About Joel Parker


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Joel Parker has written 64 articles so far, you can find them below.


Chasing Shadows – Stellar Occultations and the Outer Solar System

Shadow Chasers (Photo: Jack Jewell)

Shadow Chasers
(Photo: Jack Jewell)

Chasing Shadows [starts at 9:40]  Astronomy is a science that depends on watching things happen in the universe that we don’t have control over: supernovae, formation of stars, orbits of planets, and the spectacle of solar eclipses.  You can’t grab a distant galaxy and bring it into the lab for experiments, so astronomers have to depend on studying the light that fortuitously comes to them from distant objects.  However, by studying just that light, we can learn much about the objects in the universe and how they formed and evolved.  For example, studying solar eclipses have taught us about the corona of the sun and about general relativity.   To make those observations and measurements, scientists have to chase the shadow and set up their laboratory in remote places to catch it.  In this edition of How on Earth we talk with one such shadow-chaser: astronomer Dr. Marc Buie from the Boulder office of the Southwest Research Institute.  Marc organized a set of expeditions around the Earth to observe occultations of the Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, which is is the next flyby target of the New Horizons space mission that flew past Pluto in July 2015.  He explains the science of occultations, what can be gleaned from these shadowy observations of 2014 MU69, and talks about planning for observation expeditions to remote places around the world.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Chip Grandits
Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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The American Eclipse of 1878

Cover-300-wideThis August 21st, some parts of the Earth will be plunged into darkness in the middle of the day.  It will be a solar eclipse; the moon’s shadow will cross the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, with the path closest to Colorado passing through Wyoming and Nebraska.

There have been many eclipses across the US, but there was a particularly special one nearly 140 years ago on July 29th, 1878.  That eclipse came at a time in American history of western expansion, industrial growth, new inventions and World’s Fairs, and a young country wanting to establish itself on the international stage of science and technology.

Our guest today is David Baron, author of a book about that eclipse.  The book is “American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World”.  David joins us to talk about that eclipse, the people involved in observing it, and its part in Colorado history.

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

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2017 Graduation Special (part 2)

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, or in many cases in the rearview mirror, today’s edition of How on Earth is the second of a two-part “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who recently graduated with – or soon will receive – their Ph.D.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

abbyAbby Koss – CU Boulder, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Topic: New Insights into Fossil Fuel Volatile Organic Compound Emissions and Chemistry using H3O+ and NO+ Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometry

 
matteoMatteo Crismani – CU Boulder, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Topic: Cometary Gas and Dust Delivered to Mars

 

Version 2Callie Fiedler – CU Boulder, Electrical Engineering
Topic: Characterizing the Properties of 3D Printed Hydrogels for Regenerative Medicine

 

 

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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2017 Graduation Special (part 1)

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, or in many cases in the rearview mirror, today’s edition of How on Earth is the first of a two-part “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who recently graduated with – or soon will receive – their Ph.D.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

morganMorgan Rehnberg – CU Boulder, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Topic: Small-Scade Structure in Saturn’s Rings

 

davidDavid Horvath – Colorado School of Mines, Department of Geophysics
Topic: Planetary Hydrology: Implications for the Past Martian Climate and Present Titan Lake Hydrology Using Numerical Models of the Hydrologic Cycles on Titan and Mars

 
josephJoseph Lee – CU Boulder, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Topic: Wind Energy and Interactions between Wind Turbines and the Atmosphere

 
Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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New Adventures in Astronomy with Gerrit Verschuur

Gerrit-VerschuurToday’s How on Earth show is a special edition in conjunction with the Conference on World Affairs panel entitled: “New Adventures in Astronomy”. Our guest is Gerrit Verschuur, a radio astronomer who has worked at Jodrell Bank radio observatory in the United Kingdom, National Radio Astronomy Observatory in West Virginia, and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.  Dr. Verschuur also was a faculty member at the University of Colorado, Boulder and was the first director of the Fiske Planetarium.  His work has ranged from measuring the interstellar magnetic field, to the search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, to measuring the small-scale structure in the cosmic microwave background.  He has published numerous books including “The Invisible Universe: The Story of Radio Astronomy” and “Impact! The Threat of Comets and Asteroids.”

Host / Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer:Susan Moran

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Of Wasps and Figs

511tQZJac7L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s feature has How on Earth’s Beth Bennett talking with Dr. Mike Shanahan, a biologist who has a degree in rainforest ecology.  He has lived in a national park in Borneo, bred endangered penguins, and investigated illegal bear farms.  His writing has appeared in The Economist, Nature, and The Ecologist, and he also was the illustrator for the book: Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals.  His interests delve into what people think about nature and our place in it.  Beth had a chance to talk with Dr. Shanahan about his new book: Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees.

Host: Joel Parker
Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Earth in Human Hands – Shaping our Planet’s Future

Dr. David Grinspoon (photo by Lawrence Cheng)

Dr. David Grinspoon
(photo by Lawrence Cheng)

Sometimes when we are having personal or health problems, it helps to get an outside perspective: talk to other friends who have experienced similar problems and how they dealt with them, and other friends about how they avoided those problems.  Talk to experts.  Then using all that input, we try to make the best choice to solve the problems and to live a long and happy life.  This is perhaps the situation we find ourselves in now with the health of our environment and the long-term viability of the human race.  So where to we look for that “outside perspective” and expert help?  The answer may be: look to other planets and talk to those who study them.  This is the approach astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon takes in his new book: “Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future”. Dr. Grinspoon is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, and in 2013 he was appointed the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress.  We had a chance to talk with Dr. Grinspoon about how he compares Earth’s story to those of other planets, and how our present moment is not only one of peril, but also great potential, especially when viewed from a 10,000-year perspective.

The podcast of the show is below, and you also can hear the extended interview here.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Earth in Human Hands – extended interview

cover-375

 

This is the full interview with Dr. David Grinspoon, author of the book “Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future”.  Excerpts of this interview by Joel Parker aired on How on Earth on our January 10, 2017 show.

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2016 Retrospective

2016-resetFor this end-of-the-year How on Earth show, we look back to 2016 with clips from some of our features from the past year: selections from the Our Microbes, Ourselves series, research about Zika, gravitational waves, and carbon farming.  Those are just a few of the topics we covered in 2016, which also included: electric cars, electric airplanes, renewable energy, climate change, using the microbiome as indicator of length of time after death, star gazing, pesticides, life on other planets, planets around other stars, stars in other galaxies, eggs, plant diversity, marine animal sex, wildfires, recent science graduates describing their thesis work, PTSD, light pollution, pollinators, lead in water supplies, Alzheimer’s research, the Rosetta mission, the New Horizons mission, missions to Mars – past, present, and future, sleep, cell phones, and more!

Hosts: Joel Parker, Chip Grandits
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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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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