About Joel Parker


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Joel Parker has written 59 articles so far, you can find them below.


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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Brain Trust // Drought

Brain Trust (starts at 4:23)  When you are trying to make a decision about something important or having a disagreement with someone, don’t you sometimes wish you had a scientist with you – a world expert on the topic at hand – to help you out?  In fact, it would be great to have dozens of experts in many fields available, sort of your own personal Brain Trust.  Well, luckily Garth Sundem can help you out with his book called: “Brain Trust,” where he has interviewed 93 of the top scientists in fields like physics, genetics, cognitive science, economics, nutrition, mathematics, and talked to them about very important topics in their fields.  And not the easy topics like Higgs Bosons, Fermat’s Last Theorem, and inflationary cosmology, but rather the much more difficult – and immediately useful – topics like: the best design for a paper airplane, how to survive Armageddon, how to create giant man-eating plants, successful dating techniques (and we don’t mean carbon dating), and how to tell when someone is lying.  Host Joel Parker talks with Garth about his book.

Drought (starts at 15:10) Given all the rain and snow on the Front Range and beyond lately, you’d think that Colorado is emerging from the persistent drought, right? But last year was one of the hottest and driest on record in the state and some regions have yet to recover.  Among those who have suffered the most from the persistent drought are farmers and ranchers. In fact, some have sold off cattle and even shuttered their businesses. That said, high prices have boosted profits for some wheat farmers, for instance.  To find out just how badly many farmers and ranchers have been hit by the drought, researchers at Colorado State University have been surveying them annually for a while.  Host Susan Moran talks with Christopher Goemans, a resource economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University, and Ron Nelson, a graduate student also at CSU, about a recent survey of drought conditions and the broader environment.

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

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The Universe Within // De-Extinction

The Universe Within (starts at 4:40) Within each and every one of us is the history of life on this planet, the planet itself and the entire universe.  This is the theme of a new book “The Universe Within.”  The author, Neil Shubin, is a professor of Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.  Starting with what physically constitutes a human being and what makes a human life possible, Shubin surveys many domains of science to find out what we can learn about what’s out there from what’s inside of us.   It’s a fantastically broad scope, bringing together the common history of Rocks, Planets and People.  As professor Shubin explains to How On Earth’s Chip Grandits, it is the very concept of this common history that binds all of these topics, which are normally found scattered throughout disparate domains of science and academia.

Image by Jonathan S. Blair, National Geographic

De-Extinction (starts at 14:15) You may think that when a species dies, it’s gone forever.  But with enough motivation, scientists might be able to return some species to life.  Popular science writer Carl Zimmer has written about “de-extinction” in the cover story of April’s issue of National Geographic magazine. So, is the movie Jurassic Park a good primer on de-extinction?

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jim Pullen
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Parallel Universes

The concept of a parallel universe, a universe remarkably like our own but with some subtle difference, has been the staple of science fiction stories for years.  But it is an idea that is seriously discussed in real science starting many decades ago when physicists wrestled with the weird implications of Quantum Mechanics, and recently has appeared in many other guises in other areas of physics. One of the leading scientists in studying these ideas and explaining the mind-bending concepts to non-experts is Professor Brian Greene.  Dr. Greene is professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and co-founder and director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.  He has written the books The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, both of which were adapted into mini-series on NOVA, and his most recent book is The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.  We talk with him about the different concepts in modern day physics that point to the possibilities of parallel universes, what they may be like, and what observations and measurements may be able to prove or disprove their existence. (you can hear the extended interview with Dr. Greene)

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

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Parallel Universes – extended interview with Brian Greene

This is an extended version of the interview we broadcast on February 26, 2013, featuring Professor Brian Greene discussing the concepts of Parallel Universes.

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Bright Meteor // Dark Matter

Russian Meteor (starts at 4:28) Just a few days ago on February 15th,  a large meteor broke up in the skies over Russia, creating an air blast and sonic boom, which caused damage to buildings that injured over 1,000 people. We talk with Dr. Clark Chapman to ask why the universe is taking potshots at us.  Dr. Chapman is an astronomer and Senior Scientist at the Boulder office of the Southwest Research Institute, and is recognized as a leading researcher in planetary cratering and in the physical properties asteroids, comets, and moons.  For more than a decade Dr. Chapman has been studying the risks of comets and asteroids hitting the Earth and has been a member of Congressional and international committees regarding impact hazards. He is a founding member of the B612 Foundation, which is developing ways to detect and deflect hazardous asteroids.

Dark Matter (starts at 12:45) Maybe you’ve heard about it.  Maybe you even know that it is everywhere throughout the universe.  But for such a ubiquitous material, what do you really know about Dark Matter?  If the answer is “Not much,” don’t worry, you are in good company; many scientists would say the same thing. But, you’re in luck because we have Dr. Martin Huber with us today talk about Dark Matter – what is known know about it and how we can detect it.  Dr. Huber is Professor of Physics and Director of the Master of Integrated Sciences program at the University of Colorado, Denver.  He is a member of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search project, and on today’s show he sheds some light on Dark Matter.

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

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