The Scienceline podcast is produced by the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. For more information, e-mail us at email@example.com.
What does the coronavirus sound like?
In the 1980s, Mark Temple was the drummer for the indie pop band The Hummingbirds. He toured the world and saw his music played on MTV, but eventually left the band and returned to school.
When the university where he teaches shut down earlier this year, Temple used his time at home to rekindle his pastime: He turned the coronavirus genome into music. Each genetic letter contained within SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was converted into a musical note, bass line or drum beat. The resulting composition, which is more than an hour long, sounds a bit like ambient electronica; it is surprisingly beautiful. But will people want to listen to music that reminds them of the pain and suffering of these last nine months?
Combining interviews with musicians and researchers in Sydney, Australia, this episode of the Scienceline podcast deconstructs the story of Mark Temple, and his quest to make music out of a global crisis. Guests include: Dr. Mark Temple, a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University, and Mike Anderson, an Australian guitarist who collaborated with Temple for live performances of the coronavirus music.
This story was reported, edited and produced by Niko McCarty, with additional contributions by Ethan Freedman.
Photo: During the pandemic, confined to homes and small apartments, some people rekindled old interests; they started working on a book, or learned an instrument. A cancer researcher in Sydney, Australia used his background in music to create compelling sounds from the coronavirus genome. [Credit: Unsplash, United Nations]
Music by: Jahzzar, Mark Temple, Mike Anderson and Ryan Andersen
The evolution of ethnobotany
As long as humans have been around, we’ve relied on plants for our survival: as food, fuel, shelter, medicine — and to produce the oxygen we breathe. Ethnobotanists are scientists who study and catalog these complex interactions between people and plants. Yet ethnobotany has a complicated history of its own, with roots in European colonial expeditions and in the exploitation of Indigenous communities.
Now, with the biodiversity crisis imperiling plants, ethnobotanists have become unexpected advocates for Indigenous knowledge rights in the quest to conserve useful plants around the world and the cultures that rely on them. Modern ethnobotanists are striving to work in partnership with their study communities to preserve much more than just plants: Languages, livelihoods and a wealth of knowledge are at stake.
Photo: Blueberry plants grow wild in Jonathan Ferrier’s homelands and study sites, and have many important medicinal uses. [Credit: Kjerstin_Michaela | Public Domain Mark 1.0]
Original music by Michael Radack
Other music and sound effects by Jahzzar, Richard Laiepce, mikevpme, and Blear Moon
More than just a weather forecast
2020 was another record-breaking year of storms and wildfires in the United States. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, reports of fiery skies above California and “unsurvivable” storm surges in Louisiana can feel like apocalyptic icing on a hellish cake.
So how do meteorologists decide what to say about extreme weather? And as the climate changes, are weather reports changing too?
TV weathercasters are trusted messengers for many American families — including Casey Crownhart’s family in Birmingham, Alabama. Her state often experiences hurricanes and tornadoes, and the local weatherman is something of a celebrity. But the job is far from simple.
In this Scienceline audio story, climate scientist Jennifer Francis, weather reporter Andrew Freedman and TV meteorologist-turned-advocate Bernadette Woods-Placky tell Scienceline how they think about — and talk about — weather and its connections to climate change.
Photo: Hurricane Delta approaching the Gulf Coast in October 2020. [Credit: Visible Earth/NASA]
Music by: Jahzzar, Scott Joplin, Komiku and Caffeine Creek Band.
For more information about this episode, please visit: https://scienceline.org/2021/01/more-than-a-weather-forecast/
Birding provides escape for the pandemic-fatigued
Watching for resident and migratory birds has provided an outlet for people to go outside during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Photo: Migratory birds like this magnolia warbler pass through New York City each year, and the pandemic hasn’t stopped them. [Jean-Guy Dallaire | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ]
Music by: Chuck Fresh, Jahzzar
For more information about this episode, please visit https://scienceline.org/2020/12/birding-provides-escape-for-the-pandemic-fatigued
Rhino conservation in a time of crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted economies across the globe. With international travel on hiatus, the toll on tourism has been immense. So where does that leave the communities — and animals — that depend on money from travelers?
Taking the "folk" out of folk culture
It’s literally in the name — folk culture depends on groups of people. Whether they’re attending a folk dance or a jam session, members of folk communities gather together to engage in a group experience. Or at least, that’s how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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