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Artist's reproduction of Caihong juji, a dinosaur with iridescent feathers. Guest Julia Clarke was co-lead author on the paper which describe the species.
Velizar Simeonovski / Field Museum

When you think about a dinosaur what springs to mind? Probably something with giant teeth, but is it grey and scaly like a lizard? What about the sound it makes? Does it have a roar like a supersized lion?

Earlier this month Where We Live producer Carmen Baskauf moderated a virtual event with paleontologist Julia Clarke, a lecture presented by the Yale Peabody Museum.

Clarke studies the evolution of dinosaurs—including birds—and in her research, Clarke takes on questions that seem impossible to answer, like: What color were dinosaurs? And what might a Tyrannosaurus rex sound like?

Shudder

It's our annual Halloween special! For this year, the script kind of wrote itself. We look at the way our current, actual horror is likely to affect our future fictional horror through the lens of the genre's past distinct historical eras.

Plus: A new study that seems to say that horror fans were better prepared for the pandemic than the wimpy rest of us were.

And: Every year on this show, for no particular reason, we look specifically at some classic horror movie that's celebrating its 40th anniversary. Two years ago, it was Halloween. Last year, it was Alien. This year, it's Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Pixabay

Dogs are man’s best friend, but what’s really going on inside of their heads?

This hour, we talk with canine cognition researcher Brian Hare.

Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons

The Trump Administration continues to downplay the pandemic, Vice-President Mike Pence campaigns even as staff members in his inner circle test positive for SARS-CoV-2, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," that the Administration is no longer going to control the pandemic.

Infrared photo of Venus at night, from the Japanese robotic spacecraft Akatsuki, which orbits the planet
JAXA / ISAS / DARTS / Damia Bouic

Extreme heat, crushing air pressure, and toxic clouds. Venus may not seem like a hospitable place.

But the discovery of a certain chemical, phosphine, in that planet’s atmosphere has raised new questions about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Scientists wonder if a living organism could possibly be creating this unexpected chemical.

This hour, we sit down Martha Gilmore, a Wesleyan professor. She’s a planetary geologist and Venus expert.

What questions do you have about Venus or our solar system?

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

Jobs at Pratt & Whitney, the jet engine maker headquartered in East Hartford, may soon be cut due to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on commercial air travel.

Permafrost thaw on the Peel Plateau of Canada
Scott Zolkos / Woodwell Climate Research Center

As climate change continues to raise temperatures worldwide, the arctic is warming even faster than the rest of the world.

Today, we take a look at the unique arctic terrain that is under threat from climate change: the permafrost. This frozen landscape is defined by deep layers of soil that never get above freezing.

But now, that’s starting to change, and the permafrost is starting to thaw—with devastating affects for the communities living on top of it.

A sewer manhole
Kurt Kaiser / Wikimedia Commons

As Connecticut looks to keep COVID numbers low, some researchers have turned to studying poop -- as a tool to help public health officials.

This hour, we talk with scientists studying our waste. Can our collective toilet flushing give public health officials a head start on detecting coronavirus outbreaks?

We hear from Yale researchers who have been testing New Haven sewage to track COVID-19 cases since March. That work was recently published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

We also hear from the mayor of Stamford about how wastewater data will shape that city’s public health response.

And we check in with Yale epidemiologist and Governor Lamont advisor Dr. Albert Ko. How should Connecticut prepare for a potential coronavirus surge this winter?

Yash Mori / Creative Commons

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening, breaking the hearts of generations of women -- and men -- who have benefited from her work guaranteeing our rights to equal treatment under the law.

That same evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate. By Saturday, President Trump was claiming he had an "obligation" to replace her, "without delay." The loss is larger than either man could understand.

Hurricane: NASA Goddard - Flickr Creative Commons / Tornado: Justin1569 - Wikipedia / Wildfire: U.S. Dept of Agriculture - Wikipedia

I’ve had a recurring dream ever since I was a little kid: I’m playing in the front yard of the house I grew up in, and suddenly, the atmosphere around me changes. I feel an ominous breeze on my face. I look up, and barreling down the street, is a tornado headed straight for me. I turn to run… and the dream ends. 

I think my compulsion to run away from dangerous weather - in my dreams and in real life - is probably shared by a lot of people. But today? The folks you’re gonna meet go towards the danger to stop it, or to document it so we can understand it better.

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Black Americans are more likely to be infected from COVID-19, be incarcerated, live in poverty, and/or be killed by the police than white Americans. It took a pandemic and the killing of George Floyd to crystallize those facts.

a hole
Mike Burns / flickr creative commons

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

Vlad Povorny / Creative Commons

Officials in the Trump Administration last week videotaped both a naturalization ceremony held at the White House and an HUD official's interview with four New York City tenants on housing conditions. They then  played selected parts from each video at the Republican National Convention without the knowledge of the participants. 

The CDC updated testing guidelines last week to say that people who have been exposed to the virus but who don’t have symptoms or underlying risk factors, don't necessarily need to be tested. After public health officials complained that asymptomatic carriers are more likely to spread the virus, we learned that the recommendations came from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  

zenilorac / flickr creative commons

Numbers are so fundamental to our understanding of the world around us that we maybe tend to think of them as an intrinsic part of the world around us. But they aren't. Humans invented numbers just as much as we invented all of language.

This hour, we look at the anthropological, psychological, and linguistical ramifications of the concept of numbers.

And we look at one philosophical question too: Are numbers even real in the first place?

A diagram of the kidneys from Henry Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body" (1918)
Henry Gray / Wikimedia Commons

State Representative Jeff Currey is a longtime public servant. Now he’s asking the public to help him. The East Hartford lawmaker is in kidney failure, and he needs a transplant.

This hour, he joins us to talk about kidney donation. We often think of organ donation as something considered after someone’s death, but living donors can give a kidney to a person in need.

Coming up we hear from patients, donors, and medical professionals about this lifesaving transplant.

And we learn about a revolutionary system that pairs matching donors and patients--that allows for multiple kidney transplants. 

Have you considered becoming a kidney donor?

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday authorized the emergency use of convalescent blood to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19. Sunday's decision comes on the heels of a presidential tweet that may have put pressure on the FDA to authorize it prematurely. We talk about this and more news on Covid. 

Also this hour:  The Republican National Convention begins this week, a few days after former Vice-President Joe Biden accepted the nomination to represent Democrats in November's election. We talk about last week's convention, how this week's convention might play out, and other political news from the weekend.  

Airman 1st Class Daniel Hambor / U.S. Air Force

Businesses have reopened and most schools have come up with plans to see students again, but it’s increasingly clear life won’t truly get back to “normal” until we have a vaccine.

But when will that be? This hour, we get the latest from New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer on the race to develop a COVID vaccine. We hear the status of ongoing vaccine trials and learn more about the research process that ensures a vaccine will be safe and effective.

Cindy Shebley / Creative Commons

The FDA on Saturday authorized emergency use of a rapid and inexpensive saliva test that could increase testing capacity. It’s quick, less expensive, and doesn't need the chemical reagents that are in short supply.

yourgenome / Creative Commons

With the last decade of the twentieth century came the first clinical trials for a biotechnology known as gene therapy. Since then, how far has gene therapy come? And how far has it left to go?

This hour, we consider these and other questions, and we also hear from you. Were you or was someone close to you diagnosed with a genetic disease? What thoughts or questions do you have about gene therapy and its ongoing advancement?

Illustration by Chion Wolf

When you were growing up, you probably heard about famous inventors. Maybe you thought they were brilliant. Rigorously trained. Confident. Capable. And that their inventions advanced humankind through and through.

But Dr. Ainissa Ramirez spent the last 5 years writing a book that strips away those presumptions. In The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, she paints portraits not of how inventors settled questions of the limits of technology - but of how much further we still have to go.

Carl Zimmer - New York Times columnist and author of 13 books about science, including She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

Inside our genomes, we carry information about our recent ancestors as well as ancient human history. This hour, we talk with science writer Carl Zimmer about his book, She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity. We ask him what our DNA can—and can’t—tell us about where we’re from and who we are.

Colin Gillette, Bradford County, PA

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus continues to rise in many parts of the U.S., with sharp rises in places like Florida, Nevada, Alabama, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Yet, President Trump continues to attribute the rise to more testing -- despite the rise in hospitalizations and deaths -- and he wants to reduce federal aid for more testing, tracing, and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also this hour: The ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump by 15 points among registered voters, 55% to 40%. A majority of respondents are not happy with the president's handling of the coronavirus, among other things.

National Human Genome Research Institute / Flickr Creative Commons

Right now the world population is 7.8 billion, and growing fast. We have doubled our population over just the past 50 years!

Even though the population is growing, fertility rates, overall, are dropping. So, more people are here, but we’re having fewer babies. There’s a lot of reasons for that, and one of them is infertility. The CDC estimates that nearly one out of eight couples struggles to conceive, but because of assisted reproductive technology, we’re upping the population numbers in the United States. The CDC reports that almost 2 percent of all U.S. births annually - or about 4 million babies - are here as a result of things like in-vitro-fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, and egg donation.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The number of people being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is rising in 48 states. We're testing more, but the rate of positive tests, hospitalizations, and in some states, deaths, is also rising.

Sandy Cole / Wikimedia Commons

The Argus Pheasant is a lifelong bachelor. He mates with multiple females but has no further contact with his mates or the baby pheasants he sires. By human terms, not much of a feminist.

Yet, he stages a chivalrous courtship on moonlit nights on a forest stage he clears with meticulous care. He sings and dances and pecks. He encompasses his 'date' in a cape of intricately-colored four-foot-long feathers. He ends with a bow.  

Evolutionarily, there's no purpose for the spectacular feathers on the Argus Pheasant - unless you consider they may have evolved to satisfy the sexual preferences of the female Argus.

images of Giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum), Moa (Megalapteryx didinus), Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Ballista, George Edward Lodge, Michael L. Baird / Wikimedia Commons

What would it have been like to see a huge, elephant-like mastodon roaming our state? 

The earth has been home to some spectacularly large animals. A few of them still roam or swim our world today.

This hour, we take a look at the biology of these giants. 

Dr. Joseph Tagliarini is operating his dental office at nearly full staff and hopes that a new generation COVID test will be developed that will give results on the spot at work or at home.
Steve Hamm / Connecticut Health I-Team

After the COVID-19 crisis came to Connecticut, the New Haven office of Comprehensive Dental Health shut down completely for two weeks. Later, Dr. Joseph Tagliarini began opening the office a few days a week with a skeleton crew to handle emergencies. Now the office is operating at nearly full staffing—with six full-time and six part-time employees.

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Image Catalog / Creative Commons

Your sex life doesn't have to suffer just because you're cooped up at home every day. Researchers say that sex is a healthy way to calm the anxiety of pandemic, even if you live alone. Virtual dating, masturbation, and coronavirus-related porn are more popular than ever.

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