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HARU_Q / flickr creative commons

There's a theory that ours isn't the only universe. That there are, actually, infinitely many universes.

That there are, then, infinitely many yous.

That there are infinitely many different yous reading infinitely many different versions of this show synopsis. That there are infinitely many universes that don't even bother to include you. Or this show synopsis. Or even reading.

Syd Montgomery

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington, to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating. Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be?

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?

Stewart Black / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger. 

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about the nature of altruism.

The Legacy Of COVID-19

Jan 19, 2021
Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Yale University's Dr. Nicholas Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of pandemic. He looks at historical epidemics and current medical and social research to help us understand the potential long-term impact COVID-19 will have on people and culture. 

Greek mythology holds that the arrows of plague Apollo shot down upon the Greeks led to great death and suffering. The plague that has brought death and pain over this past year was not brought by an angry god, but an infinitesimal virus that has wreaked global havoc and exposed the best and worst of human behavior. 

We spend an informative and insightful hour with Nicholas Christakis. 

Alex Liivet, Flickr Creative Commons / edited by Chion Wolf


There’s not a lot of great headlines in the news lately. Y’know, between a contentious election, rioting in the Capitol, a raging pandemic, and lots and lots of dangerous misinformation.

Bill Ingalls / NASA

Astronaut Kayla Barron was one of the first women commissioned as a submarine warfare officer in the US Navy. Now, she’s part of another groundbreaking group, NASA’s Artemis Team.

This hour, we talk with Barron about her training for the next set of missions to return to the moon.  The Artemis Program aims to put the first woman on the moon in coming years.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Two New Haven County residents under the age of 25 years old have tested positive for a new, more transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2, the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Medical experts say this variant, scientifically labeled B.1.1.7 and first discovered in the United Kingdom, appears to spread more easily and quickly. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.” 

The Battle For Butter

Dec 27, 2020
Creative Commons

We tend not to think much about that pat of butter we put on our morning toast, including how the store-bought sweet cream butter we're eating likely pales in comparison to the rich, nutty flavor of  the cultured butter not found in many stores.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Surrounded by colleagues underneath a tent that protected them from the freezing rain, Dr. Ajay Kumar rolled up his sleeve as a nurse cleaned the upper part of his arm with an antiseptic wipe.

“Here we go, number one,” someone shouted. 

Graeme Robertson / AP

After more than nine months of a pandemic that has sickened and killed millions worldwide, the United States is on the verge of obtaining its first federally reviewed COVID-19 vaccine.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a group of independent scientists and researchers from institutions all over the country, will hold a public meeting today to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine. 

Jeremy Gaunt / Creative Commons

Are we on the verge of societal collapse? We tend to worry about the big explosive stuff like nuclear war, asteroids, and solar flares when we consider end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios. The reality is that most "fallen" civilizations gradually decline over many decades with a banality that can barely register. 

We often remember the decline of civilizations as the fault of poor leaders or natural disasters but it's more like death from a thousand cuts from conditions like inequality, corruption, and political dysfunction. That's (partly) what happened to the Roman Empire

HBO

Warner Bros. announced Thursday that all of its movies for all of 2021 will be available to stream on HBO Max the same day they debut in cinemas. The movie theater chains see this as "doomsday for the theatrical experience."

And: Three strange, metal monoliths having been discovered in recent weeks, one each in Utah, Romania, and California. The ones in Utah and Romania have since disappeared, and the one in Utah had stood undiscovered for at least four years before it was found.

Finally: The Undoing is a six-part HBO miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. Its finale aired Sunday.

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.

Hare runs Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, and is the co-author of the new book: Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity.

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?

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