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 livinglabradio@capeandislands.org, 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.

Sydney Rae / unsplash

The idea of what it means to be American has been a central theme in our increasingly polarized political landscape -- from immigration policy to the controversy over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

Of course, you can find people on both sides of any of these debates playing the “it’s un-American” card. So, what factors do Americans actually believe are important to the American identity?

Robert W. Turner II has written a new book about the NFL
Courtesy Robert W. Turner II

Neither the controversy over football players taking a knee during the national anthem nor the increasingly apparent risk of long term brain damage for players has badly hurt NFL television ratings thus far.

For players, the draw is the competition, the fame, and the fortune. The average salary is a little over two million dollars per year for NFL players.

NordWood Themes / unsplash

It seems like there’s a new study with some sort of dietary health recommendation every week, and often the latest results contradict what we’ve heard before. Just in the past couple of weeks, a study came out claiming that the low-carb diets so many of us have been encouraged to follow may actually be shortening our lives. Another group of researchers announced that their findings suggest moderate alcohol consumption is not the way to go, that there is in fact no safe level of drinking. The examples go on and on.

Julie Libarkin has compiled an online list of people who have faced credible harassment allegations.
Courtesy Julie Libarkin

Rates of sexual abuse and harassment in academic science are second only to the military. It's estimated that at least half of women faculty and staff face harassment and abuse and that 20 to 50 percent of women students in science, engineering, and medicine are abused by faculty. Those numbers are generally based on surveys, which are an important way of getting a handle on the problem and how it changes women’s career trajectories.

Nicolas Thomas / unsplash

 

In recent weeks we’ve seen headlines proclaiming water on Mars and the moon. We tend to think of water - whether it's liquid or ice - as being relatively rare in our solar system. But what if the universe were full of watery worlds? That's what some new research is suggesting.

Cathy O'Neil's book looks at the algorithms that impact our lives
Courtesy Crown Publishing Group

Last week, we learned that President Trump thinks that Google searches are biased against him and perhaps should be regulated.

A new model finds it will take a lot of changes to fix the opioid addiction crisis.
Nick Youngson, https://tinyurl.com/y8h2b3ke

There are computer models that help gauge the likely outcomes of any number of decisions – whether it’s the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, a new climate policy, or even what you choose to eat for breakfast.

That hasn't been the case for the opioid epidemic. Now, researchers at Stanford University have developed a computer model of the epidemic that they hope can help point policymakers toward effective strategies.

 

By now, we all know that the food we eat has a huge impact on our health. But producing food requires land, water, nutrients – and in our globalized world – packaging and transportation. And that means that our dietary choices also have a big environmental impact. 

Courtest Will Massey

As kids head back to school, attention is usually on the academics: teachers planning the first lessons, and parents making sure students haven’t lost too much ground over the summer. But a new study draws attention to an often overlooked part of the school day: recess.

We’re used to hearing about how web sites use our data to target ads or tweak the news we see. But sometimes, researchers use similar kinds of data to gain a better understanding of our world and how we interact with each other and the environment around us. 

Erwan Hesry / unsplash

From cod to lobster, it’s no secret that New England’s fisheries are suffering at the hands of rising water temperatures and ecological shifts related to climate change. But, sometimes, it smacks you in the face.

Wiki Commons / bit.ly/2MCpNzk

President Trump has released his plan for replacing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan with a policy called the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. It would hand much of the authority and responsibility for regulating greenhouse gas emissions back to states.

NASA/JPL-Caltech / https://tinyurl.com/ycgs9rfx

This week, we bring you a discussion about science fiction – the track record of visionary authors predicting the future, warning us about the perils of the course we are on, and exploring tough social and ethical issues. Over the years, science fiction has had a large influence on how we perceive of science and relate to it.

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.

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