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Preview: Natural Selections Podcast

Natural Selections: Conversations about the natural world with Dr. Curt Stager and Matha Foley

Latest North Country Public Radio regional news by topic. Topic=natselect.

Copyright: ℗ & © 2018, North Country Public Radio

Mutants? Actually, we're all mutants

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400

(Apr 19, 2018) Mutants are neither the creepy brain domes of science fiction, nor the smart-mouth turtles of the cartoons. Mutations arise all the time from environmental exposure to mutagenic substances and from imperfections in cellular reproduction. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk change, genetic change. [full story]

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What makes a new species?

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400

(Apr 12, 2018) What draws the line between one species and another? [full story]

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Daddy Long Legs: not quite a spider

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400

(Apr 5, 2018) This familiar household "spider" is not a spider, but an ancient, near relative in the arachnid family. [full story]

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Why does the moon look bigger when it's on the horizon?

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0400

(Mar 29, 2018) Why does the moon look bigger when it's on the horizon, than it does when it is high in the sky? Curt Stager shoots down all of Martha Foley's theories.There are a couple ways it could be a trick of the mind, but why then doesn't it work all the time? After physics, optics, geometry and psychology, what are you left with? "Wow, big moon." [full story]

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Why is carbon dating harder than it used to be?

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0400

(Mar 22, 2018) Scientists use isotopes of carbon, carbon-13 and carbon-14, to study the age of organic material. But the activity of humans is distorting the clock. Curt Stager tells Martha Foley how added carbon in the atmosphere, pollution, and nuclear testing have made it harder to study the natural world. [full story]

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What makes some eyes shine at night?

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0400

(Mar 15, 2018) Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager talk about eye shine, and why some animals' eyes reflect light and others' don't. [full story]

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A warmer future means fewer cold water refuges for Adirondack lake trout

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Mar 1, 2018) Lake trout thrive in deep, cold water with lots of oxygen, and are stressed by being in warm summer shallows with lower pressure and oxygen levels. But as the climate warms, fewer Adirondacks lakes will have the right combination of factors they need. During a recent hot summer drought, fishing guides steered clear of many favorite spots, not wanting to draw remaining trout into danger.Martha Foley and Curt Stager look into the future of this popular sports fish and where they can survive in a warming world. [full story]

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From Pyrex to Bioglass: Glass is all around you, even in you

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Feb 22, 2018) A lot of different things are mixed with silicon dioxide to make different kinds of glass. Added lead makes crystal. Most ordinary glass is made with the addition of soda lime. Pyrex glass has boron to give it heat resistance. Fiberglass contains aluminum. Amorphous substances like porcelain and polycarbonate plastic can also count as glass, as can certain amorphous mixtures of metal. One of the most interesting new technologies is Bioglass, where calcium, phosphorus and other bone nutrients are added to glass to serve as a matrix for replacement bone. Actual bone cells are attracted to the glass and new, healthy bone can form around it. Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss. [full story]

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How your glass of red could become a glass of lead

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Feb 15, 2018) Glass is basic stuff - melted sand, pretty much. But your lovely crystal decanter or goblet gets its heft and clarity from a big dose of lead, up to one-fourth by weight. That lead can leach out into liquids containing alcohol, such as wine or brandy - significant enough amounts to be a health risk if stored in crystal over a long period of time.Martha Foley and Curt Stager clear up the differences between glass and crystal, and explain how lead can become transparent.Natural Selections is a regular Thursday feature of the The Eight O'Clock Hour on NCPR. Get it delivered to your device automatically. Subscribe to the Natural Selections podcast. [full story]

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Camel and caribou adapt in similar ways to different "deserts"

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Feb 8, 2018) While the sub-Arctic and the Sahara are very different environments, both present extreme challenges to large mammals that live there.Martha Foley and Curt Stager compare the camel and the caribou, which, while not closely related, have made similar evolutionary adaptations to survive in barren terrain.Both need coats that can insulate against temperature extremes, complex nasal equipment to preserve hydration, and digestive tracts adapted to handle a wide range of coarse and nutrient-poor foods. [full story]

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Adirondack lakes recover from acid rain, but with an altered ecosystem

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Feb 1, 2018) The success of the Clean Air Act in reducing acid deposition in Adirondack lakes is an under-reported good news story. Many lakes once devoid of life can now support healthy fish populations and other aquatic life.But as Curt Stager discusses with Martha Foley, the life that returns to recolonize the water is not the same as what was lost. Sediment cores show that the original algae and plankton varieties that form the base of the food chain and were unchanged for hundreds of years are being replaced by different varieties. A balance has been restored, but it's a new balance, tipped perhaps by warming, and by invasive species. [full story]

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What is cheese, anyway?

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Jan 25, 2018) You can make cheese from the milk of any mammal, but who wants to go out and milk the pigs? Curt Stager came back from a trip to Italy with some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. He shares a taste with Martha Foley while they run down different processes used to make a number of varieties of cheese from the same starting point, milk. Saturday was National Cheese Lovers Day, but isn't every day, really? [full story]

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Cats are liquids, except when not

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Jan 18, 2018) A recent article in Science magazine highlighted the work of a French scientist who was the recipient of a 2017 Ig Nobel Prize. He posited that because cats can fill up the shape of whatever container they are put in, they must be liquid. [full story]

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Are your tonsils as useless as they seem?

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Jan 11, 2018) When infected, your tonsils may be useful to doctors to keep up their bottom line, and to Popsicle vendors to provide the means to soothe recovering children. But when healthy, they also have a use as part of the front-line in the human immune system.Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss an oft-removed portion of the human anatomy. [full story]

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Nature journals put the history in natural history

Thu, 04 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0500

(Jan 4, 2018) Martha Foley has never succeeded in keeping a nature journal long-term, but Curt Stager finds them invaluable in his work. He records his observations on paper, but also finds great data through researching the journals of past observers, from Samuel de Champlain to Thomas Jefferson, to ordinary little-known North Country folk.His hint - always put it on paper. Whatever became of all that stuff on your floppy diskettes? [full story]

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Just how individual are animals?

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Dec 28, 2017) We tend to think that dogs do this, and that cats do that. We think animal species have a recognizable set of behaviors that define the nature of their kind. But what about individual animals? Does each have something we could understand as a unique personality?Curt Stager said his cat is not like Martha Foley's cat. But what about individual birds, or even insects?Researchers say they can identify individuality even in some of the simplest creatures. [full story]

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A new neighbor in the north: fish crows

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Dec 21, 2017) There is a new crow in the neighborhood! "Fish crows" aren't actually new to New York State, but they are increasing in numbers, and moving north from waterway to waterway.Martha Foley and Curt Stager share the scoop on their life and habits. [full story]

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How do electric eels use their "juice"?

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Dec 14, 2017) Aside from their properties as biological dynamos, electric eels have other peculiarities; they are not true eels, but are a kind of fish - and a kind of fish that needs to breathe air. The South American predator of river bottoms can reach 40 pounds in size and deliver a fatal shock to humans.They use electricity for a number of purposes other than shocking their prey, as a navigation aid, to communicate with others of its kind and to detect unmoving prey by making its muscles twitch.Martha Foley and Curt Stager discuss the life cycle of a shocking species. [full story]

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Closet nemesis: the clothes moth

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Dec 7, 2017) Keratin, the substance wool, hair, and feathers are made from, makes a pretty thin diet, but the clothes moth has been dogging humanity's closets and drawers for hundreds of years, unravelling the work of generations of knitters and weavers to feed its larvae.Martha has a personal beef with the moth and talks with Curt Stager about the life cycle of the moth, and how to fight its ruinous effects. [full story]

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Bats can sing, too!

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0500

(Nov 30, 2017) Humans, birds, and whales are not the only creatures who can sing. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager discuss recent research that uncovered bats also use learned songs to communicate. [full story]

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