About Joel Parker


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Joel Parker has written 66 articles so far, you can find them below.


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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Robert Arentz – Asteroid Impact Hazards & Ball Aerospace

Main Feature (starts at 5:25). We talk with Dr. Robert Arentz from Ball Aerospace in Boulder about what’s new and interesting at Ball and in space missions in general including asteroid impact hazards on Earth and what can be done about it.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Jim Pullen
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson

The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (start time 6:20). The book Silent Spring, published in 1962, is widely credited for setting the stage for the modern environmental movement. Its author, Rachel Carson, an unassuming field biologist and writer, uncovered how in the process of killing crop pests, chemicals such as DDT were also killing birds, fish and other wildlife.  Fifty years after Silent Spring was published, several of the worst offending toxins are off the market – at least in the U.S. – but many more persist and new ones have emerged. And they’re wreaking havoc on human health, not just wildlife. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with William Souder, author of the new book On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, which was just published last month to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Silent Spring.

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

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Bees and Pesticides // Radiometers and Weather

Bees and Pesticides (start at 6:40). Two studies published last week in the journal Science (here and here) make a strong case for beekeepers who worry that a new class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” hurts honeybees and bumblebees.   In recent years, honeybee populations have rapidly declined, in part due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Bumblebee populations have been suffering as well. Researchers have proposed many causes for these declines, including pesticides, but it’s been unclear exactly how pesticides cause damage. Both of the new studies looked at the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides, which were introduced in the early 1990s and have now become one of the most widely used crop pesticides in the world. One study, from the United Kingdom, shows that the pesticides reduce a bee’s ability to store enough food and to produce new queens.  In a second study, French researchers tied tiny radios to honeybees then exposed them to low levels of the pesticides; a high number of the bees lost their sense of direction and died away from the hive.  These two new studies add to concerns raised in January by a Purdue University study, which indicated that neonicotinoids persist, as poisons, in both plants and soil for much longer than thought, increasing the chance of the pesticide to harm bees and other insects.  Despite the increasing number of studies calling into question the safety of these pesticides, the EPA has done little to restrict their use.  Local beekeeper Tom Theobald talks with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender that when it comes to honeybees, these are dangerous pesticides.  You can hear the extended version of this interview on this website.

Radiometers and Weather (start at 12:50). Predicting the weather is a tough job, and climate change is bringing unseasonal conditions that make it even more difficult to predict.  But a monitoring device produced here in Boulder may be able to improve local weather forecasts significnatly.  These radiometers work by creating 3-D profiles of the moisture in the air, which is a key element for meteorologists and climate modelers alike.  They are now being put to various weather-related uses all over the planet.  Stick Ware is the founder and lead scientist of the Boulder-based company, Radiometrics, and he’s here in the studio with us today to give us the scoop on these radiometers.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Breanna Draxler
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headline Contributors: Susan Moran, Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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