The Alchemy of Us- How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

The Alchemy of Us, MIT PressThis week on How on Earth we speak with Ainissa Ramirez, materials scientist and author of The Alchemy of Us:  How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another.   In this book, she examines eight inventions and reveals how they shaped the human experience.      Listen to how our sleep and language were influenced by some of these inventions.  Learn the history about how photographic film was developed, and the surprising use of technological advances in some of our most iconic cameras.

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Hosts:   Jill Sjong and Beth Bennett

Executive Producer:  Beth Bennett

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Octopus Wild

Craig Foster with his octopus teacher
Craig Foster with his octopus teacher

This week we review the hit movie “My Octopus Teacher,” the story about a man who goes diving in a kelp forest off the Western Cape of South Africa, and becomes acquainted with an octopus.   We review the movie with Roger Hanlon, a diving biologist, cephalopod expert and senior scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.   We discuss the octopus’ elaborate camouflage and complex behavior.  We’ll get some answers to our octopus questions:   Do they dream?   Do they play?   Use tools?   Are octopuses a second form of intelligent life on earth?

You can learn more about the South African sea forest at the Sea Change Project.  You can learn more about octopuses at Roger Hanlon’s research.

Host & Producer:   Jill Sjong
Executive Producer:  Beth Bennett
Engineer:   Sam Fuqua

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The Shale Revolution: Weld County’s Golden Goose- Part Two

Left:   Image courtesy of EcoNation, NZ.    Right:   Map of active oil and natural gas wells in Colorado.
Left: Image courtesy of EcoNation, NZ. Right: Map of active oil and natural gas wells in Colorado.

In Part Two of the Shale Revolution, we look at the environmental concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing, particularly the air quality along the Front Range.    We interview Detlev Helmig, an atmospheric scientist, who monitors the air quality along the front range.    We also discuss why well setbacks are such a contentious issue in Colorado.

Producer and Host:   Jill Sjong
Engineer:   Maeve Conran
Executive Producer:   Jill Sjong

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The Shale Revolution: Weld County’s Golden Goose- Part One

Left: Image courtesy of EcoNation, NZ. Right: Map of active oil and natural gas wells in Colorado.
Left: Image courtesy of EcoNation, NZ. Right: Map of active oil and natural gas wells in Colorado.

This week on How on Earth, we look at the shale industry, which has transformed this country in ways we could not have imagined a decade ago.    How did this happen?   Where do experts think the fracking industry might be going?     In this two-part series, we consider why Wall Street and environmentalists are becoming strange new allies.

We interview Paula Noonan from Colorado Watch, the platform for tracking Colorado Legislature.   We also listen to excerpts from Bethany McLean, author of Saudi America:   the Truth about Fracking and how it’s Changing the World.

Host/Producer:     Jill Sjong
Engineer:   Maeve Conran
Executive Producer:   Susan Moran

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The Neuroscience of Pain

Woo2017NPStuningcurve-copyChronic pain is a debilitating condition for millions of people worldwide.   But what role does our brain play in processing pain?    Cognitive neuroscientists, using advanced imaging techniques, are gaining a better understanding of how our brain processes pain.   They can now measure and model brain systems linked to our pain and emotions.   This is shedding new light on interventions for people who suffer from chronic pain.
In this How on Earth episode, Jill Sjong speaks with Tor Wager, an expert in the neuroscience of pain, and formerly a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder.   Jill also speaks with Charlie Merrill, a Boulder-based physiotherapist who works with local athletes, many of whom suffer from chronic pain.
Host:   Jill Sjong
Executive Producer:   Susan Moran
Engineer:   Maeve Conran
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The Corral Bluffs’ Fossil Discovery: Earth’s Comeback Story

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Tyler Lyson. P/C: Westword

In this episode Angele Sjong interviews Tyler Lyson, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, about his team’s extraordinary fossil discovery at the Corral Bluffs.

When the asteroid destroyed most of life on earth 66 million years ago, including the dinosaurs, this cataclysmic event ended the Age of Reptiles and began the Age of Mammals.Paleontologists have long struggled to understand the first million years of the Age of Mammals, however.  What kinds of mammals survived this event?   When and how did mammals become big again?  When did mammals begin to diversify?  What was the plant life and climate like at this time?   The animal and plant fossils at Corral Bluffs shed light on this critical time period in earth’s history that has been a mystery for so long.

Corral Bluffs fossil discovery. Photo credit: Springs Magazine
Corral Bluffs fossil discovery. Photo credit: Springs Magazine

The Corral Bluffs have been featured on the PBS Nova show titled “Age of Mammals.”   Nova show, “Rise of the Mammals”.

The Corral Bluffs’ fossils are on exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science:

DMNS Exhibit: After the asteroid: Earth’s comeback story

Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Show Producer: Angele Sjong
Engineer: Maeve Conran

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