Current Event September 5, 2014
Large rocks on the desert floor in California’s Death Valley have puzzled miners and scientists for years. These heavy rocks have long winding trails in the sand behind them but no one had ever seen the rocks move. For the last 60 years scientists have searched for answers but now with the use of GPS and video cameras they have solved the mystery. Listen to this public radio story to engage your student in the mystery and the science behind the moving rocks.
Current Event September 4, 2014
Earthquakes cause damage and create fear and uncertainty. But a new early warning system called Shake Alert is working to mitigate both. This phone app can rapidly detect earthquakes once they have begun, giving people time to prepare. The app is in the early testing stage but it successfully gave a warning before the recent earthquake in California. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about the technology and goals behind this early warning system.
Current Event August 19, 2014
Lakes, rivers,and oceans are places we normally see water, but most of the water on Earth is actually stored underground. This groundwater supply is vital to food production and providing drinking water for American cities. A new study shows that the groundwater of the Colorado River Basin is disappearing at a shocking rate. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about the impacts of this disappearing water supply and the ways that it can be slowed.
Current Event August 11, 2014
The Ebola virus has killed nearly 900 people in West Africa since its outbreak. The virus actually lays dormant in its host, but with human contact, it causes mayhem. There has been increased human contact due to deforestation and mining. Listen to this radio story to learn about the next big virus.
Current Event August 6, 2014
What does a 20% chance of rain mean to you? For people around the country, it can mean many different things. So weather forecasters and meteorologists are trying to be more careful with their words to explain probability in weather predictions. Listen to this public radio story to learn how.
Current Event August 5, 2014
Lego pieces have been washing up along beaches for nearly two decades after a shipping container slipped its cargo. Now, these Legos that were accidentally dropped into the sea are traveling around the world and turning up in places like Holland and Australia. Listen to this story to learn how that's possible.
The "cash for clunkers" program was a limited federal government program in the U.S. that gave people credits to trade in their old, gas guzzling, polluting cars for newer ones. The goal was to get older cars off the road to improve pollution. Because the “cash for clunkers” program did not allow the re-sale of old car engines, junkyards were forced to turn the cars into scrap metal. Listen to learn what this scrap metal can be turned into.
Scientists are creating bacteria batteries by using wastewater to generate electricity. The microbes from sewage can be harnessed to develop microbial fuel cells. The process could provide ways to provide energy in remote places for very little money. Listen to learn how scientists are developing this energy and what they are learning from it.
Global warming is expected to increase summer temperatures making cities even hotter. As concrete and asphalt within cities retain heat, it can increase health risks. The sun mixes with city pollution to create ozone that can irritate people's lungs, especially if they have breathing problems such as asthma. Listen to learn how public health officials are trying to help those living in the hottest areas.
Ice is an essential component of the ecosystem of the Bering Sea region. For example, sea ice cover can dramatically affect the levels of phytoplankton which has enormous effects on the entire food web. In this public radio story we hear about the health of the Bering Sea ecology by studying scientific observations.
Manatees, the vegetarian aquatic mammals that inhabit the waters of Florida, depend on natural warm water springs to survive the winter. However, those warm water sources have diminished over the years due to an increase in development around the area. Listen to learn how local power plants are maintaining the warm water to try to help the manatees.
As the ocean rises, some island nations might disappear and the coastlines change. This is critical for some island nations that are at risk of slipping under water as sea levels rise. Political, economic and personal consequences are factors in how the climate problems in these nations are dealt with. Listen to learn what can be done to prevent these catastrophic changes in our geography.
Current Event July 24, 2014
Diamonds are the hardest materials on Earth—and in space. Neptune’s core is made out of diamonds and still survives the core’s intense pressure. Scientists now study diamond’s resistance to high pressure to see what else it’s useful for. Listen to this radio story to learn more about diamonds.
What happens when human structures and nature come into conflict? Ocean Beach in San Francisco is naturally eroding, but the consequence of this shifting shoreline is that a sewage treatment plant is put in peril. Without intervention, raw sewage could be dumped into the ocean. A rock wall has temporarily stabilized the pipeline, but not without complications. Listen to learn about the other solutions that are being considered, including construction of an artificial dune.
Energy experts are thinking about ways to replace coal that’s burned in American power stations. One alternative is to burn plants because they can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This results in biomass power. Listen to learn about a movement in the Midwest that uses millions of acres of grass for biomass power.
Before World War II, a wind chill table and a formula were developed which scientists followed until it was updated at the beginning of the 21st Century. Scientists are still trying to understand the best way to calculate wind chill. Listen to learn from people who often experience cold temperatures and how some factors can affect how cold we feel more than others.
Human behavior continues to have an effect on marine life under the water. This story highlights how humans make the ocean so noisy. Scientists are worried that the noise is causing a disruption to animals and threatening their existence. Listen to learn what humans are doing and what can be changed.
To copy the way a desert beetle gets water, scientists have designed a membrane that can extract water from the air. Since all air contains water, even in the desert, this could provide a very inexpensive way to supply drinking water. This process is called “biomimicry,” or using ideas from nature to solve technological problems. This discovery could lead to reusable water bottles that refill themselves. Listen to learn why this invention would be inexpensive and how close scientists are coming to making it work.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of putting liquid into shale to remove natural gas. There's concern that when the drillers get rid of wastewater from fracking, it goes into the ground and causes earthquakes. This is happening in places such as Arkansas, and now residents are speaking up to try to put a stop to it. Listen to learn how residents figured out where the earthquakes were coming from and how they are taking the issue to court.