Beringia // Dolphins & Climate Change // The Ogallala Road

Beringia_land_bridge-noaagovBeringia (start time 0:55). We present an excerpt of  Shelly Schlender’s  interview with University of Colorado scientist John Hoffecker, lead author of a recent paper in Science magazine about the Beringia land bridge and the people who lived there 25,000 years ago.  The full interview can be found here.

 

Dolphins & Climate Change (start time 4:40). Dr. Denise Herzing, the founder of the Wild Dolphin Project, has been building relationships with Atlantic Spotted Dolphins for 28 years. meet-dolphins2 Her quest to learn whether dolphins have language, and to learn that language, is notable for its longevity. But her relationship with them is remarkably respectful, too. We last spoke to Dr. Herzing in the spring of 2012, about her book Dolphin Diaries: My 25 Years With Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas. We’re very glad that she’s with us again, to help us learn about how large marine mammals may be responding in unusual ways to changes in the oceans.

the-ogallala-road-coverThe Ogallala Road (start time 15:15).  We often hear about how the Colorado River is running dry. The Western  states that rely on its flowing water are struggling to reckon with how its depleting reservoirs will satiate growing  populations. You’ve probably seen images of the white “bathrub rings” at Lake Powell and Lake Mead that expose the water line rings of years ago.  But there’s an equally dramatic and dangerous drop in an invisible source of water. That’s the Ogallala Aquifer – an underground basin of groundwater that spans eight states on the High Plains, including Colorado. Nearly one third of irrigated cropland in the country stretches over the aquifer. And the Ogallala yields about a third  of the ground water that’s used for irrigation in the U.S.  The story of the Ogallala’s depletion is a very personal one for author Julene Bair. She lives in Longmont, but years ago she learned that the family farm in Kansas that she inherited had been a big part of the problem. Julene has written about her journey, including her desire to make the farm part of the solution. Julene joins us on the show to talk about her new book  The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Shelley Schlender

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2013 Was a Good Year, in Science!

The team considers noteworthy science on the last day of 2013. What’s worth mentioning? Too many people, too much carbon, and way too much fun in astronomy!

AlanWeisman_Countdown.shrunkBiology and Health (start time 00:56). This year marked the passing of long-time Boulder resident, Al Bartlett. Bartlett was one of the world’s most eloquent voices calling for population control. He will be missed. One of the champions picking up the torch is New York Times bestselling author, Alan Weisman. Weisman offers exciting solutions to population growth in Countdown:  Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth.

How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender reports that this is a hard book to read, because it’s long, and thorough, and urgency of the need for population reduction worldwide is often not a happy topic. She admits that sometimes, she even switched to a detective novel before reading more of Countdown. But she kept at it because Countdown provides some exciting solutions to population growth. One of the most compelling is to provide women with education and access to birth control. It turns out these two offerings are often a key to women deciding, voluntarily, to limit their families to two children, and sometimes, fewer.

Co-host Shelley Schlender hosts this interview with Weisman about perhaps the greatest problem facing humanity–too many people.

 

The late Professor John Mainstone cared for the pitch drop experiment. (University of Queensland, Australia, School of Mathematics and Physics)

The late Professor John Mainstone cared for the pitch drop experiment. (University of Queensland, Australia)

Physics and Astronomy (start time 08:56). Co-host Jim Pullen couldn’t decide on the best physics and astronomy story of 2013, so he dipped into the rich happenings of the year, taken from all over the world: superbolides skipping over Russia, bitumen dripping in Ireland, Voyager 1 long-ranging somewhere in the galaxy, and Icecube spying far-flung neutrinos down at the bottom of the world (and beyond). We’ll learn that the news of 2013 owes much to 2012, 1977, 1944 and even 1927. And that leaves WIMPS, dark matter, LUX, two-dimensional graphene, trapped quantum states, quantum computers, and so much more for 2014!

 

 

Flood crumpled truck in Jamestown Canyon, Colorado (photo courtesy Jim Pullen)

Flood crumpled truck in Jamestown Canyon, Colorado (photo courtesy Jim Pullen)

Environment (start time 16:44). What a year it’s been! We shot past 400 ppm of CO2 in the ever-warming blanket of air skinned over the planet. And disasters! Mighty and perilous Super Typhoon Haiyan, with the fastest winds ever recorded, crashed into the Philipines in November. More locally, in September here on the Northern Front Range, a flood of historic proportion. Co-hosts Susan Moran and Tom Yulsman look at the perils of 2013 and portents.

 

 

Happy 2014 to you, our KGNU and How On Earth family!

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Beth Bartel

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Flood Winners & Losers // 100 Year Starship Symposium

Feature 1 - Flood Winners & Losers : Last month’s deluge cut canyons, real and felt, through many of our lives, but nature helps us remember that floods can build too. In this feature, How on Earth’s Jim Pullen speaks with Boulder’s wetland and riparian ecologist Marianne Giolitto about flood “winners and losers”.   Marianne watches over 45,000 acres of the city’s open space and mountain parks wetlands and riparian habitats. Jim and the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks are working together on a series of radio vignettes; the first two are “Monitoring Bats” and “Great Storms and Chautauqua.”

Feature 2 - 100 Year Starship Symposium : Back in June we had a feature about a project called the 100 Year Star Ship.  During that show we talked with Alires Almon, a member of the project, about the challenges and vision of creating a long-duration mission to send humans to another star.  A few weeks ago in Houston, the project held their annual symposium; this year’s theme was titled: “Pathway to the Stars, Footprints on Earth.”  Ms. Almon is back with us today to talk about the symposium and what new ideas were discussed.

And as we mentioned in today’s headlines,  you can learn more about shale oil and gas boom and bust by listening to Jim Pullen’s hour-long talk with expert Deborah Rogers on KGNU’s “It’s the Economy.”

Hosts: Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Beth Bartel
Additional Contributions: Jim Pullen

Due to technical problems, this show was not recored to the archive.  We apologize that this post does not have an audio podcast of the entire show, but below we do have the audio file of the pre-recorded interview of the “Flood Winners and Losers” :

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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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Noise Pollution

Population impacted by aircraft noise greater than 55 dB day–night noise level in 2005 (from “Development of an income-based hedonic monetization model for the assessment of aviation-related noise impacts” by Q. He, MIT Master’s thesis) [click on image to see large version]

Noise Pollution (starts at 6:15) –  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with research scientist Larry Finegold about noise pollution and about a workshop being held today in Denver about Noise Management in Communities and Natural Areas.  Dr. Finegold has authored or contributed to over 80 publications on noise including the US National Academy of Engineering report, “Technology for a Quieter America,” the World Health Organization report, “Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise,” and the article “Community Annoyance and Sleep Disturbance: Updated Criteria for Assessing the Impacts of General Transportation Noise on People.”

Host / Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Kepler’s Prospects // Oncofertility

For the August 20 How On Earth show we offer two features:

Kepler spacecraft

Kepler Spacecraft’s Uncertain Future: (start time 5:48) Are we alone in the cosmos? Are there other planets out there, and could some of them support life?  Or, is Earth somehow unique in its ability to support life?  The Kepler mission was designed to start addressing that question by searching for planets around other stars.  Since its launch in March 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has discovered many diverse candidate planets around other stars, but recently the spacecraft has run into some technical problems.  Dr. Steve Howell from NASA’s Ames Research Center talks with co-host Joel Parker about Kepler’s past, present and future.

Laxmi Kondapalli, courtesy of CU Cancer Center.

Cancer’s Impact on Fertility: (start time 14:52) It’s tough enough to receive a cancer diagnosis. For many patients, an added insult is that chemotherapy treatments can render them infertile.  However, there are many options for cancer patients who want to have children, or more children – both men and women. A key problem has been that many of them aren’t educated by oncologists about their fertility options and they jump right into drug treatments. Dr. Laxmi Kondapalli, an assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Colorado Denver and head of the CU Cancer Center’s Oncofertility Program, talks with co-host Susan Moran about the medical science of take cancer therapies and the latest in fertility-preservation options.

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

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Everything died under a broiling sky

Extinction at the K-Pg boundary

Illustration courtesy NASA/JPL

CU professor Doug Robertson and a multidisciplinary team  argue afresh that a global firestorm swept the planet in the hours after a mountain-sized asteroid vaporized above the Yucatan, 66 million years ago. When the blown-out rock missiled back to earth, Robertson says the atmosphere became so hot the whole world burned. Almost every organism above ground and in the air perished. We talk to Dr. Robertson about that terrible day and how some species reemerged. His team just published their research in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences.

Host: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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The Universe Within // De-Extinction

The Universe Within (starts at 4:40) Within each and every one of us is the history of life on this planet, the planet itself and the entire universe.  This is the theme of a new book “The Universe Within.”  The author, Neil Shubin, is a professor of Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.  Starting with what physically constitutes a human being and what makes a human life possible, Shubin surveys many domains of science to find out what we can learn about what’s out there from what’s inside of us.   It’s a fantastically broad scope, bringing together the common history of Rocks, Planets and People.  As professor Shubin explains to How On Earth’s Chip Grandits, it is the very concept of this common history that binds all of these topics, which are normally found scattered throughout disparate domains of science and academia.

Image by Jonathan S. Blair, National Geographic

De-Extinction (starts at 14:15) You may think that when a species dies, it’s gone forever.  But with enough motivation, scientists might be able to return some species to life.  Popular science writer Carl Zimmer has written about “de-extinction” in the cover story of April’s issue of National Geographic magazine. So, is the movie Jurassic Park a good primer on de-extinction?

Hosts: Susan Moran, Jim Pullen
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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We Are the Martians

Orion spacecraft docked to a Mars Transfer Vehicle (NASA)

(Start time 5:15) “The Men of Earth came to Mars. They came because they were afraid or unafraid, because they were happy or unhappy, because they felt like Pilgrims or did not feel like Pilgrims. There was a reason for each man. They were leaving bad wives or bad towns; they were coming to find something or leave something or get something, to dig up something or bury something or leave something alone. They were coming with small dreams or large dreams or none at all…it was not unusual that the first men were few. The numbers grew steadily in proportion to the census of Earth Men already on Mars. There was comfort in numbers. But the first Lonely Ones had to stand by themselves…”

That’s from Ray Bradbury’s great 1950 collection of short stories, The Martian Chronicles. Today, there are plans being made to send people to Mars, a fraughtful trip of a hundred and a half million kilometers and more than a year, each way. To learn whether we will be the Martians, we chat with Brian Enke. Brian is a Senior Research Analyst at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, a member of The Mars Society, and the author of the 2005 science fiction novel about Mars, Shadows of Medusa.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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U.S. Climate Report // Antarctics Sounds

 

A drying Western U.S.
Photo courtesy www.earthtimes.org.

Feature #1 (starts 05:25): A sweeping new report on the state of climate change and its current and future impacts in the United States was recently released in draft form. It’s called the National Climate Assessment.  It comes at a time when major storms and wildfires are increasing in many areas. And last year the continental U.S. experienced its hottest year ever recorded. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews  one of the participating authors of the report, Dr. Dennis Ojima. He’s a professor at Colorado State University in the Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Department, and a senior research scientist in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Dr. Ojima co-wrote the chapter on the Great Plains.

DJ Spoky performs at CU (photo by Beth Bartel)

DJ Spooky performs a composition based on the geometric structure of ice during a recent visit to CU Boulder’s ATLAS center, accompanied by CU student musicians. (Photo by Beth Bartel)

Feature #2 (starts 16:30): Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky, says the pallet of a 21st-century artist is data. That’s certainly the approach he took after visiting Antarctica in 2007—Miller used scientific data from ice cores and other Antarctic sources to create musical motifs representing the southern continent, then blended them with live performers and his own hip-hop beats. Co-host Ted Burnham speaks with Miller about the process of “remixing” the frozen Antarctic landscape, and about how music and art offer new ways to make scientific topics such as climate change accessible and meaningful.

Producer: Susan Moran
Co-Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Additional Contributions:
Shelley Schlender

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