science

Mike Saechang via Flickr Creative Commons

From hand sanitizers to anti-bacterial soaps, we go to great lengths to keep our skin microbe-free, but is all that scrubbing necessary, or even healthy? Today a look at a new approach to cleanliness: bacteria-rich body sprays. Then, The Thing In The Spring is fast approaching, and we’ll speak with the founder and creative director of the festival about some of the acts hitting the stage in Peterborough. Plus, the film “Snowpiercer” stars two Academy Award winners and is opening the Los Angeles film festival this month. So why is it unlikely to come to a theatre near you?

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Robert Bell via Flickr CC

Gardeners are gearing up for this year's growing season, and many New Hampshire gardeners are hoping to grow their vegetables organically this year.

But that term, "organic," doesn't mean that same thing to every gardener.

WalterPro4755 via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1986 there were an estimated 50,000 Civil War re-enactors in the U.S. Since 2000 their ranks have been cut in half. Today on Word of Mouth: the decline of Civil War reenactments, and what drives someone to take on the identity of a 19th century solider. Plus, after millennia of selective breeding, there are now over 3000 known varieties of apple. But, are our beloved Galas and Honeycrisps in peril? Why the extinction of wild apple species in central Asia could spell disaster for their descendants. And, when it comes to rice, why brown may not be the healthier.

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Unknown, via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past 25 years, the percentage of people with no religious affiliation has more than doubled, at the same time, the internet has been widely embraced. Coincidence? Today on Word of Mouth: does the internet spell the fall of religion? Or is it more of a correlation than a cause? Plus, we peruse the new release section of the bookstore and notice a trend, Catastrophe 1914, 1914: History in an Hour, 1914: Fight the Good Fight. A look into the downside of treating years as celebrities.

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Sara Plourde / NHPR

If it seems like, these days, everyone is talking about STEM - that now common acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs - it's because they are.

In this animated two-way, we take a look at what the push for STEM means for the state - from our public university system, to the State House, and through the business community - and for students.

Human Behavior In Bonobos

May 7, 2014
Alaina Abplanalp Photography via flickr Creative Commons

Frans de Waal is a distinguished biologist, university professor, and author who specializes in primate social behavior. For years, he’s been bucking prevailing ideas about the nature of human morality and ethics. Over decades of research, he’s found evidence of altruistic and empathic behavior in a number of species, concluding that there is a biological foundation for human morality that emerged from our animal origins.

Cloudtail via flickr Creative Commons

Have a taste for variety? From human-like bonobos to beauty pageants, we offer the variety you crave. Join us for our Tuesday show and share comments and suggestions on Twitter and Facebook! (Praise also welcome).

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Crowdsourcing is all the rage on the web these days – people coming together to contribute money or knowledge to projects or initiatives they care about.

amazon.com, girlsofatomiccity.com, hisotry.ucsd.edu & poetryoutloud.org

Happy Monday, everyone! Halfway through April and the nice weather is finally here. There's a little bit of every subject on today's Word of Mouth. We start with science, move to a look into women's history, and even have lesson in physical fitness before concluding with poetry. Put on your headphones and listen today's show, then join the discussion on our Facebook page!

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@Doug88888, Gerry Balding, Sarah0s, Adam Cohn, Mark Evans, Ross Pollock, Don LaVange, Giorgio Raffaelli & hey tiffany! via flickr Creative Commons

Today on Word of Mouth - laughing! And why we do it. We're getting science-y with the giggles before moving on to a less-than-scientific community: psychics. Then, the art of the brain takes over with a look at graphic novel that takes place inside the brain. Finally, what happens to digital art, and how do we restore it?

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Penn State, Kat Masback & Ricky Brigante via flickr Creative Commons and Josh Ritter

Today on Word of Mouth we're exploring the macro influences of the micro world. Then 99 Percent Invisible brings us a story about a menacing courthouse. (Perhaps a phantom menacing courthouse?) Finally, a conversation with Josh Ritter, whose album The Beast in its Tracks was recently released.

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3.19.14: Big Data, ICANN & Body Farm

Mar 19, 2014
via amazon.com

Today on Word of Mouth, we're unpacking big data. Should we fear or embrace it? Then we get a lesson on ICANN - what it is and how the decision made by the Obama administration not to renew its contract to oversee see it actually affects the way the internet functions. Finally, bodies! How do you study the effects of certain conditions on human remains? With a body farm, of course.

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Public health officials have a problem. They want more parents to get their kids vaccinated, because there's been a resurgence of dangerous diseases as vaccination rates have dropped.

Tai Viinikka, courtesy Flickr

For some time now in New Hampshire, consumers and businesses who install and use solar panels have been able to earn refunds for the power they generate and return to the electric grid. This is known as “net metering.”

A state law passed last year makes it possible for some consumers to participate in net metering and earn refunds without having their own solar arrays.

peanuts
desegura89 via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/tLhCh

Today’s weather is yet another reminder that spring is still a ways away, but Nashua is playing host this week to a Science Café discussion about something we often associate with spring: allergies.

Robin via Flickr CC

We have a lot of snow on the ground these days in New Hampshire. And judging by this week’s weather forecast, the snow piles aren’t likely to get any smaller in the immediate future.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In his Washington Post review of Lee Billings book, Five Billion Years of Solitude, astronomer Mike Brown compressed the age of the earth into a human lifetime.

sfroehlich1121 via flickr Creative Commons

Ok, here it goes…

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

From Sally and her shells, to Peter and his pickled peppers, tongue twisters have a long history of tripping up even the most professional of broadcasters. But these fun phrases offer more than simple entertainment. A team of MIT scientists recently released research on what tongue twisters reveal about human speech patterns and brain processes. Joining us is a member of that team, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, principal research scientist with MIT’s speech communication group.

For many of us the science of chocolate begins and ends with that great literary and cinematic candyman, Willy Wonka, who insisted chocolate was only best when it was churned by waterfall.

Of course, Wonka lived in the world of pure imagination, but the science of chocolate is pretty interesting in this world as well, as a group of Granite Staters found out in a recent "Science on Tap" event in Manchester.

Janet Ramsden via flickr Creative Commons

For a long time, the study of dreams was marred in mysticism and pseudo science to warrant academic respect. But in the 1970’s, a man named Stephen LaBerge gained a measure of credibility for his research into the phenomenon called “lucid dreaming”, but he ultimately remained on the fringes of mainstream science.  In more recent years, films like Inception and The Matrix have been increasing public interest into the mysteries of the dream-state. Mirroring this rise in pop culture appeal, lucid dream research is beginning to move out of the fringes and into the scientific mainstream. Dorian Rolston is a freelance writer covering cognitive science, mental health, and the mind. His article on the work of Stephen LaBerge, and new efforts to understand lucid dreaming appeared in the online publication, Matter.

Star Trek's seemingly miraculous 'tricorder' is a device which can measure anything from a patient's vital signs to geological activity with the push of a button. Now, a company called Scanadu has developed a device called the 'Scout,' which they hope can be as useful for the health industry as tricorders were on the Enterprise. We talked with the company's co-founder to learn more. 

Jean KOULEV via flickr Creative Commons

In 2007, researchers from the University of Texas categorized 237 motivations for humans to have sex. Recently, researchers at the University of Toronto divided the most common into two broad categories: approach motives pursue a positive outcome, like increasing intimacy; avoidance motives aim to avoid conflict or guilt. The Canadian team found that adding the fairly un-sexy drives of duty, resignation and guilt which significantly affect the health of a relationship, and could spell the difference between a happy marriage and a rocky one. Elizabeth Bernstein is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, where she wrote about the studies published by University of Toronto in October.

squirelaraptor via Flickr Creative Commons

Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness…whatever he's called, some seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil. That’s according to a 2007 Gallup Poll, and that number has increased steadily since 1990, when only fifty-five percent believed in evil personified in the form of Satan.

Now, researchers are looking at the implications of belief in “pure evil” on psychological and social behaviors.  Piercarlo Valdesolo is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont Mckenna College and contributor to Scientific American’s “Mind Matters” blog, where we found his article, “The Psychological Power of Satan.” 

In the spirit of thinking about how we eat over what we eat, a team at Cornell University conducted a study to see how we can make the buffet—that most tempting and often fattening arrays of food — into part of a balanced breakfast.

Dr. Andrew Hanks is a researcher for the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

NASA/Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility

And now for a project that sounds more like something from a Pixar movie than the next big thing in space exploration…the High Altitude Lensing Observatory, or HALO, could be the Hubble telescope’s successor in deep space imaging – but instead of orbiting earth from space, scientists are hoping to hang this giant telescope from a great…big…balloon.

One of the scientists working on the project is Dr. Richard Massey, an astronomer at The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, Scotland.

badly drawn dad via Flickr Creative Commons

One area of funding hit hard by the government shutdown is science. Since so much basic research and development is funded by the government, the partial shutdown means labs have had to close their doors, research centers are operating with skeleton crews, and many  clinical trials have ground to a halt and experiments put on ice. All these factors have some scientists complaining that their time-sensitive work is in jeopardy.

Fred Guterl is the Executive Editor of Scientific American, which is covering the shutdown’s effect on scientific research.

via sciblogs

The internet provides a forum for public conversation, debate and interaction. At times, it may seem more less public square and more like the Roman forum…where sniping, shaming and mean-spirited insults can devour conversations and proclaim judgments by like an unruly mob.

Media outlets have long-debated how best to moderate online comments, where some of the worst internet trolling takes place…last month, Popular Science shut down comments on its website, citing, in part, a study from the University of Wisconsin measuring the influence negative comments have on other readers. (We spoke with study co-author Dietram Scheufele back in March about the phenomenon he calls “the Nasty Effect.")

Jake Ward is Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science, he’s with us to talk more about the decision and response so far. 

edebell via Flickr Creative Commons

 A lot of kids go through a “dinosaur phase,” begging  parents to buy every book with a Tyrannosaurus on the cover. While the T-Rex, Velociraptor and Tricerotops have a kind of celebrity status among dino-crazed kids, the truth is not so static. For nearly three centuries, an ever-growing fossil record and scientific progress reveals the importance of a number of unsung species that may have far more to tell us about ancient biology than our popular paleo-crushes.

Brian Switek is author of My Beloved Brontosaurus, a book about the history of paleontology and the transformation of dinosaurs in the popular imagination. 

Local Kids Stalk Birds Of Prey...For Science!

Sep 24, 2013

Here in Concord, flocks of fourth graders are boarding school buses to get a glimpse of something you definitely won’t see in a classroom: falcons.  Right now, birds of prey are migrating in massive numbers from their breeding grounds in the north to their wintering grounds down south. Independent producer Jack Rodolico met up with a group of kid scientists on a field trip at the Carter Hill apple orchard, and filed this report. 

Worklife Siemens via flickr Creative Commons

Of all the features on Apple’s newest iPhone, the one generating the most buzz by far is the finger print scanner.  The iPhone 5s allows people access to their phones without entering a passcode or even a swipe. So, is this the latest gimmick to sell phones or the beginning of the end of the password? David Ewalt writes about technology, games, space, and other geeky stuff as senior editor at Forbes…which is where you can find his blog, “Spacewar.”

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