science

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

Monday afternoon, high school students in a program with University of New Hampshire launched a weather balloon they designed and assembled themselves.

The SEE Science Center offers scientific explorations for all ages. Barnstead teacher Annie Bourque makes an annual trip with her 6th grade class to take advantage of the chemistry lab there. 

7.2.15: Helium, Nitrate Film, & Hunting for Elements

Jul 2, 2015
Glen Van Etten via Flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/5P2Zf5

It's the stuff that makes you sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks when you inhale it, it's the gas that fills balloons at birthday parties and is used in MRI machines and nuclear reactors -- and turns out, it's an increasingly rare element. Helium. (He) On today's show, we learn that it's not here to stay. Then, a hunt for elements. The periodic table has changed a lot, especially since 1941, when researchers at the University of California Berkeley produced the first man-made element: plutonium. (Pu) And the search to make more continues. And finally, a conversation about the Nitrate Picture Show in Rochester New York, a festival that screens incredibly flammable nitrate (NO3) films. 

Shandi-lee Cox via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/9kWmqX

Jurassic World opened this weekend to big crowds but mixed reviews from the scientific community. On today’s show a paleoartist takes issue with the film’s inaccurate depiction of dinosaurs.

Then, from tips for Hollywood filmmakers, to tips for aspiring comics, a comedy insider, and former editor of The Onion, explains what it takes to earn a living making people laugh.

©John Conway / johnconway.co

When Jurassic Park was released in theaters back in 1993, the scientific community was in shock. Happy shock, that is. For once, Hollywood got the science part—mostly­­—right. Long thought to be lumbering beasts, who slogged around the earth, Jurassic Park ushered in a new era of understanding when it came to dinosaurs: they were actually fast and smart.

Nic McPhee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4zGJzN

Vocal anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy have got some in the science community saying if you don’t have an advanced degree, you have no right to question the experts.  But are they right?

On today’s show, a science journalist makes a bold argument: that free speech trumps good science. Then, we’ll tackle a controversial question for pet owners: whether or not to keep domestic cats indoors in the name of saving birds.

Plus, we’ll find out why more and more Europeans are ditching Darwin’s theory of evolution and embracing creationism.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Eugene Mirman Majored In Comedy

Apr 2, 2015
Photo by Brian Tamborello via eugenemirman.com

Eugene Mirman is a writer, stand-up comedian, the voice of Gene on Fox’s animated series Bob’s Burgers, Neil Degrasse Tyson’s partner in crime on the show Star Talk Radio, creator of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival and proprietor of the post-stru

Werner via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/L36Ox

It’s time to talk about cats.

Yes, it’s hard to believe that in the internet era, where Grumpy Cat and Keyboard Cat have become celebrities, and seemingly every third item we see on Facebook is a cat video, that we’d need to spend more time on felines.

Russell Darling via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7uLMhV

Human beings spend a lot of time satisfying primal urges, but relatively little talking about or studying them. On today’s show, what we can learn by studying hedonism.

Then, at the height of the Ebola epidemic last fall, the hardest hit areas in West Africa not only struggled with containing the virus, but respectfully burying the dead. We’ll take a look at how funeral rites were handled during history’s worst epidemics.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

zoecormier.com

Zoe Cormier is a scientist turned science journalist. Her first book, Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll, is a collection of surprising and revealing research into the biology and neurochemistry of hedonism and the human pursuit of pleasure. And while some may wag a finger at those who indulge in sex, drugs, and even rock and roll, Zoe is quick to point out that these indulgences are a vital component in what defines us. 

Nor are these specific aspects of our condition that should be repressed. 

Listen to Virginia's entire interview with Zoe below. 

Elizabeth via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/qNttFS

With a market value up to $2.50 an ounce, and online sales on the rise, it’s been called liquid gold. On today’s show, a look into the breast milk market, and how the biotech industry is getting in on the game.

Then, the question of why Homo sapiens thrived while Neanderthals became extinct has long been debated among scientists. We’ll hear from an anthropologist with a stunning new theory that explains their extinction: humans had dogs.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Think about the shape of an icicle: it’s pointy at the end and wider at the base. But why are they that shape? The key thing to remember when talking about icicles is that icicles are long and skinny because the tip is growing faster than the base. And there are 3 reasons for why that is:

Every drip, as it travels down the icicle, carries heat away. This is because water is an incredible vehicle for conducting heat. It has the highest specific heat of any material we know of. 

Jesús Perera Aracil via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/49YiYx

Across the world more than 750 million people lack access to safe drinking water, and at least two billion don’t have proper sanitation. On today’s show, we’ll look at a project aiming to solve both problems by turning waste into drinkable water. And why disgust may prevent it from becoming a reality.

Then, we investigate a problem facing many American workers: food theft. We’ll find out why some people feel it’s ok to steal treats from the office fridge. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Colin Dunn via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7GCv8P

The word vitamin has only been around for just over 100 years. But today vitamins are a $36 billion dollar-a-year industry. On today’s show, we’ll look at the history and science behind a largely unregulated market. Plus, a new hotline for emotionally distressed teens aims to help teens by communicating in a space where they feel comfortable – via text message.     

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

VCU Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections / flic.kr/p/27bFm2

  Malaria threatens more than half the world’s people. Yet there is still no way to immunize against it. On today’s show, why a promising vaccine developed by an upstart in the biotech scene is not getting funded. 

Plus, Levi Strauss started making jeans during the gold rush, introducing the  most iconic symbol of American style. Today’s Good Gig profiles the Levi’s in-house historian who sifts through mine shafts and dusty attics to find the stories behind every crease. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Peter Dutton via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/pEWwCa

To protect children from predators, some schools have rules against physical contact so strict that students can be sent to the principal’s office for holding hands or high-fiving. On today’s show – are schools being too touchy about physical contact?

And a reporter profiles the inaugural class of Thiel fellows – twenty teenagers who were given one-hundred thousand dollars to drop out of higher education and pursue success as young entrepreneurs.

Plus a columnist and comedian argues college kids today can’t take a joke. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Sound In Focus

Feb 19, 2015

We have a listening problem. One music teacher is out to conquer it.

Mike Alberici is a music teacher at Maple Street School in Hopkinton, who was awarded the 2015/2016 Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation – an award that grants teachers leave to develop new ideas for classroom teaching, and covers all the costs of doing so.

University of New Hamshire

  Researchers at the University of New Hampshire say it’s not just bad diets and little exercise causing rising rates of obesity and diabetes.    In fact, synthetic chemicals used in household items like couches and carpet padding may play a part in both of those conditions.

When Nutritional Scientist Gale Carey at UNH exposed healthy rats to high doses of flame retardant chemicals, and then inspected their fat tissue, she found that "metabolically, chemically, it behaves like it's from an animal that is obese. But the animal is not obese."

clotho98 via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7xS1rf

Scents can evoke memories, arouse appetite, and even alter moods. On today’s show we’ll sniff out the science of smell.

Then, internet trolling can be a hobby for angry people with a sadistic bent, but now crowd funding is supporting a new brand of professional troll. We’ll take a look into the lucrative business of posting hate.

Plus, for the latest installment of our series Good Gig we’ll talk to a music editor who’s compiled the 101 strangest records on Spotify.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Alice via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/9Qcvg9

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can be a little bit OCD”? On today’s show: the clear difference between ordinary obsession and the disease known as obsessive-compulsive disorder.And we’ll stay in the cerebral realm for a look at music’s affect on the human brain, and its power to evoke feelings of sadness, serenity, and awe.  

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

northeast naturalist via Flickr Creative Commons

How's this for a typical day at the office: get into a helicopter, fly just above treetops in parts of northern New Hampshire, and find moose to tag, track and monitor. It's part of the work New Hampshire Fish and Game is doing to study the effect of winter tick and other parasites on the state's moose population.

Benjamin Chun via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/bSXrxr

For students hoping to get into a competitive college or university, high SAT scores are crucial. On today’s show, law professor and civil rights activist argues that the SAT is a more accurate measurement of family wealth, race and ethnicity than merit. 

Then, The Uncommon Core, our series on offbeat college courses, continues with golf course management. We’ll also hear from a husband and wife research team going to great lengths to end the bedbug epidemic– including offering themselves up as food!

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Craik Sustainable Living Project via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/HEy2x

This is a time of year when heating bills usually go up, and some residents consider alternative energy sources for their heating.

Proponents of geothermal heat say their systems ought to be a bigger part of New Hampshire's energy landscape.

The prospects for geothermal - that's the topic of this month's Science Café discussion, which takes place Wednesday, January 21st, at Killarney's Pub in Nashua.

www.unh.edu

While production of certain types of produce is seasonal, demand doesn’t stop when the growing season ends.

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire may have taken a step toward a solution to that dilemma.

In a study, they successfully grew bulbing onions planted in fall for a spring harvest with the aid of low tunnels.

Becky Sideman is a researcher with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station.

She joins Morning Edition to talk about her findings.

Momotarou2012 via WikiCommons/CC - http://ow.ly/GTPHG

New Hampshire has plenty of state symbols. The state rock is – no surprise - granite; the state fish is the brook trout. Our state tree is the white birch; our state insect, the ladybug; our state gem, smoky quartz, and so on.

Unlike many other states, New Hampshire does not have a state fossil – at least not yet.

Vaporizers_ / Flickr/CC

This week, The Exchange will play the five best shows of 2014, as voted by you. Here's a November program on the science of marijuana. With legalization in two states now, and a growing number of others allowing medical use of marijuana, advocates and opponents alike are looking for answers to back up their positions.

Katie McColgan via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/GC9F0

These days many stoplights will start changing to green when the intersection detects a car or truck. But some of these intersections don't detect motorcycles, at least not regularly. And a bill before New Hampshire's legislature would let those otherwise stuck bikers ride on through red lights.

The Sky Guys' Top Space Stories Of 2014

Dec 22, 2014
Dan Beaumont Space Museum / Flickr/CC

It was a big year for Mars, with India getting into the game and launching its first spacecraft. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency celebrated the successful landing of its probe on a comet. And the private space travel industry lamented the crash of Virgin Galactic’s test craft.

GUESTS:

Good Gig: Professional Science Geek Howard Eglowstein

Dec 17, 2014

Good Gig is a series of conversations with individuals who have landed their dream job.

Howard Eglowstein’s Good Gig involves working to encourage girls in the computer science and math areas for a company called Science Buddies.  They give kids ideas and guidance for science fair projects that deviate from the well-trod robotics and erupting volcano paths. Howard’s background in tinkering started with toy making, but he's always been a creator.

Via Popular Science / bestofwhatsnew.popsci.com

For the past 27 years the editors of Popular Science have identified products and technologies designed to change our world. On today’s show we’ll review some of 2014’s groundbreaking technology.

Then, we’ve come to accept retouched images on magazine covers and billboard ads, but now the practice has moved to movies and television. We’ll take a look at the latest advancement in digital-alteration: frame-by-frame beauty work.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Pages