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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Parallel Universes

The concept of a parallel universe, a universe remarkably like our own but with some subtle difference, has been the staple of science fiction stories for years.  But it is an idea that is seriously discussed in real science starting many decades ago when physicists wrestled with the weird implications of Quantum Mechanics, and recently has appeared in many other guises in other areas of physics. One of the leading scientists in studying these ideas and explaining the mind-bending concepts to non-experts is Professor Brian Greene.  Dr. Greene is professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and co-founder and director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.  He has written the books The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, both of which were adapted into mini-series on NOVA, and his most recent book is The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.  We talk with him about the different concepts in modern day physics that point to the possibilities of parallel universes, what they may be like, and what observations and measurements may be able to prove or disprove their existence. (you can hear the extended interview with Dr. Greene)

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

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Parallel Universes – extended interview with Brian Greene

This is an extended version of the interview we broadcast on February 26, 2013, featuring Professor Brian Greene discussing the concepts of Parallel Universes.

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Bright Meteor // Dark Matter

Russian Meteor (starts at 4:28) Just a few days ago on February 15th,  a large meteor broke up in the skies over Russia, creating an air blast and sonic boom, which caused damage to buildings that injured over 1,000 people. We talk with Dr. Clark Chapman to ask why the universe is taking potshots at us.  Dr. Chapman is an astronomer and Senior Scientist at the Boulder office of the Southwest Research Institute, and is recognized as a leading researcher in planetary cratering and in the physical properties asteroids, comets, and moons.  For more than a decade Dr. Chapman has been studying the risks of comets and asteroids hitting the Earth and has been a member of Congressional and international committees regarding impact hazards. He is a founding member of the B612 Foundation, which is developing ways to detect and deflect hazardous asteroids.

Dark Matter (starts at 12:45) Maybe you’ve heard about it.  Maybe you even know that it is everywhere throughout the universe.  But for such a ubiquitous material, what do you really know about Dark Matter?  If the answer is “Not much,” don’t worry, you are in good company; many scientists would say the same thing. But, you’re in luck because we have Dr. Martin Huber with us today talk about Dark Matter – what is known know about it and how we can detect it.  Dr. Huber is Professor of Physics and Director of the Master of Integrated Sciences program at the University of Colorado, Denver.  He is a member of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search project, and on today’s show he sheds some light on Dark Matter.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Jim Pullen
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Jim Pullen
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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Dr. David Wineland

Dr. David Wineland (photo courtesy of NIST)

Today on How On Earth, KGNU’s award-winning science show, we sit down with Boulder’s Dr. David Wineland and chat about his Nobel-prize-winning research. The NIST scientist shared the 2012 physics award with Frenchman Serge Haroche. They’ve developed experimental methods for trapping and holding particles so that weird quantum behaviors can be studied. The research is critical to developing extreme quantum computers that may someday break today’s best encryption algorithms…and make truly unbreakable ones.

Host: Jim Pullen
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Visindi Circus//Life on Other Planets

 

Headlines:

  1. Ice Core Studies
  2. How Flu Multiplies
  3. Wednesday’s Mini-STEM school features Diana Tomback.  Her topic will be: Evolution and the Origin of Life.

Features:

(5:20 into the show) Shelley Schlender visits the Visindi Circus to learn why some scientists by day become circus performers at night, and how science adds a whole new dimension to circus performances.

(13:00 into the show) Chip Grandits talks with Brian Hynek, for the CU Center for Astrobiology and makes this request:  there are ~17 Billion Earth like planets in the Milky Way according to late-breaking estimates; so in this 10 minute segment, we can just go through the list – Mark will have about 35 ns for each planet to go over the prospects of finding life there.

Hosts: Chip Grandits and Jim Pullen
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

Additional Contributions: Rabah Kamal

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Gut Microbes and Autoimmune Disease // What’s in YOUR Gut? The American Gut Project

 

Headlines:

  1. New CU Studies on GroundLevel Ozone, with NOAA’s Sam Oltmans, CU researcher Daven Henze and NASA’s Kevin Bowman
  2. Good Cholesterol, Bad Cholesterol and “Ugly” Cholesterol
  3. Tonight’s Denver Cafe Sci features Tad Pfeffer:  Getting sea level predictions right

Features:

We look at a new study where researchers, led by Jayne Danska transferred gut microbes from male mice to young female mouse pups, and in the process, raised the testosterone level in the female mice and protected them from getting Type 1 Diabetes.  Danska’s research team includes Daniel Frank   at University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, and Chuck Robertson at CU Boulder.

And we look at a new kind of science, offered in The American Gut project, featuring CU scientist Rob Knight.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Jim Pullen
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

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Haitian Seismologists//Changing Antarctic Climate

Roby Douilly and Steeve Symithe

Feature #1: (start time: 06:03) On January 12, 2010, just over three years ago, a magnitude 7 earthquake shook Haiti, taking more than 200,000 lives and displacing an estimated 2 million. Still today, the International Organization for Migration estimates hundreds of thousands of people are without permanent homes, and in many ways Haiti seems no closer to rebuilding than it did three years ago.  Co-host Beth Bartel speaks to Haiti’s first seismologists — Roby Douilly and Steeve Symithe, both graduate students at Purdue University — about the future of Haiti and a career in seismology there

Feature #2: (start time: 15:42) You’ve probably heard by now that 2012 was the warmest ever in the U.S.  We’re not the only ones overheating. At the bottom of the world, over the last 50 years, West Antarctica has warmed more than scientists had thought. The implications are huge; an enormous ice sheet there  may be at risk of long-term collapse, which could cause sea levels to rise alarmingly.  Co-host Susan Moran speaks with Andrew Monaghan, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, or NCAR, here in Boulder. Dr. Monaghan co-authored the study, which was recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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

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Medical Marijuana and Traffic Accidents//Ron Rosedale Critiques Body Mass Index Study

Apple Versus Pear Shape

HEADLINES:

  1. Diabetes Drug Metformin – University of Pennsylvania Researcher Morris Birnbaum reports in Nature that Metformin blocks a hormone that tells the liver to melt muscle to make more blood sugar. (Go here for an extended interview with Morris Birnbaum)
  2. Climate Change – Research shows that timely political action has a bigger impact than waiting.
  3. Boulder Cafe Scientifique – Tonight’s Cafe Sci features CU Boulder researcher Monique LeBourgeois (who we interviewed in detail in previous broadcast) on the topic of kids and sleep.

Medical Marijuana States

MAIN FEATURES:

We talk with scientists who are part of two new University of Colorado – Denver studies about alcohol and marijuana – 1) Ben Crost presents a study of marijuana use versus alcohol use which concludes that the minimum drinking age of 21 increases marijuana use among teens (until age 21, alcohol use is lower and marijuana use is higher.  After age 21, alcohol use goes up and marijuana use goes down).  Daniel Rees and Mark Anderson are among the authors on a study of Medical Marijuana and Traffic Fatalities that view the question of who uses what from the other side.  Their study looks at an exception to the rule – the 16 states and District of Columbia with some years now, have had medical marijuana laws.  In these Medical Marijuana states, teen use of marijuana appears to rise at age 18 (that’s the age at which teens no longer need to have their parent’s permission to get a Medical Marijuana card. )  But even more interestingly, in these Medical Marijuana states, traffic fatalities go down.  These authors look at why. (Go here for extended interviews with Crost and Anderson)

We also discuss the new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that analyzed the link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and death.  BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared study.  The study concluded that while very obese people were likely to die sooner than others, people who were moderately overweight, or even slightly obese, were less likely to die than were people of normal weight, or people who are thin.  Medical doctor and researcher on aging, Ron Rosedale, puts this study in historical perspective, pointing out that the British Medical Journal the Lancet published a similar study in 2006 that concluded that BMI is not a very useful measure of health, and other measures, such as waist to hip ratio and certain hormone levels, might be better at predicting health and longevity. (Go here for an extended interview with Ron Rosedale)

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

Additional Contributions:  Susan Moran

 (Click below to play audio.)

 

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