Science On Stage

ScienceShorts800x400

Sometimes it seems that science and art are completely different worlds but that has not always been the case. There is a long history of artistic scientists and scientific artists.  In this edition of How on Earth, we talk about the alchemy of transmogrifying science into theatre.

Our guests include two scientists and two playwrights who collaborated to create plays inspired by scientific research as part of a theatre project produced by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company.  The production is called “Science Shorts“, which will be streaming the performances online Thursday through Sunday this week, January 21-24.  The production will feature readings of four short plays by Colorado playwrights, and four short talks by the local scientists who inspired their work.

Our science guests are geophysicist Dr. Neesha Schnepf and biologist Ashley Whipple, and our playwrights are Nigel Knutzen and Ellen K. Graham.  Neesha and Nigel collaborated on creating the play Trinal, which takes three different perspectives on tsunamis and their impact.   Ashley’s and Ellen’s play, On The Rocks, follows American pikas and what they have to teach us about resilience in the face of environmental and other stress.

Host & Producer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Recycling Lithium-ion Batteries

figure from Xu et al. 2020, Joule, vol. 4, p. 2609

Figure from Xu et al. 2020, Joule, vol. 4, p. 2609

Our lives have been changed by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries which are everywhere: in our cell phones, cars, toys, power tools and grid energy storage. Indeed, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the three scientists who invented and developed them.  As the world manufactures more and more Li-ion batteries, what are the challenges and opportunities for recycling them?  How can we prevent the batteries from ending up in landfills where the toxic metals inside can leak out?   In this episode, we talk with Dr. Zheng Chen, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author on the paper “Efficient Direct Recycling of Lithium-Ion Battery Cathodes by Targeted Healing” published a few weeks ago in the journal Joule

Hosts: Jill Sjong, Joel Parker
Feature: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Show Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Sam Fuqua

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Clean – The New Science of Skin

31hxj3045QLHow clean is “clean”?  How do you get clean, and how important is it…could it actually be advantageous to your skin and general health to not try to get too clean?  We talk with medical doctor and author Dr. James Hamblin about his new book “Clean:  The New Science Of Skin“.

Hosts: Chip Grandits, Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jill Sjong
Show Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender

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Formation of Pluto and Its Ocean

plutoFive years ago today on July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft made the first reconnaissance of Pluto, collecting data that continue to be analyzed and provide surprises of this distant world.  On this 5th anniversary of the Pluto flyby, our guest is Dr. Carver Bierson, who is a planetary scientist at Arizona State University.  Carver has been involved with the New Horizons mission, and recently published a paper about Pluto based on data from the mission.  We talk with him about results in the paper titled: “Evidence for a Hot Start and Early Ocean Formation on Pluto

Host / Producer : Joel Parker
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett

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2020 Graduation Special

diploma-and-graduation-hatWith graduation season is upon us, today’s edition of How on Earth is our annual “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who have or will soon receive their Ph.D. in a STEM-related field.  They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.

image Hayley Sohn – CU Boulder, Materials Science and Engineering Program
Topic: Large-Scale Patterning and Dynamics of Topological Solitons in Chiral Nematic Liquid Crystals

 

Portrait2015_crop (1)Clement Zheng – CU Boulder, ATLAS Institute
Topic: Everyday Materials for Physical Interactive Systems

 

IMG_6285Jennifer Berry – CU Boulder, Chemistry
Topic: Development and Application of Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometry for Measuring Terrestrial and Exoplanetary Organic Nitrogen

Host / Producer : Joel Parker
Engineer: Maeve Conran

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Corona Virus: Therapies and Transmission

nCoV-1This week on How on Earth, we are still producing off site. Beth and Angele give an update on treatment and transmission of the corona virus and Shelley interviews CU Boulder scientists Anushree Chatterjee and Prashant Nagpal who explain the pros and cons of using old medicines to fight Covid-19, and they describe some new “medicines” in the future, and how to speed up their development.

Hosts: Beth Bennett, Angele Sjong, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Beth Bennett & Joel Parker
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Miracle Brew (encore feature) // COVID-19 // Drying Towels

This week on How On Earth, we present an Encore Feature from January 2018 about the science and art of brewing beer with guest Pete Brown, author of Miracle Brew.  This episode also includes new headlines about current research about COVID-19 and about the science of drying towels outside.

Host: Beth Bennett
Producer: Joel Parker, Beth Bennett
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Additional contributions: Angele Sjong
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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Space Mining

image credit: DSI/Bryan Versteeg

image credit: DSI/Bryan Versteeg

Space Mining [starts at 9:20] Stars have been called “diamonds in the sky,” but there are other valuable and more accessible resources up there.  Asteroids might be the next gold rush, though for resources other than gold, if there are ways to actually get there and mine them.  Can we do that? And, even if we can, does it make economic and environmental sense to do it?  Joining us for this episode of How on Earth is Dr. Matt Beasley, a Senior Program Manager at Southwest Research Institute, and he is a planetary scientist who has been involved in the development of space mining concepts.

Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Producer: Joel Parker
Headlines: Angele Sjong, Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker

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Stem Cell Science // Decoding Science

Stem-Cell

Stem cell science v. hype (start time: 00:57) Clinics offering stem cell therapies and other forms of so-called regenerative medicine are cropping up in many states, including Colorado. Practitioners of stem cells, are touting them as repairing damaged cartilage, tendons and joints, and even treating diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. While the science looks promising, it seriously lags the marketing of stem cell therapies. Last year the FDA, which has yet to regulate the clinics, issued a warning about stem cell therapies.
Laura Beil, a science journalist and producer of the podcast Bad Batch, recently wrote a cover article in Science News about the hype and the latest science of stem cells. She talks with host Susan Moran about her reporting. (For more info, check out this new BBC program on stem cell “hope and hype.”)

cover image Craft of Science WritingScience for the Rest of Us (start time: 16:38)  At a time our own government leaders vilify science and reinvent facts, it seems as important as ever that journalists and the public at large grasp and  translate scientific research. A new book, The Craft of Science Writing, offers tips on how to find credible experts (whether on the corona virus or vaccines or climate change), separate truth from spurious assertions, and make sense of scientific studies. The book is aimed at science writers, but it can be a guidepost for anyone who wants to make science more accessible.   Alex Witze, a science writer who co-authored the book Island On Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano, is a contributor to the new book. She discusses the art of decoding and appreciating science with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker.

 

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

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Climate (COP25) Summit Review

At COP25, Tashiana Osborne (far right), Sarah Whipple (2nd from right), CSU Prof. Gillian Bowser (2nd from left) and colleagues. Photo credit: Adewale Adesanya

At COP25, Tashiana Osborne (far right), Sarah Whipple (2nd from right), CSU Prof. Gillian Bowser (2nd from left) and colleagues. Photo credit: Adewale Adesanya

COP25 Postmortem (start time: 3:35) Earlier this month many nation’s leaders, as well as scientists, environmental activists, companies and others gathered in Madrid for a two-week United Nations climate summit. The conference, called COP25, is rooted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is a blend of pledges from about 200 nations to dramatically slash their planet-warming emissions. Next year’s meeting is when signatory nations will update their actual commitments. So, what happened at the recent climate summit, and what’s next? How On Earth host Susan Moran today interviews two scientists who attended COP25.  Tashiana Osborne is a PhD candidate in atmospheric and oceanic science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at UC San Diego. And Sarah Whipple is a PhD candidate in ecology at Colorado State University.

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

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