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Heather Goldstone

Science Editor and Host of Living Lab

Heather Goldstone is science editor at WCAI and host of Living Lab on The Point, a weekly show exploring how science gets done and makes its way into our daily lives. Goldstone holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as researcher before leaving the lab to pursue journalism. She has reported extensively on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her stories have appeared in outlets ranging from Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News to NPR and PBS News Hour. Most recently, Goldstone hosted Climatide.org, an NPR-sponsored blog exploring present-day impacts of climate change on coastal life.

Ways to Connect

Ticks could spread weaponized bacteria – but  <em>B. burgdorferi</em> that causes Lyme isn’t one of them.
Kelvin Ma/Tufts University / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0

Sam Telford, Tufts University

Could Lyme disease in the U.S. be the result of an accidental release from a secret bioweapons experiment? Could the military have specifically engineered the Lyme disease bacterium to be more insidious and destructive – and then let it somehow escape the lab and spread in nature?

'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X has stayed at the top of the charts for longer than any other song.
Courtesy Photo

“Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X’s country/western rap hit, is now not only genre-breaking, it’s record-breaking. It has held Billboard’s number one spot for 17 weeks, breaking the record previously set by the 2017 hit "Despacito" and, back in 1995, "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz to Men.

Dan Zitterbart of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is developing thermal infrared cameras to help vessels avoid whale strikes.
Dan Zitterbart, WHOI

Eight critically endangered North Atlantic right whales have died this summer, several of them hit by ships.

In the last two years alone, 20 North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in Canadian waters. Of the 11 that could be studied, seven were found to have died as a result of vessel strikes.

That has prompted Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans to announce a new round of funding to develop better ways for ships to find whales and avoid hitting them. 

One of those technologies is thermal infrared imaging.

The Columbine High School shooting has shaped public perception of mass shootings.
Seraphimblade / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

Twenty dead in El Paso, Texas; nine in Dayton, Ohio. Three - including two children - killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. And a dozen shot at the Brownsville Old Timers' Block Party in Brooklyn.

Daniel Foster/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

"There are some benefits to sounding like things we've heard before. At the same time, if something's exactly the same as what we've heard before, it's not going to get any attention. There's nothing new about it. So there's this nice blend of novelty and familiarity, of similarity and difference, of new and old. You can almost think about it as a Goldilocks effect - not too hot, not too cold, but just right - that really helps things in culture succeed." - Jonah Berger

Billionaire Sean Parker is pouring money into science and treating scientists like celebrities.
@Kmeron, https://tinyurl.com/yy7ffdw6

You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that a California billionaire had thrown an extravagant party for friends that included a custom ice sculpture that funneled high end whiskey into guest's glasses.

But what about if those guests were scientists and the party was to celebrate a Nobel Prize?

Photo Courtesy: Sue Natali

Extreme heat in Europe and the continental U.S. has made headlines this summer. What you may not have heard about is what’s been going on in Alaska: 90 degree temps in the arctic, wildfires and rare lightning storms, and the ground literally collapsing due to the melting of permafrost.

Tatiana Schlossberg looked into the environmental footprint of several sectors of the fashion industry.
Emily Orpin, https://tinyurl.com/yxp7kry9

We've all heard of conspicuous consumption -- big fancy houses, big fancy cars, designer clothes, and luxurious vacations. That kind of lifestyle comes with a big price tag and a big carbon footprint. But here's the thing. We are all consumers. And the food we buy and the clothes we wear have environmental impacts that we often underestimate or ignore altogether.

A new theory of gravity has been shown to form spiral-shaped galaxies in a computer simulation. This image is the night sky above Paranal taken by astronomer Yuri Beletsky in 2007. The laser points to the galactic center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Yuri Beletsky, https://tinyurl.com/y6nnetk6

Einstein's theory of general relativity was revolutionary when it was introduced. Over the past century, aspects of the theory have been proven in experiment after experiment and much of it has become an assumed underpinning of daily life, even for non-scientists.

Take Einstein’s description of gravity.

Gravity is gravity, right? How strong it is depends on the mass of the objects involved. Or maybe not.

Melted permafrost slumping into a river in Alaska's Yukon Kuskokwim Delta.
Courtesy of Sue Natali, Woods Hole Research Center

"Once you have an abrupt event like this - the ground cracks and opens up - it's not something that can just be undone by a cold year, because you've already exposed all this ground. Some of the material is just falling into lakes. You're losing ground material and you just can't go back in a human relevant timeframe." - Sue Natali

This week on Living Lab Radio:

  • Climate scientist Sue Natali has just returned from the Alaskan Arctic, where she witnessed extreme heat, wildfires, lightning storms, and the ground literally collapsing due to permafrost melting. She says she’s never seen anything like it in her years of Arctic research, and warns it is a sign of abrupt and accelerating climate change.

Ernesto del Aguila III, NHGRI / Public Domain

CRISPR gene editing. It's gone from an obscure biotech term to a household name in the past few years, in no small part due to a scientist who last year announced that he'd not only modified the DNA of human embryos but that two baby girls had been born carrying the edits he'd made.

The CRISPR system is not the only way to edit DNA, but it is faster, easier, and less expensive than alternatives. It also has the potential to be far more precise.

Interpreting a poem and interpreting scientific data are both like putting together a puzzle.
Jared Tarbell/Flickr: sky puzzle / CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/2LzfEmn

Science and poetry aren’t necessarily seen as complementary - and certainly not overlapping - pursuits. But Elisa New, Harvard University professor and host of Poetry in America, has been seeking out scientists to read and talk about poetry. And she says scientists and poets have more in common than is widely recognized.

Meat of the future might be quite different from meat of the past.
Stanley Kubrick, photographer / LOOK Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ6-2352., CC BY-ND
A health worker vaccinates a man who has been in contact with an Ebola affected person in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January, 2019.
World Bank / Vincent Tremeau / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, http://bit.ly/2SoMmYa

The World Health Organization has declared the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a global health emergency. Over the past year, more than 2,500 people have been infected and close to 1,700 have died. It is the second deadliest Ebola outbreak ever.

A health worker vaccinates a man who has been in contact with an Ebola affected person in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January, 2019.
World Bank / Vincent Tremeau / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, http://bit.ly/2SoMmYa

"One of the things that we've learned from the West Africa outbreak of Ebola and now the [Democratic Republic of Congo] outbreak is that you can do ethically sound and scientifically sound clinical research within the setting of an ongoing outbreak. We have really learned a lot, and hopefully with the therapeutic trial we'll learn even more." - Anthony Fauci

This week on Living Lab Radio:

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