Titan Talk with Sarah Hörst

Headlines: Inheritance of mitochondrial DNA.  Coffee and Parkinson’s disease. Sending your name and a message to the New Horizons spacecraft.  Winds on Mars.  Water on Asteroids.

16278_PIA20016Feature: Titan (starts at 8:55) The solar system has so many different worlds that come in all shapes and sizes and histories, from boiling hot Mercury and Venus to icy Pluto and the Kuiper belt.  Such extreme alien worlds are exciting, but perhaps the places that catch our imaginations the most are the ones that are more familar – perhaps with the hope of humans one day visiting there and even living there.  So we think of places that have atmospheres and have – or once had – liquid water. But then there are those places that live in what you might call “the uncanny valley” between familiar and alien, and perhaps Saturn’s moon Titan fits into that category, with an atmosphere (but not one that you would want to breathe) and lakes (but not ones you would want to swim in).

Our guest today is Titan researcher  Dr. Sarah Hörst, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, where she also is a member of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute. She is a Co-Investigator in the proposed Dragonfly mission to Titan.  You can also follow her on Twitter as @PlanetDr.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Chip Grandits, Gretchen Wettstein
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Contributor: Beth Bennett

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National Assessment on Climate Change

coverClimate Change (starts at 6:30)  Volume II of the fourth National Assessment on Climate Change was released on the day after Thanksgiving. The findings are stark. It is already too late to prevent major long term effects of climate change.  The scientific community has now turned to predicting and quantifying those effects and how human civilization can respond to mitigate what might be catastrophic results. Today we talk with one of the co-authors of the chapter on Transportation,  Professor Paul Chinowksy, of the CU Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering.  He elaborates on the findings of the report and his frustration at the lack of a serious response by the federal government.

Host, Producer, Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn

NeverHomeAloneNever Home Alone (starts at 4:26) In this week’s How on Earth, Beth interviews Professor Rob Dunn. In his recent book, Never Home Alone, he gives a sneak peak into the natural history of the wilderness in our homes, from the microbes in our showers to the crickets in our basements. You can find out more about his book here, find out more about his lab and research at http://robdunnlab.com, and to contribute to their project visit the iNaturalist site.

 

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Gretchen Wettstein
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Alejandro Soto, Gretchen Wettstein
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Baking Soda for Autoimmune Disease // Crickets for the Gut

baking soda boxBaking Soda for Autoimmune Disease (starts at 1:00)  Georgia Medical College researcher Paul O’Connor reports that a small amount of baking soda in water, for two weeks, shifts the immune cell known as macrophage away from “attack” mode and more toward, “repair” mode.  He says this research comes, in part, from studies involving the benefits of baking soda for people whose kidneys are stressed and failing.  There’s more research ahead, but O’Connor suspects that someday, these findings might mean that baking soda becomes a safe part of calming down an autoimmune disease attack.

cricketCrickets for the Gut (starts 10:25)  New research from Colorado State University reveals that adding just a few teaspoons of cricket powder to a milkshake, or to a muffin, may reduce an inflammatory marker in the blood and increase levels of an intestinal microbe that is known for reducing the chance of a leaky gut that can lead to excess inflammation.  The leader of this cricket powder study CSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition professor Tiffany Weir.

Host, Producer and Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Nature and Health

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Nature is good for you.
It can be a walk in the woods that helps to calm your nervous system and spark novel ideas, or a wilderness retreat that helps to reduce symptoms of PTSD or ADHD.  But little is actually understood about how nature offers healing effects. What are the mechanisms? How much nature is enough, and to do what? And how enduring are the effects?  “Nature” isn’t only limited to places like Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park.  Nature abounds in some cities, as well.  City parks, tree-lined neighborhoods, your own garden – these are slices of nature that can have huge benefits to your physical and mental health.  However, many cities and neighborhoods that lack a healthy tree canopy, and produce a lot of air pollution from vehicle traffic are plagued by high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, among other illnesses, among residents.  At a time when humans around the globe are migrating to cities at rates never seen before, it is critical that cities increasingly become part of the solution, not just a major culprit behind environmental degradation and human disease.

Today’s show is the first in a series we’ll offer on the connections between nature and human health. It’s called “Nature Rx.”

Our three guests today are working in the nexus between environmental conservation and human health, to make cities part of the solution:

  • Dr. Ted Smith, director of the Center of Healthy Air, Water and Soil, at the University of Louisville’s Envirome Institute.
  • Christopher Hawkins, Urban Conservation Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy.
  • Janette Heung, principal and owner of JWG Global, a management consulting and research think tank in Colorado focusing on environmental conservation and public health.

Read more in the Colorado Outdoor Rx report and the UN Environment Programme report on air pollution.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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Living in a World of Thinking Machines

solomonscodebookimg

Book Cover: Solomon’s Code by Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg, published by Pegasus Books, November 2018

It has been 50 years since the original 2001, A Space Odyssey, where movie viewers first heard Captain Powers asking, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” and found HAL thought differently about whether that was a good idea.  For most of that half-century, artificial intelligence still seemed a long way off, but in the last decode, it has permeated our every day life with unexpected swiftness and thoroughness.

Do we currently live in a world of thinking machines?  Is it just around the corner? Far off? Never?  And what will that really be like for us humans (I’ll assume for the moment your not a machine reading this…)   This is the subject  of Solomon’s Code: Humanity in a World of Thinking Machines by Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg.  With the recent backlash against Facebook, fake news algorithms or headlines about Cambridge Analytica and Russian bots, this book’s release on November 6 could not be more well timed.  The book covers economic, social, personal and political implications of living in a world of thinking machines.  For this edition of How On Earth, we spoke with co-author Mark Nitzberg, Executive Director of the Center for Human compatible Artificial Intelligence at UC Berkeley and principal at Cambrian.ai.  Dr. Nitzberg studied AI at M.I.T. and completed his PhD at Harvard university.  His co-author Olaf Groth is Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Economics at Hult International business School, and founder and CEO of Cambrian.ai.  The name Cambrian.ai is taken from a metaphor from biological evolution and the Cambrian Geological Period, where most of the major groups of animals first appeared in the fossil record; an event sometimes also known as the “Cambrian Explosion.”

Are we now at a similar point in the evolution of artificial intelligence?  Is the metaphor fanciful or very accurate.  Chip Grandits talks with Mark Nitzberg co-author of Solomon’s Code to find out what are the forms of AI, if they are different from their progenitors, and whether they really can think.

Host: Chip Grandits
Producer: Chip Grandits
Engineer: Chip Grandits
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Front Range Fracking // Planet+Human Health

Karley Robinson with her son outside their home in Windsor. Photo credit: Ted Wood

Karley Robinson with her son outside their home in Windsor. Photo credit: Ted Wood

Today’s show offers two features:
Oil & Gas Impacts (start time: 1:05) Proposition 112, which would require oil and gas wells to be at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, parks and other buildings, has highlighted mounting public concerns about the health, social and other impacts of extensive drilling along Colorado’s Front Range.  Weld County is  center stage for the latest oil and gas boom; nearly half of Colorado’s 55,000 active wells are located there. Jason Plautz, a Denver-based journalist, discussed with host Susan Moran the science and politics surrounding drilling activities, and whether explosions such as the one in Windsor last December could happen in many other locations. Plautz and Daniel Glick wrote a feature article that has just been published in High Country News.

healthy_planet-imageHealthy Planet+Healthy Humans? (start time: 14:46) Matthew Burgess has been immersed in thinking about and studying how we humans, and the planet we inhabit, can both remain intact—in fact, can both thrive–well into the future. What’s he smok’in, you might ask? In fact, he is a serious environmental scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Burgess and nearly two dozen colleagues authored a recently published scientific paper that applies models to show how we can meet demands of increased populations and economic growth in 2050, while simultaneously achieving bold and effective conservation and climate goals set forth by the United Nations. Dr. Burgess is an assistant professor in Environmental Studies, with an additional appointment in Economics. And he works at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), the collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado. He discusses the paper and its implications with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker.

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

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Ketotarian & Pledge Drive Show

Featured book

Featured book

This week on How on Earth Beth interviews author Will Cole, functional medicine physician, about his new book, Ketotarian. He proposes a novel ketogenic diet, which has typically derived its high fat content from meat and dairy. The book describes the ketogenic approach and illustrates vegetarian, vegan, and pescatarian alternatives. Also hear Beth and Chip plug the show and the station in the fall pledge drive!
Hosts: Beth Bennett & Chip Grandis
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Chip Grandis
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
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Regenerative Medicine #1: Primer

regen med imageRegenerative Medicine (start time: 7:30): We begin our series on regenerative medicine with a discussion of scientific advancements, promises, caveats, regulations, and challenges of regenerative medicine therapies for orthopedic applications, such as stem cell, prolo therapy and PRP (platlet-rich plasma) therapy. Together, these therapies aim to regenerate or replace injured, diseased, or defective cells, tissues, or organs with the goal of restoring or establishing function and structure.  Hosts Susan Moran and Beth Bennett interview Jason Glowney, MD, founder of Boulder Biologics, which focuses on regenerative and integrative medicine.

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Eager Beavers

Eager- Secret Life of BeaversBeth talks with author Ben Goldfarb about his new book, amusingly titled Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. You’ll gain a better understanding of beavers’ myriad skills, and want to restore beaver populations in our local environments. Spoiler alert, we’ll have copies of his book available during the pledge drive show on Oct. 16.
Host: Maeve Conran
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer
: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer:  Susan Moran
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