Despite all the advances in modern medical science, a diagnosis of Cancer often casts a pallor of hopelessness, for both the patient and the practitioner. For many types the prognosis is often poor; the cure is often worse than the disease; victory is usually called simply remission, temporary, perhaps fleeting. One might think the inability to find a cure indicates bafflement by our scientists and stagnation in our efforts. According to Professor Michael Kinch, there is in fact a frenzy of activity by scientists and doctors. And a recent spate of breakthroughs, developing treatments based on the inherent powers of our immune systems, represent not a refutation of all we have known before, but a continuation of efforts made by medical pioneers stretching back over a century. His latest book is titled The End of The Beginning: Cancer, Immunity and the Future of a Cure. Kinch was a professor at Purdue University, where he researched breast and prostate cancer. He then went on to found an oncology program at the biotechnology company MedImmune. He is now professor and vice-chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis. Here he shares with Chip Grandits stories from the front lines in the battle with cancer, both past and present. He speaks with what can best be described as a disciplined optimism.
Host: Chip Grandits Producer: Chip Grandits Engineer: Chip Grandits Additional Contributions: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Joel Parker
In the first feature (start time 1:00) KGNU’s Maeve Conran speaks with Antonia Malchik, author of A Walking Life. This book explores the relationship between walking and our humanity, how we have lost it through a century of car-centric design, how we can regain it and more. This part of the interview, produced especially for How On Earth, focuses on the science behind what makes us able to walk. For a pedestrian, walking is a simple as putting one foot in front of another, right? Well from a scientific perspective, there’s quite a bit to it.
In the second feature (start time 13:10), Chip Grandits speaks with Dr. Detlev Helmig, Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research. He is one of several Boulder area climate scientists preparing for The MOSAIC expedition, the largest ever Central Arctic research expedition. In September 2019 A German research icebreaker the Polarstern will head northeast from Tromsø, Norway where it will spend an entire year caught up in the shifting Arctic ice. Dr. Helmig talks about the need to improve climate models of the poles, what motivates a such complex, expensive and dangerous expedition and what motivates scientists to take a 2 month stint on board the Polarstern trapped in the Arctic ice.
Spend some time at the intersection of art, engineering and science; we’ll hear about the world premier of HOLOSCENES / Little Boxes February 20, 7:00 PM at Fiske Planetarium in Boulder. Get a glimpse of how cutting edge visual artists team up with world class scientists using the latest technology to complement a rational understanding of climate change with visceral images to inspire empathy with the hope to engender action and change. In this episode hear Chip Grandits speak with Marda Kirn, director of EcoArts Connections, Shilpi Gupta software engineer at CIRESfor NOAA Science On a Sphere and Dr. Elizabeth Wetherhead a climate scientist and expert in climate forecasting and modeling, recently retired from CU Boulder and CIRES and now working at climate forecasting for Jupiter Intelligence.
It has been 50 years since the original 2001, A Space Odyssey, where movie viewers first heard Captain Powers asking, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” and found HAL thought differently about whether that was a good idea. For most of that half-century, artificial intelligence still seemed a long way off, but in the last decode, it has permeated our every day life with unexpected swiftness and thoroughness.
Do we currently live in a world of thinking machines? Is it just around the corner? Far off? Never? And what will that really be like for us humans (I’ll assume for the moment your not a machine reading this…) This is the subject of Solomon’s Code: Humanity in a World of Thinking Machines by Olaf Groth and Mark Nitzberg. With the recent backlash against Facebook, fake news algorithms or headlines about Cambridge Analytica and Russian bots, this book’s release on November 6 could not be more well timed. The book covers economic, social, personal and political implications of living in a world of thinking machines. For this edition of How On Earth, we spoke with co-author Mark Nitzberg, Executive Director of the Center for Human compatible Artificial Intelligence at UC Berkeley and principal at Cambrian.ai. Dr. Nitzberg studied AI at M.I.T. and completed his PhD at Harvard university. His co-author Olaf Groth is Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Economics at Hult International business School, and founder and CEO of Cambrian.ai. The name Cambrian.ai is taken from a metaphor from biological evolution and the Cambrian Geological Period, where most of the major groups of animals first appeared in the fossil record; an event sometimes also known as the “Cambrian Explosion.”
Are we now at a similar point in the evolution of artificial intelligence? Is the metaphor fanciful or very accurate. Chip Grandits talks with Mark Nitzberg co-author of Solomon’s Code to find out what are the forms of AI, if they are different from their progenitors, and whether they really can think.
Boulder researchers have discovered a key mechanism by which skin begins to develop in embryos, shedding light on the genetic roots of birth defects like cleft palate and paving the way for development of more functional skin grafts for burn victims. We bring you an interview with lead researchers, Associate Professor Rui Yi of CU Department of Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology, who explains some of the secrets he has been uncovering about “How Skin Begins” [3:27]
How do you reconcile a flair for competition and performance with a penchant for science and learning. We’ll hear from Doctor Daniel Rudnicki, who’s first career was as a competitive and professional figure skater, then after getting an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Organic Chemistry from CU he then founded a biotech company. But still needing an outlet for his urge to perform he has created the persona of Doctor Dan to bring enthralling and flashy science presentations to local schools. [19:08]
Attention all Nature Lovers and Amateur Naturalists, Friday April 27th kicks of the City Nature Challenge, where Boulder will compete with 65 cities throughout the world to identify the most species within their area over a 4 day period. It’s a competition to identify biodiversity powered by the enthusiasm of citizen scientists. Chip Grandits speaks with Dave Sutherland and Melanie Hill two members of the Wild Boulder Team, which is organizing the City Nature Challenge for Boulder.
Citizen science is enhanced with iNaturalist a crowd sourcing platform developed by the California Academy of Sciences with applications for you smartphone which can help you can tap into a global network of amateurs and experts to help identify what species that thing is which you can never quite identify.
Host: Chip Grandits Producer: Chip Grandits Engineer: Chip Grandits Additional contributions: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Joel Parker
It’s the endless stream of tailpipes on the L.A. freeway which causes that unsightly smog, nagging cough and chronic respitory problems, right? Perhaps not any more, a new scientific study helps build the case that the major culprit may now be purchases made at the corner drug store or hardware store. Chip Grandits speaks with Dr. Brian McDonald of NOAA about perhaps changing tactics for the next stage in the human race’s campaign to keep the air clean and healthy in both the indoor and outdoor environments of the urban areas many of us call home.
A couple headlines focus on related aspects of the changing climate in our Alpine environment and what it really means. Does it seem like spring comes earlier every year, or is that just your imagination? Well, the science says probably not, especially if you live in the Northern latitudes. Science journalist Tom Yulsman, who writes about climate change and beyond in his blog ImaGeo for Discover magazine, offers a headline the declining snowpack in the Rockies.
Producer, Host, Engineer: Chip Grandits Contributors: Tom Yulsman, Susan Moran Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Sustainable Transportation is a major issue for the front range. In that field a hot topic is PRT, which stands for Personal Rapid Transit system, a radical vision for creating a sustainable infrastructure to get us from point A to point B. How on Earth interviews Dr. R. Paul Williamson about his proposal for an Elevated High-Speed MagLev PRT system from Boulder to Longmont to Firestone. How practical is it?
Headlines on Tissue Nanotransfection or TNT from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center seem more like science fiction than science, they are looking to try it on humans next year.
If you were up in Wyoming filming the eclipse did your picture get photo-bombed by the International Space Station like this?