Beringia // Dolphins & Climate Change // The Ogallala Road

Beringia_land_bridge-noaagovBeringia (start time 0:55). We present an excerpt of  Shelly Schlender’s  interview with University of Colorado scientist John Hoffecker, lead author of a recent paper in Science magazine about the Beringia land bridge and the people who lived there 25,000 years ago.  The full interview can be found here.

 

Dolphins & Climate Change (start time 4:40). Dr. Denise Herzing, the founder of the Wild Dolphin Project, has been building relationships with Atlantic Spotted Dolphins for 28 years. meet-dolphins2 Her quest to learn whether dolphins have language, and to learn that language, is notable for its longevity. But her relationship with them is remarkably respectful, too. We last spoke to Dr. Herzing in the spring of 2012, about her book Dolphin Diaries: My 25 Years With Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas. We’re very glad that she’s with us again, to help us learn about how large marine mammals may be responding in unusual ways to changes in the oceans.

the-ogallala-road-coverThe Ogallala Road (start time 15:15).  We often hear about how the Colorado River is running dry. The Western  states that rely on its flowing water are struggling to reckon with how its depleting reservoirs will satiate growing  populations. You’ve probably seen images of the white “bathrub rings” at Lake Powell and Lake Mead that expose the water line rings of years ago.  But there’s an equally dramatic and dangerous drop in an invisible source of water. That’s the Ogallala Aquifer – an underground basin of groundwater that spans eight states on the High Plains, including Colorado. Nearly one third of irrigated cropland in the country stretches over the aquifer. And the Ogallala yields about a third  of the ground water that’s used for irrigation in the U.S.  The story of the Ogallala’s depletion is a very personal one for author Julene Bair. She lives in Longmont, but years ago she learned that the family farm in Kansas that she inherited had been a big part of the problem. Julene has written about her journey, including her desire to make the farm part of the solution. Julene joins us on the show to talk about her new book  The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Shelley Schlender

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How Native Americans Came to Be – Extended Version – Beringia

Alaska Shrub/Willow Tundra

Alaska Shrub/Willow Tundra

I’m Shelley Schlender for How on Earth.  Here’s an extended version of an interview about how Native Americans came to be.  It’s about a CU-Boulder study that appeared in Science Magazine in February 2014, and promptly made headlines around the world.  The study involves top-notch detective work that shows how, almost 30,000 years ago, a major Ice Age trapped Asian explorers on a land bridge between Asia and Alaska for 10 THOUSAND years.  Back then, the “Beringia” (bare-IN-gee-ah) land bridge was 30 miles long and 600 miles wide. Glaciers had buried Northern America, but Beringia was just warm enough, the trapped explorers survived and thrived.  They stayed in that pit stop for so many thousands of years, it gave time for the inevitable mutations that can happen in DNA to be concentrated and become distributed throughout the entire Beringian community, which probably included a few thousand people.  When the glaciers finally receded around 15,000 years ago, that DNA signature was with the small band of “Beringians” who then began settling in the Americas.  Their settlements were successful.  Their numbers grew over time to become the millions of people today who still carry “Beringia” in their DNA. Today, we call that distinct, Beringian DNA proof that someone’s ancestors were “Native Americans.”

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Tracing Methane’s Source in Drinking Water // Safe Place for Captive Wolves

lee-stanish__120by180Methane in Drinking Water (start time 05:36) Flaming water faucets were infamously exposed in the documentaries Gasland and Gasland 2. The water isn’t catching fire–methane in the water is. People are deeply concerned that methane, dredged from kilometers down, is leaking into our drinking water supplies through poorly constructed and maintained oil and gas wells, but methane can be produced by living organisms much closer to the surface too. How can we tell where the methane in the water is coming from? One way is to look at stable isotopes of carbon, but the tests are expensive and require a lot of expertise. But our guest Dr. Lee Stanish explains to host Jim Pullen that she is working on much cheaper ways to trace the source of the methane. Lee is a Research Associate in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She’s trying to raise money for her research through crowd-sourcing–learn more here.

Apollo-KWHaven for Captive Wolves (start time 14:25) Right now in the United States, about a quarter of a million wolves live in captivity and fewer than 10,000 wolves in the wild. Most of the captive wolves born each year do not survive to see their first birthday.  They’re either destroyed or they die of neglect.  Colorado’s Mission Wolf refuge has rescued three dozen of these born-in-a-cage wolves to give them a better life, and to use some of them as ambassadors who educate people around the U-S about the amazing intelligence of wolves, and their plight. How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender and Boulder Naturalist and KGNU volunteer, Steve Jones, bring us the story.

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

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Molecular Gastronomy

Lehndorff and KleinmanWelcome to a special Radio Nibbles version of How On Earth. Nibbles’ (and pie aficionado) John Lehndorff, chef Ian Kleinman and How On Earth’s Jim Pullen set to work making and eating high-tech delicacies. Liquid nitrogen sorbets, strawberries floating above superconducting magnets, and more! Food and tech on the show that makes you smarter. Yum!

Host/Producer/Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen

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CO2 from the Amazon // US Smokestacks

amazonAmazon CO2 (start time 04:37) The Amazon basin contains the largest tropical rainforest on the planet. It’s been critical not only for its beauty and biodiversity but also for its ability to store more carbon dioxide than it emits. The soil and above-ground biomass of the Amazon makes it one of the largest reservoirs of carbon dioxide. And that has helped to keep climate change from accelerating even faster. But a new study shows that the Amazon’s tropical ecosystems may actually give off more CO2 into the atmosphere than they absorb. To learn what’s shifting in the Amazon basin and the implications of this shift, host Susan Moran speaks with one of the authors of the study. John Miller is a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. Specifically, he’s with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, which is at the University of Colorado.

cires-joost-in-lab_500Power Plant Smokestacks (start time 14:43) To understand the global greenhouse gas budgets, it’s critical to characterize their sources and sinks. Electrical power generation accounts for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US. While the actual generation of power is only part of the entire production and use cycle of electricity, power generation stations are an important part of the budget. A definitive study of smokestack gases shows that power plant emissions in the US are down and that combined-cycle gas powered plants have much lower emissions than the coal plants they are replacing. How On Earth host Jim Pullen talks with the study’s lead author, Dr. Joost de Gouw. Joost is also with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder and also NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), Chemical Science Division.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Joel Parker and Kendra Krueger

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Arctic Thaw // Methane Study // Bonobo Conservation

Today’s show offers three features:

Arctic sunset over Tromso, Norway, Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Arctic sunset over Tromso, Norway,
Photo courtesy Susan Moran

Arctic Dispatch: (start time: 1:02) Co-host Susan Moran returns from Tromso, Norway, with a dispatch from the Arctic Frontiers conference, which addressed the human health and environmental impacts of a rapidly thawing Arctic. Lars Otto Reierson, executive secretary of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program within the Arctic Council, discusses the transport and impacts of  contaminants on the Arctic food web and the indigenous people who depend on it. And Michael Tipton, a physiologist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K., speaks about the risks of and physiological responses to extreme cold environments. Read Susan’s article in Popular Science for more about the thawing Arctic.

Globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA's global cooperative air sampling network. Source: Ed Dlugokencky, NOAA

Source: Ed Dlugokencky, NOAA

Atmospheric methane spikes: (start time: 9:39) Dr. Ed Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory, speaks with co-host Jim Pullen about a paper he co-authored in Science about a recent spike in atmospheric concentrations of methane, which is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The graph to the right shows globally averaged methane (blue) and its de-seasonalized trend (red) determined from NOAA’s global cooperative air sampling network. To learn more about KGNU’s coverage of fracking issues, visit our fracking blog!

book coverBonobo Conservation Success: (start time: 16:11) Author Deni Bechard speaks with Susan Moran about his new book, Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral. The book highlights the success that a nonprofit is having in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in sparing the animals from extinction while economically benefiting local communities.

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

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Newton’s Football // Strontium Clock

The science of football. (image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)

The science of football. (image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library)

Newton’s Football (start time 5:45)  This Sunday the Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, so we thought we’d bring you a scientific perspective on the game of football. How on Earth’s Ted Burnham talks with the co-authors of the book Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, journalist Allen St. John and science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez.

 

13PML042_strontium_clock_LRStrontium Clock (start time 14:10) We’ve got a full-house of physicists in the studio today to help us understand the new timepiece and why it’s important. Travis Nicholson and Sara Campbell are graduate students on the team led by Professor Jun Ye. Dr. Ye is a Fellow of JILA, a Fellow of NIST, and Adjoint Professor with CU’s Department of Physics.

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Jim Pullen
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Kendra Krueger, Beth Bartel, Joel Parker, Jim Pullen

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Rosetta Wakes Up // Jelly Sandwich Earth // Hospital Acquired Infections // Microbes Reduce Autism in Mice

Outsourcing Pollution (01:08) What’s sent to China comes back to the good old U S of A.

Arctic Frontiers (02:03) How on Earth’s  Susan Moran flies to Norway Conference

RosettaWake Up, Rosetta!   (3:00) As project manager for the Rosetta Alice UV Spectrometer, How on Earth’s  Joel Parker shares tense moments, waiting for  Rosetta to wake up.

PB&JSandwichJelly Sandwich Earth  (5:40) CU-Boulder’s Peter Molnar wins the world’s most prestigious prize for Geoscience -He speaks with How on Earth’s Jim Pullen

healthcare-associated-infectionsHospital Acquired Infections (8:00)   When Americans go to the hospital, they don’t expect to leave with a brand new illness.  But one out of every 20  receives a hidden time bomb during these visits – it’s a healthcare associated infection.   How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender visits Longmont United Hospital to see how ICU staff reduce infection risks.   If you want to compare how your hospital or clinic compares with the nation, and other Colorado hospitals, when it comes to infections, here are Colorado’s Latest Infection Rate Reports 

Brain4-1Gut Microbe Reverses Autism in Mice (15:22) A recent study  and a commentary in Cell indicate that feeding mice a beneficial bacteria  reduces their autistic symptoms.  CU Biofrontiers Institute scientists Dorota Porazinska and Sophie Weiss discuss the implications with Shelley Schlender.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Jim Pullen
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions:  Ted Burnham, Kendra Krueger, Susan Moran, Jane Palmer,  Joel Parker

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Quitting smoking//Smoke and children’s health

PrintQuitting smoking (start time 4:39) 50 years ago, the U.S. Surgeon General began a campaign against cigarettes that has saved million of lives. Cohost Jim Pullen talks with Dr. Amy Lukowski about proven strategies to stop smoking and a special quitting campaign for women who are pregnant. Dr. Lukowski is the Clinical Director of the Health Initiatives Programs for National Jewish Health.

If you’d like to learn more about kicking the habit, visit the Colorado Quitline.

 

 (photo courtesy K.West / California National Primate Research Center)

(photo courtesy K.West / California National Primate Research Center)

Smoke and children’s health (start time 13:36) It’s been known for some time that breathing in smoke from wildfires — or wood stoves, for that matter — is bad for your health.

Many studies have shown that when children are exposed to inhalable particulate matter early in life, their lungs don’t function properly. And the effect on the lungs from inhaling smoke persists as children grow older.

But what has not been well understood is precisely what is happening in a person’s body that causes the harmful effects — the biologic mechanism. Also, there is no data available on the long-term impact of exposure to air pollutants on the immune systems of human infants and school children.

A new study helps to narrow the gaps in our understanding of the effects of air pollutant exposure early in life.  And in fact, the study was conducted on monkeys, not humans.

Cohost Susan Moran’s guest is Dr. Lisa Miller, who led the new study. She’s an associate professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. And she is Associate Director of Research at the California National Primate Research Center at the university.

Hosts: Jim Pullen, Susan Moran
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Beth Bartel, Ted Burnham, Kendra Krueger, Shelley Schlender

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2014 Science Stories // Spacecraft Experiments

earth_NASA Earth ObservatoryFor our first show in 2014 we offer two feature interviews:
Feature #1: We continue our conversation from Dec. 31 with science writer and CU professor Tom Yulsman about what “hot” stories 2014 holds in store regarding earth and planetary science, especially climate and weather. Yulsman, who also writes a regular blog for Discover magazine, called Imageo, talks with co-host Susan Moran.

 

 

Cygnus_NASAFeature #2: In expectation of the first official cargo flight of the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station, co-host Joel Parker interviews researchers David Klaus and Stefanie Countryman about their respective experiments: a biomedical antibiotic experiment and an educational K-12 experiment involving ant behavior in microgravity. The Cygnus spacecraft is built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, and follows the earlier, successful launch of a Cygnus demo flight on October 22.  The experiments are built by the BioServe Space Technologies Center within the Aerospace Engineering and Sciences Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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

Due to a technical problem at the station, unfortunately, we were not able to save the audio archive of the show. Our apologies. All other shows include the audio file.

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