Living Lab Radio on WCAI

Mondays at 9am and 7pm

Living Lab Radio brings you conversations at the intersection of science and culture. Connect with scientists for fresh perspectives on the week's news - science and otherwise - and a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Do you have a question, story, or photo to share? Email us at, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

Living Lab Radio is produced by Heather Goldstone and Elsa Partan.

Major support for Living Lab Radio is provided by The Kendeda Fund.

Short-finned pilot whales maintain social groups using different dialects.
Espinya, CC BY-SA 3.0,

People in different countries often speak different languages. And even within a community, different groups may have distinct dialects or slang. Turns out, the same is true of pilot whales.



Each month we check in with the writers at Nature News to talk about the stories they've been following. This week we spoke with Benjamin Thompson from the Nature Podcast.

L. Lerner

Monarch butterflies are in trouble. Populations have declined steeply in recent years. A 2017 report found that monarchs in the Western U.S. could be extinct within decades if the current trends continue. New research is shedding light on some of the factors at play and some of them are unexpected like an increase in the size of monarchs. 

The first color image of MU69 taken on January 1, 2019. It will take up to a year to get all of the data back from New Horizons to get a clear picture of this object, which is the farthest object in the solar system to be visited by a spacecraft.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)

Despite the government shutdown, NASA was live streaming on New Year’s Day as the New Horizons space craft made a flyby of the most distant object humanity has ever explored – an icy, red, snowman-shaped object known as 2014 MU69. You may have heard it referred to by its nickname Ultima Thule.   


Going on a diet is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions that Americans make. Whether it’s for weight loss, more energy, or just better overall health, there are a lot of options, and tons of information out there. Unfortunately, that information is often conflicting or it changes, and it’s hard to know what to trust. 

Is The World Getting Better?

Jan 6, 2019
L. Lerner


We have started this new year with quite a bit of uncertainty: We're in the midst of a partial government shutdown, there are ongoing civil wars and humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen, tensions with Russia and North Korea, and then there's the looming threat of climate change. 

John Buie,

The planet is warming and sea level is rising. In fact, global average sea level has risen about nine inches since record-keeping began in 1880. But that’s an average. The actual change in sea level varies from place to place, even along the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Prepper Misconceptions and Takeaways

Jan 2, 2019

Preppers don’t have a great public image. The word often conjures up doomsday-obsessed extremists in a well-armed bunker or walled compound. But anthropologist Chad Huddleston says they’re a largely misunderstood group and that we could all learn a few things from them.

Kathy Drasky,

Empathy: you probably have an intuitive sense of what it is, but can you define it? The word itself is about a century old, and the meaning has actually been in almost continual flux. 


As we sit here at the start of the year, we’re reflecting on where we are and where we are headed – as individuals, as a society, and as a planet. 

Cybersecurity expert Diana Burley says when it comes to cybersecurity, do the simple things first.

More and more of our lives are on-line now and keeping personal data private seems increasingly difficult with a new data breach every time you turn around. 

Most people understand the climate change will affect others. But they don't see how it will affect them.

One of the biggest science stories of the year has been climate change. And for good reason.

Carbon emissions in 2018 hit a record high. The Six Americas survey released in April found that 70 percent of Americans think climate change is happening, and nearly 60 percent understand that it is largely human-caused. That puts us back approximately where we were ten years ago, before politics and economics eroded public acceptance of the fact of climate change.

Depending on whom you ask, the gene editing technology CRISPR is either a savior, or one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. And some people’s worst fears materialized in late November, when a scientist announced the birth of two babies whose DNA he had edited. That claim hasn’t even been verified but has drawn strong and almost universal criticism.

NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

You might have seen the headlines recently. Scientists gave octopuses ecstasy. It was part of a study where they expected to learn about social behavior. What the scientists didn’t expect though, was for the study to go viral.

Ponds like this one in Wisconsin would no longer be covered because they are not always filled with water.
Joshua Mayer

The Clean Water Act is a federal law that gives the EPA authority to regulate pollution that affects the waters of the United States. But exactly what that last phrase means has been the subject of a long and contentious debate.