Boulder Science Festival // Insect Chorus Songs

Headlines:  CU Scientists explore ways to combat methicillin-resistant staff infections; Yale survey indicates Coloradans concerned about climate change; Denver and Boulder Cafe Sci’s begin for fall; Farewell to Population scientist, Al Bartlett.

Boulder Science Festival (starts at 5:58) Many people in Boulder are familiar with the large number of local science groups and institutes, so what better place to celebrate and learn about science?  That is exactly what our next two guests plan to do: create the Boulder Science Festival, which will be held October 12-13 at the Millennium Harvest House hotel.  In the studio today we have Marcella Setter, the Director of the Boulder Science Festival, and an experienced administrator who loves organizing events that get the public excited about science. As the Director of Science Getaways, Marcella plans group trips for science enthusiasts who want to add some learning and discovery to their vacations.  Joining Marcella here in the studio is her husband, Phil Plait, an astronomer, author, and writer of the Bad Astronomy Blog for Slate.com. An internationally-acclaimed speaker, Dr. Plait has appeared on numerous television science documentaries and is a self-proclaimed “science evangelizer”.

Insect Chorus Songs (starts at 14:58) You’ve heard it. It’s the sound of summer – or rather, the looming end of summer. The chorus of crickets, cicadas and who knows what else outside that is now in prime time.  As an ode to summer, we thought we’d bring in a cicada and other insect specialist to share with us who the heck these critters are, and what’s their role in biodiversity. Maybe he’ll even tell us how we can eat them – like billions of people around the world do with delight. Brian Stucky is a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Wildfires & Water Reservoirs // Comet ISON

For the Sept. 3rd How On Earth show we offer two features:

The Hetch Hetchy reservoir

Wildfires Threaten Water Supplies: (start time 5:45) The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park is now the fourth-largest in California’s history. Covering nearly 350 square miles, the Rim Fire is threatening the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which supplies residents in the San Francisco Bay Area with most of their water and power. It’s a lot like the 2012 High Park Fire—which sent ash and debris into the water supply of Fort Collins. These fires offer lessons on the risks wildfires pose to reservoirs.  Dr. Bruce McGurk, a former water manager for Hetch Hetchy and a water consultant, speaks with How On Earth contributor Brian Calvert about the risks and future prospects.

Comet ISON Cometh: (start time 12:50) Comets have fascinated humans for millenia.  Aristotle argued comets were hot, dry exhalations gathered in the atmosphere and occasionally burst into flame.  Some people thought that comets replenished Earth’s air. Still others  believed they were a source of disease.  Scientists today study comets because some are thought to be relatively pristine leftover debris from the formation of the solar system. And studying what comets are made of can provide us a glimpse back to the beginning of the solar system 4 billion years ago.  Comet ISON, as scientists call it, is one that scientists predict will be relatively easy to view later this year. Dr. Carey Lisse, a senior research scientist at the Johns Hopkins Institute Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, speaks with co-host Joel Parker about comet ISON and its fascinating tails. For more information on ISON, go to NASA’s ISON toolkit, and this cool interactive model.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Additional contribution: Brian Calvert
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Noise Pollution

Population impacted by aircraft noise greater than 55 dB day–night noise level in 2005 (from “Development of an income-based hedonic monetization model for the assessment of aviation-related noise impacts” by Q. He, MIT Master’s thesis) [click on image to see large version]

Noise Pollution (starts at 6:15) –  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with research scientist Larry Finegold about noise pollution and about a workshop being held today in Denver about Noise Management in Communities and Natural Areas.  Dr. Finegold has authored or contributed to over 80 publications on noise including the US National Academy of Engineering report, “Technology for a Quieter America,” the World Health Organization report, “Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise,” and the article “Community Annoyance and Sleep Disturbance: Updated Criteria for Assessing the Impacts of General Transportation Noise on People.”

Host / Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Susan Moran
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Kepler’s Prospects // Oncofertility

For the August 20 How On Earth show we offer two features:

Kepler spacecraft

Kepler Spacecraft’s Uncertain Future: (start time 5:48) Are we alone in the cosmos? Are there other planets out there, and could some of them support life?  Or, is Earth somehow unique in its ability to support life?  The Kepler mission was designed to start addressing that question by searching for planets around other stars.  Since its launch in March 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has discovered many diverse candidate planets around other stars, but recently the spacecraft has run into some technical problems.  Dr. Steve Howell from NASA’s Ames Research Center talks with co-host Joel Parker about Kepler’s past, present and future.

Laxmi Kondapalli, courtesy of CU Cancer Center.

Cancer’s Impact on Fertility: (start time 14:52) It’s tough enough to receive a cancer diagnosis. For many patients, an added insult is that chemotherapy treatments can render them infertile.  However, there are many options for cancer patients who want to have children, or more children – both men and women. A key problem has been that many of them aren’t educated by oncologists about their fertility options and they jump right into drug treatments. Dr. Laxmi Kondapalli, an assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Colorado Denver and head of the CU Cancer Center’s Oncofertility Program, talks with co-host Susan Moran about the medical science of take cancer therapies and the latest in fertility-preservation options.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Copper Might Promote Alzheimer’s – Extended Version

 

Copper Penny

I’m Shelley Schlender.  This is an extended interview from the report we broadcast on August 20th, 2013, about a new study from the University of Rochester that indicates that too much of an essential nutrient, copper, might promote Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)

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Court Orders NRC to Decide on Yucca Mountain Permit

(Proposed design of Yucca Mountain (Los Alamos National Lab)

On Tuesday, August 13th, the US Court of Appeals-DC Circuit ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the application for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Dr. Bill Alley and Rosemarie Alley talk with us about the significance of the decision. The Alley’s just published Too Hot To Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste with Cambridge University Press. They were also our guests on August 13th’s How On Earth!

Host: Jim Pullen
Producer: Jim Pullen

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Too Hot To Touch

Today we’re joined by Dr. William Alley and Rosemarie Alley to learn about the nuclear waste crisis in the United States. Bill Alley, a distinguished hydrologist, was in charge of the USGS’s water studies at Yucca Mountain from 2002 until 2010, when the Obama administration ended the project. Rosemarie Alley is a writer and educator and is passionate about the nuclear waste issue. Together, they’ve written a highly readable and informative book published by Cambridge University Press in 2013: Too Hot To Touch: the Problem of High Level Nuclear Waste. The Alley’s also discuss the Ft. St. Vrain Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation near Platteville, where 15 MTHM (metric tons of heavy metal) are housed until a more permanent home can be found. We’ll be bringing you more on the Ft. St. Vrain facility later in the year.

Host: Jim Pullen
Producer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Smoke Free Casinos Reduce 911 Calls // Mirrors and Water = Hydrogen Fuel

Smoke free casinos mean fewer Ambulance Calls

Smoke Free Casinos Reduce 911 Calls (starts at 2:41) Colorado’s ban on smoking up at Central City and Black Hawk casinos has not only reduced second hand smoke.  It’s reduced the number of 911 calls for ambulances.    A new study in this week’s journal, Circulation, reports that ambulance calls to casinos in Gilpin County fell 20 percent after smoking was banned.  For more, we speak with the study’s lead author Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education

CU-Boulder – Artist’s Image of Hydrogen Fuel Plant, including mirrors

Mirrors and Water = Hydrogen Fuel (starts at 7:40) We hear how to make hydrogen fuel, from water,  sunshine and mirrors, from  Chris Muhich, a PhD student at CU-Boulder whose dream is to create affordable, clean burning hydrogen available to everyone.

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

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Buzz Aldrin’s Vision for Space//The Bees Needs

Buzz Aldrin’s Vision for Space Exploration (starts at 6:14) Dr. Buzz Aldrin advocates that the United States should not enter a space-race to the moon against the Chinese, or a race to Mars against the Russians, but rather show leadership by cooperating with the major space-faring nations to systematically step across the great void to the Red Planet. This is his personal Unified Space Vision. He is also working toward an independent council, a United Strategic Space Enterprise, that would advise American citizens about the nation’s space policy. USSE experts would draw on a deep knowledge of America’s previous successes and failures to present a unified plan of exploration, science, development, commerce, and security within a national foreign policy context. Buzz shared these visions with How On Earth’s Jim Pullen. Here’s an excerpt from his hour-long discussion with Jim. Stay tuned for the rest of his discussion, in which he shares little-known insights into why Apollo 11, not Apollo 12, was first to land humans on the moon, and never-before-shared honors for Neil Armstrong and Pete Conrad.

Bees Needs baby bee block at the KGNU Boulder studios © 2013 Jim Pullen

The Bees Needs (starts at 16:04) Colorado is home to over nine-hundred species of wild bees. Most of these solitary creatures nest in the ground, but others nest in the hollow stalks of plants, and about one hundred and fifty species nest in holes in wood. How are these bees doing? Are pesticides striking them down, like their honeybee cousins? How will they respond to changes in climate? CU scientists Dr. Alex Rose and Dr. Virginia Scott have embarked on a journey of discovery, and they’ve invited ordinary people to help. It’s the Bees Needs, a citizen-science project. How On Earther Jim Pullen is a part of that citizen-science team, and he invited Virgina and Alex to see what’s happening at the bustling bee block nest outside our studio.

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

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Fecal Microbial Transplant for C. Diff Colitis

We bring you two recent science releases involving Colorado scientists.  One features bumblebees and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.  The second looks at new tick-born disease from Missouri that was tracked down by Harry Savage, CDC Fort Collins.

We also share a story about an unusual medical treatment that is saving people from a devastating gut infection called recurrent C-Diff Colitis.  The treatment that cures this condition the most effectively is a fecal microbial transplant.  Giving perspectives about the “cure” are CU Health Sciences Gastroenterologist Steve Freeman, and CSU Veterinary Scientist, Rob Callan.  As for the treatment, this spring, the FDA put up hurdles so it was harder for doctors to do fecal transplants.  So much outcry arose, this summer, the FDA lifted the ban.

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

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