About Joel Parker


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Joel Parker has written 34 articles so far, you can find them below.


Earth-friendly Landscaping

novak salvia darcyii and bee close upSummer is a time to celebrate our bursting gardens. But you may be wondering why your neighbor’s garden seems to be attracting all the butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds, while yours seems to be attracting mostly aphids and raccoons. Our guest, Alison Peck, owner of Matrix Gardens in Boulder, talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about how we make our gardens beautiful, biologically diverse, homes for native wildlife. She’s a landscape designer specializing in xeriscape, native plant and other earth-friendly landscapes.
Some resources for gardening for wildlife:
* Xeres Society’s pollinator resource guide.
* Xeres Society’s book, Attracting Native Pollinators.
* Bio-Integral Resource Center, Berkeley, Calif.
* National Wildlife Federation’s “Garden for Wildlife” Program.

Hosts: Susan Moran and Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Kendra Krueger
Producer, Engineer, Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Massive Stars

Em-Flagstone-2-XL-200x300Massive stars (start time 6:45)  Dr. Emily Levesque is an astronomer who studies big stars, distant stars,  exploding stars, and truly weird stars called Thorne–Żytkow objects. All of these topics relate to massive stars – stars that are more than eight time more massive than our Sun.  Dr. Levesque is a postdoctoral Hubble fellowship and Einstein fellowship researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She received a physics degree from MIT, and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Hawaii, which resulted in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific awarding her the Robert J. Trumpler award for outstanding PhD thesis, and this year she was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon award by the American Astronomical Society for her work studying gamma-ray bursts. Dr. Levesque, is here in the studio with us today to talk about her favorite weird astrophysical phenomena and the life of an observational astronomer.

Producer, Engineer, Host: Joel Parker

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Conquering the Energy Crisis

book_cover_amazon-198x3001360_517118571690819_2111630523_nWelcome to this special edition of How on Earth.  This week, the 66th annual Conference of World Affairs is happening on the campus of CU-Boulder, and today’s show is one of the events.  The speaker and guest in our studio today is Maggie Koerth-Baker.  She writes a monthly column, “Eureka,” for The New York Times Magazine and is also the science editor at BoingBoing.net.  She enjoys exploring the intersection between science and culture, and you can “Find your daily dose of Maggie science” through her website at maggiekb.com, and her pages on Facebook and Twitter.   She has co-authored a book titled: “Be Amazing: Glow in the Dark, Control the Weather, Perform Your Own Surgery, Get Out of Jury Duty, Identify a Witch, Colonize a Nation, Impress a Girl, Make a Zombie, Start Your Own Religion.”  Her recent book, and with a shorter title, is called: “Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us.”  And that is the topic that brings her here today.

Host, Engineer, Producer: Joel Parker

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Quantum Computers

P1020271Quantum Computers [starts at 7:05] Dr. David Wineland has worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, for 38 years. In 2012, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with France’s Dr. Serge Haroche for “ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems”.  Dr. Wineland and his colleagues use electromagnetic fields to trap individual ions for long periods of time, and lasers to place the ions in quantum superposition states. Superposition is like being both here and there at the same time.

Superposition, if taken literally (as many physicists believe it should, although some disagree), results in some very strange behaviors, like in a thought experiment designed by Erwin Schrodinger. Schrodinger’s thought experiment describes how a cat in a box can both dead and alive at the same time.  Dr. Wineland talks with How On Earth’s Jim Pullen about the connection between his work and Schrodinger’s famous cat. He says quantum computers are in the news.

In a two part series in early 2013, Jim Pullen also interviewed Dr. Wineland on the occasion of the award of his Nobel Prize (on the physics and the human side of winning the Nobel Prize). 

Host, Engineer, Producer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Jim Pullen, Jane Palmer, Beth Bartel, Kendra Krueger

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Beringia // Dolphins & Climate Change // The Ogallala Road

Beringia_land_bridge-noaagovBeringia (start time 0:55). We present an excerpt of  Shelly Schlender’s  interview with University of Colorado scientist John Hoffecker, lead author of a recent paper in Science magazine about the Beringia land bridge and the people who lived there 25,000 years ago.  The full interview can be found here.

 

Dolphins & Climate Change (start time 4:40). Dr. Denise Herzing, the founder of the Wild Dolphin Project, has been building relationships with Atlantic Spotted Dolphins for 28 years. meet-dolphins2 Her quest to learn whether dolphins have language, and to learn that language, is notable for its longevity. But her relationship with them is remarkably respectful, too. We last spoke to Dr. Herzing in the spring of 2012, about her book Dolphin Diaries: My 25 Years With Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas. We’re very glad that she’s with us again, to help us learn about how large marine mammals may be responding in unusual ways to changes in the oceans.

the-ogallala-road-coverThe Ogallala Road (start time 15:15).  We often hear about how the Colorado River is running dry. The Western  states that rely on its flowing water are struggling to reckon with how its depleting reservoirs will satiate growing  populations. You’ve probably seen images of the white “bathrub rings” at Lake Powell and Lake Mead that expose the water line rings of years ago.  But there’s an equally dramatic and dangerous drop in an invisible source of water. That’s the Ogallala Aquifer – an underground basin of groundwater that spans eight states on the High Plains, including Colorado. Nearly one third of irrigated cropland in the country stretches over the aquifer. And the Ogallala yields about a third  of the ground water that’s used for irrigation in the U.S.  The story of the Ogallala’s depletion is a very personal one for author Julene Bair. She lives in Longmont, but years ago she learned that the family farm in Kansas that she inherited had been a big part of the problem. Julene has written about her journey, including her desire to make the farm part of the solution. Julene joins us on the show to talk about her new book  The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Shelley Schlender

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Newton’s Football // Strontium Clock

The science of football. (image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)

The science of football. (image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)

Newton’s Football (start time 5:45)  This Sunday the Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, so we thought we’d bring you a scientific perspective on the game of football. How on Earth’s Ted Burnham talks with the co-authors of the book Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, journalist Allen St. John and science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez.

 

13PML042_strontium_clock_LRStrontium Clock (start time 14:10) We’ve got a full-house of physicists in the studio today to help us understand the new timepiece and why it’s important. Travis Nicholson and Sara Campbell are graduate students on the team led by Professor Jun Ye. Dr. Ye is a Fellow of JILA, a Fellow of NIST, and Adjoint Professor with CU’s Department of Physics.

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Jim Pullen
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Kendra Krueger, Beth Bartel, Joel Parker, Jim Pullen

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Tesla // Octopus!

Feature 1 – Tesla (start time 5:30) Nicola Tesla is one of the iconic figures of the early electrical age. He invented AC motor technology still used today in your DVD player and also polyphase AC power. He was a brilliant demonstrator, whose images of flowers of lightning growing from his inventions and portraits of his friend Mark Twain, illuminated by Tesla’s fluorescent bulbs, are still familiar today. He worked with and fought with the mighty JP Morgan and wireless radio great Marconi. He is a figure of mystery, who many believe presaged death rays and infinite and free energy for everyone on earth.   Biographer Bernie Carlson has written the  book “Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age.” We talk with Bernie about Nicola Tesla’s mental method of invention, Colorado experiments, and modern mystique.

Feature 2 – Octopus! (start time 14:35)  If you doubt that the Octopus may be the most mysterious creature in the sea – consider this – an octopus has three hearts, eight arms, camouflaging skin, and some of them can figure out ways to do things that many humans can’t – such as getting the lid off of a child-proof bottle.  Longmont resident Katherine Harmon Courage is with us today to discuss her new book, “Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature In the Sea.”

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bartel

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Flood Winners & Losers // 100 Year Starship Symposium

Feature 1 - Flood Winners & Losers : Last month’s deluge cut canyons, real and felt, through many of our lives, but nature helps us remember that floods can build too. In this feature, How on Earth’s Jim Pullen speaks with Boulder’s wetland and riparian ecologist Marianne Giolitto about flood “winners and losers”.   Marianne watches over 45,000 acres of the city’s open space and mountain parks wetlands and riparian habitats. Jim and the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks are working together on a series of radio vignettes; the first two are “Monitoring Bats” and “Great Storms and Chautauqua.”

Feature 2 - 100 Year Starship Symposium : Back in June we had a feature about a project called the 100 Year Star Ship.  During that show we talked with Alires Almon, a member of the project, about the challenges and vision of creating a long-duration mission to send humans to another star.  A few weeks ago in Houston, the project held their annual symposium; this year’s theme was titled: “Pathway to the Stars, Footprints on Earth.”  Ms. Almon is back with us today to talk about the symposium and what new ideas were discussed.

And as we mentioned in today’s headlines,  you can learn more about shale oil and gas boom and bust by listening to Jim Pullen’s hour-long talk with expert Deborah Rogers on KGNU’s “It’s the Economy.”

Hosts: Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bartel
Additional Contributions: Jim Pullen

Due to technical problems, this show was not recored to the archive.  We apologize that this post does not have an audio podcast of the entire show, but below we do have the audio file of the pre-recorded interview of the “Flood Winners and Losers” :

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Noise Pollution

Population impacted by aircraft noise greater than 55 dB day–night noise level in 2005 (from “Development of an income-based hedonic monetization model for the assessment of aviation-related noise impacts” by Q. He, MIT Master’s thesis) [click on image to see large version]

Noise Pollution (starts at 6:15) –  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with research scientist Larry Finegold about noise pollution and about a workshop being held today in Denver about Noise Management in Communities and Natural Areas.  Dr. Finegold has authored or contributed to over 80 publications on noise including the US National Academy of Engineering report, “Technology for a Quieter America,” the World Health Organization report, “Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise,” and the article “Community Annoyance and Sleep Disturbance: Updated Criteria for Assessing the Impacts of General Transportation Noise on People.”

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

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Good & Bad Calories // PhD Comics

Good & Bad Calories (starts at 4:50) Ever since the 1970s, the rise of obesity in the United States has an epidemic. Researchers around the world are trying desperately to figure out why so many of us get fat, and what we can do to change that.  A large amount of funding, and support from public health policy, goes toward the hypothesis that we get fat because we eat too many calories and do not exercise enough; when someone eats more calories than they need, the instructions go, they should exercise.  That’s “Calories in, Calories Out.”  But recently, an expert with a different point of view spoke to a packed audience of doctors, staff and medical students at the University of Colorado Medical Center.  The expert is Gary Taubes, the author of the New York Times bestsellers “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat“.  Taubes is also the recipient of angel investor funds: $60 million to devote to research to better understand how the kinds of foods we eat affect our metabolism.  Central to Taubes’ ideas is the opinion that “Calories in, Calories Out” simply cannot be enough to explain, or help people, maintain a healthy weight.  In this feature, we provide an excerpt from his talk at the CU Medical School.

PhD Comics (starts at 13:50) Unless you work in science, you may not always be aware of the humor that goes on among scientists and what the culture is like.  So what better way to show the comic parts of science than by way of a comic strip?  One of the more well-known science-oriented comic strips is called “PhD Comics” and is written by Jorge Cham, who is trained as an engineer, holds a bachelors degree from Georgia Tech and a PhD in robotics from Stanford.  He also was an instructor at Caltech, a researcher in a neuroscience lab, where he studied brain-and-machine interfaces, and he also has a chemistry background.  So he has a wide set of experiences to draw on…literally DRAW on…for his comic.  We talk with Jorge Cham to find out more about the comic and other ways the scientist comic artist unveils the secret lives of scientists and, in particular, science grad students.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Shelly Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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