Cricket Chorus // Foliage Science

This week’s How On Earth features the following two segments:

Snowy Tree Cricket. Photo credit: Scott Severs

Snowy Tree Cricket.
Photo credit: Scott Severs

Late-summer Cricket Chorus (start time: 1:02) One of the most poetic sounds of the end of summer is …. no, not your kids kicking and screaming because summer is over. It’s the sound of crickets, katydids and other melodic insects “chirping” at night. Our focus here is Snowy Tree Crickets in Colorado. They are called “temperature” crickets because you can calculate what the temperature is outside based on how many times these crickets “chirp” in a certain time period. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender took a stroll recently with two Boulder naturalists — Steve Jones and Scott Severs — to learn more about how, and why, crickets in general make their chirping sound, and why we hear so many of them in the evenings this time of year. Some resources about crickets and their brethren: 1)  http://songsofinsects.com/  2) biology and recordings of nearly all singing Orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, katydids), at  Singing Insects of North America (SINA)  http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/Walker/buzz/.

Big Blue Canyon, Colo. Photo credit: Jeff Mitton

Big Blue Canyon, Colo. Photo credit: Jeff Mitton

The Science of Aspen (and other) Foliage (starts: 9:40) One of the most iconic images of Colorado is aspen groves quaking in early fall in their brilliant yellow, orange and even red hues. This year, the aspen, and many other plants, are changing colors earlier than normal. Due largely to the extended warm and dry conditions, many aspen leaves are fading and shriveling without turning bright colors. Dr. Jeff Mitton, an evolutionary biologist and a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado Boulder, talks with host Susan Moran about what dictates the timing and intensity of foliage. Dr. Mitton also writes a bimonthly column, called Natural Selections, in the Daily Camera. Here’s one (of many) on crickets.

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Contributions: Shelley Schlender
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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Science of Psychedelics

How to Change Your Mind PollanWe present another part of our interview with Michael Pollan about his book “How to Change Your Mind:  What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence”.  It is an investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs, and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences.  Books like “How to Change our Mind” are starting to “alter the state” of awareness about modalities that are outside the conventional box of standard medical treatments for mental health problems.  And there are other ways this wave of new awareness is heading into our communities.

will-bio-photoWe also talk with Boulder Psychiatrist Dr. Will Van Derveer, who leads the Integrative Psychiatry Institute.  They will hold a professional conference this October 19-21 in Boulder. Their goal is to educate more health practitioners about how body imbalances, such as gut challenges and mold infections, along with undiagnosed trauma often underlie much of what leads people to seek psychiatric health.  One of the modalities that will be discussed at this professional conference is psychedelics.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Joel Parker
Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Chasing New Horizons // GoldLab Symposium

Alan Stern David GrinspoonChasing New Horizons  (starts 1:00) brings the reader Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto to  hear the details and meet the personalities behind building, launching, and flying this audacious mission.  How on Earth’s Joel Parker (also an astrophysicist on the New Horizons mission) speaks with authors and fellow scientists Alan Stern and David Grinspoon. (Booktalks at Boulder Bookstore and Tattered Cover). You can also listen to the full extended interview.

Larry GoldGoldLab Symposium (starts 13:00) This year’s symposium theme is Complexity:  The Intersections Between Health and Policy. Boulder Entrepreneur and symposium founder Larry Gold speaks with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender about this year’s annual symposium that explores the frontiers of science and health with an eye toward ideas that will inspire even the greatest world expert, with an ear toward being understandable to anyone in the room.

Host/Producer/Engineer:  Shelley Schlender
Add’l Contributions/Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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2017 Look Back – 2018 Look Forward

2017For this end-of-the-year/start-of-the-year  How on Earth show, we look back to 2017 with clips from some of our features from the past year: selections about tracking methane leaks, ketogenic diets, using MDMA to treat PTSD, gravitational waves, the solar eclipse, space missions, and the politicization of science.  Those are just a few of the topics we covered in 2017, which also included: the continuation of the Our Microbes, Ourselves series, global warming and climate change, research about aging, mutant proteins, how humans have altered nature, future technologies, nuclear tests and the Van Allen belts, biofuels, extinctions following an asteroid impact, monorails, life expectancy in America,  observing stellar occultations by objects in the distant solar system, space shields for satellites, virtual colonoscopies, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), chronic fatigue syndrome, protecting pollinators, testing our drinking water, cancer, the Long Now foundation, citizen science, fracking, and more!

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

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Space Shield for Satellites // Virtual Colonoscopy

Van Allen Belts - Courtesy NASA

Van Allen Belts – Courtesy NASA

Space Shield for Satellites (starts 1:00)   An invisible radio wave pollution makes a “space shield” that protects orbiting satellites from Van Allen Belt radiation.  Dan Baker, head of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) explains how his team figured out the man-made source of the mysterious space shield.

colon-cancer-thumbVirtual Colonoscopy Option Improves Cancer Screening Rates (starts 6:32)  Colon cancer kills 50,000 Americans each year.  Death rates would go down if more people did preventative screenings.  But one out of three people balk at the traditional colonoscopy.  According to a new study in the journal, Radiology, when insurance pays for either a regular OR a virtual colonoscopy, 48% of the people who avoid screenings agree to get tested.  Lead author, University of Madison’s  Dr. Maureen Smith, explains.

colon wikimedia isla labsVirtual Colonoscopy – Dr. Bill Blanchet (starts 10:10)  One of the earliest providers of virtual colonoscopies in the Rocky Mountain region is Bill Blanchet, Front Range Preventative Imaging. Blanchet explains why he offers this modern form of colon cancer screening to his patients.

Host / Producer : Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome // Renewables

Rehmeyer coverWe offer two feature interviews on today’s show.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (start time: 11:49)  Imagine spending years waking up so sore and fatigued many mornings that you can barely move. And traversing the country to find doctors who could offer a clear diagnosis, only to find out they don’t really know. And feeling your friendships and professional relationships start to fray, as people question whether you’re making up your illness. For those who have suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, or ME), or a similar disease, Julie Rehmeyer’s story may sound painfully familiar.  The science and math writer talks with host Susan Moran about her new book about the illness, called Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey Into an Illness Science Doesn’t Understand. Rehmeyer will speak about her book on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Boulder Book Store.

Nevada Solar One plant, Photo credit: Tom McKinnon

Nevada Solar One plant, Photo credit: Tom McKinnon

Renewable Energy Debate (start time: 3:20): A bitter scientific debate, as reported in the Washington Post, has surfaced among two scientific groups that are both pushing to decarbonize U.S. electricity generation. On one side  are experts such as Boulder mathematician Christopher Clack, who contends in a new analysis that the U.S. can cut its carbon emissions by nearly 80%, using existing technologies, by  2030. On the other side of this feud is Mark Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist and engineer at Stanford University. He claims the nation can move to 100% renewable energy by 2055. This week, in a peer-reviewed analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, Clack and colleagues call Jacobson’s vision of 100% renewables unrealistic, and says his calculations and modeling are full of errors. Jacobson and his group have countered Clack et al’s analysis is full of errors. Dr. Clack, founder of Vibrant Clean Energy and with NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder when he conducted this research, talks with host Shelley Schlender about the science, the debate, and what it means for the pursuit of clean energy.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Shelley Schlender
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineers: Maeve Conran, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Protecting Pollinators // Testing Drinking Water

Photo credit: Douglas Mills

Photo credit: Douglas Mills

We offer two features on today’s show:
Protecting Pollinators (start time: 0:58): Hills, prairies and gardens are neon green and in full bloom. A pollinator’s paradise, at least it should be. Birds, bees, butterflies, beetles and other pollinators rely on the nectar from flowering plants. We humans rely on them; roughly one out of every three bites we take comes from food that would not exist if not for pollinators. National Pollinator Week is June 19 – 25.  It will celebrate pollinators and promote how humans can help protect them.  Vicki Wojcik, research director at Pollinator Partnership, an organization that focuses on conservation, scientific research and education aimed at preserving pollinators, talks with host Susan Moran. Resources: Bee Safe Boulder (People and Pollinators Action Network), Colorado State Beekeeper Association, and Butterfly Pavilion.

drinking waterTesting Drinking Water (start time: 14:00): Two years ago Flint, Mich., turned the issue of lead in drinking water from a little known, or distant-past, hazard into a national scandal. Human error and coverups resulted in many Flint homes showing staggeringly high levels of lead in their drinking water. What happened in Flint has afflicted other cities. Water districts, which are required to monitor a sampling of homes in their districts for lead in drinking water, are stepping up efforts to prevent more Flints from happening. Here in Colorado, water districts use soda ash and other chemicals to keep their water from being overly corrosive, which was the problem in Flint. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender interviews Michael Cook, district manager of the Little Thompson Water District at the Carter Lake Water Filtration Plant near Loveland. The plant was recently out of compliance, meaning that samples from water district have shown higher levels of lead than what the state health department considers safe. Cook discusses what the district has done. (Boulder has its own water-filtration plant and has not been out of compliance at least in recent years. But all water districts must address similar concerns.)

Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Long Now Foundation in Colorado // Wild Boulder Citizen Science

The Long Now Foundation in Colorado (start time 5:02): People often measure “success” as fifteen minutes of fame, or a blockbuster financial quarter. This focus on short term results doesn’t always build the skills needed to solve long-term problems, such as reducing disease outbreaks or maintaining species diversity. So some visionaries have created a playfully serious way to think ahead, and those “ways” include projects here in Colorado. Shelley Schlender tells us about the Long Now Foundation who are developing programs to foster long term responsibility and long term thinking.

Wild Boulder program. Photo Copyright Wild Boulder.

Wild Boulder program. Photo Copyright Wild Boulder.


Wild Boulder
 (start time 10:t28): Boulder is launching a new citizen science project. The project, called Wild Boulder, will allow people in Boulder to use their smartphones to record wildlife observations, including photos, and share this information with local land managers and open space experts. To find out how this program works, and how it will benefit the community, we spoke with Dave Sutherland and Melanie Hill. Dave Sutherland is an Interpretive Naturalist with theCity of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parksprogram. Melanie Hill is Director of Communications for the WILD Foundation, which works to protect wilderness while balancing the needs of human communities.

Additional information:

Sources:

Hosts: Shelley Schlender and Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett and Susan Moran
Executive Producer:Susan Moran

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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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