Elsa Partan

Producer for Living Lab

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.
 

Ways to Connect

Elizabeth Lies / unsplash

Just over a year ago, NY Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer ran a story by David Wallace-Wells entitled The Uninhabitable Earth. It was a litany of apocalyptic worst-case climate change scenarios that sparked an energetic conversation about the value of shock and fear in motivating climate action. 

One North Atlantic right whale has been found dead this year compared to 17 last year.
NOAA Photo Library / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

There’s a bit of good news when it comes to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Only one dead whale has been found in 2018, as opposed to the 17 that were found last year.

One possible source of improvement were the closures of the snow crab fishery in Canada and the reduction of ship speeds in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the whales were seen in large numbers last year.

Shaughnessy Naughton of 314 Action helps scientists run for political office.
Courtesy 314 Action

When it comes to midterm elections most of the conversation so far has been focused on party politics and whether the president's involvement would help or hurt certain candidates.

But there is something unusual about this round of elections -- an unprecedented number of candidates who are scientists. There have been 60 at the federal level this year.  

Akira Hojo / unsplash

Religion has been part of the human experience for as long as anyone can figure out. Religious behavior, in general, has declined in many parts of the world, but it tends to bounce back when there is a tragedy of some sort. And recent computer models suggest that religious beliefs are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. What else could computers tell us about this deeply human phenomenon?

NASA

Later this week, NASA is expected to launch the Parker Solar Probe on a mission to touch the sun. Well, almost touch the sun.

AFFOA, http://go.affoa.org/

The words "knitting" and "high-tech" may not sound like they go together, but the latest generation of knitting machines is enabling some pretty futuristic stuff. It’s a new world of wearable technology that we might actually want to wear.

Fires burning in Sweden can be seen from space, as in this NASA photo from July 20, 2018.
NASA, https://go.nasa.gov/2vq4PZR

This summer has brought intense heat to much of the Northern Hemisphere and severe wildfires – not only to the American West, but to places like Sweden. Heat waves, droughts and wildfires are all events that climate scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of human-caused global warming.

NOAA

Each month, we speak to our colleagues at the Journal Nature to hear about the stories they are following. Our guide this time around is Adam Levy, multi-media editor and host of the Nature Podcast.

Over the past decade, as climate change has been driving increasingly extreme weather around the globe, the political debate in Washington has also grown more extreme.

Republicans, in general, have moved further from the scientific consensus and in their opposition to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. But a growing number of conservatives are moving back in the opposite direction, embracing the science of climate change and proposing free-market solutions.

credit: Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Lab - Roy Kaltschmidt, photographer. https://tinyurl.com/y758ayc8

There are many private testing services that will decode your DNA, catalog the foreign chemicals in your blood, or identify the bacteria living in and on your body. So it might come as a surprise that if you sign up for an actual biomedical research study, you might not be privy to what the scientists learn about you.

iucnredlist.org

Over the past couple of weeks, both President Trump and Congress have proposed multiple changes to the Endangered Species Act. Those changes are controversial, but it’s worth noting this isn’t the first attempt to modify the Act. In fact, the Center for Biological Diversity says there have been more than 300 changes or proposed changes in the past two decades, and the pace has picked up in the past several years.

Courtesy WHRC, www.caperivers.org

Cape Cod is known for beaches, not rivers. But rivers are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding and addressing coastal water quality issues. And it turns out that the Cape’s rivers have been relatively neglected by scientists as well as the public. Not so anymore.

Courtesy STEP-GTP, www.step-gtp.org

Earlier this month, the Israeli government passed a law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people. The move was seen by many as putting the country’s Jewish identity above its democratic one.

A new project aims to get scientists to take another look at work that can't be reproduced.
Elsa Partan

It’s not easy to admit that you’ve been wrong. But everyone makes mistakes and scientists are no different.

But when a researcher makes a poor choice in the lab or misinterprets his or her results, and that becomes part of the permanent scientific record, that can have far-reaching implications.

Courtesy Blue Bus Productions and Ambrosino/Delmenico

For many of us, pain is a daily part of life. Maybe it’s stubbing a toe, maybe it’s chronic back pain. Either way, a lot of money and effort go into finding ways to reduce pain.

But what if you couldn’t feel any pain? It wouldn’t be as great as you might think.

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