PUNCH-ing the Sun

whatpunchdoes

This image shows a background image of the Sun overlaid with outlines of the PUNCH Wide Field Imagers (WFIs) and the Narrow Field Imager (NFI) occulting the disk of the Sun.
(image credit: SwRI)

The PUNCH mission (starts at 8:05) NASA’s new mission to study the Sun is called PUNCH (Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere).  In this episode of How on Earth we talk with solar physicist Dr. Craig DeForest, the Principal Investigator of the PUNCH mission.  Dr. DeForest is a Program Director at the Boulder office of Southwest Research Institute, and he explains how PUNCH will use polarimetry to study the outer part of the solar atmosphere, the million-degree hot corona, and how it interacts and evolves into the solar wind.

Host, ProducerEngineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer
: Beth Bennett

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2019 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.

IMG_20190510_144132134Marcus Piquette – CU Boulder, Department of Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences
Topic: In-Situ Observations of the Interplanetary Dust Population from Earth to the Kuiper Belt

 

Headshot-CU-cropDavid Reens – CU Boulder, Department of Physics
Topic: Pushing the Limits for Directly Cooled Molecules

 

Reens_HeadshotAbigail Reens– CU Boulder, Department Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Topic: Salmonella Within Macrophages – An Extreme Environment: Small Molecule Inhibitors of Bacterial Efflux and the Roles of Bacterial Lipid Metabolism and Mammalian Co-culture During Infection

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker

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An Astronomical Journey with Michelle Thaller

616418main_M_Thaller-226This special edition of How on Earth is produced in conjunction with the Conference on World Affairs.  Our guest a participants of the Conference: Dr. Michelle Thaller, assistant director of science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  Her path has taken her from Harvard to Georgia State University to Caltech to NASA. Dr. Thaller has studied hot stars, colliding stellar winds, binary star evolution, evolved stellar companions, and infrared astronomy.  She is one of the regular hosts of the Discovery Science Channel shows: “How the Universe Works” and “Space’s Deepest Secrets” and hosts the podcast “Orbital Path” on public radio.

Host / Producer / Engineer /  Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution

9781101870204This View of Life (starts 6:56) In this episode of How on Earth, we talk with David Sloan Wilson, an evolutionary biologist with a special interest in human biocultural evolution. Dr. Wilson is Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at SUNY Binghamton, and president of the Evolution Institute as well as editor in chief of its online magazine This View of Life.  It is not just about biology, these ideas are formed by decades of research and drawing on studies that cover topics from the breeding of hens to the timing of cataract surgeries for infants to the organization of of an automobile plant.  Last month he published his latest book, also titled This View of Life to present a comprehensive case for what he calls Completing the Darwinian Revolution.

Hosts: Chip Grandits, Joel Parker
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender, Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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The Goodness Paradox // Pledge Drive

cover-Goodness ParadoxThe Goodness Paradox (Teaser): Today’s spring pledge-drive show features brief clips from a recent interview with Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University, about his new book, The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution.  Wrangham discusses with How On Earth hosts Susan Moran and Chip Grandits how, and why, homo sapiens evolved to be both peaceful and violent (less reactively aggressive and more proactively aggressive, like our bonobo ancestors), and what it bodes for the future of human civilization. We will air the full interview on the March 19 science show. Thanks to Pantheon Books for offering KGNU several copies of Wrangham’s book. And thank you to listeners who pledged and received a copy of the book, and to those who have helped power this community radio station for years. If there are any copies of The Goodness Paradox remaining next Tuesday you can call in then and become a member for $60 or more. Or go to kgnu.org and pledge, or increase, your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

Hosts: Chip Grandits, Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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A Tale of Two Missions: OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons

OSIRIS-REx (starts at 1:00) IBennuNorthPolePassDec4n today’s first feature, we hear about OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s first mission to do a sample return from an asteroid.  Our guest is Dr. Vicky Hamilton, a Staff Scientist at the Southwest Reserarch Institute’s Boulder office, and a member of that mission.  She talks about the scientific goals of OSIRIS-REx, and how it plans to obtain and return a sample of the asteroid Bennu.

 

New Horizons (starts at 14:05) Year-of-KBO-artworkOur second spacey feature is about a mission that you might describe as exploring “beyond the beyond”. The piano-sized, nuclear-powered New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto over 3 years ago, and now has its sights set on an even more distant target named Ultima Thule. To talk about that, we have another local scientist from Southwest Research Institute, Dr. Cathy Olkin, Institute Scientist and also a New Horizons mission Deputy Project Scientist.  We hear about the flyby events that will take place on New Year’s Eve.

 

Host, Producer, and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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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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Nature and Health

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Photo: Jennifer Miller

Nature Rx (start time: 9:33): Nature is good for your health. Sounds obvious, but what does science tell us? A walk in the woods can help to calm your nervous system and spark novel ideas, and spending time in nature can reduce symptoms of PTSD or ADHD.  Little is actually known about how nature offers healing effects. How much nature is enough, and to do what, exactly? 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 improve your physical and mental well-being.  Researchers are measuring the effect of living near trees, for instance, on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.  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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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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Dogs for Diabetics

Dogs4Diabetics Founder Mark RueffenachtDogs have an incredible sense of smell – it’s so good, people can train dogs to sniff our everything from illegal drugs and explosives to lost people and even computer “thumbnail” drives, that maybe someone is trying to sneak into a high security building so they can sneak out information.  So how about dogs sniffing for something life-saving, such as a dangerous drop in blood sugars for an insulin-injecting diabetic? For a healthy person, the amount of sugar in the entire bloodstream at anytime is roughly 1 teaspoon. One teaspoon of sugar in around 5 liters of blood. That’s it.  For most people, the body’s own insulin production keeps blood sugars in a relatively healthy range, with the pancreas adjusting insulin levels in miniscule amounts to keep blood sugars in balance. For a diabetic who injects insulin, the injection itself can end up putting too much or too little insulin into the body, and this is especially dangerous when it forces blood sugar levels to go far lower than they normally would.  Modern technology is reducing the risk, somewhat, through continuous blood glucose monitoring devices. But even these have a lag time, and since sometimes a diabetics blood sugar levels can change dramatically in just 30 minutes, there’s still risk. But now, there are new “blood sugar monitors”. They don’t require batteries. They’re very friendly, they have incredible noses, and they even come equipped with wagging tails.  In today’s edition of How on Earth, we talk about “Dogs for Diabetics”.

For more information, visit these links:
https://dogs4diabetics.com
https://www.virtahealth.com/team
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BoulderDiabetes
https://www.meetup.com/Boulder-Low-Carb-Diabetes-Meetup

Host, Producer, Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributions by: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Beth Bennett

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