Science

What Can Marmots Teach Us About Plastics?

Jul 18, 2013
John Breitsch / flickr user - breitschbirding

At the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, just over the Maroon Bells from Aspen, a number of long-term field studies are pumping out reams of scientific data. In part two of our report on the laboratory, science reporter Ellis Robinson looked at a study on marmots that raises questions about the abundance of plastics in human society.

The Marmots of RMBL

Jul 18, 2013
Ellis Robinson, Aspen Public Radio

A colony of small mammals lives high above Crested Butte, just on the other side of West Maroon Pass from Aspen.  And, for more than fifty years, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory there has been watching the daily lives of these yellow-bellied marmots.  It’s one of the longest running animal studies in the world.  Our science reporter Ellis Robinson spent several days hanging out with the marmots and the “marmot-teers” who study them.  In the first of two reports, Ellis explores what data the researchers are collecting.

LANL (China, S, Mazzoleni, C, Gorkowski, K, Aiken, AC, Dubey, MK; Nature Communications, 2013)

As the country recovers from the worst wildland firefighting accident in years, there’s more attention on fire crews and the homes they’re trying to protect. But an often invisible result of wildfire can have a big effect on human health and climate... even after the flames die down. Science correspondent Ellis Robinson takes a look at the effects of wildfire smoke on air quality. And that means understanding something called a “tarball.”

Mountain Edition - July 4th, 2013

Jul 4, 2013

Aspen has a full city council again. Former council member Dwayne Romero has been selected to fill a vacancy created by the election of Mayor Steve Skadron.

Also returning this week are the mammoth and mastodon bones recovered in Old Snowmass. The fossils are on public display not far from where the animals died tens of thousands of years ago.

We talk with a biologist about tree killing insects and how they actually affect human health.

Our science reporter does what everyone’s mother says not to…look straight at the sun.

And we’ll hear about a work of art about the Colorado River that’s on display in downtown Chicago.

 

Study Gives "Tree of Life" New Meaning

Jul 3, 2013
John Hritz / Flickr (user jhritz)

A sudden loss in the number of trees around you may slightly increase your chances for death. That's what a study from the US Forest Service published earlier this year suggests. Scientists found that areas with mass-tree deaths from beetle infestations had  increased numbers of cardiovascular and lower-respiratory related deaths.

Afternoon of Conversation

Elena Kagan, Eric Lander, Robert McDuffie, Anna Deavere Smith, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Katie Couric, Dick Costolo, Jeffrey Rosen, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly, James Fallows, Beth A. Brooke, Eric Cantor, Ramesh Ponnuru

Staring at the Sun, Looking for Answers and Awe

Jun 28, 2013
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center - flickr

The Aspen Ideas Fest kicked off its second day of heady talks and colloquia on Thursday. Attendees and speakers from all over gathered to discuss the most pressing issues of culture, media, and foreign policy facing us here on earth. But others were turning their backs, literally, on our planet to get a different viewpoint. Science reporter Ellis Robinson explains.

Mountain Edition - June 27th, 2013

Jun 27, 2013

In a matter of days, it’ll be illegal to give family or friends a gun... without having them getting a  background check. Today we’ll hear about confusion over details of the new transfer law.

That and other new Colorado laws have frustrated local enforcement officials--enough that they’ve filed a federal civil rights lawsuit. We’ll talk with a Roaring Fork Valley sheriff about why he signed on with that effort.

Our science reporter delves into the tricky question of how air quality is monitored... even when pollution is coming from hundreds of miles away.

A major group of wildfires continues to burn in southwestern Colorado. That’s as Stage One fire restrictions kick into place for parts of the Roaring Fork Valley. We’ll find out why many in Pitkin County are at risk if a wildfire does break out nearby.

We’ll take a tour of one of the most energy efficient houses in the world. Amory Lovins is Chief Scientist for Rocky Mountain Institute. He takes us on a tour of his Old Snowmass home... spoiler alert, it has bananas, too.

Tracking Air Quality in the Roaring Fork Valley

Jun 26, 2013
Drew's News at Roaring Fork High School

The US Supreme Court is in the news for decisions on same sex marriage and voting rights... but the highest court in the land is also planning to look at air pollution. At issue is who's to blame when air quality monitors go way past the legal limit. The court announced Monday it will soon review a 2011 EPA rule... one designed to help protect communities downwind of power plants. Part of the problem is figuring out how to regulate air pollution that goes across state lines. Aspen Public Radio’s science reporter wondered how air quality is measured and tracked. From a field in Carbondale, here’s Ellis Robinson. 

What Physics Teaches Us About Cells

Jun 19, 2013
Jim Gipe / Pivot Media

Physics is often introduced to young minds by teaching them to calculate the trajectory of a baseball or the time it took the apple to drop from the tree and bonk Newton on the head. But maybe kids should learn how to calculate the speed at which nutrients zoom around our bodies, or the force of proteins building and tearing-down structures inside of cells. Now, the fundamental toolbelt of physics is being applied to better understand diseases like Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's, according to physicist Jennifer Ross.

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