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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The Idea Factory – Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

Bell Labs thrived from the 1920s to the 1980s, when it was most innovative and productive institution of the twentieth century. Long before America’s brightest scientific minds began migrating west to Silicon Valley, they flocked to the Bell Labs campus in the New Jersey suburbs. At its peak, Bell Labs employed nearly fifteen thousand people, twelve hundred had PhDs. Thirteen eventually won Nobel prizes. How did they do it?  How can we learn from their successes, so we can do it here in Colorado?  New Your Times journalist Jon Gertner has written a book that provides some answers.  He calls it:  The Idea Factory – Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.  Inside that book, you can learn how radar came to be, and lasers, transistors, satellites, mobile phones, and much more.   How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender spoke with Mr. Gertner about his new book.

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

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Public health risks of BPA

Dr. David Dausey, Director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health

(start time: 5:50). We Coloradoans pride ourselves on our healthy habits — eating right, exercising, and paying attention to what’s in the food we eat. Yet many of the things we use everyday, like water bottles, sunscreens, makeup, and – OK, soda cans — are full of toxic chemicals. Many of them are untested, and may be insidiously making us sick. One of the more controversial compounds is BPA, which is used to make some hard plastic bottles and other food packaging. Today we have with us public health expert Dr. David Dausey to talk about BPA –bisphenol A — and other environmental toxins. He directs the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health in Pennsylvania.

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

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Planetary Sciences Budget // Curiosity’s RAD

Donald Hassler

Curiosity’s RAD (start time 7:14). To design a successful manned mission to Mars, we’ll have to know a lot about the radiation environment between the Earth and Mars and on the planet’s surface. The Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument on Curiosity is designed to make those measurements. We talk with Southwest Research Institute’s Dr. Donald Hassler, the RAD instrument Principle Investigator, about RAD’s purpose, how the instrument works, and the joys and scary moments that come with working on Mars.

Planetary science budget (start time: 15:49). Despite the successes of the Mars missions and voyages to our other planetary neighbors, the White House decided that NASA’s planetary science budget should be drawn down. The hit would be substantial, a twenty percent reduction from 2012. 300 million dollars would be removed from a baseline one and a half billion dollars. We ask Dr. Alan Stern, who has served as the chief of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, about why the planetary science budget should be restored.

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

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Beer Can Science

Photo by Stefan Söder

Beer Can Science (start time 6:50)
If you’re a beer drinker, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of cans on liquor store shelves these days. Here in Colorado, and elsewhere, more and more breweries are choosing to put their beer in cans. There are some good reasons for that, as you’ll hear in this segment.

But for the smallest of small breweries, canning can still be a real challenge. It’s expensive, and it takes up a lot of space. Enter Mobile Canning, a Longmont-based company that offers brewers a solution to both of those problems: put the canning line on a truck, and take it to any brewery that needs it. We speak with co-owner Pat Hartman in our Boulder studio.

Of course, designing a fully-automated canning line is no small feat – to say nothing of designing one that can be packed into a delivery truck. For that, we turn to Boulder firm Wild Goose Engineering. Chief Technology Officer Alexis Foreman also joins the conversation.

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Joel Parker
Producer: Ted Burnham
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Volcanoes & the Atmosphere // Traffic in Beijing

Nabro volcano

(Image compliments of NASA.)

Volcanoes & the Atmosphere (start time 6:17): We’ve known for a long time that volcanic particles and gases can travel around the world, often affecting climate.  The 1815 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora chilled New England and Europe, resulting in what came to be known as “the year without a summer.”  More recently, the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines cooled temperatures throughout the Northern Hemisphere by up to 0.6 degrees Celsius. Those were both sizable eruptions.  Co-host Beth Bartel talks with Bill Randel, division director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, about what a mid-sized eruption in the horn of Africa can tell us about atmospheric circulation.

Traffic in Beijing

(Image compliments of Flickr user hldpn.)

Traffic in Beijing (start time 15:13): A new study shows that China gets a gold medal for dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Yes, that’s Beijing, one of the most polluted cities in the world. The new study shows that China severely restricted auto traffic in the city, leading to a major reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it could be enough to make a dent in curbing climate change if similar efforts were to be made in cities around the world, and on a sustained basis. Co-host Susan Moran discuss the new paper and its implications with Helen Worden of the National Center of Atmospheric Research.

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

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Global Weirdness // Institute for Social and Environmental Transition

Why global climate change is real. (Random House 2012)

We feel it when we step into the heat outside; something weird is up with the climate. . Not only is it hot, we’re weathering a drought of historic proportions. That drought has set the stage for crop losses and for wildfires that are burning up the homes of people who live in the mountains here in Colorado. And the strangeness continues across the globe. We learn on the internet that ice at the poles is melting feverishly. And we’ve just lost another huge chunk. Last week scientists announced that in Greenland, a mass of glacial ice twice the size of Manhattan Island is slipping away. To help us make sense of the strangeness, we talk with Michael Lemonick, coauthor of the new book: Global Weirdness, Severe Storms, Deadly Heat Waves, Relentless Drought, Rising Seas, and the Weather of the Future.

2010 Pakistan floods from space (NASA)

We next turn to new ideas about how humans can adapt to global weirdness, by undoing what we’ve always done. Marcus Moench, the Director of Boulder’s Institute for Social and Environmental Transition, joins us to talk about why de-engineering the floodplains in South Asia may be best.

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

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Immortality – Science vs Sci Fi

We talk with CU-Boulder’s Tom Johnson and NYT Bestselling author, James Rollins about Rollins’ new book, Bloodline.  We also look at immortality, longevity, and aging, comparing the science and the sci fi.  And we offer extended versions of the interviews with James Rollins and Tom Johnson.

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

C-Elegans - a roundworm that can have a very long life . . . for a worm

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James Rollins – Bloodline (SciFi book about immortality)

This is an extended version of the radio broadcast of the interview with James Rollins about his new book, Bloodline.  In it, we look at the issues of science versus fiction, and technologies that might lead to life extension through robotics, artificial intelligence, and triple-stranded DNA . . . IF the good guys don’t defeat the bad guys who want to use these technologies for evil purposes.

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