Current Event June 11, 2015
A new scientific tool can edit or change genes. It can target genes that cause problems, like disease, and snip them out of the DNA, sort of like scissors at a molecular level. The potential to change the human genome has some scientists celebrating and others worrying about the ethical implications. Listen to learn more about this technique and the debate it has provoked.
Current Event November 11, 2014
Bacteria and viruses are the source of most illnesses. A new source of ancient viruses has been found in the Canadian Arctic in the poo of caribou. Caribou, also known as reindeer, have lived and pooped in cold weather for millennia, so their frozen excrement is a source for ancient viruses. This public radio story introduces us to the scientist who discovered the DNA of two new viruses in 700 year old frozen Caribou waste.
Current Event November 4, 2014
Human embryonic stem cells are able to become any kind of tissue in the body. Because of this, many researchers see huge potential for curing and preventing disease. Up until now this has been theory, but a new study has had early success in using stem cells to improve the eyesight of the blind. This sound-rich story takes you into the operating room to hear the eye surgery and meet someone whose life was changed by the procedure.
Current Event October 23, 2014
Illness can be caused by viruses and bacteria, but some very serious illnesses come from your actual genes, your DNA. Scientist have been able to identify genes that cause illness but until now they haven’t been able to fix them. A new discovery creates the framework for editing these problematic genes. This public radio story tells the unlikely story of this discovery and discusses its potential.
Current Event October 3, 2014
It is apple picking season and apple lovers are gearing up to eat some tasty and unique apples. The apples we are used to seeing in the supermarket are the same basic size and shape. And they have the familiar flavor profiles. But there are more apple varieties than you might imagine. There's a whole world of biodiversity in apples. This public radio story takes you to a heirloom apple orchard in Vermont that specializes in grafting and maintaining historic varieties of apples. Get ready to visualize (and almost taste!) some unique looking apples.
A new way of looking at live cells is revolutionizing our understanding of how molecular life works. However, it is how how one scientist managed to complete his study despite facing World War II in Japan that makes his discovery so intriguing. By using an old machine gun, Shinya Inoue made a microscope that enabled him to start to see how a cell divides. Listen to learn how Inoue finished his microscope and why it is so important to the science community.
The study of genes is moving toward a new frontier. There is a new field studying microorganisms which exist in living organisms. Microbes control every process on earth, and a human is made up of 90% bacteria. However, we know very little about these microbes. There is now a newer, more efficient way, to study this bacteria. From this scientists can discover new species and genes. Listen to learn how the study of microorganisms became so important.
Small green sea slugs puzzle scientists because they can photosynthesize energy, just like plants. These Eastern Emerald Elysia sea slugs also appear to have several different types of DNA. Scientists are hopeful these sea slugs might help them discover more about human DNA and treat human diseases. Listen to learn how these tiny creatures are teaching us more about genetics.
Game wardens in California are now using DNA fingerprinting analysis to help protect illegal poaching of wildlife. There are many species, from large game to shellfish, which are being illegally caught or killed for food. Since there are so few game wardens to patrol the state, they are relying on forensic evidence to help track poachers. Listen to learn about the latest in DNA fingerprinting technology.
Changes to a neighborhood park in Illinois have affected the Northern White-Footed mice who live in the forest nearby. Scientists who study living mice today compare them to museum samples of dead mice to understand how they've changed and why. What they are finding is that the mice are growing much faster than their ancestors. Listen to learn why the mice are changing and why no one picked up on it sooner.
Scientists are trying to settle the age-old question of nature versus nurture. To test it out, scientists experiment on ducks to help determine whether animals are born with no knowledge of the world and only learn things from experience, or whether they emerge with some knowledge already intact. Listen to hear how the experiment is done and what it can tell us about nature versus nurture.
More money is spent on treating cancer than preventing it within the United States. However, scientists are getting closer to finding out if cell growth within our bodies promotes already existing cancer. Scientists are examining microscopic cells to test if certain spices and foods affect the reduction of cell growth. Listen to learn about the budget behind cancer research and how human behavior can increase the chance of cancer.