In 2015, the New Horizons Spacecraft flew past Pluto. Because Pluto is so far away, it took nearly 10 years of travel for the spacecraft to reach that distant dwarf planet — and that was after a decade of work to get the spacecraft to the launch pad. Planetary scientists Alan Stern and David Grinspoon have written a new book, called: “Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto”. The book tells the story of developing and operating the New Horizon mission.
How on Earth’s own Joel Parker is also a scientist on the New Horizons mission, and he had a chance to chat with Alan and David about their book. Last week we heard the first part of this interview. In today’s show, we present Part 2 of that interview. You can also listen to the full extended interview.
Spaceport Earth. This week on How on Earth, we speak with Joe Pappalardo about his book “Spaceport Earth”. With the successes of Space-X and Blue Origin, private and commercial spaceflight is a fast growing business. Pappalardo talks with us about this new space industry and the advances and setbacks that have been faced. In particular, Pappalardo shares his knowledge about the spaceports, new and old, that are part of the new space endeavours. We also talk about how these new launch opportunities provide new ways to support the scientific exploration of both Earth and space.
Hosts: Alejandro Soto, Joel Parker Producer: Alejandro Soto Engineers: Joel Parker Contributers: Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Climate Change and Extinctions Following an Asteroid Impact (starts at 8:45) It has been hypothesized that the dinosaurs were killed off by a large asteroid that struck the Earth. The details of how the impact of a 10 kilometer diameter asteroid led to global scale extinction have remained elusive. Recently, climate researchers from the Boulder area published new climate model results that show how the asteroid impact ultimately leads to widespread cooling in the atmosphere and increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation. These drastic and rapid changes to the climate due to the asteroid impact may explain the global scale extinction.
Two of the authors join us today to talk about this new research. Dr. Charles Bardeen works as a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and is the lead author of the new paper. Joining Dr. Bardeen is Professor Brian Toon, a co-author of the new research and a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Hosts: Alejandro Soto & Joel Parker Producer andEngineer: Joel Parker Additional Contributions: Susan Moran, Beth Bennett, Chip Grandits Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto
Life expectancy in America (start time 12:40): Next, we speak with Jay Olshansky, who ten years ago first predicted the recently observed drop in life expectancy in America. Olshansky is a world renowned expert in the Science of Aging. As for his crystal ball – well, it has little to do with magic, and more to do with his understanding about how our cells work, and how they age. It also helps that he understands statistics.
The Long Now Foundation in Colorado (start time 5:02): People often measure “success” as fifteen minutes of fame, or a blockbuster financial quarter. This focus on short term results doesn’t always build the skills needed to solve long-term problems, such as reducing disease outbreaks or maintaining species diversity. So some visionaries have created a playfully serious way to think ahead, and those “ways” include projects here in Colorado. Shelley Schlender tells us about the Long Now Foundation who are developing programs to foster long term responsibility and long term thinking.
Wild Boulder (start time 10:t28): Boulder is launching a new citizen science project. The project, called Wild Boulder, will allow people in Boulder to use their smartphones to record wildlife observations, including photos, and share this information with local land managers and open space experts. To find out how this program works, and how it will benefit the community, we spoke with Dave Sutherland and Melanie Hill. Dave Sutherland is an Interpretive Naturalist with theCity of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parksprogram. Melanie Hill is Director of Communications for the WILD Foundation, which works to protect wilderness while balancing the needs of human communities.
Eclipse 2017 (start time 5:56): This summer America will experience its first total solar eclipse in almost 30 years. How on Earth’s Alejandro Soto speaks with Dr. Claire Raftery from the National Solar Observatory (NSO) about the upcoming eclipse. Dr. Raftery talks about the science and history of eclipses, the best ways to view the eclipse in August, and how to safely look at an eclipse. Fortunateley, viewing the eclipse only requires a few simple steps and someinexpensivetools, so anyone can experience this exciting event — as long as they can drive to a place in the path of the eclipse. Dr. Raftery also talks about the NSO’s webseries about the eclipse and our Sun. Finally, there is the opportunity to participate in solar science research by taking part in the Citizen Cate program, a citizen science project that uses telescopes scattered along the path of the eclipse to collaboratively monitor the entire eclipse event.
Hosts: Alejandro Soto and Joel Parker Producer: Alejandro Soto Engineer: Joel Parker Additional contributions: Beth Bennett Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Citizen Science (start time: 5:32): For those who would love to track birds and other creatures or to test drinking water quality in their community, for instance, but think it would require a degree in science to contribute to important scientific discoveries, our guest today aims to set the record straight. Dr. Caren Cooper is an associate professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. An ornithologist, she studies bird ecology, conservation and management through the use of citizen science. She wrote a recently published book called Citizen Science: How Ordinary People are Changing the Face of Discovery. It highlights many examples of inspiring and important citizen science projects, including a meteorological-forecasting program and some others here in Colorado. Dr. Cooper is also director of research partnerships at SciStarter.com, which connects interested volunteers to a diverse range of research projects that they can work on. Additional citizen science programs can be found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Society’s Rockies chapter.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto Producer: Alejandro Soto Engineer: Joel Parker Additional contributions: Beth Bennett Executive Producer: Joel Parker
This week, Alejandro speaks with Leonard David, a space journalist who has written a new book Mars – Our Future on the Red Planet. In his book he discusses the plans of both NASA and private companies to send humans to the red planet. The book is a companion to a six-part television series from executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and which premiered on the National Geographic Channel last month. Hosts:: Alejandro Soto and Beth Bennett Producer: Beth Bennett Engineer: Beth Bennett Additional Contributions: Susan Moran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Listen to the show:
Beyond Earth (start time 5:10) Many have dreamt of colonizing other planets. It’s been a staple of science fiction for decades. Most often, people imagine creating a colony of humans on Mars, where people would live on a cold, dry planet with a thin, unbreathable atmosphere. Mars, however, may not be the best destination for future human colonization. In fact, Titan, a moon of Saturn, may hold greater hope for extending humanity’s presence in the solar system. Either way, humans face tough but surmountable challenges as we move beyond Earth. As a planetary scientist, Dr. Amanda Hendrix is actively involved in the scientific research and future mission planning that will enable humans to settle on other planets. She’s the co-author, with Charles Wohlforth, of the new book Beyond Earth: Our Path to a New Home in the Planets. Listen to How On Earth’s Alejandro Soto’s interview with Amanda Hendrix, where they discuss the opportunities and challenges for human space exploration.
The Science of Suggestibility (start time: 5:00) Scientists are learning more and more about how our expectations and beliefs influence how our bodies, including our neurochemistry, respond to pain and disease. The researchers are discovering that we are very suggestible creatures. But we are not all equally suggestible. Some of us can cure serious ailments even when we’ve knowingly taken a placebo remedy, but others can not. Herein lies a major puzzle that vexes drug manufacturers and medical practitioners. It’s a puzzle that has intrigued Erik Vance, a science journalist, since he nearly died from a severe illness when he was a toddler. His journey is detailed in a book that was just published today. It’s called Suggestible You: Placebos, False Memories, Hypnosis and the Power of Your Astonishing Brain (National Geographic). Listen to How On Earth’s Susan Moran’s interview with Erik Vance.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Alejandro Soto Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Executive Producer: Beth Bennett