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Playlist: Science

Compiled By: Jeff Conner

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Big Picture Science (Series)

Produced by Big Picture Science

Most recent piece in this series:

True Grit

From Big Picture Science | Part of the Big Picture Science series | 54:00

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(repeat)  Without sand, engineering would be stuck in the Middle Ages.  Wooden houses would line mud-packed streets, and Silicon Valley would be, well, just a valley.  Sand is the building material of modern cities, and we use more of this resource than any other except water and air.  Now we’re running out of it. 

Hear why the Roman recipe for making concrete was lost until the 19th century, and about the super-secret mine in North Carolina that makes your smartphone possible. 

Plus, engineered sand turns stormwater into drinking water, and why you might think twice about running barefoot on some tropical beaches once you learn about their biological source.

And, a special report from the coast of Louisiana where livelihoods and ecosystems depend on the successful release of Mississippi sand from levees into sediment-starved wetlands.

Guests:

Sidedoor (Series)

Produced by Smithsonian

Most recent piece in this series:

Wild Orchid Mystery

From Smithsonian | Part of the Sidedoor series | 22:47

Side_door_logo_640x640_small You probably know orchids as the big, colorful flowers found in grocery stores and given as housewarming gifts. But those tropical beauties represent only a fraction of the estimated 25,000 orchid species worldwide. While their showy relatives fly off the shelves, North America’s more understated native orchids are disappearing in the wild. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are working to protect these orchids and their habitats, but first they need solve a surprisingly difficult problem: how to grow one.

Planetary Radio (Series)

Produced by Mat Kaplan

Most recent piece in this series:

Reflections of Humanity in a Spacesuit for Moonwalkers

From Mat Kaplan | Part of the Planetary Radio series | 28:50

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Host Mat Kaplan in a long and fascinating conversation with Nicholas de Monchaux, author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo. This great book is about much more than creation of the suits that allowed humans to walk and work on the Moon. Jason Davis shares pointers on looking for LightSail 2 overhead, while Bruce Betts provides a solar sail update in this week’s What’s Up. And you might win a Planetary Radio t-shirt!  Learn more about this week’s guests and topics at:  http://www.planetary.org/multimedia/planetary-radio/show/2019/0814-2019-spacesuit-nicholas-de-monchaux.html

Climate One (Series)

Produced by Climate One

Most recent piece in this series:

2019-08-16 Superpower: How Renewables are Transforming America’s Energy Future

From Climate One | Part of the Climate One series | 58:57

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Host: Greg Dalton

Guests:
Russell Gold, Reporter, the Wall Street Journal; Author, Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy (Simon & Schuster, 2019)
Jigar Shah, Founder, SunEdison; Co-Host, The Energy Gang podcast
Lynn Doan, Team Leader, Power and Gas-Americas, Bloomberg News

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on August 5, 2019.

What’s new in renewable energy?

In April, 23 percent of America’s electricity came from renewables, surpassing coal for the first time. Ten states, and Puerto Rico and Washington DC, have policies in place to run on 100 percent clean power in coming decades.

Achieving that presents a host of challenges, from updating an aging electricity grid to financing energy innovation to figuring out how to transport and store the renewable power.

 

Fortunately, says author Russell Gold, we have the talent to take those challenges on.

“There's a lot of creativity in the space right now,” says Gold.  “There's creativity on reducing demand, there's creativity in how we aggregate solar… and frankly, given what's going on with the climate, we sort of need to be trying them all -- simultaneously.”

And if we succeed, we stand to gain a lot more than just cleaner air, a stable planet and lower electricity bills.  We also open the door to a wealth of employment opportunities. Bloomberg’s Lynn Doan says this is the perfect time to diversify a sector that has been traditionally dominated by white males – what she calls the industry’s “dirty little secret.”

“The renewable energy industry is creating more jobs than any other industry in the United States,” says Doan.  “The solar technician and wind technician jobs -- those are the two fastest-growing professions in the U.S. today.

“So if women and minorities are missing out on this renewable energy industry opportunity, then they’re being left out of the biggest job boom that America has to offer today.”

Something else to look forward to? The end of the gas-guzzler. Jigar Shah, co-host of The Energy Gang podcast, says drivers won’t miss having to stop to fill up their tank. “It’s not like an enjoyable experience; it’s a necessary evil for what they need for mobility,” he tells the audience.  “And I think people are starting to realize now that with these 200-plus mile range electric vehicles, you really can go across the country.”

 

RELATED LINKS:

Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy (Russell Gold)

The Energy Gang Podcast

Women Are Missing Out on the Biggest Job Boom in America (Bloomberg)

 

Sound Ecology (Series)

Produced by Jessica Eden

Most recent piece in this series:

Sound Ecology: Northern Harrier

From Jessica Eden | Part of the Sound Ecology series | 01:59

Sound_ecology_logo_small An audio postcard featuring the northern harrier. Formerly called a marsh hawk, naturalist Ken Burton shares some life history about this easily identified raptor.

Got Science? (Series)

Produced by Got Science

Most recent piece in this series:

Keeping the Power On During a Climate Crisis

From Got Science | Part of the Got Science? series | 28:44

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In this episode Julie talks about:

  • The extra load heat adds to the electric grid
  • What a more climate conscious energy system would look like
  • How complicated the job of a grid operator is
  • Why her dinner party invitations are dwindling

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