The Dust Bowl / Population Growth

Feature #1: The Dust Bowl (start time 6:53)

Dust Bowl, courtesy Creative Commons

As bad as the drought has been recently in Colorado and other states, it pales in comparison to the nearly 10-year-long drought of the 1930s. Its unrelenting and gargantuan dust storms inspired the name “The Dust Bowl.” In southeast Colorado and other Great Plains states, children died of dust pneumonia. Thousands of cattle died or were slaughtered. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. It came to be called “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” On November 18th and 19th PBS will air a four-hour documentary called The Dust Bowl. It was directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by author Dayton Duncan. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with Duncan about the film and the lessons learned –or not learned — from The Dust Bowl.

Feature #2: Zero Population (start time 15:58)  John Seager, CEO of the nonprofit Population Connection, discusses with How On Earth co-host Ted Burnham about the organization’s efforts to help American citizens and politicians understand the environmental and other implications of the ever-expanding global human population. John will speak this Friday at the CU campus in Boulder. His presentation is titled, “Soaring Past 7 Billion: Population Challenges for a Crowded World.”

Hosts: Ted Burnham and Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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Stopping Cancer in its Tracks – Telomerase Receptor Inhibition

Last month, CU Nobel Prize Winner Tom Cech (Check) and colleagues announced a breakthrough in their quest to stop cancer.  It involves an enzyme known as telomerase (tell-AH-mer-aze), which helps cells divide almost endlessly – helpful when a child is growing.  In adults, most cells stop responding to telomerase.  Instead they save up a limited number of cell divisions timed to last through old age.  Cancer cells are different.  They are great gobblers of telomerase.  That’s where CU discovery comes in.  It’s a way to possibly prevent cancer cells from tanking up on telomerase.  Cech says that while human trials are years off, the discovery looks promising.  For more, here’s How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender, talking with CU Nobel Prize winner, Tom Cech, in an extended version of this interview on cancer:

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The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson

The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (start time 6:20). The book Silent Spring, published in 1962, is widely credited for setting the stage for the modern environmental movement. Its author, Rachel Carson, an unassuming field biologist and writer, uncovered how in the process of killing crop pests, chemicals such as DDT were also killing birds, fish and other wildlife.  Fifty years after Silent Spring was published, several of the worst offending toxins are off the market – at least in the U.S. – but many more persist and new ones have emerged. And they’re wreaking havoc on human health, not just wildlife. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran talks with William Souder, author of the new book On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, which was just published last month to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Silent Spring.

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

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CU Multidisciplinary Oil Production Study

Fracking well in Boulder County, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Jim Pullen.

How can we best live with natural gas development? A University of Colorado team has just been awarded an NSF grant to tackle the problem. Here to chat with us about the study is Dr. Joe Ryan, the lead-PI of the multidisciplinary team. And the lead of the study’s air quality task, Dr. Jana Milford, is also with us.
Hosts: Jim Pullen and Joel Parker
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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Pledge Drive Show//Genetic-mutant Paganini

Paganini in 1831 (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niccol%C3%B2_Paganini)

This is our 2012 Fall Pledge Drive Show and our subject is Genes Gone Bad, or do you have to be a genetic-mutant superhuman to play Paganini? Helping us answer that question is Boulder’s own and world-renowned Dr. Gregory Walker. And in a very special treat, Gregory plays the magnificent Paganini Caprice No. 24, live in KGNU’s Kabaret studio. And we hear a bit of an interview with Sam Kean, author of the book, The Violinist’s Thumb, which inspired our show.
Hosts: Jim Pullen and Joel Parker
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineers: Jim Pullen, George Figgs, and Dafe Hughes
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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Boulder Nobel Science Winner//Searching for Sister Earth

We talk with Travis Metcalfe, of Boulder’s Space Science Institute, where he is searching for Sister Earth and also part of the Blue Dot Project.  As for why, the past two decades have witnessed accelerating progress on one of the most fundamental questions in astronomy: Are we alone in the Universe? Astronomers have already discovered hundreds of planets around distant stars. Some of them are nearly as small as the Earth, and orbit in the “Goldilocks zone” of their parent star where liquid water can exist.

 

We congratulate Boulder’s David J. Wineland for winning the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics.     Wineland, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and CU-Boulder, shares the prize with and Serge Haroche of France.  They are credited with making breakthroughs in quantum physics by showing how to observe individual quantum particles without destroying them.  These, in turn, are the first steps toward building superfast computers based on quantum physics.

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

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Neanderthals//Antarctica


Feature #1: Neanderthals
(start time: 6:01)
Our Neanderthal ancestors have long been maligned as rather dim-witted cave-dwellers. But they may have been brighter — and more colorful — more like us, shall we say.  We turn to the BBC’s Science in Action for a look at new research into who these ancestors really were. Here’s BBC’s Jon Stewart.

Feature #2: Antarctica (start time: 11:03)
It may be hard for people living in Colorado and other land-locked states to grasp that our daily lifestyles – burning fossil fuels every time we turn on the lights or drive our car, for instance – affects the delicate marine ecosystems of the Southern Ocean, from the ice algae to the penguins and whales. And in turn, the health of the plants and animals, and indeed the ice they depend on, in Antarctica, affects our own health.  Cohost Susan Moran interviews Dr. James McClintock, a marine biologist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, about his new book, Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land.” He shares his adventures waaayy down under, and his concerns about the future of the fragile and stunning continent. 

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Producer:
Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Edelstein
Executive Producer:
Jim Pullen

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Big Waves // Omega 3 Fatty Acids

University of Colorado applied mathematics researchers Mark Ablowitz and Douglas Baldwin stand with photographs of an "x wave" on an Oregon beach.

University of Colorado applied mathematics researchers Mark Ablowitz and Douglas Baldwin with photos of an "X wave" on an Oregon beach.

Big Waves (start time 4:39):  When does one plus one not equal two? When waves behave non-linearly, according to CU researchers Mark Ablowitz and Douglas Baldwin.  The two have been researching how multiple water waves can add together to form a wave with a height much greater than twice the height of either wave. The mathematicians refer to these as X and Y waves, which sounds mathematical but actually just refers to the shape of the wave front as seen looking down on the wave from above. Rather than being rare, these waves are readily observable and may be the reason that some tsunamis are much larger than anticipated.  We spoke yesterday with the pair to find out more about these interesting waves.

Fish Oil Pills (from Wiki Commons)

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (start time 14:49): It’s widely accepted that Omega 3 supplements are good for many things, especially your heart, and that fish oil is high in Omega 3. But earlier this month, Greek researchers made a splash with a meta-analysis that concluded that fish oil supplements do not help your heart. They came to this conclusion even though, in their analysis, people taking fish oil pills or eating fish had 9 percent fewer deaths from heart disease and 11 percent fewer heart attacks than people who don’t. Fans of Omega 3 shot many other harpoons into the study, and we look at one of their most compelling complaints – it’s that the amount of Omega 3 that people’s bodies absorb depends on many things, and the Greek scientists did not examine studies that checked Omega 3 fatty acids levels where they count the most. That’s in people’s blood.  To find out more about why blood levels of Omega 3’s might matter, How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with Doug Bibus. Bibus is part of the team that years ago basically discovered Omega 3s. He’s a two-time winner of the American Chemical Society’s Award in Analytical Chemistry.  Bibus says that most Americans have very low levels of Omega 3s, and they’d be healthier if their levels were higher.

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

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Colorado Drought // A More Perfect Heaven

A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized The Cosmos, by Dava Sobel

Colorado Drought Conference (start time 4:35): Experts are meeting at a conference in Denver this week to discuss the implications of prolonged drought conditions here in Colorado. How On Earth’ Susan Moran speaks with biologist Dr. Chad McNutt of the NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information Center about wthe drought means for the ecosystem, and for Western cities — and how we can start to address the problem.

A More Perfect Heaven (start time 11:50): Joel Parker speaks with Dava Sobel, a science journalist and author who tells the stories of the science and the scientists from the past and how they connect to the present. Those stories reveal that the course of scientific progress is far from orderly — it often takes unplanned twists, has failures that require going back and starting over, and can be driven by the quirks of the personalities of individual scientists.

Today we hear about Sobel’s most recent book, A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos.  This book also contains the play And The Sun Stood Still, which will be presented in a free staged reading by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company this Thursday, September 20th at 6:30 at the Dairy Center for the Arts.

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

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Higgs-Boson: What is all the excitement about?

Higgs Boson drawing from zmescience.com

We’ll talk about the World of a tiny particle called the Higgs-Boson, with CU Physicist Uriel Nauenberg.  Nauenberg also speaks tonight at the Boulder Cafe Scientifique.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Ted Burnham
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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