Topic: Earth and Space Science

Droughtsign.square

Current Event April 15, 2015

Turning off the Tap, CA Water Restrictions

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

The drought in California has continued for another season and will be worsened by a lack of snowfall in the region this winter. With no end in sight, California Governor Jerry Brown announced statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history. Listen to learn more about how these new rules will lower water use through mandated cuts and individual incentives.

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Universe.square

Current Event April 10, 2015

A Scientist's Discovery about the Universe

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

Individuals who make extraordinary contributions to science often begin as regular people with a passion. This was certainly the case for Alan Guth, the physicist responsible for our understanding of how the universe formed after the Big Bang. Guth’s love for physics was sparked in high school and continues to drive his work today as a professor at MIT. Listen to learn more about his journey from a small town in New Jersey to physics textbooks around the world.

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Oilstorage.square

Current Event April 5, 2015

Oil Glut

Economics Earth and Space Science

The United States has become one of the world’s largest producers of oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia. But the US might be running out of space to store all the oil. If companies sell off large amounts of oil to open up storage space, what will happen to the price? Listen to learn more about this debate of supply, demand and cost when it comes to oil production, speculation and storage.

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Beyond our solar system

Science Middle School

Gravity Helps Detect a New Planet in Neighboring Solar System

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

Gravity keeps our feet on the ground, it creates a curve ball, and it can also be used to find new planets. The star at the center of our solar system maintains life on Earth and its gravitational pull creates the orbit of planets. But our sun is just one of many stars in an ever expanding universe. Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to our solar system and new technology is allowing us to better understand our neighbor. Observations of Alpha Centauri date back to 1592, but it wasn’t until 2012 that astronomers in Chile were able to identify a planet orbiting one of the stars in Alpha Centauri because of its gravitational wobble. Listen to learn more about the properties and potential of this new planet.

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Calculating a local carbon footprint

Science High School

Calculating a Local Carbon Footprint

Earth and Space Science Technology Climate Change Engineering Human Impacts

Discussion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions often occur at the national level. Nations promise to lower emissions and scientists look for alternative energy sources. But new software is providing data for this emission reduction discussion at a local level. The software allows people to have a view into their carbon emissions on the level of a city, neighborhood, block and even household. Listen to learn how scientists and local officials are working together to track and understand emissions at the local level.

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Earthquake damages hydropower systems

Science Middle School

Earthquake Damages Hydropower Systems

Earth and Space Science Physical Science Energy Forces and Newton's Laws

Earthquakes can have far-reaching consequences not just on homes but on the power infrastructure. A 2008 earthquake in Southwest China left officials and engineers monitoring the structural integrity of enormous hydroelectric dams built to generate power. A fear of flooding caused by a cracked dam led some to wonder if they had taken the strengths of the region, its rivers and irrigation systems, and turned them into a potential threat. Listen to learn how hydroelectric power systems impact places and people.

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Mars.square

Current Event March 6, 2015

Visiting Mars

Earth and Space Science Psychology Space Systems

In 2024 crews of four will be sent to Mars with the goal of creating a permanent human settlement there. The mission is being planned by a non-profit organization in the Netherlands called Mars One. 200,000 people applied to be one of the first four people to make this all expense paid trip. Mars One has narrowed the applicants down to 100. Shirelle Webb, a 22 year old college student from Texas has made the cut. Listen to learn why she wants to be considered for the one-way trip.

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Oil.rig.square

Current Event March 1, 2015

Oklahoma Has More Earthquakes Than California

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science

When Americans think of earthquakes, they often think of California. However, in the last few years, Oklahoma has become the leader in earthquakes in the continental United States. Some areas in Oklahoma experience two to three earthquakes a day! These quakes are being linked to a modern oil production technique known as hydraulic fracturing. It’s the process used to dispose of wastewater created during the extraction of oil from shale. Listen to learn how communities are responding to the quakes and the oil companies that might be creating them.

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Sun.square

Current Event February 24, 2015

How the Sun Works

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Physical Science

The sun is a star that sits at the center of our Solar System. It provides heat and a gravitational pull for all of the planets that orbit it. Scientists have long believed they knew what the sun was made up of and how it worked. When new evidence upset the balance between theory and observation, a solar physicist set out to reproduce the way the sun functions in a laboratory. Listen to hear more about how the sun works.

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Interstellar travel

Science Middle School

Interstellar Travel on Voyager I

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

It is difficult to conceptualize the magnitude of our solar system but the journey of the Voyager spacecrafts can help. In September 1977 NASA launched the Voyager spacecrafts to gain information about the far off giant planets in our solar system. The spacecrafts and the project endured after studying Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and continued to travel away from earth and through our solar system. Thirty-five years after Voyager 1 left Earth, and over 11 billion miles away, it became the first man-made object to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. Listen to learn what researchers have been researching from the edge of our solar system.

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Tsunami science

Science Middle School

Tsunami Warnings Get More Accurate

Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate Physical Science Forces and Newton's Laws

Tsunamis are created by tectonic plates thrusting against each other and then lifting the sea floor and dropping it down, which creates a giant wave. A 2010 earthquake in Chile was caused by a shift in the seafloor. This same shift set off tsunami detection buoys and left scientists waiting for the tsunami to hit. But it ended up being small. Listen to learn more about this quake and how tsunamis are created.

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Engineering a cooler climate

Science High School

Geoengineering Combats Global Warming

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Engineering Human Impacts

Scientists say it’s nearly certain that human activity and fossil fuels are warming the planet. The mainstream discussion focuses on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions. But the field of geoengineering is looking for more large scale and proactive things we can do to offset warming. Some see this as an exciting way to help the planet, others as a threat. Listen to learn about the strategies geoengineers are exploring to prevent further global warming.

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Scandium.square

Current Event February 17, 2015

A Rare Earth Monopoly

Economics Earth and Space Science

As the game Monopoly taught us as children, having a monopoly on something can be very profitable. In the 1990’s one man found himself selling Scandium, a rare chemical element used in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and realized he was the only person with that particular job. Listen to learn how he found this job and how different types of monopolies have different financial outcomes and economic impact.

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New planet

Science Middle School

New Planet on the Edge of Our Solar System

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

In 2014, astronomers discovered a new dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system. This discovery has changed scientists’ understanding of what exists in the solar system beyond the more well known dwarf planet, Pluto. The new planet is a pink ball of ice, and scientists believe there could be an unseen and undiscovered planet larger than Earth in the far reaches of our solar system.

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Volcanoes and geothermal energy

Science Middle School

Volcanoes are a Source of Renewable Geothermal Energy

Economics Earth and Space Science Physical Science Energy

As nations look for clean energy alternatives many are turning to wind and solar, but Indonesia is turning to its volcanoes. Indonesia has 130 active volcanoes. These volcanoes generate geothermal heat that is releases through vents and hot springs throughout the country. Power companies are learning to harness and redirect this heated steam into power plants in order to generate electricity. Indonesia’s geothermal energy potential is huge, but start up costs and oil subsidies might prevent this burgeoning clean energy from taking off.

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Solar energy

Science High School

Supply and Demand of Solar Energy

Economics Earth and Space Science Environment Energy

To lower dependency on fossil fuels, some Americans have installed solar panels on their homes to produce their own clean energy. This decision involves a cost-benefit analysis of cost value and environmental impact. In some regions this cost-benefit ratio has been upset by fracking, and the cheap natural gas that it produces. How does supply and demand impact the cost of energy? How does the cost of energy impact people seeking alternatives such as solar energy? Listen to learn how one family has dealt is dealing with this shifting energy landscape.

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Grand canyons age

Science Middle School

How Old is the Grand Canyon?

Earth and Space Science Geology

The Grand Canyon has amazed visitors and scientist alike since it was discovered. The debate over what created this geologic wonder has been reignited in recent years. Is the Grand Canyon 6 million years old or 70 million? Listen to learn more about this debate between two geologists who have very opposing viewpoints.

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Extreme rains and global warming

Science High School

Extreme Rains and Global Warming

Earth and Space Science Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts

Scientists are using computer computations to link cases of extreme weather to global warming. Scientists set out to link major flooding in England and Wales in the fall of 2000 to climate change. This task was undertaken by scientists and citizens alike - running thousands of computer simulations and comparing the result in a world with climate change and one without it. Listen to learn what these simulations found.

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Snowbank.square

Current Event February 12, 2015

Where to Put the Snow?

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.

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Kids.environ.square

Current Event February 3, 2015

Environmental Kids

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

Going to the movies can be entertaining, but for some young people it can also be life changing. Short documentaries showing young people working to protect the planet are inspiring other youth to take action and stand up for change. Listen to learn more about these documentaries and the efforts they have inspired.

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