Biomimicry: A New lens on Technology and Innovation


Farnsworth2015Institute_logo_bannerToday’s special edition of How on Earth, brought to you in conjunction with this week’s Conference on World Affairs is a conversation on Biomimicy as a new lens to view science and technology with Margo Farnsworth. 

Margo has coached two Top Twelve graduate teams for the International Student Biomimicry Challenge and currently serves as a Biomimicry Institute education fellow. She is also on the board of both the Missouri Prairie Foundation and South Carolina’s Experience Green. She has worked as a park ranger, science teacher, and mammalogist. With degrees in science education and parks administration, her professional accomplishments include research in environmental education, qualitative mammal studies, and involvement in numerous local and state environmental boards and committees. Farnsworth has written pieces for the Center for Humans and Nature as well as Treehugger, and has two biomimicry book projects pending.  She joins us live for an in-depth talk about how Biomimicry has the potential for changing scientific culture.

Moderated, Produced, Engineered by Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Using Worms to Study Neurodegenerative Diseases

C. elegans worm

Nematode worms for studying Alzheimer’s (start time 4:57). Beth Bennett interviews Dr Chris Link from CU Boulder on his research into the genetic basis of Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Hosts: Kendra Krueger, Beth Bennett
Producer: Beth Bennett
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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Rust: The Longest War // The Moral Arc

rust-9781451691597_lgOn today’s spring pledge-drive show we offer segments of two feature interviews. See extended versions also below. Both books are available to those who pledge at least $60 to KGNU. Call 303.449.4885 today.

Rust: The Longest War (start time: 4:25) It is arguably the most destructive natural disaster in the modern world. And it’s the topic of local journalist Jonathan Waldman’s debut book, which has just been published. It’s called Rust: The Longest War. Jonathan talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about the book, which included fascinating tales of the “smart pig” that inspects the Alaska pipeline, as well as Ball Corp’s Can School in Golden, Colo. Catch Jonathan tonight  7:30 at the Boulder Book Store.

bc_moral_arc_coverThe Moral Arc (start time: 13:21) Author and renowned skeptic Michael Shermer talks with How On Earth contributor Shelley Schlender about his The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. The book addresses a wide range of modern issues, including just how science and reasons can help to pave the way toward further reductions in nuclear warheads, toward greater equality for people with different gender and sexual orientations, and toward the abolishment of the death penalty. That’s pretty optimistic for the nation’s best known skeptic!

Hosts: Kendra Krueger, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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The ATLAS Institute // Firefighters and Climate Change

btu_900w_DSC07621_72ATLAS Institute Today we are joined in the studio with Mark Gross of the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society institute at CU and Alicia Gibb Director of The Blow Things Up Lab, one of the spaces part of the ATLAS department.
ATLAS was formed in 1997 as a university wide initiative to integrate information technology into social endeavour.

ATLAS events:

BTU Lab:

Firefighters and Climate Change Snowy frigid weather here in February may put wildfires way on the back burner for many of us here in Colorado. But as fire managers have been telling us, wildfire season has become a year-round phenomenon.

In the last decade or so wildfires have been getting more intense, and more dangerous, and more frequent.  No one knows this better than the firefighters themselves. Climate change—making the region hotter and drier—has a lot to do with it. But so does fire management—namely, fire suppression over recent decades. And humans living in houses in the so-called wildland-urban interface is another culprit. A new documentary that will be screened in Boulder this week documents the changes taking place with wildfires and the impact they’re having. The film is called “Unacceptable Risk: Firefighters on the Front Lines of Climate Change.” One of the film’s creators, journalist Dan Glick, joins us in the studio. Dan was also the science editor of the National Climate Assessment that came out last year. Our other guest is Don Whittemore, a long-time firefighter. He was incident commander on the massive Fourmile Canyon Fire of September 2010.

More about the film can be found at

Hosts: Kendra Krueger and Susan Moran
Executive Producer, Producer and Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett and Jane Palmer

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Weather Drones // The late Dr. Theo Colborn

Brian ArgrowWeather drones (start time 5:10) Brian Argrow, former professor and Associate Dean of engineering at CU Boulder, joins us in the studio to talk about the recent formation Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Sever Storm Research Group.  The group is a collaboration between the CU Boulder and the University of Nebraska-LIncoln who have been working together since 2006.  The group now consists of a large number of members including local national labs and university groups.  The purpose of their research is to learn more about storm formation in order to improve emergency response time.

Leo Colburn

Dr. Theo Colborn (start time 15:22) Dr. Theo Colborn passed away on Sunday December 15th at the age of 87.  She was a scientists, activist and founder of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX).  The exchange served to collect and disseminate scientific evidence on the effects of exposure to low-levels of industrial chemicals.  During this pre-recoreded interview from our colleagues at KVNF Paonia Public Radio, she talks about the lack of scientific testing methods for fracking fluids.

Host, Producer, Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Theo Colborn Interview courtesy of: KVNF Paonia Public Radio
Executive Producers: Kendra Krueger, Jane Palmer

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Green Chemistry


There’s a lot of attention right now on creating environmentally friendly technology, non-toxic and sustainable manufacturing, but as Dr. John Warner explains it, it all has to start with the chemistry.

John Warner is a chemist, professor and co-founder of the Warner-Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.   He speaks profoundly about learning methods from nature to create safer, more resilient and more elegant chemistry.  John was also the recipient of this year’s Perkin Medal, one of the highest honors in the field of chemistry.

Warner-Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry
John Warner at Bioneers

Executive Producer: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger
Producer: Kendra Krueger
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Headlines: Beth Bennett, Jane Palmer

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Science of Booze // Rosetta Mission

Booze coverProof: The Science of Booze (starts at 8:09): Science journalist Adam Rogers, who claims to have taken a liking to single-malt whiskey when he reached drinking age, has immersed himself further into alcohol–particularly, the history and science of making booze, tasting it, and enjoying–or suffering—the effects of it. Booze is a big story: Indeed, making it was a key piece of the dawn of human civilization, as Rogers, who is articles editor at Wired magazine, shows in his inaugural book, called  Proof: The Science of Booze. Rogers talks with How On Earth host Susan Moran about fascinating fungi, sugar molecules and other key ingredients, as well as our human taste buds for alcohol. We have a couple of copies of Proof from our recent pledge drive, so call KGNU (303-449-4885) this week and pledge at least $60 to get your own copy.

Joel Parker standing in front of an image of the Rosetta spacecraft with the jet coming off it. Photo credit: Joel Parker
Joel Parker (SwRI) is the Deputy Principal Investigator of the “Alice” ultraviolet spectrograph instrument on the Rosetta spacecraft.
Photo credit: Joel Parker

Rosetta’s Rendezvous (start time: 17:40): How On Earth’s own Joel Parker, whose “real” job as a planetary scientist is a director at the Southwest Research Institute, a collaborating partner on the Rosetta Mission. The mission last week successfully became the first to land a craft on a comet flying through our solar system. It was a well earned landing: Rosetta left earth in March of 2004 and has traveled about 3 billion miles to rendezvous with this moving target. To learn more, read this recent Q&A with Joel in the New York Times.

Also, Shelley Schlender offers a special headline (starts at 3:39), an interview with CU-Boulder’s Dr. Kenneth Wright, an integrative physiologist, about his new study offering new clues about why shift work can lead to extra weight.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Kendra Krueger
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Additional contributors: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producers: Kendra Krueger, Jane Palmer

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Gulp-cover-350Gulp [starts at 4:25] Bestselling author, Mary Roach has been billed as American’s funniest science writer.  In “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal” she takes readers on a journey through the alimentary canal, extolling the marvels of spit on the beginning end, then moving on to the man who had a hole in his stomach that allowed a doctor to observe his digestion.  And . . . on.  Roach even interviews a prison inmate about “rectal smuggling” (including cell phones).  So get ready – here’s Shelley Schlender’s conversation with Mary Roach, author of “Gulp”.

Hosts: Shelley Schlender, Beth Bennett
Producer: Joel Parker
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger

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Do Fathers Matter Pt. 2 // Mercury in Water

fathers1Do Fathers Matter? (start time: 3:07) If you’re a father or a son or daughter – which pretty much covers everyone – this interview should hit home.  Science journalist Paul Raeburn’s latest book — “Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked” – explores  what seems like a no-brainer question. But the answers he discovers surprised even him. After last week’s pledge drive teaser, we now offer the extended version of host Susan Moran’s interview with Raeburn.

Ryan 2011-06 With Jack Webster Four Mile Canyon Burn Continuing Ed Catalog
Joe Ryan (left) with Jack Webster.
Credit: CU Boulder

Mercury in Waterways (start time: 15:20) Next time you take a sip of mountain spring water or catch a wild trout, you might be getting a bit more than you bargained for. Scientists have found mercury in Colorado waterways and in the fish that swim in them. And recent research shows that wildfires in recent years may have added to the problem.  How on Earth’s Jane Palmer talked with Joe Ryan, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Colorado. Dr. Ryan also directs AirWaterGas, a project studying the impacts of oil and gas drilling on the environment.

Hosts: Ted Burnham, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger

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Do Fathers Matter?

fathers1Do Fathers Matter? (start times: 9:55 and 20:58) Today’s How on Earth show is part of the KGNU fall membership pledge drive. During this show we preview an upcoming feature of the book: “Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked” by science journalist Paul Raeburn.  It may seem obvious that fathers matter. And of course, they do. But just how they are affected by parenthood, and how they in turn affect their kids, is not so obvious, as Raeburn shows.  He looks at the latest research in anthropology, animal behavior, neuroscience and genetics to uncover many surprises.

Hosts: Joel Parker,  Susan Moran, Kendra Krueger, Shelley Schlender
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producers: Jane Palmer and Kendra Krueger

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