Colorado’s Science Fair Stars // Rosetta Comet Mission

Colorado’s Science Fair Stars (starts at 3:18)

Students celebrate their countries of origin at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Credit: Intel Brasil (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Students celebrate their countries of origin at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Credit: Intel Brasil (CC)

As the end of the school year approaches for high school students, it’s a good time to celebrate the achievements and passion of students in Colorado who have excelled in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). Two of them — Hope Weinstein, a senior at Fairview High in Boulder, and Michael Brady, a senior at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village — were finalists at a renowned global competition last week. It’s the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which is a program of Society for Science & the Public.
Hope and Michael talk with co-host Susan Moran about their research and their message to other students.

Rosetta Comet Mission (starts at 15:16)

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau/ATG medialab

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau/ATG medialab

When he’s not busy volunteering with How On Earth, Joel Parker is an astronomer with the Southwest Research Institute — and that’s the hat he has on today as our in-studio guest. He joins us to talk about the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which will tag along with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it swings nearer to the sun later this summer.

Joel is the Deputy Lead Investigator for ALICE, the ultraviolet spectrometer aboard the spacecraft. He’s also the featured presenter at Cafe Scientifique tomorrow night. So think of this conversation as a preview of what you might hear if you join him tomorrow at Brooklyn’s down in Denver. Joel will give a very informal talk starting at 6:30 pm, and will try to answer all your tough questions about comets, Rosetta, or anything else. CafeSci is free and open to the public.

Producer: Ted Burnham
Co-Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham

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Boulder Science Festival // Insect Chorus Songs

Headlines:  CU Scientists explore ways to combat methicillin-resistant staff infections; Yale survey indicates Coloradans concerned about climate change; Denver and Boulder Cafe Sci’s begin for fall; Farewell to Population scientist, Al Bartlett.

Boulder Science Festival (starts at 5:58) Many people in Boulder are familiar with the large number of local science groups and institutes, so what better place to celebrate and learn about science?  That is exactly what our next two guests plan to do: create the Boulder Science Festival, which will be held October 12-13 at the Millennium Harvest House hotel.  In the studio today we have Marcella Setter, the Director of the Boulder Science Festival, and an experienced administrator who loves organizing events that get the public excited about science. As the Director of Science Getaways, Marcella plans group trips for science enthusiasts who want to add some learning and discovery to their vacations.  Joining Marcella here in the studio is her husband, Phil Plait, an astronomer, author, and writer of the Bad Astronomy Blog for Slate.com. An internationally-acclaimed speaker, Dr. Plait has appeared on numerous television science documentaries and is a self-proclaimed “science evangelizer”.

Insect Chorus Songs (starts at 14:58) You’ve heard it. It’s the sound of summer – or rather, the looming end of summer. The chorus of crickets, cicadas and who knows what else outside that is now in prime time.  As an ode to summer, we thought we’d bring in a cicada and other insect specialist to share with us who the heck these critters are, and what’s their role in biodiversity. Maybe he’ll even tell us how we can eat them – like billions of people around the world do with delight. Brian Stucky is a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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

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20th Anniversary Science Show

Bucky Ball 1991 “Molecule of the Year”

We celebrate 20 years of How on Earth, featuring the 1st ever KGNU science show, 20 years ago, including Bucky Balls, Electromagnetic Radiation and Cows, Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble, and along the way, we give updates on current science issues, including Tom McKinnon talking about applications for Bucky Balls (Fullerenes) today, a conversation with CU Electrical Engineer Frank Barnes, who is one of the world’s most sought-after experts on EMFs,  Southwest Research Institute Astrophysicist Joel Parker gives an update on space telescopes, and CU Science Journalism professor Tom Yulsman talks about an issue NOT on the radar 20 years ago — global climate change.  We also share information about tonight’s Denver Cafe Sci, with Brian Hynek, about “Mars:  Are We Alone?”  Special thanks to How on Earth original producers Sam Fuqua and Jeff Orrey for being here as part of the show.

Co-hosts: Joel Parker and Susan Moran
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Executive producer: Shelley Schlender

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Colorado & Oceans // Nitrogen & Snails

Feature #1 (time mark 5:30)  When people think of Colorado, they usually don’t think about “oceans”.  After all, Colorado doesn’t have much of a coastline these days, though it was definitely had oceanfront property a few hundred million years ago.   However, being in a landlocked state doesn’t mean that there isn’t any thing we can do to impact the health and ecology of the ocean and marine biology.  Co-host Joel Parker talks with  Vicki Goldstein, founder and president of the Colorado Ocean Coalition about the “Making Waves in Colorado” symposium and what all of us around the world (leaving near or far from oceans) do that impact and can help oceans.

Feature #2 (time mark 14:10)  Nitrogen – we can’t live without it, but you can have too much of a good thing. In its gaseous form nitrogen is harmless and makes up nearly 80 percent of the atmosphere. The worldwide population never would have reached 7 billion people without nitrogen, in the form of chemical fertilizer. But excess nitrogen –from fertilizer runoff, manure, human sewage and other sources is wreaking havoc on the environment.  Co-host Susan Moran talks with John Mischler, a PhD student at CU Boulder, who is researching worms and snails in Colorado and Africa. He talks about how excess nutrients in ponds, lakes and elsewhere can lead to the spread of parasitic disease from trematodes to snails to us.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Producer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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CU Medical Professor Shares Love of Science


CU Medical Professor John Cohen. Image courtesy of John Cohen.

This week we’ll feature CU Medical School Immunologist John Cohen, who has just received the American Association for the Advancement of Science top award for promoting public understanding of Science.  In addition to teaching at the Medical School, Cohen is the founder of Mini Med and the lead “disorganizer” of the Denver Cafe Sci.  We’ll also talk with Emory University researcher Zixu Mao about a new link between Parkinson’s disease and the health of the mitochondria within a cell, and we’ll hear from BBC Science in Action about some top choices in Europe for new Astronomy pursuits.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran

Producer: Shelley Schlender

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MAVEN: Mission to Mars // Communicating geophysics

Mars’ atmosphere may have been depleted following the loss of the planet’s magnetic field. Illustration courtesy of NASA.

On this week’s How On Earth, we’re joined by the University of Colorado’s Bruce Jakosky, principle investigator on the MAVEN satellite mission that will investigate Mars’ upper atmosphere. NASA granted final approval to MAVEN last fall, and the spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2013. Also, Ted Burnham speaks with Carol Finn, incoming president of the American Geophysical Union, about the need for scientists to communicate better with the public.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Ted Burnham
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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