Fifteen-thousand years ago, nearly 100 species of large animals known as ‘megafauna’ roamed the amazon forest before going extinct. A team of researchers from oxford and Princeton University studying the ‘megafauna’s’ effects on the ecosystem discovered that they were crucial in maintaining soil fertility. Chris Doughty is currently a lecturer in ecosystem ecology within the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, and lead author of a recent study: “The Legacy of the Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions on Nutrient Availability in Amazonia.”
A collaborative project between New Hampshire universities, the National Science Foundation, and state agencies is looking at ecosystem health and how the environment is affected by climate change.
At first glance, this part of Saddleback Mountain in Deerfield looks like a regular forest. But look closer and you see thick, black electrical cords running along the forest floor and silver instruments sitting among the trees.
Imagine a four-wheeled robot, rolling slowly over frozen landscapes, equipped with high-tech sensors, and funded by NASA . You’re imagining a robot named Yeti, a polar rover designed by a team of Dartmouth Engineering students. Yeti has ground penetrating radar, and helps scientists in Antarctica and Greenland detect and map dangerous and possibly deadly crevasses before manned expeditions. Laura Rayis professor of engineering at Dartmouth College and Yeti project leader; she joined us earlier to discuss the new technology.
You may have heard the news earlier this week that taste-testers and scientists in the U.K. sampled the world’s first lab-grown burger. One food researcher said that the burger tasted “close to meat, but not that juicy”. Another quipped, “what was consistently different was the flavor”. Not a great review for a patty costing somewhere around three hundred and thirty thousand dollars, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Henry Fountain, science reporter for the New York Times, tells us about the science under the bun.
Iodized salt is so common today that you may never have considered the two as separate elements. This wasn’t always the case -- in 1924 iodized salt was first sold commercially in the U.S. to reduce the incidence of goiter – or swelling of the thyroid gland. Within a decade the average I.Q. in the United States had risen three and a half points. In areas that had been iodine deficient, I.Q. levels rose an average of fifteen points. A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research traces this leap in I.Q. back to iodized salt. We spoke with Max Nisen, war room reporter for Business Insider, where he wrote about I.Q. increases as a result of iodized salt.
IBM calculates that the human race creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day, with information ranging from scientific research to consumer tracking to social media output. As businesses, governments and researchers continue to search for new ways to parse through this vast amount of information, one man is searching for the bridge between data collection and everyday life. In his project “The Quotidian Record,” Brian House interprets a year’s worth of his own location and movement data into an 11 minute musical track, morphing binary code into warm vinyl rhythm. House is a doctoral student at Brown University in the Music and the Modern Culture and Media Departments; he also teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. He created the quotidian record while he was a member of The New York Times Research and Development Lab.
Our favorite content, curated in one amazing hour of radio. This week, the science behind J.K. Rowling's unmasking, a guy who played Mr. Darcy at a Jane Austen Summer Camp, the Libertarian festival for Seasteaders, a new telescope technology that will send balloons into space, regular folks drive NASCAR cars, and a musician who writes songs based on the New York Times column, "Modern Love."
As we explored earlier, the voice is a powerful tool. We form very strong images and opinions about others without ever having seen or met or interacted with them, simply because of the way they sound. Even when they aren’t a good representation of the person, voices are often the first impression we choose to trust. From actors who have built entire careers on their voice, to the often unnoticed background on thousands of film trailers and television spots, here are some of the most iconic voices we’ve heard, whether you’ve realized it or not.
The human voice paints powerful pictures in the minds of listeners – just listen to some of public radio’s distinctive voices …have you ever imagined what they look like or what kind of person they might be?
Our favorite content of the week, wrapped up in one audio-licious program. This week, author Chuck Klosterman defines villainy, the Cronut craze catches a Harvard researcher's eye, head transplants are given an examination, robots roll into vinyards, and a pair of hard-partying vegetarians share their take on potato salad (spoiler alert: it's got Doritos in it!)
In 1970, Dr. Robert White attempted an experimental surgical procedure that might as well have been lifted from the pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – he removed the head of one living monkey, and attached it to the body of another. Dr. White called it a head transplant and a success. His detractors called it a medical and ethical nightmare. In June of this year, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero declared that advances in medical technology have made head transplants possible. A number of medical professionals greeted his announcement with skepticism. The Atlantic’s health editor James Hamblinwrote about how Canavero says the procedure will work.
Human beings have long worked to prolong life and cheat death – but few efforts have been as ambitious, and speculatively optimistic, as the nearly fifty year-old field of cryonics. The scientific pursuit of preserving human bodies at sub-zero temperatures was once regarded with public disgust, but is now gaining new traction – in Silicon Valley. Our guest is Josh Dean, author of Showdog, and contributor to Buzzfeed, where his long-form article “Inside the Immortality Business” was featured earlier this month.
If you’re a New England sports fan of a certain age, chances are you can describe exactly what happened during game 6 of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner missed a roller at first.
That error allowed the Mets a winning run and further cemented the “Curse of the Bambino” in the minds of Red Sox fans…many of those same fans still get weepy when thinking of 2004 – when the Sox finally reversed the curse and won the World Series.
Along with the thrill comes the agony …just ask any Bruins fan who watched Boston’s 2 - 1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals squandered by two Blackhawk goals in the last 76 seconds of the game.
We spoke to science writer and Radiolab contributor Eric Simons before the Bruins crushing defeat. Eric’s latest book “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” is his attempt to figure out the science and psychology of sports fans…and it begins with a play-by-play of heartbreak.