Eclipse 2017

NSO eclipse announcementEclipse 2017 (start time 5:56): This summer America will experience its first total solar eclipse in almost 30 years. How on Earth’s Alejandro Soto speaks with Dr. Claire Raftery from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) about the upcoming eclipse. Dr. Raftery talks about the science and history of eclipses, the best ways to view the eclipse in August, and how to safely look at an eclipse. Fortunateley, viewing the eclipse only requires a few simple steps and some inexpensive tools, so anyone can experience this exciting event — as long as they can drive to a place in the path of the eclipse. Dr. Raftery also talks about the NSO’s webseries about the eclipse and our Sun. Finally,  there is the opportunity to participate in solar science research by taking part in the Citizen Cate program, a citizen science project that uses telescopes scattered along the path of the eclipse to collaboratively monitor the entire eclipse event.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto and Joel Parker
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributionsBeth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Citizen Science

Citizen ScienceCitizen Science (start time: 5:32): For those who would love to track birds and other creatures or to test drinking water quality in their community, for instance, but think it would require a degree in science to contribute to important scientific discoveries, our guest today aims to set the record straight. Dr. Caren Cooper is an associate professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. An ornithologist, she studies bird ecology, conservation and management through the use of citizen science. She wrote a recently published book called Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery. It highlights many examples of inspiring and important citizen science projects, including a meteorological-forecasting program and some others here in Colorado. Dr. Cooper is also director of research partnerships at SciStarter.com, which connects interested volunteers to a diverse range of research projects that they can work on. Additional citizen science programs can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Society’s Rockies chapter.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributionsBeth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Colonizing Mars?

The Red Planet

The Red Planet

This week, Alejandro speaks with Leonard David, a space journalist who has written a new book Mars – Our Future on the Red Planet. In his book he discusses the plans of both NASA and private companies to send humans to the red planet. The book is a companion to a six-part television series from executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and which premiered on the National Geographic Channel last month.
Hosts:: Alejandro Soto and Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Beth Bennett
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
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Beyond Earth: Our Path to a New Home in the Planets

Titan, a moon of Saturn, rises above the rings of Saturn. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL

Titan, a moon of Saturn, rises above the rings of Saturn. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL

Beyond Earth (start time 5:10) Many have dreamt of colonizing other planets. It’s been a staple of science fiction for decades. Most often, people imagine creating a colony of humans on Mars, where people would live on a cold, dry planet with a thin, unbreathable atmosphere. Mars, however, may not be the best destination for future human colonization. In fact, Titan, a moon of Saturn, may hold greater hope for extending humanity’s presence in the solar system. Either way, humans face tough but surmountable challenges as we move beyond Earth. As a planetary scientist, Dr. Amanda Hendrix is actively involved in the scientific research and future mission planning that will enable humans to settle on other planets. She’s the co-author, with Charles Wohlforth, of the new book Beyond Earth: Our Path to a New Home in the Planets. Listen to How On Earth’s Alejandro Soto’s interview with Amanda Hendrix, where they discuss the opportunities and challenges for human space exploration.

Hosts: Alejandro Soto, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Additional Contributions: Joel Parker, Beth Bennett

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Suggestible You: How Our Brain Tricks Us

sug_you_subtleo_yellow1-647x580The Science of Suggestibility (start time: 5:00) Scientists are learning more and more about how our expectations and beliefs influence how our bodies, including our neurochemistry, respond to pain and disease. The researchers are discovering that we are very suggestible creatures. But we are not all equally suggestible. Some of us can cure serious ailments even when we’ve knowingly taken a placebo remedy, but others can not. Herein lies a major puzzle that vexes drug manufacturers and medical practitioners. It’s a puzzle that has intrigued Erik Vance, a science journalist, since he nearly died from a severe illness when he was a toddler. His journey is detailed in a book that was just published today. It’s called Suggestible You: Placebos, False Memories, Hypnosis and the Power of Your Astonishing Brain (National Geographic).  Listen to How On Earth’s Susan Moran’s interview with Erik Vance.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
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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Gregory Benford – Science Fiction/Fact and Starshot

What are the qualities that make a good scientist?
What are the qualities that make a good science fiction writer?
515tlGA1GTL._UX250_Those skills do not necessarily overlap, but when they do, they not only can produce wonderful works of speculative fiction based on hard science, but they also can generate exciting new ideas for science research.

Our guest on today’s show inhabits both worlds; he is a professional scientist and a well-known science fiction writer. Dr. Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvin, where he has been a faculty member since 1971. Benford conducts research in plasma turbulence theory and experiment, and in astrophysics. He has published papers in fields of physics including condensed matter, particle physics, plasmas, mathematical physics, and even in biological conservation and geoengineering.

image3Dr. Benford also is a Nebula Award winning author of over twenty novels, including “Timescape”, “Jupiter Project”, “Artifact”, and “Against Infinity”, and the 6-book “Galactic Center Saga” series.  He also is an advisor on the Breakthrough Starshot project that has the goal to fly a spaceship to the nearest star.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Alejandro Soto
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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A History of Water in Colorado’s Front Range

land made of waterHost Beth Bennett interviews Bob Crifasi, author of A Land Made of Water (starts at 4’55”). Bob works in water management and planning and is an environmental scientist with over 25yr experience. He was the Water Resources Administrator for the city of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Dept. He has served on board of directors of 11 ditch companies and as the president of several, supervising all aspects of ditch operation.

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Alejandro Soto
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

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