science

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

“Let’s go divas, let’s go!” the girls chant, before dissolving into giggles.

On the last day of a Kansas City Public Schools-sponsored summer camp, students cheer on their friends in an engineering challenge.

Paul Sableman / Flickr - CC

Violent crime rates in Kansas City are on the rise, yet again. Today, we hear the first installment of KCUR's "The Argument," a reporting series that looks beyond the worrying statistics, and into the arguments that escalate to homicide. Then, we discuss how an 1878 eclipse, similar to the one that will cross the country on August 21, catalyzed scientific thought in America.

Quixotic Cirque Nouveau

For centuries, research about women has been flawed. Today, we learn how gender and cultural bias has affected scientific study.  Author and journalist Angela Saine says new research refutes the long-held view that women are inferior. Also, we explore the creative process behind the Kansas City performance art group Quixotic.

Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoman Collection / Doubleday

Even suave people blunder a bit here and there, but research suggests those weird traits have some advantages. Today, we look at the science behind social awkwardness. Then, we learn how vast new oil wealth among Oklahoma's Osage tribe engendered a heart-rending greed that led to a series of murders in the 1920s, and helped the fledgling FBI make a name for itself.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A short march from 27th and Grand to Washington Square Park kicked off Kansas City's "March for Science" Saturday morning. One of hundreds around the world, the event was intended "to voice the critical role that science plays in each of our lives."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Pianist Steven Spooner wanted to do something big to commemorate the careers of his favorite musicians. Spooner explains why he spent 19 months creating "Dedications," 16 albums-worth of music devoted to some of the great piano masters.

Then, on Earth Day people in more than 100 cities are taking to the streets to March For Science. The rally is a response to what organizers say is a political climate that threatens science's role in the country.

GarrettTT / Flickr -- CC

When you flip a light switch or plug something into an outlet, something usually happens. Lights come on, iPhones get charged. But where does that energy come from in Kansas City? How are we using it, and what is the future of energy here?

Then, the story of Aldo Leopold, a Missourian and a passionate early writer about nature and conservation.

Guests:

Luke Andrew Scowen / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentationfrom weeds to wonder, we revisit those pesky oak mites that might soon be returning, and hear from a local seed collector on the stories she's reaped. Plus, how one local artist draws on Kansas City stories and the materials that grow wild in backyards and along highways.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For all the times that scientific research has improved our lives, there are other times when science got it horribly wrong. Today, Dr. Paul Offit describes the lessons we have learned, and should be learning, to separate good science from bad.

The new Kansas City label Haymaker Records just released a compilation album featuring local artists. After a taste of the album, we pivot from "math rock" to straight up science, with one KU sociologist whose research sheds light on a connection between success in life and genetic makeup.

Kansas City Fashion Week

Kansas City takes the nickname 'Paris of the Plains' seriously, and not just because of our fountains. Today, we learn why Kansas City Fashion Week has designers, photographers, models, makeup artists, and stylists gathered in the Heartland. Then, the director of the Vatican Observatory looks at the intersection of religion and science. He'll also answer an "age-old" question for us: Should extraterrestrials be baptized?

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Geneticist Scott Hawley has a way with words — especially when it comes to explaining science to non-scientists.

For example, he remembers the connections he made the first time he saw "Star Warswhen he was in graduate school.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's a man with many titles: investigator; Dean of the Graduate School at the Stowers Institute; Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at KU Med; Adjunct Professor at UMKC. We hear about how his career has its roots in a high school gym class ... and what exactly he does in his lab.

Plus, a report from SXSW on the MidCoast Takeover, a showcase of KC bands.

Guests:

Universal Pictures

How many times has terrible science kept you from enjoying a sci-fi movie? From hits like I Am Legend to the classic Soylent Green, we explore the science behind these (and other) movies, and how they relate to real life.

A researcher with the federal Agricultural Research Service studies a sample at a vault preserving genetic material in Fort Collins, Colorado.
File: Grace Hood / for Harvest Public Media

Update 1/25/2017: The Agricultural Research Service rescinded its initial directive in an email to employees Tuesday evening.

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s main research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), received an email from the division’s chief of staff ordering them to stop publicizing their work.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Bird watchers in the Kansas City area and across the United States are finalizing their annual Christmas Bird Count tallies. The census, run by the National Audubon Society, ends Thursday and provides a snapshot of bird species and populations.                               

TEDxKC

For the second year running, Up To Date has invited presenters from TEDxKC to fill us in on their work.

Gabriel Pollard / Flickr -- CC

An interview with KC CARE Clinic's Sally Neville, who spent more than 20 years caring for HIV/AIDS patients; when she retired this month, the program she ran was one of the most successful in the country.

In the past, scientists made a lot of assumptions about ferns and how they reproduce — these assumptions turned out to be false. A chat with the KU professor who is correcting the scientific record about ferns.

Plus, an encore presentation of the story of a family's Christmas tape from 1968.

Guests:

A building on Monsanto's Chesterfield, Missouri, research campus.
file: Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Shareholders of agricultural seed and chemical giant Monsanto agreed to a merger Tuesday, moving the controversial deal one-step closer to fruition.

German drug and chemical maker Bayer plans to pay shareholders $66 billion to take over Missouri-based Monsanto. That breaks down to $128 per share if the merger closes.

Field agronomist Angie Rieck-Hinz counts rows of corn in a study in Wright County, Iowa.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

As another harvest season wraps up, Midwest farmers are once again facing low commodity prices amid enormous supplies. And when they recover from the long days bringing in the grain, they will eventually sit down with their books and try to figure out how best to farm again next year.

The story of how a local art gallery curator, while on his honeymoon in Guatemala, came across the intricate embroidery work of Antonio Ramirez Sosof, a self-taught artist who used to be a lumberjack.

Plus, an encore presentation of how a KU professor discovered that Neanderthals adorned their bodies with eagle talon jewelry.

Guests:

courtesy of Mark Brodwin / Janet Rodgers

Astronomer Mike Browdin understands that the immensity of our universe can be intimidating to some people. He gets that people don't think about supernovas and black holes as much as he does, and that it overwhelms them when they try to wrap their heads around it.

"Some people feel that when they are faced with the vastness of the universe and space and time, they feel insignificant," Browdin told Central Standard's Gina Kauffman. "And we are really small compared to that."

Todd Sheets started making horror movies in KC in the late 1980s. He stopped after a close friend died at the Catacombs Haunted House. A health scare — a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery — inspired him, in part, to make movies again. His latest, Dreaming Purple Neon, has its world premiere tomorrow night at Screenland Armour.

Plus, a chat with musician Rachel Mallin, and an encore presentation on lizards.

Guests:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

In this episode, Suzanne digs into the sacred geometry and mysterious happenings surrounding a giant octagon in Belton, Missouri. 

Eduard Solà / Wikimedia Commons

Seeing a planarian for the first time, you might not even know what you’re looking at. Brown, black, or white in color, these flatworms are about the size of a toenail clipping and have two light-sensing spots on their triangular-shaped heads that make them look cross-eyed. Their simple appearance, though, belies a surprising ability.

 

“You can take one of these animals and cut them into 18 fragments,” says Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, who does this for a living, “and each and every one of those fragments will go on to regenerate a complete animal.”

Eduard Solà / Wikimedia Commons

They may not look like much, but research scientist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado thinks planaria — tiny freshwater flatworms —might hold the key to cell repair and duplication. The hope is that studying these self-cloning little invertebrates can help scientists figure out the biological mechanism behind their renowned regenerative abilities.

Courtesy Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute

It's no secret that science often produces mesmerizing images to go along with all of its graphs, charts and tables. Now some of those images, generated by biomedical research underway in the Kansas City region, have a show all of their own at Kemper East.

"It's not something we usually show here," says Erin Dziedzic, the Kemper's director of curatorial affairs.

Scientists at the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Insectary raise insects adapted to attacking bugs and plants harmful to agriculture.
Dan Garrison / for Harvest Public Media

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is killing pests dead, without the aid of chemicals.

Halfway down a dead-end road in the small farming town of Palisade, Colorado, is the research facility known as “The Insectary.”  Scientists at the lab develop “biocontrol insects,” insects adapted to attacking bugs and plants harmful to agriculture. Colorado’s Insectary is the oldest and largest facility of its kind in the United States.

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.”

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