* Prospecting for Planets * Outsourcing Spider Silk * Mapping Dark Matter * Sourcing Stonehenge * Global Warming's Low-hanging Fruit *
Listen to the whole show (pop up player) or use this link to download an mp3. Prospecting for Planets An artist's impression of one of 700 exoplanets discovered so far. (NASA) Dr. Sara Seager is searching for the perfect planet -- the twin of our own Earth. All signs suggest that the Canadian planetary scientist and her colleagues are...
Listen to the whole show (pop up player) or
Prospecting for Planets
- Dr. Sara Seager
- NASA's PlanetQuest site
- NASA's Kepler space telescope
- ESO news release on number of planets in the galaxy
- Sara Seager's previous interview on Quirks
Profile of Sara Seager in "Nature's 10"
Outsourcing Spider Silk
Spider silk is strong, light and thin so scientists have been trying to develop a way to produce it, since spiders tend not to cooperate with them. Dr. Malcolm Fraser, a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame has found a way to "outsource" spider silk production to a more tractable creature. He and his colleagues introduced the gene for spider silk into silkworms. Silkworms, of course, are already experts at silk production, and can be easily farmed, and the silk easily harvested. These genetically modified silkworms produced a silk that was a composite of spider silk and their own silk, which had attractive properties of both. The new and stronger silk has medical applications such as sutures, artificial ligaments and tendons, as well as dressing for wounds, and could also be used for clothing, carpeting and protective garments.
Listen to this item (pop up player) or
Mapping Dark Matter
AAS meeting in Austin Texas (includes program and abstracts)
UBC news release
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope news release
- Dr. Ludovic Van Waerbeke
- Scientific Americanarticle
- Science Nowarticle
- Dr. Ixer's paper is not available online. It was published in Archaeology in Wales 50, by the Council for British Archeology
- National Museum of Wales press release
- BBC Newsstory
- National Geographicarticle
Global Warming's Low-hanging Fruit
Carbon dioxide, produced from the burning of fossil fuels, is the dominant player in global warming. Controlling CO2 emissions has proved a difficult challenge. There are other pollutants that contribute powerfully to global warming, though, and Dr. Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, thinks giving them some attention could lead to huge benefits. Dr. Shindell's latest work has focussed on black carbon (or fine soot) and methane. Between them, they currently contribute about two-thirds of the amount that carbon dioxide does to global warming. They are also significant pollutants in the developing world, with major impacts on health and even agricultural production. Dr. Shindell thinks that controlling these pollutants, which is technically fairly easy, could provide large economic advantages, pay for itself and reduce anticipated global warming by as much as a half a degree Celsius by 2050.
- Paper in Science
- Dr. Drew Shindell
- News release from Goddard Institute for Space Studies
- UNEP report Dr. Shindell contributed to
- Science Newsarticle
Theme music bed copyright Raphaël Gluckstein, Creative Commons License by-nc-nd-2.0