Living Lab Radio on WCAI

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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.

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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.


Living Lab first aired on June 25th of last year. In our excitement about our fisheries coverage, The Long Haul, we completely missed our own first anniversary.

We're making it up now (better late than never, right?) by sharing a couple of our favorite interviews from our first year on the air. Enjoy, and thanks for a great first year!

Pteropods, Art, and Climate Change

Climate change is a global phenomenon, and the science can sometimes seem distant or disembodied. But the impacts of a warming planet are increasingly apparent – and personal.

Act 1: Climate Change Hits Home

Gary Braasch's exhibit "Climate Change in our World" is currently at the Boston Museum of Science.
Gary Braasch

Climate change is a global phenomenon, and the science can sometimes seem distant or disembodied. But the impacts of a warming planet are increasingly apparent – and personal.

Act 1: Climate Change Hits Home

The federal law that mandates fishery management sets ten national standards that all fishing regulations must meet. But those standards are somewhat vague and sometimes even contradictory. They set managers the difficult task of protecting fish stocks while simultaneously preserving fishing communities. They’re also supposed to ensure that fishing rights are distributed fairly and equitably.

Sometimes it can be hard to visualize the science we talk about on Living Lab. We know that. And that's why this is so exciting.

A few months ago, Dr. Larry Berg joined us on Living Lab to talk about the Two Column Aerosol Project (or TCAP), a one-year research project based here on Cape Cod. The focus of the study is clouds and other microscopic, airborne particles - curreantly one of the weakest parts of the computer models. 

Weir fishing has a long history involving few technological changes.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

Innovation is a relative term. It all depends on where you're starting from. Here are three examples from New England's diverse fisheries:

1. Don't Fix What Ain't Broke

Fisheries is a dynamic and science-hungry business, as the recent price of cod demonstrates.

The Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 is the federal law that mandates and guides fishery management. It calls for regulations to be based on the best available science.

But what makes one piece of scientific information better than another? And who's to judge?

Here are a few possible definitions of best available science:

At the heart of all contemporary fishing stories - right next to the fishermen, themselves - are the regulations that constrain fishermen's activities.

Over the years, MBL research and education may have looked more like leisure. Dr. Gerald Weissmann says that's part of what makes MBL so successful.
MBL/WHOI Archives

Both the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Children's School of Science are celebrating major anniversaries this year - MBL's 125th and the School of Science's centennial. As it turns out, the two events are far from unrelated.


Aquariums are the topic on the second of two shows looking at ocean education outside the classroom.

Millions of Americans visit an aquarium each year. In fact, some 80,000 people from around the world visit the tiny Woods Hole Science Aquarium. For many aquarium visitors, the touch tank may be as close as they get to a first-hand experience with marine life.

Students get their hands on local marine life aboard an Ocean Quest discovery cruise.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

The ocean covers three quarters of the planet and provides half the oxygen in our atmosphere. It's home to an estimated ninety percent of life on Earth.

Despite its vastness, the ocean is also vulnerable to human impacts - plastic pollution, overfishing, and the myriad changes wrought by rising carbon dioxide levels.

It's been turning the rumor mill for months. Now it's official. MBL and University of Chicago have agreed to form an affiliation.

Kindergarteners learned about insects at a 2006 BioBlitz event in Woods Hole. BioBlitzes are intensive biodiversity surveys powered by volunteers.
Jennifer Junker / WCAI

One couldn't dream up a more perfect topic for citizen science than biodiversity. It happens anywhere and everywhere, scientists need more data points than they could ever possibly gather on their own, and you can see (at least some of) it with your own two eyes.

Here are just a few ways you could get involved:

Edward Hicks, Garden of Praise, Philadelphia Museum of Art


It’s estimated there are 8.7 million species alive on planet Earth today. But scientists have only named and cataloged about fifteen percent of that number and there’s increasing concern about the rate at which species are going extinct.

Gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) hauled out on the beach at Jeremy Point in Wellfleet, Mass.
Meghann Murray / NEFSC/NOAA

The Magnuson-Stevens Act that governs U.S. fisheries management calls for regulations to be based on "best available science" - a fuzzy and moving target. New technologies and new research are constantly reworking our understanding of ocean ecosystems and the fisheries they support.

Here are three new or pending initiatives that could shape fishery regulations of the future: