Mighty Microbes in Our Gut & Soils

Amy Sheflin Photo credit: Carolyn Hoagland

Mighty Microbes (start time: 5:45): Microbes – fungi and bacteria and probably viruses — are essential to life on Earth. They’re found in soil and water and inside the human gut. There’s a lot happening these days in microbiology, as scientists try to better understand what role these invisible powerhouses play in our health and that of the planet. Amy Sheflin, a PhD candidate at Colorado State University in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, speaks with host Susan Moran about her and others’ research into how microbial communities an enhance the health of our human gut, soils and crops.

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

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Are Ketones the Key?

Steve-Phinney-Portrait_Ketones (start time 6:40) A growing body of scientific research demonstrates health benefits for many people with a diet that’s lower in carbohydrates, and higher in fats.  In fact, some of this research indicates great therapeutic benefits,.  One reason why may be that, when carbohydrate consumption is low enough, the body enters a state of “nutritional ketosis,” where it transforms fats into a molecule called, beta-hydroxy-butyrate, or  “ketones”.  In the absence of sugar and carbs, the body can use ketones as its primary fuel.

One of the scientists who has pioneered research into nutritional ketosis is Dr. Steve Phinney, and one of the populations who he believes gets special benefits from a ketone-producing diet is endurance athletes.  For 30 years, Phinney has studied nutritional ketosis and athletic performance — including performance among bicycle racers, the winners of 100-mile ultra-marathons, and recently, a two-person rowing team that was among the top finishers in a rowing race that went from California to the Hawaiian Islands – rowing the whole way on a very low-carb, high fat, ketone-producing diet.

Hosts, Producer, & Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett

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Greenback Cutthroat Trout // Migraines

serverGreenback Cuttthroat Trout (starts at 6:06)  Colorado has always been a state of nature lovers, which is why, in the era of our great great grandfathers, citizens even designated an official state fish. It’s the Greenback Cutthroat Trout that thrived in the mountain streams above Boulder and Denver. Colorado wildlife officials had long assumed that Greenback Cuttthroat Trout still live in our mountain streams. The problem is, they were wrong. Through a complex set of Sherlock Holmes investigations begun in recent years, scientists at CU-Boulder figured out a “fish switch” decades ago, meant Greenback Cutthroat Trout were missing from our streams, and possibly extinct. Since then, we have much better news about the fish that “almost” got away.  In this feature, How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender, speaks with CU-Boulder biologist, Jessica Metcalf. (To access photos of greenback cutthroat trout go to http://photography.colorado.edu/res/sites/news/ and type “cutthroat” in the search box.)

mmmMigraines (starts at 14:28) One of the most painful conditions to suffer through is a migraine headache.  Sometimes, these headaches begin with strange visual auras or loss of vision; sometimes they’re accompanied by nausea.  Most of all, they’re a head-splitting pain.  Interestingly, these headaches are rare among the world’s few remaining hunter-gatherer populations.  In contrast, they’re common in modern western life.  Roughly 10% of Americans have suffered from a migraine headache.  One of the people who used to suffer from them frequently is a medical doctor with advanced degrees in neurology.  He’s Doctor Josh Turknett.  Dr. Turknett used to get 60 migraines a year – on average, that’s over one a week.  As a board certified neurologist, Turknett treated the migraines of his clients, and his own migraines, in typical medical ways – urging people to drink enough water, get enough sleep, avoid too much stress, try to figure out triggers, such as maybe foods or smells, and to take strong medications when the headaches got unbearable.  For Turknett, his whole life changed dramatically when he made a basic lifestyle change that he believes many neurologists and migraine sufferers overlook.  In his own case, his change meant that the number of migraines he suffers these days has gone from around 60 headaches a year, down to only two or three. While his approach is controversial, Turknett believes it could help many, perhaps most, migraine sufferers.  How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender caught up with Turknett this weekend at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Berkeley, California, where Turknett was a speaker.  Up next, here’s Neurologist and former big time migraine sufferer, Josh Turknett.

Hosts: Kendra Krueger, Joel Parker
Producer & Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Plants in Space // Relativity

Former undergraduate researcher Elizabeth Lombardi talks with Professor Barbara Demmig-Adams in the greenhouse on the roof of the Ramaley building at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

Plants in Space (start time 04:36) What would you miss if you were to spend an extended time in space—driving a car? Going to the movies? Hiking? Playing with your dog? Gravity, maybe? Or maybe something as simple as eating good, nutritious vegetables. How On Earth’s Beth Bartel speaks with University of Colorado undergraduate researcher Lizzy Lombardi about harvesting healthier veggies for our astronauts. Or, as we like to think about it, plants in space.

What Is Relativity? An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter by Jeffrey Bennett Relativity (start time 13:30) Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity in 1905 and his general theory in 1915. Special relativity revealed bizarre and powerful ideas, including the famous equation E=mc2, but the basic theory hinges on a single realization: all observers, no matter how fast they are moving, always measure the same speed of light in space. A decade later, general relativity, the result of Einstein’s “happiest thought” that “the gravitation field has only a relative existence” unseated Newton’s law of gravitation. General relativity has passed every observation trial—so far. Relativity is important in everyday experience, for example enabling the incredible accuracy of the Global Positioning System, but the theory, especially the general form, can be a tough mathematical challenge. Boulder astrophysicist Dr. Jeffrey Bennett’s just-published book, What Is Relativity? An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter, gently straightens the curved spacetime. Join Jeff and host Jim Pullen live in the studio to learn why ‘black holes don’t suck’!


Hosts: Beth Bartel and Jim Pullen
Producer: Beth Bartel
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Executive Producer: Jim Pullen
Additional contributions: Jane Palmer

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Why Calories Count//Boulder Gold Lab Symposium

Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim

Why Calories Count (start time 7:10). More than a billion people in the world suffer from too few of them. About the same number suffer from too many. We’re talking about calories. They’re vital to human health, indeed our very survival. A new book, called “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics,” delves into the many dimensions of calories – personal, scientific, and political. How On Earth co-host Susan Moran interviews the book’s co-author, Marion Nestle, a molecular biologist and professor at New York University. Her co-author is Malden Nesheim of Cornell University.

Gold Lab Symposium (start time: 17:24). This Friday, CU Boulder presents the annual Gold Lab Symposium.  This year’s theme is “Tempus Fugit.”  That means, “Time Flies,” and speakers this year will focus on why scientists and policy makers must remember that real people and real patients need innovations that lead to better healthcare, right now.  For a sneak preview of what “better” might mean, up next, How On Earth’s Shelley Schlender talks with Symposium founder, Larry Gold about one of this year’s speakers, Allen Jacobson.  Jacobson has a cure for some, not all, but some children who have the deadly disease, muscular dystrophy.

Hosts: Susan Moran and Jim Pullen
Producer: Jim Pullen
Engineer: Jim Pullen
Headline contributions: Breanna Draxler and Joel Parker
Feature contribution: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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