Coming Up: Earthquakes and Fracking

Oil and gas facility in Larimer County, Colorado. (© 2013 Jim Pullen)

Does fracking cause earthquakes? KGNU is hosting a discussion on the correlation between earthquakes, fracking, deep injection wells, and geothermal projects. Join seismologists Dr. Bill Ellsworth, USGS Menlo Park, Dr. Emily Brodsky, UC Santa Cruz, and Dr. Nicholas van der Elst from Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to learn the latest about anthropogenic (human-caused) earthquakes, including the Colorado connection. On KGNU’s The Morning Magazine, Wednesday, July 31, at 8:35AM. And to learn more before the show, listen to this short feature on Free Speech Radio News. To listen to the conversation, go here. Support your community radio, KGNU!

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World Listening Day

WWVB Ft. Collins (© 2013 Jim Pullen)

The World Listening Project celebrated its 40 anniversary on Thursday, July 18th. On Thursday, How On Earth’s Jim Pullen was in Ft. Collins recording audio for an upcoming story on the National Institute of Standards and Technology radio station WWVB. To celebrate the World Listening Project, World Listening Day, and the field of acoustic ecology, he took a few minutes to record a thunderstorm that was causing some havoc at the station. Take some time to listen quietly to the sounds in your life!

(Recorded using linear pulse-code modulation at a sample rate of 96 kHz and resolution of 24 bits per sample with a Marantz PMD 661 recorder specially fitted with low-noise preamplifiers by Oade Brothers and an Audio-Technica BP4025 x/y stereo field recording microphone. The audio file posted here is a 192 kbps mp3.)

Producer: Jim Pullen

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End of Night – Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

The world is awash with artificial lights – so much so that most of us never experience the night sky like our ancestors did. So what?  Does it matter?  Is it simply an inevitable and acceptable result of progress?  Here in the studio with us today to talk about the personal and global effects of light pollution and the loss of dark skies at night is Paul Bogard who has written the book The End of Night. Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,

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

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Good & Bad Calories // PhD Comics

Good & Bad Calories (starts at 4:50) Ever since the 1970s, the rise of obesity in the United States has an epidemic. Researchers around the world are trying desperately to figure out why so many of us get fat, and what we can do to change that.  A large amount of funding, and support from public health policy, goes toward the hypothesis that we get fat because we eat too many calories and do not exercise enough; when someone eats more calories than they need, the instructions go, they should exercise.  That’s “Calories in, Calories Out.”  But recently, an expert with a different point of view spoke to a packed audience of doctors, staff and medical students at the University of Colorado Medical Center.  The expert is Gary Taubes, the author of the New York Times bestsellers “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat“.  Taubes is also the recipient of angel investor funds: $60 million to devote to research to better understand how the kinds of foods we eat affect our metabolism.  Central to Taubes’ ideas is the opinion that “Calories in, Calories Out” simply cannot be enough to explain, or help people, maintain a healthy weight.  In this feature, we provide an excerpt from his talk at the CU Medical School.

PhD Comics (starts at 13:50) Unless you work in science, you may not always be aware of the humor that goes on among scientists and what the culture is like.  So what better way to show the comic parts of science than by way of a comic strip?  One of the more well-known science-oriented comic strips is called “PhD Comics” and is written by Jorge Cham, who is trained as an engineer, holds a bachelors degree from Georgia Tech and a PhD in robotics from Stanford.  He also was an instructor at Caltech, a researcher in a neuroscience lab, where he studied brain-and-machine interfaces, and he also has a chemistry background.  So he has a wide set of experiences to draw on…literally DRAW on…for his comic.  We talk with Jorge Cham to find out more about the comic and other ways the scientist comic artist unveils the secret lives of scientists and, in particular, science grad students.

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

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The Voodoo Doll Task // Drones for Climate Science

“Voodoo Doll” courtesy Creative Commons

The Voodoo Doll Task – (begins 5:30) Scientists have few ways to accurately measure agression.  How on Earth’s Garth Sundem talks with University of Kentucky psychology professor, Nathan DeWall, about a new fix. It’s called the Voodoo Doll Task. DeWall’s recent studies include over thirteen hundred subjects, and an upcoming research paper shows his voodoo doll task works darn well. What does an angry person do when holding a voodoo doll and a handful of pins, or when presented with a computerized version of the doll? The answer could indicate that person’s desire to carry out the aggressive action in real life.

CIRIES Data Hawk

Drones for Climate Science – (begins 15:00) These days they get a bad rap because of their use by the government to snoop on people, and even to kill terrorists. But unmanned aerial vehicles – often called  “drones” – are increasingly being used to save the planet, or at least to measure and understand a slice of it.  For more, How on Earth’s Susan Moran talks with Doug Weibel  who is part of a CU-Boulder science and engineering team that designed an unmanned aerial vehicle , or UAV, that they’re about to take to Alaska’s Arctic Circle. The aircraft –called DataHawk — is meant to help them better grasp how Arctic sea ice is melting, especially in the summer in areas where it used to persist for many years.

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

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China’s environmental impact // 100 Year Starship

Today, June 18, we offer two features interviews:
Feature #1 – China’s Environmental Impact (start time  4:46): China’s meteoric economic rise is causing harmful side effects, ranging from choking air pollution domestically to threatened forests, wildlife and air quality around the globe. Of course China’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions still pale in comparison to those in the United States, and roughly one-third of China’s CO2 emissions are generated to manufacture goods that are exported to the U.S. and other nations.  Craig Simons, a former journalist and author of a recently published book, The Devouring Dragon: How China’s Rise Threatens Our Natural World, discusses with co-host Susan Moran these critical issues, including coal mining in Colorado for export to China.

 

Feature #2 – 100 Year Starship (start time 15:35): Science and exploration tend to be long-term commitments. That’s well-known by fans of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy” series, where the computer Deep Thought did calculations for 7.5 million years to find the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and everything.  However, projects on our world tend to be limited by shorter-term political and funding cycles.  So it is hard enough to consider projects that require thinking a decade into the future, beyond many political lifetimes.  What about projects that require thinking a century or more into the future, many generations from now?  Well, that is exactly what one group of space exploration advocates is working toward.  The project is called the 100 Year Starship, which aims to create a long-duration mission sending humans to another star. Alires Almon, member of the project, talks with co-host Joel Parker about the challenges and the vision of 100 Year Starship.

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

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Bird collisions and wind energy policy

High importance (yellow) and critical importance (red) risk areas to birds and wind tower proposals (2003-2011) (dark crosses). Source: American Bird Conservancy.

 

One to two million additional bird deaths per year. Wind is the most rapidly growing energy source in the US, but are environmental protections keeping pace? Tuesday on How On Earth, Kelly Fuller, the American Bird Conservancy’s Wind Campaign Coordinator, talks with Jim Pullen about the impact of big wind on birds.

Host: Jim Pullen
Producer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Cancer Drug Delivery // Mars’ Radiation Risks

Enjoy the two features we offer today, June 4:

A “raft” artificially created in a liposome.
Photo courtesy Tom Anchordoquy

Feature #1 (start time 5:36):  Cancer drugs are much more targeted than they were many years ago.  But researchers are still trying to find a way to deliver drugs much more precisely to cancer cells, partly to avoid damaging, sometimes lethal, side effects. A huge obstacle has been getting nucleic acids to cross the membrane of cancer cells.  A new study has brought researchers closer to crossing this big hurdle.  Dr. Tom Anchordoquy, a lead author of the study, speaks with co-host Susan Moran about the study and what it means for cancer patients and researchers. Dr. Anchordoquy is an investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Denver and a professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

 

The Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, instrument (right) is one of 10 science instruments on the Mars Curiosity rover (depicted in the artist’s concept on the left). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

Feature #2 (start time 15:02): Being an astronaut is a risky job, but perhaps one of the less-known risks is the high levels of radiation beyond the relatively protective cocoon of Earth’s magnetic field.  This will be a particularly important problem to address for long-duration deep-space flight such as going to Mars.  Until recently there have not been a lot of measurements available of the interplanetary radiation field for the types of radiation that could affect humans.  But on the Curiosity rover of the Mars Science Laboratory, there is a radiation detector designed to make those important measurements. The instrument team recently published their initial results.  Dr. Don Hassler, Science Program Director at Southwest Research Institute’s Boulder office and the Principal Investigator for the Radiation Assessment Detector on the Mars Curiosity rover, talks with co-host Joel Parker about the results.

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

Listen to the audio here:

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Oh Thank You Canada: Lessons from the North on Growing Industrial Hemp

Canadian hemp being cut by combine-harvesters. (Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance)

(starts at 08:19) At (high? no, not this plant) noon on Tuesday, Governor John Hickenlooper will sign a bill that will legalize growing industrial hemp in Colorado. But it’s been 70 years since hemp was legally grown in the US… Fortunately, because Canada lifted its ban in the 1990s, we can seek the experience of our northern neighbors. Join the How On Earth team and guest Dr. Jan Slaski, a Canadian plant science expert, to learn about the modern practice of growing industrial hemp.

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

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Palm oil and rainforest devastation

NASA satellite image of slash and burn being used to clear rainforest in Sumatra.

(start time: 07:23) We talk with Lindsey Allen, the Executive Director of the Rainforest Action Network, about the destruction of rainforest from the proliferation of palm oil plantations.

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

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