Living Lab from WCAI

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Living Lab on WCAI is a forum for the stories behind science headlines — the people who do the research, the unexpected ways that science gets done, and how the results make their way into our everyday lives.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-06-16 19:46
last episode published
2019-06-16 16:45
publication frequency
1.72 days
Heather Goldstone author  
WCAI owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Science & Medicine Natural Sciences



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

The Defense Department is worried about climate change – and also a huge carbon emitter

By Neta C. Crawford , Boston University Republished from Scientists and security analysts have warned for more than a decade that global warming is a potential national security concern . They project that the consequences of global...

Road to Measles Elimination is Predictable, But Can be Rocky

Matthew Ferrari , Pennsylvania State University and Amy Winter , Johns Hopkins University The United States has seen more measles cases so far in 2019 than in any year since elimination was declared in 2000 – meaning the disease is no longer endemic in...

Living Lab Radio: June 16, 2019

"They act as if climate change-related inundation at their bases, and challenges to operations, and even climate war, are almost a fait accompli without recognizing their own contribution. So, the first step would be for them to put the two things toge...

MIT Will Discuss 5G And The Future Of Work

The fifth generation of wireless technology—5G—promises faster service, more data, and more devices connected to each other. U.S. cell phone companies have unveiled new 5G phones and small 5G networks this year, and more is coming. But it’s not just ab...

Who Are The 1 in 4 American Women Who Choose Abortion?

By Luu D. Ireland , Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Massachusetts Medical School The abortion debate is at the center of U.S. political dialogue. Voices from both sides flood social media feeds, newspapers, radio and tel...

Alzheimer's Researcher Rudi Tanzi Says We're Seeing The Light of Day

Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of death and affects an estimated five and a half million Americans. Decades of research have greatly improved our understanding of how the disease develops, from plaques of a protein called amyloid beta, to tangl...

Making Catch-And-Release Safer For Sharks

Say the word “shark” to a New Englander these days and the mind jumps straight to great white sharks, which have seen a remarkable increase here in recent years. But great whites aren't the only sharks around. And it turns out we know little about many...

Living Lab Radio: June 9, 2019

"The plaque is like the match, the tangles, like the brushfires that spread. You can live with it. But once there's neuroinflammation, that's the forest fire. And that's self-feeding. As neurons die, you get more neuroinflammation. Neuroinflammation ca...

Climate Change Forcing North Atlantic Right Whales to Search for Food

North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered, with just over 400 individuals left, and their numbers declining. The leading causes of death are well-known: right whales are susceptible to being struck by ships, and over 83 percent have shown e...

It's Raining Plastic

When Greg Wetherbee and his colleagues started collecting rainwater in early 2017, microplastics were the last thing on their minds. What they were looking for was evidence of air pollution washing out in the rain. They found that, but they also found ...

Cranberries Could Help Slow the Spread of Antibiotic Resistance

If you've ever had a urinary tract infection, somebody has probably told you to drink cranberry juice. The idea that cranberries have infection-fighting powers has been around a long time. Now, there's research to support it. Scientists at McGill Unive...

2019 Could Turn Out to be a “Classic Example” of Climate Change

Record rainfall in California. Record flooding in the mid-West. Record tornado activity in the central and southeastern U.S. And, while federal forecasters are calling for a near-normal level of hurricane activity this summer, the first named storm for...

FULL SHOW: June 2, 2019

"The molecules themselves - the ones from cranberry or the ones from maple - they're not actually killing the bacteria. And that's a really interesting part of the of the research. They're not actually killing the bacteria, so they don't necessarily ma...

Opinion: The March For Science Fizzled, But Didn't Fail

The first March for Science drew hundreds of thousands of scientists and science enthusiasts to events around the world. Some estimates put the total number of participants worldwide at one million.

Can Super Reefs Save Corals?

Coral reefs around the world face a host of threats from human activities – from destructive fishing practices, to pollution, and of course, climate change. Reefs in the Caribbean have been in decline. Close to half of the corals on the Great Barrier R...

Study: MeToo Movement Improved How People View Victims Of Sexual Harassment

In the fall of 2017, actor Alyssa Milano responded to accusations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein by tweeting. “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” she wrote. The MeToo movement had actu...

A Fresh Look At Keeping Time

So, it happened. And you probably didn’t notice. But the long-awaited, new definition of the kilogram went into effect this past week. The metal cylinder that has defined the kilo for over a century has now been replaced with a mathematical equation ba...

Living Lab Radio--May 26 and 27, 2019

On Living Lab Radio this week: Scientists are working on a new definition of the second. A study started as the MeToo movement ramped up, suggests that women sharing their stories may have helped alleviate the stigma of reporting sexual harassment on t...

What We Can Learn From the Regeneration Powers of Worms

Imagine losing an arm or leg and thinking “No problem! It will grow back.” Now, imagine finding a bump on your big toe one day, only to have it grow into a complete clone of you that buds off and walks away. Laughable, right? But that’s exactly what ea...

Knowing A Few Words In A Foreign Language Is A Good Thing

Nine out of 10 elementary schools in Europe offer children the opportunity to learn multiple languages, but only a quarter of American elementary schools offer instruction in a language other than English. And enrollment in language classes at the seco...

Trust Needed to Overcome Dueling Fact Perceptions

In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries declared “post-truth” the word of the year, and many have since embraced the idea that we are living in a post-truth era. But Morgan Marietta, a political scientist at UMass Lowell and co-author of One Nation, Two Realities...

FULL SHOW: May 19, 2019

“If you cut them into small pieces, each of those pieces will become a whole new worm, instead of dying. And, in addition to that, they also can make clones of themselves. So, imagine one day you see a little bump on your feet, and then that gradually ...

Grappling with the Roles of Human and Artificial Intelligence in a Complex World

The Internet and artificial intelligence are changing the way we live. That’s not a surprise. We fret about how distracted we've become, or about whether robots will take our jobs. Those are real concerns. But the impact of computing technology could b...

Just Five Types Of Fish Dominate Our Fish Counters. It Doesn't Have To Be This Way.

Dozens of species of fish and shellfish are caught in New England’s waters. But only a handful show up in most seafood retailers. You can probably list them: cod, haddock, scallops, clams, lobster. Now, it’s not just anecdotal. A citizen science initia...

The Frozen Zoo: Noah’s Ark for an Era of Genomic Tools and Rampant Extinction

Headlines trumpeted the dire news: a new U.N. report says human beings have put one million species at risk of extinction within decades. They point the finger at five major culprits – habitat destruction, exploitation, invasive species, pollution, and...
Heather Goldstone author

Headlines From Nature News

Each month, we check in with the editors at Nature News for a roundup of top science headlines. This time, we talk to multimedia editor Benjamin Thompson of the Nature News podcast and video team.

FULL SHOW: May 12, 2019

“There's no time we're going to be able to collect more biodiversity than now, because it's declining. So, I think if we were to have a a conversation with the future, they would tell us: ‘Biodiversity is declining. Just bank as much of it as you can, ...

Climate Change Poised to Play Major Role in 2020 Elections

A new CNN poll finds that climate change is the most prevalent issue on the minds of Democratic voters. Eighty two percent of survey respondents told CNN that they think it is very important that the Democratic for president support taking aggressive a...

Establishing a Shark Shelter in the Waters Around the Phillipines

When it comes to sharks, great whites and the risk to human swimmers have dominated public attention in the northeast recently. But, there are hundreds of species of sharks, and for most of them, in most of the world, humans are a far greater threat to...

Can We Save the Right Whales?

It’s estimated there are just over 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and that number has been declining in recent years. The two main causes of death are both related to human activities – ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. In part...

Creating Gardens That Double as Habitat

Habitat loss is one of the greatest threats to the diversity of plants and animals on Earth. Parks and wild lands are essential for conserving ecosystems. But it turns out our back yards and even urban balconies can also play an important role. “There ...

FULL SHOW: May 5, 2019

" The current data suggests - and certainly the behavior of current candidates for the Democratic nomination strongly suggests - that this will be the first national election where climate change ends up playing a major role." - Ed Maibach, George Maso...

Americans Sitting More Than Ever

We spend a lot of our time on our rear ends. The average adult in the U.S. sits for more than six hours each day, while most teenagers are seated for over eight hours of the day. That’s according to new research in the Journal of the American Medical A...
Lexi Krupp author

The Endangered Species Act By The Numbers

There are few environmental debates more heated than whether or not to add - or drop - an animal from the Endangered Species Act . Case in point: the debate over whether or not gray wolves in the American West are sufficiently recovered to deserve remo...
Heather Goldstone author

Four Lessons from a Century of Pandemics

The Spanish flu infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide, and killed tens of millions. A century later, we have vaccines, antibiotics, advanced life support, and high-tech monitoring networks. And, yet, disease outbreaks - from Ebola, to Zika...
Heather Goldstone author

How to Know if Robots Are Coming for Your Job

Retailers like Walmart are embracing robots – here's how workers can tell if they'll be replaced Beth Humberd , University of Massachusetts Lowell and Scott F. Latham , University of Massachusetts Lowell Walmart recently said it plans to deploy robots ...
Heather Goldstone author

FULL SHOW: April 28, 2019

"Scientists - not just scientists, anyone - can fall into the trap of thinking that once we have a certain amount of knowledge, we really understand how things work, we don't need to question it anymore. But the lessons of these epidemics is that as mu...
Heather Goldstone author

The Impossible Burger Raises Questions About Health and Environment

First, it was White Castle and Red Robin. Then, Burger King. Vegan meat substitutes are popping up at fast food chains across the nation, raising questions about how much better they really are for the environment, and for you.

Invasive Reed Could Help New England Salt Marshes Stay Above Rising Waters

By Judith Weis , Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University Newark Many invasive species are found along U.S. coasts, including fishes, crabs, mollusks and marsh grasses. Since the general opinion is that invasives are harmful, land m...
Heather Goldstone author

Imaginary Worlds Not So Far Off

Imagine a world in which your toaster will only toast bread from approved vendors and your dishwasher will only clean approved dishes using specific brands of soap. Think that’s far-fetched? Cory Doctorow doesn’t.

Governments Clamp Down On Energy-Hungry Cryptocurrencies

A strange whirring noise caught the attention of teachers at Puman Middle School in China’s Hunan province last year. For months, the sound hummed throughout the night and over the school’s holiday breaks. The internet slowed. The building’s electricit...
Lexi Krupp author

Whole Show: Living Lab Radio of April 21, 2019

Living Lab Radio this week.

New Maps Show Where Air Pollution Wreaks Most Damage In The U.S.

Air pollution triggers the premature death of more than 100,000 people each year — around the population of Cambridge, Massachusetts. That’s according to new research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week.
Lexi Krupp author

Filling Voids and Fixing Problems in Autonomous Vehicle Algorithms

It’s been just over a year since the first pedestrian was hit and killed by a self-driving car. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about the algorithms that drive autonomous vehicles. We’ve heard that they are safer than human drivers, and that researcher...

Osprey Comeback Is A Welcome Success Story

When an English farmer spotted an osprey a century ago, she would aim her shotgun at the broad silhouette and shoot. “They were seen as vermin,” says Alan Poole, a senior research associate at Cornell University.
Lexi Krupp author

A Black Hole Photo, A Crash Landing On The Moon, The First Landing Of Three Boosters

It’s been a big week for space exploration, and a bit of a roller-coaster.

FULL SHOW: April 14, 2019

"Typically, when we think about regulating emissions, we regulate based on the amount of emissions from some source in some given area. What this work allows us to do is regulate based on the damage of that emission. So, ideally, you would want to focu...

ICYMI: Headlines with Nature News

Each month we check in with the reporters at Nature News for a roundup of recent science headlines. This month, Nature’s multi-media editor Shamini Bundell brings us these stories.

More Diversity Needed in Human Genetics Research

A new analysis finds that 78% of people represented in human genetic research are of European descent. 10% are of Asian descent, while people of African, Hispanic and all other ethnicities make up less than four percent. Less than four percent.

Last Trip to the Moon Holds Timely Lessons for Earth

The U.S. is shooting for the moon, again. In March, Vice President Mike Pence said he wants to see a NASA lunar mission in the next five years. While experts debate the reality of this goal , the astronauts who already visited the moon nearly 50 years ...
Lexi Krupp author