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Science

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/flickr creative commons

The world’s most popular astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins us in advance of his appearance at the Connecticut Forum on Saturday. Plus a look at Secret Sex Lives, Suzy Spencer’s year on the fringes of American sexuality.

The Grinch of dreaming is J. Allan Hobson.

What Is Now?

Nov 15, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons, Robert S. Donovan

OK, this is potentially one of our weirder shows. 

A Prescription For Healthier Eating

Oct 16, 2012
Jan Ellen Spiegel

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has left the medical community perplexed about how to get people to change their eating habits. Government is opting for public policy alterations like healthier school lunches. New York City has a new ban on selling large sodas or sugary beverages at restaurants and sports events.

But a Connecticut-based group is trying another way – literally giving people prescriptions for fruits and vegetables. And it seems to be working.

YG: "3, 4, 5 ,6, 7 ,8 ,9. Thank you very much. Have a great day."

Turning to Native Bees as Pollinators Amid Honeybee Die-Off

Sep 12, 2012
Roo72 (Wikimedia Commons)

Since 2006, much of the West has experienced unusually sharp declines in honeybee numbers, so much so that the unprecedented decline was given a name: Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where worker bees seem to simply vanish. While scientists ponder the reasons for the collapse of honeybees, fruit farmers face extra pressure to pollinate their crops. Now, a handful of researchers in the Northeast are proposing that fruit growers in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut might look to the lesser-known members of the bee family to take up the slack. 

The Science Behind How Furry Animals Shake To Get Dry

Sep 4, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons, Soggydan

Using high-speed video cameras, hoses, and a healthy dose of bravery, David Hu’s lab is studying the science behind how wet animals get dry.

Sling On: Scientist Sees Future In Space Tethers

Aug 22, 2012
Wikimedia Commons

Robert Hoyt dreams that one day the International Space Station (ISS) won’t need fuel to stay in orbit.

“When you consider that launching one kilogram into orbit costs about $20,000 and that the [International Space] Station needs something on the order of ten tons of propellant per year, that can add up to hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars over the lifetime of the station,” Mr. Hoyt said.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut wants to create a new bioscience hub in the state, attracting world-class scientists. But the state’s pharmaceutical industry has been cut back over the last decade and key parts of that workforce are leaving the state. As our series on education in science, technology, engineering and math continues, WNPR’s Aroosa Masroor looks at the difficulties of creating and retaining a scientific workforce in Connecticut.

Harriet Jones

State estimates say there may be as many as a thousand unfilled jobs in advanced manufacturing currently available in Connecticut. As our series continues on education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, we look at how the state is preparing the workers who will take this industry forward. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

This is the precision manufacturing program at Asnuntuck Community College.

Connecticut’s Governor has staked a lot on reforming the state’s educational system. And a large part of the motivation is to provide a workforce literate in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM skills. But the pace of technological change is getting quicker every year, and figuring out how to train workers for the high value industries of the 21st century is ever more challenging. This week on the business report we begin a series of reports on three industries vital to Connecticut’s future, and ask whether the state is living up to its reputation for a superior workforce.

Chion Wolf

After years of speculation, rumors, and whispers, we finally heard this week what we had long expected. The only problem is I can't tell whether I'm talking about the Higgs boson or Anderson Cooper.

prilfish, Flickr Creative Commons

The problem with invasive species is, of course, that they compete for resources with local species, and sometime they're a lot better at it. and sometimes they just incidentally wipe something out. 

Flickr Creative Commons, Horia Varlan

Jack Hitt will speak at R.J. Julia Booksellers Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

Today I got into a Twitter debate with a guy who thinks the press spends too much time covering candidates who aren't really legitimate contenders.

I'm on the other side of that these days. I told him I think anybody running should be invited to the debates.

Fringe Physicists

May 8, 2012
Caption & photo used with permission - Jim Carter

Somewhere in the United States today, an envelope will arrive at a university math or science department, and in it will be some person's paradigm-shattering idea -- a novel theory that drastically violates or disrupts settled science.

The world is full of outsider physicists and rouge mathematicians. And, of course, one or two of them are basically correct about something. Einstein worked in a patent office. Michael Faraday did not have a university degree.

The Aging Brain on Music, Exercise, and Animals

Apr 23, 2012
Catie Talarski

We know that music, pets, and exercise make us feel good - but did you know they can also make our aging brains stronger? 

It used to be that getting older meant forgetting more, slowing down, and acting more and more like our grandparents. But no more. We can add years to our lives and boost our brain power by learning to play an instrument, jog around the block, or even bond with our dog.

Rusty Clark/flickr creative commons

Does what we eat control our thoughts and feelings? After many studies, a neuroscientist says it's true.

AJ Cann/flickr creative commons

While we're obsessed with keeping germs away, our go-to science guy, Carl Zimmer, says we and the planet are covered in viruses. Which ones are harmless and which can do us in?

North Charleston (Flickr Creative Commons)

Some 2400 high school students on 64 robot building teams gather at the Connecticut Convention Center today and tomorrow for the FIRST Regional robotics competition. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Joining us by phone this morning is one of the participants Dave Givens, he is a junior at Wolcott High School and a member of Team MAX.

Flickr Creative Commons, EssjayNZ

If I tell you that today's show looks into the near future and sees a wave of new drugs and other therapies that can enhance moral behavior, maybe you'll tell me: enough with the science fiction. But in some ways, the drugs are already here.

Oxytocin, sometimes known as the love hormone, increases empathy and social bonding.  And oxytocin can already be taken -- for other reasons -- in nasal spray form.

Awards Celebrate Women In STEM Careers

Mar 8, 2012
Connecticut Technology Council

  Women are severely under-represented in science and technology professions in Connecticut and across the nation. Each year, the Connecticut Technology Council aims to highlight the work of women who ARE making it in those fields, with its Women of Innovation Awards. WNPR’s Sarah Miner went along.

Deirdre Arcand is sophomore at Mercy High School in Middletown. She says even in her generation she still sometimes finds she’s a gender pioneer.

Chris Devers (Flickr Creative Commons)

Yale paleontologists say two Dinosaurs previously thought to be the same species are actually two different creatures.

There is no denying that the Torosaurus and the Triceratops look a lot alike.

Can Human Genes Be Patented?

Feb 22, 2012

Doctors, researchers, and patent lawyers are waiting to see whether the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case about patenting a human gene. As WNPR’s Neena Satija reports, a Yale Cancer Center employee is among the plaintiffs.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut’s students are falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math. All this week WNPR is examining this problem, and its implications for our 21st century workforce. Today, Harriet Jones reports on efforts by employers to address the lack of STEM skills. 

Jackson Labs and Personalized Medicine

Feb 16, 2012
Amy Loves Yah, Creative Commons

The idea of personalized medicine was a driving force behind the Human Genome Project. Now Connecticut might be in the driver’s seat.

Governor Malloy recently sealed the deal that will give Jackson Laboratories $291 million to build their new genomic research facility on the University of Connecticut campus in Farmington.

The Science Of Dust

Feb 13, 2012
Gilles San Martin/flickr creative commons

There was a time when nobody studied dust. In fact, two kinds of nobody studied two kinds of dust. Astronomers were annoyed by interstellar dust because it got in the way of what they were looking at. It took a long time for them to realize the dust itself was worth looking at.

Same goes for earthbound particulate dust. Dust might creep into a sample on a slide if somebody got sloppy. And that was a problem. Only recently did scientists start looking at the dust itself and even cataloging it in, off all things, a dust library.

Chion Wolf

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM): Connecticut's strengths? Many of the state's employers don't think so anymore.

Listen for WNPR's week-long special investigation of STEM education:

Chion Wolf

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many of the nation’s fastest-growing and highest paid jobs require training in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as the STEM fields. But in Connecticut,  an estimated 1,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled because applicants lack the skills they need. 

Many middle and high school students seem to lose interest in studying STEM subjects. For our second report in a week-long series, we explore why.

16-year old Charlotte Harrison says she’s always liked math.  

Uma Ramiah

Connecticut’s unemployment rate is still over eight percent. And yet there are industries in the state that cannot find people to fill vacant jobs.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Malloy told legislators that in many places, Conneticut’s schools are failing to teach students the kinds of skills and knowledge they need.  

A Yale University professor is among the members of a task force advising President Obama on how to produce college graduates with science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports on the recommendations of the task force, which were released Tuesday.

Diane Orson

Qualified students in a New Haven engineering and science magnet school will be able to attend the University of New Haven for half price or free, under a program announced on Monday. The goal is to encourage students to pursue serious study in the “STEM” areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Speaking at Monday’s announcement, UNH President Steven Kaplan said America is lagging behind other developed nations in math and science.  

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