Featured image: The corona around the sun, only possible to see from the ground during the several minutes of a solar eclipse. (Courtesy National Optical Astronomy Observatories)
For this show, we brought in former NPR correspondent David Baron to talk about his new book, American Eclipse. You may be looking forward to this year’s total solar eclipse on August 21, but David focuses on a similar event that propelled American science to its furthest frontiers back in 1878. Listen to the show to hear how hoards of Gilded Age astronomers headed to the Wild West of Colorado and Wyoming, spending months preparing for three minutes of scientific opportunity. The epic tale touches on the beginnings of meteorology, the mythic Thomas Edison, gender equality, and several heinous examples of scientific pomposity. Listen to hear how it all fits together!
If you’re in Princeton, NJ, David Baron will be visiting the Princeton Public Library on June 12th at 7pm. Mark your calendars!
In other news:
- Evolution is a game of trade-offs, as shown in a new study on E. Coli bacteria. Researchers tried to make two new traits stick, but they found that the bacteria only improved in one area at a time.
- Tabby’s star (mentioned on this show before!), a sporadically dimming star about 1,300 light years away, just started getting darker for the first time since 2013. Only this time the world of astronomy is prepared to watch.
- Fluorescent proteins can now create artwork, as scientists learn how to re-create the whole color spectrum by tagging bacteria. This is just fun and games for now, but biology can attack many problems by using these well-developed techniques.
The playlist can be found at WPRB.com or below.