Drive south of the Massachusetts border this summer and you’re bound to hear the deafening buzz of the 17-year cicada. From the Carolinas to Connecticut, residents can expect a full-on plague of these large, loud, winged creatures to emerge after nearly two decades of underground hibernation. We wanted to better understand these bizarre bugs – called “brood-two” cicadas - so we called biologist Joe Hanson,host and writer of PBS digital studios’ It’s Okay To Be Smart.
For a long time, outer space was conceptually and legally a no-man’s land – that changed on October 4th, 1967 when the Soviet Union launched a satellite called Sputnik into Earth’s orbit, triggering an international space race and calls for internationally binding laws to govern space exploration. Last amended in 1979, the outer space treaty drafted in 1967 facilitated smooth, peaceful interactions between nations capable of probing space. As the prospect of civilian space travel and settlement appears more accessible, international space law may be in need of revision. Joining us to discuss the field is Michael Listner, President of the International Space Safety Foundation.
Thirty years ago, a North American ship dumped ballast water containing comb jellyfish into the black sea and triggered a catastrophic decline in marine life. A decade later, discharged ballast containing a strain of cholera contaminated shellfish of the coast of Peru, killing more than 12,000 Latin Americans. These cases of biological stowaways are being targeted by the United Nations for regulation – but the treaty that would prevent future catastrophes has yet to be ratified. Fred Pearce is the environment consultant for New Scientist discusses the stowaway problem and potential solutions with us.
As of last month, over forty-thousand patents on DNA molecules have been submitted by private research companies –essentially claiming the entire human genome sequence for profit. The Supreme Court will review the matter at hearing on April 15th, and the outcome could have a significant impact on personalized medicine and scientific research. Joining us is Doctor Christopher Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College’s department of Physiology and Biophysics. He’s co-author of a new study that got our attention, on the issue of genomic liberty.
Mr. Spock’s Vulcan ability to transfer his consciousness into another being was a technique he used on numerous occasions in the Star Trek franchise. His colleague Dr. McCoy was, on several occasions, an unwitting recipient of the 'green blooded, inhuman' Spock’s consciousness…impossible science fiction, right? Well, maybe not. Recently, we came across a story about scientists creating telepathic rats in a lab at Duke University. On the line to tell us more is Douglas Heaven, who wrote about the experiment for New Scientist Magazine.
At the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne Point in Rye, visitors learn about the science and beauty of marine life and the Gulf of Maine. Myra Sallet is a 13-year-old volunteer who particularly likes working with younger kids who come to explore.
Our niftiest and spiffiest content, all in one great show. This week, a look at the shifting human condition. Holocaust survivors being turned into holograms, a Russian "Swiss Family Robinson" that missed most of the 20th Century, corporate anthropologists, transplant "tourism," the nasty effect of internet comments, and a former professor pens a memoir about being stalked by an ex- student online.
Want to keep your home as signal-secure as the Sistine Chapel will be during the Conclave?
Today's segment on Faraday Cages really inspired my inner maker-bot so I asked Rob Fleischman to give me instructions on exactly how to make one. It really does seem surprisingly easy to create one out of a few relatively inexpensive materials easily acquired from your local hardware store.
The internet is a technological forum for public conversation, debate and cross-cultural interaction and their very opposites. Reader comments often take on characteristics more like the roman forum…it’s in the comments section where sniping, shaming and mean-spirited insults are pelted like rotten tomatoes onto a stage. A study published in the journal of computer-mediated communication measured the influence of reader comments on the articles they describe. Dietram Scheufele, John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin, Madison discusses reader comments and their influence on the articles they cling to. He recently co-authored an article on the subject for the New York Times with Dominique Brossaard, "This Story Stinks"; the comments section for the article closed with 400 comments.
Our shiniest and sparkliest content, all in one show-tacular program. This week, a Salon writer contemplates the history of "white Southern defeat," a foremost expert on gluten explores the hype around the latest food trend, New Hampshire author Ben Nugent talks about his new novel, "Good Kids," and illustrator Danny Gregory explains how grief was overcome with art. Oh, and Sean Hurley contemplates the danger of skating on thick ice.
Two years ago, a press conference was held at NASA headquarters, where it was declared that an alien life form had been discovered in Earth’s backyard. It wasn’t green and it didn’t say “take me to your leader”. But still, this tiny microbe dubbed “arsenic-life” caused quite a ruckus in the scientific community. Dan Vergano is a science correspondent for USA Today and he joins us to discuss his investigation into the study.