Heather Goldstone

Science Editor and Host of Living Lab

Heather Goldstone is science editor at WCAI and host of Living Lab on The Point, a weekly show exploring how science gets done and makes its way into our daily lives. Goldstone holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as researcher before leaving the lab to pursue journalism. She has reported extensively on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her stories have appeared in outlets ranging from Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News to NPR and PBS News Hour. Most recently, Goldstone hosted Climatide.org, an NPR-sponsored blog exploring present-day impacts of climate change on coastal life.

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U.S. Geological Survey

Sea level rise is typically mentioned in the context of erosion, coastal flooding, storm damage at the coasts. All of those are issues, to be sure. But rising ocean levels can have other effects – on septic systems and drinking water supplies farther inland. Potential impacts on groundwater are the subject of a new report from US Geological Survey’s New England Water Science Center.

We come into contact with countless chemicals everyday. In fact, we're made of chemicals. But the number of human-made, synthetic chemicals in our lives has skyrocketed, and many common household and personal care products actually contain chemicals that may be bad for our health.

Scientists can measure the amounts of these chemicals in retail products and the home environment, and they can study what they do to animals in laboratory. But that leaves one big, unanswered question:

Agence de presse Meurisse / bit.ly/2gCH6zx

When Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, she kick-started the field of atomic physics and inspired two other female physicists whose work gave rise to the atomic age. Her daughter, Irene (and son-in-law, Frederic) Joliot-Curie, discovered a method of inducing artificial radioactivity. And Austrian-born Lise Meitner figured out nuclear fission.

Yuki A. Honjo

Cranberries are a billion-dollar industry in Massachusetts and employ more than 6,900 people. But the market is getting crowded, and that’s pushing down the price. Wisconsin has been the top grower in North America for years, where cranberry farms go back to the 1800’s. Quebec has only been growing cranberries for the last 20 years, but it surpassed Massachusetts in its cranberry harvest in 2014.

Why hasn’t Massachusetts kept up with the Wisconsin and Quebec?

Satya Murthy/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Biochemist Keri Colabroy thinks we could all be better cooks and healthier eaters, if we just learned a little bit of chemistry. That's why she teaches a kitchen chemistry course and a writing class about coffee (yeah, that's a thing) at Muhlenberg College.

Palliative care physician Justin Sanders uses the Serious Illness Conversation Guide in talking with a patient.
Courtesy of Ariadne Labs

There has been a growing recognition in recent years that patients near the end of life need a different kind of care – treatment that focuses on controlling symptoms, like pain and anxiety, rather than attempting to cure a disease. Most doctors and nurses aren’t trained to handle this transition and, until recently, haven’t had the information and tools necessary to do it well. That is changing.

Joyce Maxner sets up for a Death Cafe in West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

For most of American history, when a loved one died, family members cared for the body of the deceased at home before burial. It wasn’t until the Civil War that people started embalming soldiers’ bodies for the long train trips home. Soon after, funeral homes started offering embalming services, and an industry was born. Now, there’s a movement to bring after-death care back home.

The motivations driving such interest are varied. Some people find it more personal, more meaningful. Others want to avoid toxic embalming chemicals and reduce the environmental footprint of burial.

Courtesy Arthur Caplan

More than half of U.S. states have laws that say that a dying person should have access to any treatment, vaccine, medical device that they want. For some people who have serious illnesses, getting these treatments represents nothing less than a lifeline.

The “right to try” laws attempt to give that access. At the federal level, legislators like Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) have introduced bills that say that people with life-ending illnesses shouldn’t be stopped from trying treatments by the FDA or any other regulatory body.

Leading diplomats celebrated the signing of the Paris Agreement last December. This year's negotiations begin today in Marakech, Morocco.
U.S. Department of State

Today is the first day of COP22, the twenty second annual meeting of international climate change negotiators. This year’s conference is like none of the previous ones, because – this time – there’s an international climate agreement in effect. The Paris Agreement entered into force last Friday, November 4th.

Enrico Fermi is a household name in Italy, revered as the greatest Italian scientist of the modern age. But on this side of the Atlantic, he’s less well-known despite having changed the course of history with his work on the Manhattan Project and other atomic-age advances.

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