3/13/18 Show feat. Xin Rong Chua on Cloud Convection and the Nuances of Geoengineering

Featured image: Clouds exist throughout the atmosphere, but their heights govern how they act back on the warming climate—and how this works is still up for debate! (courtesy Australian Bureau of Meteorology)

This week we were lucky to host Xin Rong Chua, PhD candidate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Princeton, who read us two cloud cinquains and described her research on convection of clouds above the ocean. Low clouds tend to cool the atmosphere by reflecting sunlight, whereas high clouds keep the earth warm by trapping more heat than they radiate. So, if you add more heat to the ocean and atmosphere (as we do by emitting greenhouse gases), do you get more or fewer clouds? Are they higher or lower than before? Xin explains the possible cloud feedback loops that will warm our future Earth a lot or a little. We end with geoengineering, where we’ll cool the Earth with our own inventions—but how reliable could that be?

Before Xin’s interview, we talk with the stellar Paula Croxson, New York producer for The Story Collider podcast. Listen to hear how a narrative thread can mean the world to us storytelling humans, and why stories are important even to science. (And keep an eye out for new Story Collider episodes each Friday!)

The playlist is available at WPRB.com or below.

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2/27/18 Show feat. Aaron Wolf on Neanderthal Genomes and Us

This show had tons of great science news and an excellent discussion with Aaron Wolf, doctoral researcher on neanderthal genomes and specifically how neanderthal and modern human genomes mixed (i.e. they reproduced) in ancient times. To begin, Aaron walks us through what we know about neanderthals and our modern misconceptions of them, and how they came about. From there, he discusses how the neanderthal genome was mapped, and why we think that most living humans have about 2% neanderthal DNA — and what that DNA is for.

Science news:

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