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

Anaxagoras crater in the north polar region of the Moon. Cropped version of computer generated image by PDS MAP-A-PLANET.
NASA space probe Clementine (USGS PDS MAP-A-PLANET)

July 20th marks fifty years since the Apollo 11 moon landing and those fateful words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Apollo missions advanced our understanding of the moon by leaps and bounds, but they were far from the first forays into lunar science.

Sy Montgomery with a cheetah in Namibia.
Nic Bishop / Courtesy of Sy Montgomery

We typically hear what scientists have learned about animals. And Sy Montgomery’s career as an author and naturalist has taught her plenty about animals, from octopuses to moon bears.

By Afshin Darian / Flickr: NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, CC BY 2.0

Each month, we check in with our colleagues at the journal Nature to review recent science headlines that they have been following. Nick Howe of the Nature multimedia team brought us highlights of some major developments and trends in science.

Brewster, Mass., is experiencing sea level rise, and with it, erosion.
muffinman71xx, https://tinyurl.com/y4obju7q

Much of what we hear about rising sea levels consists of long-range projections hundreds of years in the future -- projections that mostly consider the impact of melting ice.

But this global perspective won't tell you what will happen at any particular location. And it turns out, all sea level rise is local.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstad/Sean Doran

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. It’s one of the most recognizable features of any planet in our solar system, right up there with Saturn’s rings.

And, remarkably, it’s a storm. A really huge storm that’s been raging for hundreds of years.

Vanderbilt University researcher Shane King tries out the treadmill he helped design. It trips people for science.
Courtesy Vanderbilt University

Imagine being tripped over and over again, knowing that it would keep happening, but never knowing when. Nightmarish, right?

That’s exactly what some people volunteered to do in order to help make prosthetic legs better.  

Krzysztof Niewolny / unsplash

Last November, the New York Times magazine made an ominous declaration: The Insect Apocalypse is Here. The story warned that insects, globally, could face extinction this century. And that would have far-reaching ramifications for other life on Earth, including us. But that’s not the end of the story.

divotomezove / pixabay.com

“We don't know the magnitude, we don't know the rate. We don't exactly know where insects are declining, and what lineages. So, there's a lot of questions left. But we do know they are in decline. And we probably know enough now that we can act and start making some important conservation decisions.” – David Wagner

This galaxy is one of 10 used in Fermi's dark matter search. Dark matter has been elusive.
NASA. ESO/Digital Sky Survey 2

Dark matter is thought to make up a little over a quarter of the universe. That’s six times more than all the matter ever observed. And, yet, dark matter is called that because it’s a mystery. 

Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

By Eve Zuckoff

The teen brain has long been an enigma to parents, but in recent years it's also become a hot topic for brain researchers. One thing they’ve learned is that teens aren't just inexperienced adults.  

The teen brain is still developing, and the result is a unique set of both strengths and potential weaknesses for teens and their parents to work with.

Punctuation - seen here with a calf in Cape Cod Bay in 2016 - was one of six North Atlantic right whales killed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this month.
Center for Coastal Studies image taken under NOAA permit #14603-1.

Five North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in the past week – six this month. With just over four hundred individuals remaining, and calving rates low, that’s a death toll the critically endangered population can’t afford.

“Panicking seems appropriate, yes,” said Peter Corkeron, who leads the large whale research program at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center.

“With 24 candidates, there are 620 billion trillion possible rankings. When there are many candidates, there are many more ways for people to disagree than to agree.”     -Alexander Strang

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip.
NAIAD/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The FDA has halted trials of fecal transplants after one recipient has died and another is ill. Both were being treated for an intestinal infection called C. difficile and received transplants from an ostensibly healthy donor who turned out to be carrying an antibiotic resistant strain of E. coli. The incident highlights the risks inherent in a procedure that has rapidly gained favor for treating a host of health problems.

Deepfake techniques have brought us Elon Musk's face on a baby. Experts are concerned about more sinister uses.
The Fakening, YouTube, https://tinyurl.com/y5t58fvc

Doctored photos and videos are nothing new. But “deepfake” videos generated by artificial intelligence are causing a new wave of concern.

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