Geologic Carbon Sequestration // Clean Technology

Dr. Robert Finley at the ADM injection site

Geologic Carbon Sequestration (Start time 4:53): As carbon dioxide emissions continue to skyrocket, researchers are scrambling to find reliable ways to curb emissions of the most persistent greenhouse gas. One of the experimental approaches is geologic carbon sequestration – trapping CO2 from power plants and other sources and pumping it thousands of feet underground in rock formations. The technology looks promising, but it also had drawn controversy. One of the more unusual research projects is in Decatur, Illinois, where CO2 used in the fermentation process for producing ethanol at Archer Daniel Midland’s corn-processing plant is being injected deep into the Illinois Basin. Co-host Susan Moran talks with Dr. Robert Finley, a geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey and principal investigator of the Decatur project.

Colorado Clean-tech Industry (Start time 16:14): It’s not news that we are in an economic downturn.  Nor is it news that the world is facing monumental environmental problems.  How about a way to kill two birds with one stone? Co-host Tom McKinnon discusses how with Wayne Greenberg, director of the Fellows Institute, which is sponsored by the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association.  Greenberg was the former president of E Source in Boulder, and he was the associate dean of the Tulane Law School.

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

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Mountain Wildfires

With record high temperatures along with record low snowpack, the Colorado Front Range has been ravaged by increasingly expensive wildfires.  For today’s show, How on Earth brings in two fire experts for a panel discussion.  John Daily is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado and the director of the Center for Combustion and Environmental Research.  Michael Kodas is a journalist and principal at Narrative Light.  He has been reporting on fire for over a decade and is currently working on a book on megafires.

Hosts: Beth Bartel and Jim Pullen
Producer: Tom McKinnon
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Shelley Shlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

In this special summer pledge drive show, the How On Earth science team shares reasons why they volunteer to bring you science.  And we share a conversation with Florence Williams, a local author and scientist who has an extensive history of breast and uterine cancer in her family.  She decided to do research into the topics of breasts, and discovered all kinds of surprises – such as the poor track record of detection through mammograms, and the amount of research into whether breasts evolved as eye candy for men, or as ways to help babies survive.  And why, if women eat nothing but organic food, do they still have lots of toxins in their breast tissue . . . and breast milk?

Hosts: Tom McKinnon and Chip Grandits
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Additional contributions: Beth Bartel, Breanna Draxler, Ted Burnham, Maeve Conran, Susan Moran, Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Engineering Happiness // The Effects of Black Holes

Book cover for Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful LieEngineering Happiness (start time 05:09): You may think the key to happiness lies in money, or love, or more vacation days.  But what it really comes down to is math — a mathematical formula, actually. At least that’s according to a recently published book, called “Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life.” It’s co-authored by two business and economics professors: Manel Baucells and Rakesh Sarin. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews Dr. Sarin, a professor at UCLA.

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)

Image courtesy of NASA.

The Effects of Black Holes (start time 14:33): Active Galactic Nuclei, or AGNs for short, are vast black holes at the centers of galaxies. But as big as the AGNs are, galaxies are much, much bigger. Regardless, the AGNs do seem to hold some sway. CU-Boulder astronomer Jason Glenn is part of an international team that is beginning to sort out why, and talks with How On Earth’s Jim Pullen.

Hosts: Beth Bartel and Susan Moran
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Dr. Paul Lightsey

Dr. Paul Lightsey

Dr. Paul Lightsey and JWST (start time: 5:55). Paul Lightsey, mission system engineer for the James Webb Space Telescope, joins us to share his intimate knowledge of the telescope’s optical element. JWST is the replacement for the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The telescope will stare back so far in time and space that it will be able to see the first stars and galaxies in the universe being formed.

Hosts: Jim Pullen and Beth Bartel
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker
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Potable water//Electric vehicle infrastructure

Dr. Jörg E. Drewes

Potable Water (start time 5:31). Here on the Front Range, the last three months have been the driest on record. Usually, we get about 8 inches of rain through this time period. This year, it’s more like three inches of rain. A dry year raises a question that’s always a worry in Colorado — what can people do to get enough water? The question is even more urgent because more people are moving to Colorado . . . which means, they will demand . . . more water! As for where to get that water when supplies are scarce, Jörg Drewesat the Colorado School of Mines is leading a plan to build city water systems so that we save drinkable water for, well, drinking. And we use less clean water for flushing toilets, washing laundry, and watering lawns.

This way to the juice!

Electric vehicle Infrastructure (start time 14:25). We cover electric vehicle technology a lot on How on Earth, but equally important issues to the vehicles themselves are the infrastructure required to make it work and the government policies. Rocky Mountain Institute, which has an office in Boulder, is an organization that has thought deeply about these issues. With us in the studio is Ben Holland, manager of the Project Get Ready.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon and Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Shelley Schlender and Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Distributed Energy // Pluto’s Occultation

In today’s How On Earth we have two features:
Distributed Energy (start time 5:46): Enjoying the twinkling stars without nighttime light pollution is a luxury for many of us. We can flick on the switch when we return home, after all. But think what would it be like if you were among the 1.5 billion people around the world who lack to centralized electricity. Having no lights at night keeps many of them  poor and illiterate, and it can create a public health and national security crisis. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews two experts in the field of distributed and decentralized energy.  Rachel Kleinfeld is co-author (along with Drew Sloan) of a new book called Let There Be Light: Electrifying the Developing World with Markets and Distributed Energy.” She is CEO of the Truman National Security Project. Stephen Katsaros is  founder of Nokero, a Denver-based startup company that makes solar LED light bulbs.

Marc Buie of SWRI in Chile, photo courtesy of Sky and Telescope

Pluto’s Occultation (start time 16:31): It is a good time these days for watching solar system. Last week there was a solar eclipse, next week is a lunar eclipse and a transit of Venus (where Venus can be seen moving across the disk of the Sun).  Next week there is yet another solar system event of one object moving in front of another, though it’s not visible without the aid of a telescope. On June 4th Pluto will pass in front of a relatively bright star, an “occultation” event that will send teams of astronomers scrambling around the world to observe.  One team member is How on Earth’s own Joel Parker, an astrophysicist with the Boulder office of the Southwest Research Institute. He’ll be deployed to an observatory in New Zealand to observe the occultation.  Joel talks with How On Earth co-host Tom McKinnon on the eve of his adventure about the occultation and why scientists are interested in observing it. (Here’s an article and video about last year’s occulting Pluto.

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

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Thorium // Space Weather

Thorium (start time 4:54). It sits at the bottom of the periodic table of elements, among its fellow radioactive substances, including uranium and plutonium.  It’s called Thorium, named for the Norse god of thunder. Decades ago, uranium won out over thorium as the nuclear fuel of choice to power the world’s reactors. A new book makes the argument that it’s high time to revisit thorium as a way to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and deliver a safe energy source for the future. Co-host Susan Moran interviews the author, Richard Martin, a journalist and editorial director at Pike Research in Boulder. The book is calledSuperfuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future.

Space Weather (start time 13:15). It has been said that “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”  However, you DO need a weather satellite and space researchers to know which way the solar wind blows, and if that solar wind will affect anything orbiting or on the Earth.  So, today How On Earth co-host Joel Parker talks with Space Weatherman Joe Kunches, at NOAA’s National Weather Service, Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., to explain the Sun-Earth connection and why we should care about space weather forecasts.  Kunches is a space scientist. Formerly he was Secretary of the International Space Environment Service.  Kunches says he is in his fifth solar cycle in the space weather field.

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

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Why Calories Count//Boulder Gold Lab Symposium

Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim

Why Calories Count (start time 7:10). More than a billion people in the world suffer from too few of them. About the same number suffer from too many. We’re talking about calories. They’re vital to human health, indeed our very survival. A new book, called “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics,” delves into the many dimensions of calories – personal, scientific, and political. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews the book’s co-author, Marion Nestle, a molecular biologist and professor at New York University. Her co-author is Malden Nesheim of Cornell University.

Gold Lab Symposium (start time: 17:24). This Friday, CU Boulder presents the annual Gold Lab Symposium.  This year’s theme is “Tempus Fugit.”  That means, “Time Flies,” and speakers this year will focus on why scientists and policy makers must remember that real people and real patients need innovations that lead to better healthcare, right now.  For a sneak preview of what “better” might mean, up next, How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with Symposium founder, Larry Gold about one of this year’s speakers, Allen Jacobson.  Jacobson has a cure for some, not all, but some children who have the deadly disease, muscular dystrophy.

Hosts: Susan Moran and Jim Pullen
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headline contributions: Breanna Draxler and Joel Parker
Feature contribution: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Proteomics and the Search for a Wellness Chip

Stanford Genetist Mike Snyder

What if you could find out about dozens of diseases, all at once, from just one tube of your blood?  It might happen soon, with proteomics and the search for wellness chip.   In this episode, we talk with scientists at Boulder’s Somalogic, Dan Chan, developer of the proteomics based OVA-1 ovarian cancer test, Quest Diagnostic VP of Business Development Nick Conti, and Stanford Geneticist Mike Snyder (for an extended version of the interview with Mike Snyder, click here).  Special thanks also to Boulder playwright Len Barron for reading the poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant.

Hosts: Joel Parker and Breanna Draxler
Producer: Shelley Schlender and Susan Moran
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headlines: Susan Moran, Joel Parker, Breanna Draxler
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

 

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