The Rosetta Mission

rosetta_descent_smallRosetta [feature starts at 5:27]
The Rosetta Space Mission has been in flight for ever 12 years and will be ending with a dramatic crash this Friday morning around 10:40 UT (4:40 am Mountain time) – it’s an event that will be watched and talked about by people around the world.

Rosetta is run by the European Space Agency, with contributions from NASA. The mission’s goals have been to study a comet to learn not only about how comets work, but what comets can tell us about the origins of the solar system, and perhaps connections to water and life. Rosetta was the first spacecraft to orbit and escort a comet as the comet approached and flew past the Sun, and Rosetta also carried a smaller spacecraft, named Philae, that performed the first landing on a comet.

The Rosetta mission has a very strong Colorado connection, since one of the instruments – an ultraviolet spectrograph called “Alice” – was operated from the offices of Southwest Research Institute right here in Boulder.We have three members of the Rosetta team here in the studio to talk about Rosetta, comets, and the rather exciting ending planned for the spacecraft in just a few days. Our guests are Andrew Steffl from Southwest Research Institute, John Pineau from Stellar Solutions, and John Noonan who is a recent astronomy graduate from the University of Colorado and is working at Southwest Research Institute.

There’s more information on the Rosetta Blog about how to follow the final events of the Rosetta mission.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Alejandro Soto
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Alzheimer’s Reversal – Extended Interview with Dale Bredesen

Buck Institute Scientist Dale Bredesen (photo by Shelley)

Buck Institute Scientist Dale Bredesen (photo by Shelley)

This is an extended interview with Dale Bredesen, leader of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.  Bredesen has documented reversal of early Alzheimer’s in a small case study, largely through lifestyle interventions.  We spoke while he was at CU-Boulder for the 2016 Ancestral Health Symposium.  

For the broadcast version and links to websites, go to our website.

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Alzheimer’s Reversal: ApoE4.info and Dr. Dale Bredesen

"Julieegee" ApoE4.info (photo by Shelley)

“Julieegee” ApoE4.info (photo by Shelley)

Alzheimer’s Reversal (starts 2:20) The Alzheimer’s Association calls Alzheimer’s “the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.”  This gloomy outlook means many people avoid screening tests for dementia.  Now Dale Bredesen, a leading scientist from California’s Buck Institute for Research on Aging has documented reversal of early Alzheimer’s in a small case study, largely through lifestyle interventions and a protocol Bredesen describes at MPI cognition.  Activists with ApoE4.info, who have a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s say the study and Bredesen’s protocol, bolster their efforts to speak openly about ways to foster healthy brains.  For an extended version of the interview with Dr. Bredesen, go to our website.

Host/Producer/Engineer:  Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Personalized Medicine from Genome Sequencing

DNA Sequence

DNA Sequence

This week, an interview with Howard Jacob, PhD, principal investigator and executive vice president for genomic medicine at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology (starts at 5’30”)describing the potential for personalized genomic sequencing and analysis in the identification of rare undiagnosed and misdiagnosed disease. A headline featuring research on how dogs process words mentioned a video of dogs in MRI machines; see the dogs at http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/video-your-dog-understands-more-you-think.
Host:Beth Bennett
Producer:Beth Bennett
Engineer:Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions:Joel Parker
Executive Producer:Susan Moran
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Gregory Benford – Science Fiction/Fact and Starshot

What are the qualities that make a good scientist?
What are the qualities that make a good science fiction writer?
515tlGA1GTL._UX250_Those skills do not necessarily overlap, but when they do, they not only can produce wonderful works of speculative fiction based on hard science, but they also can generate exciting new ideas for science research.

Our guest on today’s show inhabits both worlds; he is a professional scientist and a well-known science fiction writer. Dr. Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvin, where he has been a faculty member since 1971. Benford conducts research in plasma turbulence theory and experiment, and in astrophysics. He has published papers in fields of physics including condensed matter, particle physics, plasmas, mathematical physics, and even in biological conservation and geoengineering.

image3Dr. Benford also is a Nebula Award winning author of over twenty novels, including “Timescape”, “Jupiter Project”, “Artifact”, and “Against Infinity”, and the 6-book “Galactic Center Saga” series.  He also is an advisor on the Breakthrough Starshot project that has the goal to fly a spaceship to the nearest star.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Alejandro Soto
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Methane Emissions From Natural Gas

Oil and gas wells in Four Corners region. Credit: NASA

Methane Madness (start time: 2:20)  More than a decade ago, scientists noted that the area where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet, known as Four Corners, appeared to be emitting a curiously large amount of methane. In a new study, a team of scientists have traced the source: more than 250 gas wells, storage tanks, pipelines and processing plants associated with oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin. The basin is one of many places where new drilling technologies, including horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, have propelled a boom in natural gas extraction. The boom has transformed the U.S. energy mix. Our two guests discuss with hosts Daniel Glick and Susan Moran the science and public health aspects of this study as well as the human side of living near natural gas wells in Colorado. Dr. Colm Sweeney co-authored the recent Four Corners study. He is the lead scientist for NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab Aircraft Program, and he is a research scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our other guest, Dr. Christopher Clack, is a physicist and mathematician with CIRES whose research focuses on renewable electricity. He shares his personal experience with and documentation of natural gas extraction.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Contributor: Joel Parker

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Lessons From Flint’s Lead-In-Water Crisis

flint water

Corroded lead pipes in Flint, Mich. Photo credit: flintwaterstudy.org

Tackling Lead Contamination: Flint and Beyond (start time: 6:27) When you pour yourself a glass of water from the tap, do wonder whether it’s truly clean and safe? How would you know for sure? Flint, Mich., is a haunting example of how a breakdown in water-supply infrastructure, and political integrity, can result in lead contamination of a city’s tap water. Last year, thanks to the dogged investigation of an environmental engineer from Virginia, all of us nationwide were rattled by the disclosure that Flint residents were drinking poisoned tap water and that their city and federal officials were doing little to disclose the problem, much less tackle it. Since then, lead-poisoning outbreaks have emerged in Portland, Ore., Cleveland, Ohio, and elsewhere. Dr. Marc Edwards is the Virginia Tech professor who led the investigation in Flint, and previous water-contamination probes, most notably in Washington, D.C. He talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about the public health, political and racial-justice facets of the Flint water crisis, and how many more similar crises around the country can be prevented in the future.
For more info, check out NRDC’s recent report on Flint, Marc Edwards’ and his team’s research, and ACLU Michigan‘s investigations.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker

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Zika Update

CDC targets Zika

CDC targets Zika

In headlines and 2 interviews with Zika researchers,Beth covers new material on this disturbing disease. CDC Chief of Virology, Dr Ann Power (start time 3’45”) and Dr Rushika Ferrara of CSU (start time 10’45”), describe aspects of the viral life cycle, including transmission, symptom variability, and promising avenues leading to potential treatments and preventions. For more information, cdc.gov and http://source.colostate.edu/dancing-through-the-lab-no-but-science-requires-fancy-footwork/; also http://www.ancestralhealth.org/
Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
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The Keeling Curve//Electric Airplanes//Moth Parties


Keeling CurveThe Keeling Curve 
(starts 5:00) Friday, August 12th the Boulder Shambala Center hosts:  Living Beyond Hope And Fear:  Social Confidence And Climate Change.  One leader of the event is the daughter of scientist who created the Keeling Curve for tracking CO2.  Emily Takahashi talks about how the memory of her father’s work inspired her to do the symposium.

courtesy ElectraflyerElectric Airplanes (starts 8:12) The constant drone of airplanes has many nature lovers wishing planes could be quieter.  It’s starting to happen, thanks to tinkerers and scientists who are building reliable electric powered airplanes, such as Randall Fishman of ElectraFlyer.  

credit: Boulder Audubon Society

courtesy: Boulder Audubon Society

Moth Parties (starts 15:03)   It’s that time of year when butterflies, dragonflies and other colorful insects fill the air.  A more humble flying creature is the lowly moth.  Boulder Audubon Society‘s, Pam Piombino .says moths are gaining enough of a following, some people now hold Moth Parties about . . . moths.  (Moth music is “Moths Around the Candle Flame.”)

Hosts: Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Headlines: Alejandro Soto, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender, Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Impacts of Fracking

A natural gas rig near Rifle, Colorado. © AP Photo/David Zalubowsk

A natural gas rig near Rifle, Colorado.
© AP Photo/David Zalubowsk

In Colorado, a boom in methane development over the past few years has raised questions about whether the environmental impacts are outpacing scientists’ ability to measure them. Shelley Schlender and Daniel Glick discuss the current state of the science looking into fracking’s impacts.  Here is a compendium of scientific, medical, and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Headlines: Beth Bennett, Natalia Bayona, Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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