This week's show

True Grit
Jan 14, 2019

True Grit
We're running out of sand.

Without sand, engineering would be stuck in the Middle Ages.  Wooden houses would line mud-packed streets, and Silicon Valley would be, well, just a valley.  Sand is the building material of modern cities, and we use more of this resource than any other except water and air.  Now we’re running out of it. 

Hear why the Roman recipe for making concrete was lost until the 19th century, and about the super-secret mine in North Carolina that makes your smartphone possible. 

Plus, engineered sand turns stormwater into drinking water, and why you might think twice about running barefoot on some tropical beaches once you learn about their biological source.

And, a special report from the coast of Louisiana where livelihoods and ecosystems depend on the successful release of Mississippi sand from levees into sediment-starved wetlands.

You can check out the Louisiana Center for River Studies here, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority here, and an excellent map of the Mississippi here

Guests:

Descripción en español

 

Sci-Fi From the Future
Jan 07, 2019
Sci-Fi From the Future
Our future portrayed in film.

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Are you ready to defer all your personal decision-making to machines?  Polls show that most Americans are uneasy about the unchecked growth of artificial intelligence. The possible misuse of genetic engineering also makes us anxious.

The X-Flies
Dec 31, 2018
The X-Flies
Are insects disappearing?

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(repeat) Insect populations are declining.  But before you say “good riddance,” consider that insects are the cornerstone of many ecosystems.  They are dinner for numerous animal species and are essential pollinators.   Mammals are loved, but they are not indispensable.  Insects are.

Space: Why Go There
Dec 24, 2018
Space: Why Go There?
From satellites to human exploration

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(repeat) It takes a lot of energy and technology to leave terra firma. But why rocket into space when there’s so much to be done on Earth?  From the practical usefulness of satellites to the thrill of exploring other worlds, let us count the ways.

Yule Like This
Dec 17, 2018
Yule Like This
A better holiday though science.

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Fir tree needles embedded in carpet are a holiday headache.  Why not decorate a genetically-modified, needle-retaining tree instead?  It’s just another way that science is relevant to the holidays.  We have more.