An Amtrak engineer might have lost track of where he was right before a passenger train derailed, killing eight people and injuring scores of others, federal investigators have found.

In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said Brandon Bostian might have thought he was past a curve when he accelerated to 106 mph.

Emily Mocarski/flickr creative commons

Last week, police and wildlife officials were called in to tranquilize and relocate two bears within four days.

Courtesy Clearwater

The sloop Clearwater is being readied for a return to the Hudson River after a winter of restoration work. 

State officials are apologizing for the way they’ve handled a plan to use an island in the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts as a breeding ground for endangered timber rattlesnakes. They say they are now looking at alternatives.

A legislative hearing held near the reservoir in Athol Tuesday brought out some strong opposition and showed what a major political issue rattlesnakes have become in that part of the state.

One year after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing 8 passengers and injuring scores of others, a key question remains unanswered: Why was the train going so fast?

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

As Schuyler Thomson lead a group of paddlers down the Housatonic River in northwest Connecticut, he squinted through the morning sunlight on the water. 

mystuart / Creative Commons

We all know peonies for their audaciously large, colorful flowers. 

Updated at 3 p.m. ET.

Out in the Nevada desert today, the world got a good look at the first public test of the Hyperloop — a concept that could someday become a new mode of transportation.

Don't call it a Wright Brothers' "Kitty Hawk" moment just yet, though. The demo focused on only one piece of a very complicated system.

NASA announced Tuesday the discovery of an unprecedented number of planets beyond our solar system — astronomers have confirmed the existence of 1,284 new worlds orbiting distant stars.

These planets beyond our solar system — exoplanets — were discovered with the help of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009.

Adam Frenier / NEPR

A Berkshire Superior Court judge has granted Kinder Morgan an injunction, allowing it to go forward with a natural gas pipeline in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, on its way to Connecticut. But the judge did issue conditions.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

From floods to fires --  burst pipes to a man overboard, when something goes wrong on a commercial fishing vessel -- crew members at sea need to act fast. But how do they prepare? 

A change in the weather has helped firefighters battling a massive blaze in Fort McMurray, a Canadian oil-sands town in the province of Alberta.

Cooler temperatures and light rain have officials sounding optimistic, hopeful that the wildfire — which continues to burn — might have reached a "turning point" that will lead to its containment.

"This is great firefighting weather," Alberta fire official Chad Morrison said at a weekend news conference. "We can really get in there and really get a handle on this fire ... get a death grip on it."

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Police dogs are great at sniffing out hidden drugs -- and as more crime goes digital, state police in Connecticut are training canines to sniff out evidence on computers and cell phones.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Burlington this afternoon to discuss a $10 million federal grant Vermont will receive to improve the rail corridor between Burlington and Rutland. 

Scientists have had a literal breakthrough off the coast of Mexico.

After weeks of drilling from an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico, they have reached rocks left over from the day the Earth was hit by a killer asteroid.

Bardia Photography / Creative Commons

Growing up in the shadow of my Italian grandparents’ farm, I have fond memories of my relatives wandering the fields in spring harvesting dandelion greens.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The streets of New Haven sport a colorful slate of cyclists, from college students getting to class, to city residents opting to bike to work over public transit. 

Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray in Alberta, where a wildfire has taken hold in the oil sands region. According to officials, it's the largest evacuation order caused by fire in the province's history.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission / Flickr Creative Commons

New York's Indian Point nuclear facility has faced a number of recent incidents including fires, blown transformers, and most recently detection of radioactive water near the facility. This hour, an update on the situation there and in Florida where the Turkey Point nuclear facility is under scrutiny.

We also hear from WNPR’s David DesRoches, who has been following the story of PCBs in Connecticut schools and in Alabama.

cogdogblog / Creative Commons

After more than two years, an effort to reduce the amount of food thrown out by big businesses and supermarkets is finally starting to take hold in Connecticut.

Graeme Lawton / Creative Commons

Controversy continues over where to relocate a new state police firearms training facility in Connecticut.

Its name will be "Red Dragon." And if the latest partnership between SpaceX and NASA works out, the privately funded craft will land on Mars to collect scientific data — possibly within the next two years. The plan is to use the Dragon capsule, but without a human crew.

"SpaceX is planning to send Dragons to Mars as early as 2018," the company said via Facebook Wednesday. "These missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars."

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Ahh spring, the flowers are blooming, asparagus is growing, and, oh yes, the lawn needs mowing. 

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From scientists to fiction writers, conspiracy theorists to theologians, aliens have captured the imagination of us all. But as we ponder the possibilities let us pause to ask ourselves why.

Why do these yet to be found creatures from space occupy such a central role in the musings of so many? And should their existence be confirmed, what will it mean for us on Earth?