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.

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

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

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

Naomi Oreskes
Sage Ross,

Many of our most important social and political debates have science at their core – from climate change to genetically modified foods. When policymakers want expert input on what we know about these subjects, they often turn to massive synthesis reports known as assessments. 

Figures from Aaron Slepkov's experiments in microwaving grapes and other watery orbs.
Slepkov Biophotonics Lab, Trent University

It’s not every day that a scientific study reads like great literature, but here’s how a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences begins:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a pair of grape hemispheres exposed to intense microwave radiation will spark, igniting a plasma.”

CBD, a component of marijuana and hemp, is being marketed for anxiety and a host of other health problems. There is currently little or no science behind the claims.
Jeoy Pena /

Jenny Wilkerson, University of Florida and Lance McMahon, University of Florida

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become a household name. On many social media sites, people suggest “but have you tried CBD oil?” on posts pertaining to any health-related issue.


The White House Budget plan for fiscal year 2020 is out. It’s a record $4.7 trillion, but science agencies and activities take cuts almost across the board. The president envisions an EPA budget cut by almost a third and a decrease of about 12 percent at the National Institutes of Health. 

Image by cytis /

"There's plenty of sciencethat supports that CBD might have therapeutic indications. Obviously, for intractable pediatric epilepsy, CBD does have clinical validity. However, for all the other claims regarding CBD, we just don't quite know scientifically whether or not it's really going to hold water."  - Jenny Wilkerson

This week on Living Lab Radio:

Dr. Zhao Qin

Technological advances have always influenced art. Think synthetic dyes or the invention of photography. Now, artists are diving into the realms of nanotechnology, genetics, and artificial intelligence. And MIT is leading the way. 

One installation at MIT, called Spider’s Canvas, features a three-dimensional spider web that makes sounds. It was one of the works shown during a February 26 symposium at MIT.

NASA Satellite Snapshot

Charges against Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft for soliciting a prostitute have focused public attention on the problem of sex trafficking. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are nearly five million people in forced sexual exploitation around the globe at any given time. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to modern slavery.

Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin (third from left) was honored with a 2018 Disobedience Award for her #MeTooSTEM activism.
Jon Tadiello, MIT Media Lab /

A leading voice in the fight against sexual harassment in academia has been denied tenure at Vanderbilt University, and some see it as a cautionary tale of the price women pay for speaking out.

National Institutes of Health (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Each month we take a tour of science headlines from our friends at the Journal Nature and the Nature podcast. 

Neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin has been recognized for her work against sexual harassment in science, but may lose her research position at Vanderbilt University.
Jon Tadiello, MIT Media Lab /

"The take-home message for anyone watching this from afar is: 'Ooh, you take a lot of risk when you report in a sexual harassment investigation.'"  - Meredith Wadman

This week on Living Lab Radio:

The winners of the 2018 Quantum Matters™ Science Communication Competition Award at the Museum of Science
Museum of Science

You’ve heard of the space race and the arms race, but there’s another international race that many of us have never even heard of. It’s the race to make quantum mechanics the basis for new technology.

Quantum physicists say we are in the midst of a revolution that could transform computing, energy, medicine, and things that we can’t imagine yet. 

L. Lerner


People who love the ocean know it can be blue, or green, or gray, depending on the weather. It’s a different color in the tropics than here in New England or up in the Arctic.

But here’s a factor most people probably have not considered when it comes to ocean color – climate change.   

Miguel Oros / unsplash

Life expectancies have increased around the globe in recent decades. That is, in large part, due to the decline in infectious diseases. But, for some of the world's poorest countries, that progress has come with a price - widespread unemployment and skyrocketing chronic health problems.

Students and faculty organized a research stoppage and teach-in on March 4th, 1969, to protest academic scientists' role in the military-industrial complex.
Courtesy of Florence Haseltine

Fifty years ago, on March 3rd and 4th, 1969, students and faculty at MIT walked out of their labs and gathered to protest the Vietnam war. There were, of course, plenty of anti-war protests on college campuses at that time. But this one was different.

Physicist Dominic Walliman's map of physics.
Dominic Walliman /

“The term quantum leap has already pervaded our vocabulary. We use it to mean something magical - something that challenges the imagination - even if many people who use it don't quite understand what it means."  -Evelyn Hu

This week on Living Lab Radio: