Of Math and Wizards

Math for Life: Crucial Ideas You Didn’t Learn in SchoolOne often hears people state “I’m not good at math” or that they don’t like math because it they don’t think it has any relevance to their day-to-day life (other than, maybe, to balance a checkbook). However, both of those myths are addressed head-on in a new book titled “Math for Life: Crucial Ideas You Didn’t Learn in School.” The author of that book is Dr. Jeffrey Bennett, an astrophysicist and educator. He has written several text books and books for the general public including the popular series of children’s books (“Max goes to the Moon” and other places around the solar system) and now another new children’s book called “The Wizard Who Saved the World.” We are happy to have Jeff back on our show in this episode to talk about the importance of math to how we make decisions in our personal lives, in our community, and in Congress…and about being a Wizard.The Wizard Who Saved the World

Hosts: Joel Parker, Breanna Draxler
Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Beth Bartel
Engineer: Joel Parker
Producer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Wild Turkeys // Light Pollution

Wild turkeys in Utah

Merriam's turkey, courtesy of Flickr user "Fool-On-The-Hill."

In celebration of Thanksgiving, Beth Bartel interviews Stan Baker of the National Wild Turkey Federation about wild turkeys in Colorado. You may be surprised at the story of the wild turkey in North America and just how different the wild turkey is from the domestic turkeys we’re used to. There’s a reason Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey, not the bald eagle, to be our national bird.

Can light pollution at night lead to air pollution during the day? Jim Pullen talks with researcher Harald Stark of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) to find out. Stark’s work has taken him over Los Angeles to measure the chemistry of the night sky. What he is learning increases our understanding of ground-level ozone, which is a major pollutant of our urban air.

Photo of L.A. at night

Los Angeles, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Hosts: Joel Parker & Beth Bartel
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Water Crisis // Maker Movement

Susan Moran has a telephone interview with Cynthia Barnett.   Cynthia is a journalist and author of Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis.” She calls the U.S. one of the most “water-wasting places on the planet.” But in her book she also draws from positive examples of water conservation in the country to propose a new “water ethic.”  (start – 4:20).

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Jeff Branson of the SparkFun Electronics Department of Education joins Tom McKinnon in the Boulder studio to discuss the so-called Maker Movement.  In particular, he describes how it is revolutionizing K-12 education. (start 13:20).

Producer: Beth Bartel and Tom McKinnon
Co-Hosts: Susan Moran and Beth Bartel
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Colorado & Oceans // Nitrogen & Snails

Feature #1 (time mark 5:30)  When people think of Colorado, they usually don’t think about “oceans”.  After all, Colorado doesn’t have much of a coastline these days, though it was definitely had oceanfront property a few hundred million years ago.   However, being in a landlocked state doesn’t mean that there isn’t any thing we can do to impact the health and ecology of the ocean and marine biology.  Co-host Joel Parker talks with  Vicki Goldstein, founder and president of the Colorado Ocean Coalition about the “Making Waves in Colorado” symposium and what all of us around the world (leaving near or far from oceans) do that impact and can help oceans.

Feature #2 (time mark 14:10)  Nitrogen – we can’t live without it, but you can have too much of a good thing. In its gaseous form nitrogen is harmless and makes up nearly 80 percent of the atmosphere. The worldwide population never would have reached 7 billion people without nitrogen, in the form of chemical fertilizer. But excess nitrogen –from fertilizer runoff, manure, human sewage and other sources is wreaking havoc on the environment.  Co-host Susan Moran talks with John Mischler, a PhD student at CU Boulder, who is researching worms and snails in Colorado and Africa. He talks about how excess nutrients in ponds, lakes and elsewhere can lead to the spread of parasitic disease from trematodes to snails to us.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Headlines: Breanna Draxler, Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Producer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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Urban Parks // Pythons and Heart Disease

Today, November 1, we offer two features.

Central Park is also nature

Feature #1: Co-host Susan Moran interviews Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, who discusses NPS’ quest to lure more people to urban parks, not just the iconic national parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. These “threshold” experiences can lead people to appreciate, and help preserve, nature, including national parks. He also speaks of the NPS’ efforts to save the most threatened national parks, especially the Everglades.
Listen to the extended version of the interview here.

Python, courtesy CU-Boulder

Feature #2: A python’s remarkable ability to quickly enlarge its heart and other organs during digestion is leading scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder to uncover potential new therapies for heart disease. Their research was recently published in the journal Science. The new study also offers clues to how a special combination of fats found in normal foods just might end up as a powerful drug someday for helping a failing heart. How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender reports on the CU team’s research.

Hosts: Breanna Draxler, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Tom McKinnon

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National Parks: Extended interview with Jonathan Jarvis

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National Perspective on Municipalization//Science of Fall Colors

Tom McKinnon and Peter Asmus of Pike Research discuss electrical utility municipalization from a national perspective.  Peter adds an interesting statistic — the photovoltaic industry already has created more jobs than coal mining even though at present it produces much less power.

Shelley Schlender interviews Bill Hoch of Montana State University about why leaves turn colors in the fall.  Bill punches some holes in the conventional wisdom on the topic and notes that the color change is a critical step in the trees retaining important nutrients.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon & Ted Burnham
Producer: Tom McKinnon
Engineeer: Ted Burnham
Headlines: Beth Bartel
Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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How On Earth now available via Stitcher

The latest episodes of How On Earth are now available through Stitcher!

Stitcher is a free-to-download, free-to-use mobile app (available for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Palm devices) that lets you build customized radio stations out of your favorite shows and podcasts. The newest episodes of each show will be streamed to your device and “stitched” together into a seamless listening experience. Add How On Earth to your Stitcher lineup and take us on the go.

Please note: Stitcher does include advertising, which is inserted between episodes. Ad revenues support the app developer, not How On Earth or KGNU.

Of course you can still also subscribe to our podcast feed through iTunes or other podcast reading software, as well as listen online here at howonearthradio.org.

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Extended Interview: Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality

On today’s pledge drive show we played excerpts from an interview with evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins about his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. The book was also featured as a promotional gift for listeners who chose to support KGNU, the independent community radio station that makes shows like How On Earth possible. We now bring you an extended version of that interview.

The Magic of Reality is something of a departure for Dawkins. It’s a science book, of course, but aimed at an adolescent readership—though certainly adults will enjoy it too. Essentially, the book is about how human beings understand the world, and what we do and do not know.

While examining a dozen seemingly simple questions (What is a rainbow? Why are there so many different kinds of animals?) Dawkins explores both human cultural history—how various cultures have used religious stories and mythmaking to explain the world—and the scientific method—how observation and experimentation can show us what’s really happening. His message throughout is that reality has its own poetic magic that rivals or exceeds even the best-spun tales.

What’s more, The Magic of Reality is full of gorgeous, full-color illustrations by artist Dave McKean. His imaginative visual style brings Dawkins’ clear, simple prose to life and illuminates the magical power that resides in even the simplest of scientific explanations.

Listen to the interview:

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Post-Wild Nature//LED Lighting

Nature means something different to everyone. It’s a towering old-growth redwood forest to some.  Deep silent canyons to others. And urban community gardens to others. Defining what is “pristine nature” is even more dicey. Just ask conservation biologists trying to figure out the best ways to preserve ecosystems and their flora and fauna.
Co-host Susan Moran interviews Emma Marris, whose new book called “Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-wild World” sheds light on how notions of wilderness preservation are evolving to accommodate the ever-changing natural world, and our own role in it.

Tom McKinnon interviews Jeff Bisberg of Albeo Technologies about the new lighting revolution in solid-state LEDs.

Hosts: Tom McKinnon & Susan Moran
Producer: Tom McKinnon
Engineeer: Shellely Schlender

Executive Producer: Tom McKinnon

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How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

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