Living Lab http://wgbhnews.org en How Could 'Sterile' Surgical Equipment Cause A Fatal Brain Disease? http://wgbhnews.org/post/how-could-sterile-surgical-equipment-cause-fatal-brain-disease <p>Last week, we learned that 13 patients treated in hospitals in New Hampshire and Cape Cod <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/06/us-usa-braindisease-idUSBRE98416D20130906">may have been exposed to the protein that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease</a>, a fatal brain disease similar to "mad cow disease"</p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 15:22:58 +0000 Heather Goldstone 17366 at http://wgbhnews.org How Could 'Sterile' Surgical Equipment Cause A Fatal Brain Disease? Massachusetts' Quest For Renewable Energy http://wgbhnews.org/post/massachusetts-quest-renewable-energy <p>Hundreds of people <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=RM0eTJKQZ1s" target="_blank">marched</a> outside Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset on Sunday.</p><p>The protest was organized by 350MA in an effort to convince Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to shut down New England’s largest fossil-fueled power producer and opt for cleaner energy instead.</p><p>The Patrick administration has set a target of getting more than a quarter of the Commonwealth’s electricity needs from renewable or alternative sources by 2020.</p><p><strong>The Bottom Line</strong></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:56:06 +0000 Heather Goldstone 16685 at http://wgbhnews.org Massachusetts' Quest For Renewable Energy What the Autism-Vaccines Controversy Teaches Us About Scientific Process http://wgbhnews.org/post/what-autism-vaccines-controversy-teaches-us-about-scientific-process <p><em>It’s been more than a week since ABC announced that actress and model Jenny McCarthy would join their mid-day talk show, The View, but backlash against the decision continues. At the heart of the controversy is McCarthy’s anti-vaccine activism.</em></p><p>Scientists pride themselves on being rational, able to disagree civilly. Of course, scientists are also human, so it doesn’t always work that way. But few things spark more raw outrage than anti-vaccination rhetoric. Even climate change and evolution might have to settle for consolation prizes in this category. But why?</p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 02:18:21 +0000 Heather Goldstone 16551 at http://wgbhnews.org What the Autism-Vaccines Controversy Teaches Us About Scientific Process Five Ways to Get Involved in Citizen Science http://wgbhnews.org/post/five-ways-get-involved-citizen-science <p>One couldn't dream up a more perfect topic for citizen science than biodiversity. It happens anywhere and everywhere, scientists need more data points than they could ever possibly gather on their own, and you can see (at least some of) it with your own two eyes.</p><p>Here are just a few ways you could get involved:</p> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 12:29:34 +0000 Heather Goldstone 15676 at http://wgbhnews.org Five Ways to Get Involved in Citizen Science How Acoustic Monitoring Could Help Protect Cod Stocks http://wgbhnews.org/post/how-acoustic-monitoring-could-help-protect-cod-stocks <p>Here's your science factoid of the day: male Atlantic cod grunt during spawning season. It may sound like useless trivia, but that behavior could help fishery managers better protect cod stocks.</p><p>Underwater microphones - hydrophones - installed along the shipping channels leading into Boston already <a href="http://www.listenforwhales.org/page.aspx?pid=430">listen for right whales and automatically alert nearby vessels</a> in real time. In fact, you can even get that information on your iPhone.</p><p>Now, a <a href="http://www.fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&amp;country=0&amp;special=&amp;monthyear=&amp;day=&amp;id=59772&amp;ndb=1&amp;df=0">new study</a> demonstrates the ability to use a similar method of passive acoustic monitoring to locate aggregations of spawning cod, known as haystacks. Thu, 04 Apr 2013 14:01:28 +0000 Heather Goldstone 14096 at http://wgbhnews.org How Acoustic Monitoring Could Help Protect Cod Stocks Art-science collaborative to debut at Museum of Science http://wgbhnews.org/post/art-science-collaborative-debut-museum-science <a href="http://cpa.ds.npr.org/wcai/audio/2013/02/point_020413.mp3" class="asset-audio">Conversation about Synergy exhibit</a><img class="asset-image" align="right" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/wcai/files/styles/card_280/public/201302/5Miebach_TemperalWarmth-600_235073.jpg" alt="" /><p>Back in June, I <a href="http://www.wgbhnews.org/post/connecting-art-and-science">spoke with Whitney Bernstein and Michael McMahon</a> about their nascent artist-scientist collaborative, <em>Synergy</em>. The project has now reached fruition; eight artist-scientist teams have produced science-inspired works of art that will be shown at Boston's Museum of Science starting February 16th.<p>The exhibit spans media from music to abstract video, from sculpture to painting. Each work of art is as unique as the artist-scientist team that came together to create it. Tue, 05 Feb 2013 18:43:00 +0000 Heather Goldstone 12883 at http://wgbhnews.org Art-science collaborative to debut at Museum of Science The Science of Fisheries http://wgbhnews.org/post/science-fisheries <p>There’s nothing new about tension between New England’s fishermen and the scientists and regulators who oversee their industry. But the situation has reached fever pitch in the past two years, in large part due to a federally mandated deadline to end overfishing and the introduction of a new management scheme, known as catch shares, in which a total catch limit is set and the catch is divvied up among eligible fishermen.</p> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 03:44:14 +0000 Heather Goldstone 11025 at http://wgbhnews.org The Science of Fisheries Empowering Everyone to Explore Life's Diversity http://wgbhnews.org/post/empowering-everyone-explore-lifes-diversity <p></p><p>I feel like I'm becoming a broken record. Each week, my guests wow me with just how little we know about their chosen field. Today, it was the diversity of life on Earth. Earlier this year, Encyclopedia of Life (<a href="http://eol.org">EOL.org</a>) passed the one million page mark. While that's impressive, it's nowhere close to the project's goal of one page for every species on Earth. In fact, Nathan Wilson, technical director for EOL.org and a curator on the site, says we don't even have a good handle on how many species there are on Earth. Tue, 11 Dec 2012 03:00:56 +0000 Heather Goldstone 10800 at http://wgbhnews.org Empowering Everyone to Explore Life's Diversity Toxic Chemicals Found in Household Dust http://wgbhnews.org/post/toxic-chemicals-found-household-dust <p>Dust is unsightly, a sign of poor housekeeping, perhaps. But toxic? Unfortunately, yes.</p><p>In 2003, researchers from Massachusetts-based Silent Spring Institute <a href="http://www.silentspring.org/our-research/everyday-chemical-exposures/household-exposure-study">sampled dust from 120 homes on Cape Cod</a> looking for hormone-like chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. They followed that up with a <a href="http://www.silentspring.org/our-research/everyday-chemical-exposures/household-exposure-study-richmond-and-bolinas-california">study of 50 homes in California</a>. In both cases, they found what they were looking for.</p><p>One of the chemicals they found in high levels was a banned flame retardant called PBDE. So they went back, again, to look for other <a href="http://www.silentspring.org/our-research/everyday-chemical-exposures/flame-retardants">flame retardants in those California homes</a>. And, again, they found what they were looking for in abundance. One class of flame retardants, known as chlorinated Tris compounds, made up as much as 0.1% of dust. That's a lot for a single chemical. Mon, 03 Dec 2012 20:18:58 +0000 Heather Goldstone 10506 at http://wgbhnews.org Toxic Chemicals Found in Household Dust Why Deep Sea Volcanoes Matter http://wgbhnews.org/post/why-deep-sea-volcanoes-matter <p>Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, so it’s no surprise that three quarters of volcanic activity happens on the sea floor. Understanding those volcanoes has ramifications for everything from climate science to the evolution of life. But studying volcanoes covered, in some cases, by miles of water is no mean feat. So it’s also no surprise that there are still plenty of discoveries yet to be made and questions remaining to be answered.</p><p> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 15:01:24 +0000 Heather Goldstone 10229 at http://wgbhnews.org Why Deep Sea Volcanoes Matter Understanding Your Carbon Food-print http://wgbhnews.org/post/understanding-your-carbon-food-print <p>While conversations about climate change typically focus on cars or power plants, the food we eat is a major factor that often flies under the radar. Food - it's production, processing, and transport - accounts for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The irony is that putting a dent in that portion of our carbon footprint could be fairly simple. If everyone in the U.S. avoided meat and dairy one day a week for a year, it would be the carbon-cutting equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road. On the other hand, since transportation actually accounts for just 2% of food-related emissions, eating locally may not be the climate panacea some have made out. Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:12:37 +0000 Heather Goldstone 10033 at http://wgbhnews.org Understanding Your Carbon Food-print The Pteropod Project: Sea Butterflies, Climate Change, and Art http://wgbhnews.org/post/pteropod-project-sea-butterflies-climate-change-and-art <p>You've no doubt heard of the butterfly effect. Well, Gareth Lawson of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has his own version: the sea butterfly effect. As carbon dioxide emissions build up in the atmosphere, some of it is absorbed by the ocean, where it turns to acid - a phenomenon known as ocean acidification.</p> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 15:18:23 +0000 Heather Goldstone 9813 at http://wgbhnews.org The Pteropod Project: Sea Butterflies, Climate Change, and Art The Art of Telling Science Stories http://wgbhnews.org/post/art-telling-science-stories <p>Among those who make a living communicating science to the public, there are two main groups. There are those who began as writers, journalists, film makers, what have you, and somewhere along the way discovered a particular affinity for the subject of science. Increasingly, though, there’s a second group who received formal training in science, may even have made a career as a scientist, but somewhere along the way discovered that research wasn’t quite the right fit and instead turned to telling the stories of science.</p> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 21:08:29 +0000 Heather Goldstone 9491 at http://wgbhnews.org The Art of Telling Science Stories On the Cape, Sandy Beaches ... or Not http://wgbhnews.org/post/cape-sandy-beaches-or-not <p>Hurricane <em>Sandy</em> couldn't have been more appropriately named. With storm surges of 3-6 feet around the Cape and Islands, and up to 12 feet along the Jersey Shore, coastal erosion is one after-effect that communities in Sandy's path will be wrestling with even after the power is back on.</p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 14:15:31 +0000 Heather Goldstone 9271 at http://wgbhnews.org On the Cape, Sandy Beaches ... or Not Realizing the Potential of Ocean Energy http://wgbhnews.org/post/realizing-potential-ocean-energy <p>Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth's surface. Those vast waters provide food, enable global shipping and drive the global climate. They could also provide much of the world's electricity needs. Waves, tides, even differences in salinity and temperature, are all potential sources of energy. The trick is harnessing that power. Mon, 22 Oct 2012 20:16:22 +0000 Heather Goldstone 8957 at http://wgbhnews.org Realizing the Potential of Ocean Energy The Politics of Science Funding http://wgbhnews.org/post/politics-science-funding <p>While it may not be the issue that decides elections, funding for scientific research is a fundamentally political beast. Take, for example, President George W. Bush's 2004 manned space exploration initiative - an overhaul of NASA's priorities aimed at putting American men and women back on the moon and, eventually, on Mars. Or there's Sarah Palin's somewhat notorious comments during the 2008 presidential campaign mocking biomedical research using fruit flies and calling it a waste of taxpayer dollars.</p><p> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 18:26:39 +0000 Heather Goldstone 8778 at http://wgbhnews.org The Politics of Science Funding Photosynthesis for Children of All Ages http://wgbhnews.org/post/photosynthesis-children-all-ages <p>Plants and photosynthetic bacteria sustain much of life on Earth. They form the base of food chains both on land and in the ocean, and they produce the oxygen we breathe. Indeed, when the first photosynthetic algae arose some 3 billion years ago, they fundamentally changed our planet — breathing oxygen into the atmosphere and paving the way for life as we know it today.</p><p>While photosynthesis is typically covered in elementary and high school science classes, studies have shown that even the most fundamental facts are often forgotten quickly. In contrast, the books we read as children sometimes stay with us for a lifetime. Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:08:06 +0000 Heather Goldstone 8409 at http://wgbhnews.org Photosynthesis for Children of All Ages Going to Extremes for Science http://wgbhnews.org/post/going-extremes-science <p>I've read my fair share of science books and field blogs and talked to more than a few scientists. In most cases, I hear their stories and think "Cool! I want to do that!" In a few other cases, I think "That's hardcore, but I could probably handle it." As I read Ben Linhoff's <a href="http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/expeditions/2012/08/06/following-the-ice-8-epic-melting/">Following the Ice</a> blog this summer (and re-read it last night), all I could think is "That guy is crazy. I never want to camp next to a glacier in Greenland for three months." I'll moderate that a bit now that I've met Ben. He isn't crazy. But I still never want to camp next to a glacier in Greenland for 3 straight months. I'm certainly glad Ben is willing to, though, because his research is important.</p><p> Mon, 01 Oct 2012 23:41:35 +0000 Heather Goldstone 8191 at http://wgbhnews.org Going to Extremes for Science 30 Issues: Why You Should Care About ... Climate Change http://wgbhnews.org/post/30-issues-why-you-should-care-about-climate-change <p>It’s been said so many times, it’s hard to even find an original source. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but not her own facts.</p><p>When it comes to climate change, though, there seem to be two versions of the facts – the Democratic and the Republican. Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:24:03 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7997 at http://wgbhnews.org 30 Issues: Why You Should Care About ... Climate Change Living Off a Love of the Natural World http://wgbhnews.org/post/living-love-natural-world-0 <p>When I first met Ari Daniel Shapiro, he was a college student spending a summer doing research here in Woods Hole. He subsequently returned and earned a Ph.D. from the M.I.T.-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. As he was finishing his dissertation on killer whale behavior, though, he realized his heart wasn't fully in the research. Instead, he decided to try radio. And am I ever glad he did. He's now an independent radio producer and science reporter for PRI's The World. I'm a big fan of Ari's work, so I was looking forward to talking with him about making the transition from research to reporting (something I, myself, also did) and about the radio producers who influence and inspire him.</p><p>Unfortunately, our conversation was interrupted by technical difficulties. Mon, 24 Sep 2012 15:17:33 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7901 at http://wgbhnews.org The Scary Math of EEE Prevention http://wgbhnews.org/post/scary-math-eee-prevention <p>What is a human life worth? That’s really the question at the heart of a controversy brewing over aerial pesticide spraying to kill mosquitos that may carry the viruses responsible for West Nile or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, known as EEE or triple-E.</p><p> Fri, 21 Sep 2012 15:10:05 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7829 at http://wgbhnews.org The Scary Math of EEE Prevention Photographing Science on Ice http://wgbhnews.org/post/photographing-science-ice <p>Chris Linder is a scientist–turned–award-winning science photographer. Over the past 10 years, he has photographed more than 30 science expeditions, including 16 to the polar regions. Four of those expeditions are featured in a new hardcover photography book, "<a href="http://www.scienceonice.com/">Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions</a>."</p><p> Mon, 17 Sep 2012 03:59:59 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7614 at http://wgbhnews.org Photographing Science on Ice Meet Heather Goldstone and Living Lab http://wgbhnews.org/post/meet-heather-goldstone-and-living-lab <p>WGBH science editor Heather Goldstone, best known as the brains behind the Climatide blog, has launched a new show and blog. Climatide focused on how climate change is affecting Cape Cod. Living Lab expands on that theme and takes a broader look at the role that science and scientists play in our daily lives. We asked her to explain.</p><p> Thu, 06 Sep 2012 18:04:35 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7247 at http://wgbhnews.org Meet Heather Goldstone and Living Lab Ocean Health Index: What's in a Number? http://wgbhnews.org/post/ocean-health-index-whats-number <p>Imagine this: your spouse (best friend, sibling) has just been in a bad car accident. You rush to the hospital and pounce on the doctor.</p><p> Mon, 03 Sep 2012 21:19:11 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7159 at http://wgbhnews.org Ocean Health Index: What's in a Number? Living Lab Week in Review: Bowhead Sighting, Stoney Controversy http://wgbhnews.org/post/living-lab-week-review-bowhead-sighting-stoney-controversy <p>The local science institutions have been brimming with news lately. We'll do this rundown in geographical order, starting on the outermost tip of the Cape and working our way back.</p><p> Fri, 31 Aug 2012 02:25:11 +0000 Heather Goldstone 7062 at http://wgbhnews.org Living Lab Week in Review: Bowhead Sighting, Stoney Controversy Lamps with Sex Lives Blend Science and Design http://wgbhnews.org/post/lamps-sex-lives-blend-science-and-design <p>What do you get when you cross a short, fat lamp with a tall, skinny lamp? Nothing, silly, lamps can't breed ... until now.&nbsp; Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:00:55 +0000 Heather Goldstone 6874 at http://wgbhnews.org Lamps with Sex Lives Blend Science and Design Shark v. Seal: Who Wins? http://wgbhnews.org/post/shark-v-seal-who-wins <p>There's been a rise in shark sightings on the Cape this summer — drawn not by humans in the water (<em>pace</em> "Jaws") but by an abundant population of seals. So ... can we drive away the sharks by culling the seals? As WGBH science editor Heather Goldstone told Bob Seay, it's not the first time marine experts have proposed this strategy.</p> Thu, 23 Aug 2012 16:02:22 +0000 Heather Goldstone 6755 at http://wgbhnews.org Shark v. Seal: Who Wins? Week in Review: Ocean Health Index, and a Few Surprises http://wgbhnews.org/post/week-review-ocean-health-index-and-few-wurprises <p>If last week was all about Mars, this week is all about the ocean.</p><p>The top story is a new <a href="http://www.oceanhealthindex.org/">Ocean Health Index</a>. An international team of scientists (including Scott Doney of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution .. working on getting him on Living Lab in the next few weeks) evaluated 171 coastal areas around the globe on the grounds of ten human goals - things like fishing opportunities, clean water, food provision, and sense of place. When the task of boiling the immense complexity of ocean ecology down to a single number was complete, the result was .. drumroll, please .. 60 out of a possible 100. We've all been to school and can do the translation. That's barely a passing grade. So plenty of room for improvement.</p><p> Fri, 17 Aug 2012 14:38:11 +0000 Heather Goldstone 6503 at http://wgbhnews.org Week in Review: Ocean Health Index, and a Few Surprises Rust Tide in Buzzards Bay: More Questions Than Answers http://wgbhnews.org/post/rust-tide-buzzards-bay-more-questions-answers <p>News of a <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=rust+algae+buzzards+bay&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;aq=t&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;client=firefox-a#q=rust+algae+buzzards+bay&amp;hl=en&amp;client=firefox-a&amp;hs=Wrr&amp;rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&amp;prmd=imvnsu&amp;source=univ&amp;tbm=nws&amp;tbo=u&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=yWYsUIP1NeP40gG8yYBQ&amp;ved=0CCIQqAI&amp;bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&amp;fp=28e252fc4fb36d17&amp;biw=1440&amp;bih=679">“rust tide” in Buzzards Bay made headlines</a> earlier this week. Reading a handful of the stories left me with an incomplete and jumbled picture of what’s going on. Is "rust tide" just another way of saying red tide? Is it or isn't it "dangerous," as some headlines proclaimed? To get some answers, I got in touch with Dr. Don Anderson, a harmful algae expert at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Here’s the skinny:</p><p> Thu, 16 Aug 2012 03:38:01 +0000 Heather Goldstone 6432 at http://wgbhnews.org Rust Tide in Buzzards Bay: More Questions Than Answers Technology: Problem or Solution? http://wgbhnews.org/post/technology-problem-or-solution <p>Dr. Jesse Ausubel is Director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, a Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and an adjunct scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He received the Blue Frontier/Peter Benchley prize for ocean science in 2010 and shared the 2011 International Cosmos Prize. He joined me for a conversation about climate change, population growth, and the human capacity for innovating our way out of our most pressing problems.</p><p> Mon, 06 Aug 2012 18:50:49 +0000 Heather Goldstone 5976 at http://wgbhnews.org Technology: Problem or Solution?