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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Impacts of Fracking

A natural gas rig near Rifle, Colorado. © AP Photo/David Zalubowsk

A natural gas rig near Rifle, Colorado.
© AP Photo/David Zalubowsk

In Colorado, a boom in methane development over the past few years has raised questions about whether the environmental impacts are outpacing scientists’ ability to measure them. Shelley Schlender and Daniel Glick discuss the current state of the science looking into fracking’s impacts.  Here is a compendium of scientific, medical, and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking.

Hosts: Daniel Glick, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Headlines: Beth Bennett, Natalia Bayona, Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Electric Car Road Trips // Renewable Energy Nation . . . in 15 Years

Tesla Superchargers - Rural Arizona

Tesla Superchargers – Rural Arizona

Electric Car Road Trips (starts 3:42): We go on a road trip with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender to see how all-electric vehicles are exceeding “range anxiety” by driving coast to coast, all on electricity.  Along the way we talk with Boulder Nissan’s Nigel Zeid about regional plans to help more drivers “plug in” and with Hunter Lovins, head of Natural Capitalism Solutions.

courtesy Solar Praxis

courtesy Solar Praxis

Renewable Energy Nation (starts 11:53): Joel Parker talks live with NOAA scientist Alexander MacDonald and Christopher Clack, a mathematician at the University of Colorado-Boulder. They have developed a model that demonstrates how the entire U.S. can run on solar and wind power–with existing technologies, with no batteries, and at lower cost than today’s prices–within 15 years. For more information, see this video and these animations of:
U.S. Wind Power Potential
U.S. Solar Power Potential
U.S. Power Flow

Hosts: Joel Parker, Beth Bennett
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran

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Hunter Lovins – Regenerative Economics Extended Version

Hunter Lovins - Natural Capitalism Solutions

Hunter Lovins – Natural Capitalism Solutions

Hunter Lovins – Regenerative Economics EXTENDED VERSION.  This is the extended version of the fall 2015 talk by Hunter Lovins, recorded by Shelley Schlender. Lovins heads up Natural Capitalism Solutions, and she’s a sought after speaker around the world, as well as here in Colorado. She gave this talk, including visuals, and called it Regenerative Economics.  This talk was recorded in Boulder as part of the Colorado Chautauqua Events series, in conjunction with the Boulder City Club.

For the broadcast version of this talk, GO HERE.

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Historical Analysis of Agriculture and Greenhouse Gases

Adler_Cowk1223-19-e1438626342444When it comes to reducing greenhouses gases, every little bit helps, and that includes managing the greenhouse gases produced by how we grow our food.  Raising livestock and growing crops both generate greenhouse gases, and to gauge their impact, a new study takes the long range view.  The results were published in a paper: “Measuring and mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas production in the U.S. Great Plains, 1870-2000” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  It analyzes 100 years of agricultural production, and it takes this look at farming close to home – it focuses on the bread basket of the United States – the Great Plains, which includes eastern Colorado.  Here to tell us more are scientists Myron Guttman (University of Colorado) and Bill Parton (Colorado State University)

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Kendra Krueger
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Headline contributions: Beth Bennett, Kendra Krueger, Joel Parker

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Are Ketones the Key?

Steve-Phinney-Portrait_Ketones (start time 6:40) A growing body of scientific research demonstrates health benefits for many people with a diet that’s lower in carbohydrates, and higher in fats.  In fact, some of this research indicates great therapeutic benefits,.  One reason why may be that, when carbohydrate consumption is low enough, the body enters a state of “nutritional ketosis,” where it transforms fats into a molecule called, beta-hydroxy-butyrate, or  “ketones”.  In the absence of sugar and carbs, the body can use ketones as its primary fuel.

One of the scientists who has pioneered research into nutritional ketosis is Dr. Steve Phinney, and one of the populations who he believes gets special benefits from a ketone-producing diet is endurance athletes.  For 30 years, Phinney has studied nutritional ketosis and athletic performance — including performance among bicycle racers, the winners of 100-mile ultra-marathons, and recently, a two-person rowing team that was among the top finishers in a rowing race that went from California to the Hawaiian Islands – rowing the whole way on a very low-carb, high fat, ketone-producing diet.

Hosts, Producer, & Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett

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Science of Booze // Rosetta Mission

Booze coverProof: The Science of Booze (starts at 8:09): Science journalist Adam Rogers, who claims to have taken a liking to single-malt whiskey when he reached drinking age, has immersed himself further into alcohol–particularly, the history and science of making booze, tasting it, and enjoying–or suffering—the effects of it. Booze is a big story: Indeed, making it was a key piece of the dawn of human civilization, as Rogers, who is articles editor at Wired magazine, shows in his inaugural book, called  Proof: The Science of Booze. Rogers talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about fascinating fungi, sugar molecules and other key ingredients, as well as our human taste buds for alcohol. We have a couple of copies of Proof from our recent pledge drive, so call KGNU (303-449-4885) this week and pledge at least $60 to get your own copy.

Joel Parker standing in front of an image of the Rosetta spacecraft with the jet coming off it. Photo credit: Joel Parker

Joel Parker (SwRI) is the Deputy Principal Investigator of the “Alice” ultraviolet spectrograph instrument on the Rosetta spacecraft.
Photo credit: Joel Parker

Rosetta’s Rendezvous (start time: 17:40): How On Earth’s own Joel Parker, whose “real” job as a planetary scientist is a director at the Southwest Research Institute, a collaborating partner on the Rosetta Mission. The mission last week successfully became the first to land a craft on a comet flying through our solar system. It was a well earned landing: Rosetta left earth in March of 2004 and has traveled about 3 billion miles to rendezvous with this moving target. To learn more, read this recent Q&A with Joel in the New York Times.

Also, Shelley Schlender offers a special headline (starts at 3:39), an interview with CU-Boulder’s Dr. Kenneth Wright, an integrative physiologist, about his new study offering new clues about why shift work can lead to extra weight.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Kendra Krueger
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Additional contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producers: Kendra Krueger, Jane Palmer

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Gulp

Gulp-cover-350Gulp [starts at 4:25] Bestselling author, Mary Roach has been billed as American’s funniest science writer.  In “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal” she takes readers on a journey through the alimentary canal, extolling the marvels of spit on the beginning end, then moving on to the man who had a hole in his stomach that allowed a doctor to observe his digestion.  And . . . on.  Roach even interviews a prison inmate about “rectal smuggling” (including cell phones).  So get ready – here’s Shelley Schlender’s conversation with Mary Roach, author of “Gulp”.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Beth Bennett
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger

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Greenback Cutthroat Trout // Migraines

serverGreenback Cuttthroat Trout (starts at 6:06)  Colorado has always been a state of nature lovers, which is why, in the era of our great great grandfathers, citizens even designated an official state fish. It’s the Greenback Cutthroat Trout that thrived in the mountain streams above Boulder and Denver. Colorado wildlife officials had long assumed that Greenback Cuttthroat Trout still live in our mountain streams. The problem is, they were wrong. Through a complex set of Sherlock Holmes investigations begun in recent years, scientists at CU-Boulder figured out a “fish switch” decades ago, meant Greenback Cutthroat Trout were missing from our streams, and possibly extinct. Since then, we have much better news about the fish that “almost” got away.  In this feature, How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender, speaks with CU-Boulder biologist, Jessica Metcalf. (To access photos of greenback cutthroat trout go to http://photography.colorado.edu/res/sites/news/ and type “cutthroat” in the search box.)

mmmMigraines (starts at 14:28) One of the most painful conditions to suffer through is a migraine headache.  Sometimes, these headaches begin with strange visual auras or loss of vision; sometimes they’re accompanied by nausea.  Most of all, they’re a head-splitting pain.  Interestingly, these headaches are rare among the world’s few remaining hunter-gatherer populations.  In contrast, they’re common in modern western life.  Roughly 10% of Americans have suffered from a migraine headache.  One of the people who used to suffer from them frequently is a medical doctor with advanced degrees in neurology.  He’s Doctor Josh Turknett.  Dr. Turknett used to get 60 migraines a year – on average, that’s over one a week.  As a board certified neurologist, Turknett treated the migraines of his clients, and his own migraines, in typical medical ways – urging people to drink enough water, get enough sleep, avoid too much stress, try to figure out triggers, such as maybe foods or smells, and to take strong medications when the headaches got unbearable.  For Turknett, his whole life changed dramatically when he made a basic lifestyle change that he believes many neurologists and migraine sufferers overlook.  In his own case, his change meant that the number of migraines he suffers these days has gone from around 60 headaches a year, down to only two or three. While his approach is controversial, Turknett believes it could help many, perhaps most, migraine sufferers.  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender caught up with Turknett this weekend at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Berkeley, California, where Turknett was a speaker.  Up next, here’s Neurologist and former big time migraine sufferer, Josh Turknett.

Hosts: Kendra Krueger, Joel Parker
Producer & Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Astronomy Through the Ages

640px-Tycho-Brahe-Mural-Quadrant

Tycho Brahe’s observatory at Uranienborg (Wikimedia Commons)

Astronomy Through the Ages (starts at 4:10): If I ask you to close your eyes and imagine an astronomer, what do you see? Maybe you think of a lone figure hunched all night over the eyepiece of a telescope in a big, domed observatory. Maybe you think of Jodie Foster, as Ellie Arroway in the movie Contact, wearing headphones to listen in on cosmic radio waves at Arecibo.

My mind always wanders back to a woodcut of Tycho Brahe’s 16th-century observatory, filled with intricate equipment for making naked-eye observations of the night sky.

But do any of these ingenious images actually resemble the life of an astronomer today? And how are new technologies and “big data” changing the way we study stars today and in years to come?

To discuss those questions, we’re joined in our Boulder studio by Dr. John Bally, a professor of astronomy at the University of Colorado, and Dr. Seth Hornstein, director of the Sommers-Bausch Observatory on the CU campus.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Ted Burnham
Producer: Ted Burnham
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Additional Contributions: Jane Palmer
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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