shaken baby syndrome on Tuesday. The Justice Project is an investigative journalism program that researches criminal justice issues, including wrongful convictions.

Project director Alec Klein said the investigation was difficult because few of the crimes had witnesses and because little data has been collected to understand national trends.

One BYU senior is filming a documentary about his journey to find lasting love. Film student Stephen Nelson is on a mission to find true love and get engaged in six months. He said he woke up one morning with the idea, which has now grown into a documentary called 6 Till Engaged.

gay marriage
blogs.sos.wa.gov

A federal judge heard arguments from both sides of a lawsuit surrounding Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Three couples who were denied Utah marriage licenses filed the lawsuit in March, saying the ban violated their constitutional rights.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby heard arguments Wednesday from both sides, who had each asked for a summary judgment—meaning that a ruling could be made without material facts.

John Majia the legal director for the ACLU, which is in support of the couples, explains the arguments in the case.

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