science

Most of the soybeans, like those pictured here, and corn grown in the United States are geneticall modified. Some new varities are not required to undergo federal regulation.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

In a brightly-lit lab at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, workers with tweezers hunch over petri dishes scattered with sprouted sorghum seeds. Sorghum produces grain and also a sugary stalk.

But this sorghum has a genetic tweak, explains plant scientist Tom Clemente. Instead of sugar, it’s engineered to make oil, which could be used to make fuel or chemicals.

“You know if we can get oil in a stock of sorghum anywhere greater than 5 percent, that’s a winner,” Clemente says. “That’s a grand slam.”

Courtesy U2D, Inc.

A device that could improve homeland security, help the military and protect workers in nuclear facilities and hospitals has won a coveted award for a team led by a UMKC professor.

Physics professor Anthony Caruso led a team of 20 student researchers plus researchers at MU-Columbia and Kansas State University and two private companies in taking the product from concept through prototype to production.

In this encore presentation of Central Standard: A KU professor, who studies how lizards branch into various species, has come to some pretty big conclusions on what defines a species.

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Wikipedia

Once upon a time, a paleontology expedition to dig up dinosaur bones might have been funded primarily by grants and major philanthropists. But KU's Natural History Museum has its eye on a tyrannosaurus rex, and if they succeed in bringing the specimen home from Montana this summer, guess who's footing the bill? You are, through crowd-sourcing. How the crowd-funding model is changing education, from grade school classrooms to university museums.

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Wikimedia Commons

In this encore presentation of Central Standard: What does it mean to be a "Renaissance Man" today? Hint: it's more than being an expert multi-tasker. 

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A KU professor, who studies how lizards branch into various species, has come to some pretty big conclusions on what defines a species.

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For Randy Schekman, it all began with a toy microscope and pond scum. Now he’s a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his role in figuring out the science now used to produce one-third of the insulin used worldwide by diabetics, and the entire world’s supply of the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Forget what you've seen on CSI or Law and Order.  Take a look at what really goes into solving crimes through DNA analysis and how the process differs from what we see on TV.

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courtesy of David Lane

For Kansas City photographer David Lane, the night sky is a canvas where he composes Milky Way-themed works of art.

“The glow that is in those pictures is from 250 billion suns," Lane says. "To see that represented, it helps give our place in the universe."

His name is Otzi, the oldest human in such a complete state. Discovered in 1991 in the Italian Alps, he’s the most studied human in history. We speak with the Kearney, Missouri-based paleo-sculptor who recently completed a replica of Otzi for research and study.

KCUR's Central Standard introduced us to Gary Staab in August 2015. Listen to that interview here.

Valentine's Day is approaching and many Americans will gift flowers to their partners as a romantic gesture. But when did roses become a symbol of romance, and what kind of sex lives have the flowers led before they wind up in a bouquet?

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Creative Commons

What does it mean to be a "Renaissance Man" today? Hint: it's more than being an expert multi-tasker. 

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A few weeks ago, the White House held a STEM education workshop for 27 cities across the United States, and five representatives from Kansas City were invited to attend. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske finds out what they learned and how it could change local approaches to STEM.

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Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Finding a fossil in Kansas City can be as easy as going to the park or checking around your basement.

"Both Kansas and Missouri have great fossil deposits," Bruce Lieberman told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

"They represent, in some respects, different time periods, especially if you get further east into Missouri, east of the Kansas City metro," he said.

Meet a Fulbright graduate student at KU who will begin a fellowship at Fermilab — America's foremost institute for particle physics. He discusses his research on dark energy and dark matter, his journey from South Africa to Lawrence — and how the movie Honey, I Blew Up the Kid inspired his scientific career.

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In the entire history of the natural world -- that's hundreds of millions of years -- only four groups of animals have developed the ability to lift up off the ground and fly. A KU professor has been piecing together that story.

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Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has captured the world's attention promoting scientific literacy and a secular world view. Steve Kraske speaks with him about his latest memoir, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science, a sequel to his An Appetite for Wonder.  

The story of Summer Farrar, an artist whose current project is exonerating the wrongly convicted using microscopic hair comparison analysis. How an artist ended up in the mix, and what she brings to the table.

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Age Is Relative

Sep 29, 2015
U.S. Army MWR / Flickr

The quest for immortality, or at least longer than we've got, is the stuff of science fiction. But the scientific community has plenty to say about the reality of extending the human lifespan. A glimpse at the future of aging, plus ethical and practical implications of living longer.

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Why do reusable shopping bags make you want to buy more junk food? How do people get stuck in boring jobs? NPR's science correspondent Shankar Vedantam regularly scours social science research to bring us these questions and their answers. 

Courtesy of Gary Staab

You know those gigantic dinosaur models you see in natural history museums, frozen in mid-roar? There's a good chance they were made in Kearney, Missouri by a guy named Gary Staab. From his encounter with Lucy (the famous skeleton of our human ancestor) to a mummified human known as the Ice Man, Gary Staab takes us face to face with prehistoric life. 

Courtesy of Gary Staab

Gary Staab might appear to be an ordinary guy.

He lives in small-town, rural Kearney, Missouri, with his wife, Lissi, and their two teenage sons, Max and Owen. He plays guitar for the Mechanical Prairie Dogs, and is learning to play cello in his spare time.

But for a living, Staab sculpts prehistoric monsters and ancient human ancestors. He constructs wooden skeleton bases, shapes and welds bodies with wire, crafts muscles and eyeballs and molds resin flesh with epoxy.

Forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has helped solve many mysteries in real life, on the bookshelf and on the small screen. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske spoke with the prolific author of the Temperance Brennan mystery novels and the inspiration for the TV series Bones.

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Once the sole property of science fiction and our imaginations, the technologies coming out of current space programs at NASA are a case of life imitating art. Learn the latest projects underway as we prepare to travel to Mars and which space designs are finding practical uses here on the third planet from the sun.

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Poison in your mouthwash? Roach killer in your coffee? On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss some of the ingredients in everyday products that may surprise you. 

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  • Patrick Di Justo is a former editor at WIRED and author of This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? From Eggnog to Beef Jerky, the Surprising Secrets of What’s Inside Everyday Products.
Cristopher Crance / Burns &McDonnell

When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut? Some area students are taking the first steps. Grade-schoolers at Resurrection Catholic School in Kansas City, Kan. and Prairie Fire Upper Elementary in Independence are creating experiments to send into near space in a big weather balloon.

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Harum Kelmy / KBIA

It's not every day a researcher stumbles on 1.9 million year-old fossils of human ancestors. But the University of Missouri's Carol Ward did just that on a trip to Kenya. Discoveries made by Ward and her team have huge implications for our evolutionary past.

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  • Carol Ward, professor, pathology and anatomical sciences, The University of Missouri
Creative Commons, Wikimedia

Bill Schonberg is a self-professed "space nut" and his job is not just an 8-year-old's dream job. "It's also a 54-year-old's dream job," he says. His mission, which he has accepted, is to figure out how to make spacecraft more impervious to debris flying at high speed through prime orbital real estate. 

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  • Dr. William Schonberg, professor of aerospace engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology 
Anne Biklé

Dr. David Montgomery is a Professor of Geomorphology at the University of Washington.  He works to bring the impact of geological processes on human history to a wider audience.  Montgomery joins Steve Kraske to explain why dirt is the foundation of civilizations, how we're losing it to erosion, and the lessons geology teaches us.

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BBC

They've been called fish fireworks, and their glowing displays are like nighttime light shows on the water. Ostracods are a very old species of crustacean with a trait called bioluminescence. That's a fancy way of saying they light up, like fireflies. But unlike fireflies, ostracods have extracellular bioluminescence. They shoot light out of their bodies and into the water. The behavior is part mating ritual, part defense mechanism.

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