Colorado’s Science Fair Stars // Rosetta Comet Mission

Colorado’s Science Fair Stars (starts at 3:18)

Students celebrate their countries of origin at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Credit: Intel Brasil (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Students celebrate their countries of origin at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Credit: Intel Brasil (CC)

As the end of the school year approaches for high school students, it’s a good time to celebrate the achievements and passion of students in Colorado who have excelled in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). Two of them — Hope Weinstein, a senior at Fairview High in Boulder, and Michael Brady, a senior at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village — were finalists at a renowned global competition last week. It’s the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which is a program of Society for Science & the Public.
Hope and Michael talk with co-host Susan Moran about their research and their message to other students.

Rosetta Comet Mission (starts at 15:16)

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau/ATG medialab

Artist’s impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau/ATG medialab

When he’s not busy volunteering with How On Earth, Joel Parker is an astronomer with the Southwest Research Institute — and that’s the hat he has on today as our in-studio guest. He joins us to talk about the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which will tag along with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it swings nearer to the sun later this summer.

Joel is the Deputy Lead Investigator for ALICE, the ultraviolet spectrometer aboard the spacecraft. He’s also the featured presenter at Cafe Scientifique tomorrow night. So think of this conversation as a preview of what you might hear if you join him tomorrow at Brooklyn’s down in Denver. Joel will give a very informal talk starting at 6:30 pm, and will try to answer all your tough questions about comets, Rosetta, or anything else. CafeSci is free and open to the public.

Producer: Ted Burnham
Co-Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham

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Gold Lab // National Climate Assessment

For our May 13th show we offer two features:
REVISED_GLS 2014 artwork_borderGold Lab Symposium (starts at 3:42): Biotech entrepreneur Larry Gold, a CU Boulder professor at the BioFrontiers Institute, talks with How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender about the annual Gold Lab Symposium, which will be held in Boulder May 16th and 17th.  This year’s theme is Embracing the Reptile Within: Head, Heart and Healthcare.  The event will focus on research and educational approaches that can potentially help improve the U.S. healthcare system.

NCA_2014U.S. Climate Change Report (starts at 11:50) The National Climate Assessment, a sobering new report on the science and impacts of climate change in the U.S., makes it starkly clear that human-induced climate change is already affecting all parts of the country. It is making water more scarce in some regions while bringing torrential rains elsewhere. It is making heat waves more common and severe, and it’s causing more severe and destructive wildfires. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with two guests: Kristen Averyt, PhD, is a lead author of a chapter on Energy, Water and Land. She is associate director for Science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at CU Boulder.  Dan Glick is a journalist who helped edit the report. His company, The Story Group, also produced a series of videos that highlight the report’s key findings and how climate change is affecting many people’s lives and livelihoods.

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

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Baseball Vision // Emerald Ash Borer

Today, April 29th, we offer two features:
baseball - sports-glasses (1)Baseball Vision (starts at 5:42): The major league baseball season is now in full “swing.” Fans may  take it for granted that these professional athletes are in top physical condition.  What’s less known is how important it is for baseball players to have perfect eyesight.  Batters in particular have some of the best vision in the world.  To find out how scientists know this, and study it, and even make it better, How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender last month headed down to spring training in Arizona.  There, she caught up with two of the nation’s top experts on the science of vision, and sports.

emerald ash borer, courtesy Encyclopedia of Life

emerald ash borer, courtesy Encyclopedia of Life

Emerald Ash Borer (starts at 11:21): It’s been called the most destructive looming pest blight to hit Colorado in ages. The perpetrator in question is the emerald ash borer, a small shimmery green beetle. It is believed to have hitchhiked to the U.S. and Canada on cargo ships, or airplanes, from its native Asia, in 2002. Since then it has wiped out  millions of ash trees in many states. Last September, the ash borer was first found in Colorado. Ash trees have had no time to develop resistance against the exotic invader.  And meanwhile, the ash borer has no predators here to keep it in check. Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, an entomologist at Colorado State University, talks with host Susan Moran about what we should know about the emerald ash borer.

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

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NASA Visit // IPCC Report

wg2coverEarth Day gives us plenty of reason to reflect on the state of the planet and the impact we humans have had on it. This week’s show featured Dr. Linda Mearns, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, who is among hundreds of scientists who produced the latest report on global climate change. She’s a lead author of a chapter on regional climate change in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. She also co-authored previous IPCC assessments – in 1995, 2001, and 2007. Dr. Mearns talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about the science and implications of the IPCC report, including what it means for Colorado and the broader U.S. West.

Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch at the station, the recording of that live interview was lost. But we still have audio from our second feature.

NASA chief Charles Bolden meets with CU students on Friday, April 18, 2014. Photo: University of Colorado

NASA chief Charles Bolden meets with CU students on April 18, 2014. Photo: University of Colorado

Charles Bolden, the top administrator at NASA, was here in Boulder last week, touring the classrooms and facilities that earn the University of Colorado more space agency dollars than any other public university in the nation. We’ll hear what he has to say about CU’s role in the space program — past, present and future.

We’ve also recreated the Earth Day tribute that opened the show. These days it’s more like Earth Week, and it’s not too late to catch some of the planet-happy celebrations going on in the Boulder area this weekend. Listen for details.

Co-hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Producer and Engineer: Ted Burnham

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1964 Alaska Earthquake // Neuroscience of Dying

F3.mid1964 Alaska Earthquake (start time 04:37) This week 50 years ago, in 1964, the Beatles were huge, Alaska had only been a state for a mere five years, and the theory of plate tectonics was in toddlerhood. This Thursday, March 27, also marks the 50th anniversary of the magnitude 9.2 Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964.

This earthquake changed our thinking about how the world works by showing us the hard way that tsunamis can arrive before the ground even stops shaking, that we can look in sedimentary records to recognize past great earthquakes offshore in places like the Pacific Northwest, and that these huge earthquakes rip the Earth open along a plane rather than in bits and pieces. What you’ll hear on today’s show is just the tip of the seismic iceberg: How the earthquake confirmed subduction, which is where one tectonic plate plunges under another. Beth Bartel speaks with Dr. Mike West, the Alaska State Seismologist and Director of the Alaska Earthquake Center, about his recent paper, “Why the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake Matters 50 Years Later,” published in Seismological Research Letters.

near-death-brain-676472-Neuroscience of Dying (start time 12:38) If there’s one thing more certain than taxes—pardon the reminder—it’s death. It may be certain, but it’s still one of life’s biggest mysteries. On today’s show, we explore what neuroscience can tell us about chemical and hormonal releases that can occur as we near the threshold of death.

For instance, many people have written about so-called near-death experiences. It’s when your heart stops. You walk effortlessly toward a tunnel. You see a blast of white light. You might call it Heaven. Visions like these that people report they’ve had have some biochemical underpinnings.

To help us understand the limited but fascinating body of scientific research regarding the neurobiology and chemistry of dying, Susan Moran talks with Dr. Ilene Naomi Rusk. Rusk is a psychologist who specializes in neuropsychopharmacology and co-directs The Brain and Behavior Clinic in Boulder.

Hosts: Beth Bartel and Susan Moran
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Jane Palmer and Ted Burnham

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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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CO2 from the Amazon // US Smokestacks

amazonAmazon CO2 (start time 04:37) The Amazon basin contains the largest tropical rainforest on the planet. It’s been critical not only for its beauty and biodiversity but also for its ability to store more carbon dioxide than it emits. The soil and above-ground biomass of the Amazon makes it one of the largest reservoirs of carbon dioxide. And that has helped to keep climate change from accelerating even faster. But a new study shows that the Amazon’s tropical ecosystems may actually give off more CO2 into the atmosphere than they absorb. To learn what’s shifting in the Amazon basin and the implications of this shift, host Susan Moran speaks with one of the authors of the study. John Miller is a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. Specifically, he’s with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, which is at the University of Colorado.

cires-joost-in-lab_500Power Plant Smokestacks (start time 14:43) To understand the global greenhouse gas budgets, it’s critical to characterize their sources and sinks. Electrical power generation accounts for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US. While the actual generation of power is only part of the entire production and use cycle of electricity, power generation stations are an important part of the budget. A definitive study of smokestack gases shows that power plant emissions in the US are down and that combined-cycle gas powered plants have much lower emissions than the coal plants they are replacing. How On Earth host Jim Pullen talks with the study’s lead author, Dr. Joost de Gouw. Joost is also with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder and also NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), Chemical Science Division.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Joel Parker and Kendra Krueger

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Arctic Thaw // Methane Study // Bonobo Conservation

Today’s show offers three features:

Arctic sunset over Tromso, Norway, Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Arctic sunset over Tromso, Norway,
Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Arctic Dispatch: (start time: 1:02) Co-host Susan Moran returns from Tromso, Norway, with a dispatch from the Arctic Frontiers conference, which addressed the human health and environmental impacts of a rapidly thawing Arctic. Lars Otto Reierson, executive secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program within the Arctic Council, discusses the transport and impacts of  contaminants on the Arctic food web and the indigenous people who depend on it. And Michael Tipton, a physiologist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., speaks about the risks of and physiological responses to extreme cold environments. Read Susan’s article in Popular Science for more about the thawing Arctic.

Globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA's global cooperative air sampling network. Source: Ed Dlugokencky, NOAA

Source: Ed Dlugokencky, NOAA

Atmospheric methane spikes: (start time: 9:39) Dr. Ed Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory, speaks with co-host Jim Pullen about a paper he co-authored in Science about a recent spike in atmospheric concentrations of methane, which is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The graph to the right shows globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA’s global cooperative air sampling network. To learn more about KGNU’s coverage of fracking issues, visit our fracking blog!

book coverBonobo Conservation Success: (start time: 16:11) Author Deni Bechard speaks with Susan Moran about his new book, Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral. The book highlights the success that a nonprofit is having in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in sparing the animals from extinction while economically benefiting local communities.

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

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Quitting smoking//Smoke and children’s health

PrintQuitting smoking (start time 4:39) 50 years ago, the U.S. Surgeon General began a campaign against cigarettes that has saved million of lives. Cohost Jim Pullen talks with Dr. Amy Lukowski about proven strategies to stop smoking and a special quitting campaign for women who are pregnant. Dr. Lukowski is the Clinical Director of the Health Initiatives Programs for National Jewish Health.

If you’d like to learn more about kicking the habit, visit the Colorado Quitline.

 

 (photo courtesy K.West / California National Primate Research Center)

(photo courtesy K.West / California National Primate Research Center)

Smoke and children’s health (start time 13:36) It’s been known for some time that breathing in smoke from wildfires — or wood stoves, for that matter — is bad for your health.

Many studies have shown that when children are exposed to inhalable particulate matter early in life, their lungs don’t function properly. And the effect on the lungs from inhaling smoke persists as children grow older.

But what has not been well understood is precisely what is happening in a person’s body that causes the harmful effects — the biologic mechanism. Also, there is no data available on the long-term impact of exposure to air pollutants on the immune systems of human infants and school children.

A new study helps to narrow the gaps in our understanding of the effects of air pollutant exposure early in life.  And in fact, the study was conducted on monkeys, not humans.

Cohost Susan Moran’s guest is Dr. Lisa Miller, who led the new study. She’s an associate professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. And she is Associate Director of Research at the California National Primate Research Center at the university.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Beth Bartel, Ted Burnham, Kendra Krueger, Shelley Schlender

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2014 Science Stories // Spacecraft Experiments

earth_NASA Earth ObservatoryFor our first show in 2014 we offer two feature interviews:
Feature #1: We continue our conversation from Dec. 31 with science writer and CU professor Tom Yulsman about what “hot” stories 2014 holds in store regarding earth and planetary science, especially climate and weather. Yulsman, who also writes a regular blog for Discover magazine, called Imageo, talks with co-host Susan Moran.

 

 

Cygnus_NASAFeature #2: In expectation of the first official cargo flight of the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station, co-host Joel Parker interviews researchers David Klaus and Stefanie Countryman about their respective experiments: a biomedical antibiotic experiment and an educational K-12 experiment involving ant behavior in microgravity. The Cygnus spacecraft is built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, and follows the earlier, successful launch of a Cygnus demo flight on October 22.  The experiments are built by the BioServe Space Technologies Center within the Aerospace Engineering and Sciences Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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

Due to a technical problem at the station, unfortunately, we were not able to save the audio archive of the show. Our apologies. All other shows include the audio file.

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