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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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP bit.ly/2lvF2ZB / bit.ly/OJZNiI

Mildred Dresselhaus - a pioneer of nanoscience, often called the Queen of Carbon for her groundbreaking studies of that element – died last week at the age of 86. Her work on the properties of thin layers and tubes of carbon laid the groundwork for carbon nanotubes found today in batteries, cars, sports equipment, biomedical devices, solar panels and the space program.

There are about 100 Blue Chromis fish in the great ocean tank at New England Aquarium
Wiki Commons

We wouldn’t have guessed it, but it’s awfully hard to get a certain little blue Caribbean fish to breed. In fact, it took an expert at the New England Aquarium a year of work to set up the right combination of mood lighting, tank feng shui, and a never-ending buffet of gourmet fish food to make it happen.

Lead biologist Monika Schmuck had two baby Blue Chromis fish at the end of all that work. It was the first time anyone in the world had successfully bred Blue Chromis in captivity.

“Today I actually got four more, so that’s a total of six,” she told WCAI.  

Given how controversial genetically modified corn is, it's no wonder that the prospect of genetically modifying humans pushes a lot of people's buttons. But we already have gene therapies, and new technologies are making it faster, safer, and less expensive to modify the human genome in a range of ways. That has the science community and policymakers scrambling to set responsible guidelines for the use of genome editing.

Speakers at the Stand Up For Science Rally in Boston's Copley Square.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

For decades, scientists have shunned direct involvement in politics. They’ve testified before Congress and provided scientific information to policymakers, of course. But most have avoided weighing in on specific policy moves out of concern that such opining could damage scientists' credibility as the source of objective, factual information. In the wake of the 2016 election, that seems to be changing.

Vaughan Turekian is Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State.
state.gov/e/stas

President Trump may not have a science advisor right now, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson does. His name is Vaughan Turekian, and he was appointed to the post in 2015. It's not a very old job; it was created by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright in 2000. It's also not a very common job; only seven foreign ministers in the world have a science advisor.

Sea ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Brocken Inaglory / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

While New England is being pummeled by a series of winter storms, a different kind of storm has been wreaking havoc at the North Pole. For the third time this winter, a storm has pushed north from lower latitudes, bringing with it temperatures close to the melting point. It’s the kind of event that typically only happens once or twice each decade.

Meanwhile, sea ice – both Arctic and Antarctic – are at an all-time low for this time of year. What’s the connection? The short answer, of course, is it’s complicated.

John Holdren, science advisor and director of OSTP under President Obama.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

President Donald Trump has yet to name a science advisor, a position that dates back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. It wouldn't be the first time that a president has decided he's better off without one. 

President Nixon wasn’t happy with the advice he was getting from his Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  He fired his science advisor and he dissolved the office of science and technology. But in 1976, Congress decided the executive branch really needed such an office and so it restored it by law.

John Severns / Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Here's something you don't see everyday: two thirds of a legislative body not only supporting a bill, but actually co-sponsoring it. One hundred thirty-four Massachusetts state Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of legislation intended to help bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

9:30 PM - The National Weather Service has extended the blizzard warning until 10 PM, and issued a new coastal flood advisory through midnight. Tides could be as much as 2.5 feet higher than usual, flooding vulnerable basements and shore roads. Erosion is a concern for east-facing beaches on Cape Cod and Nantucket. 

Eversource has restored power to many residents, but more than half of customers in Yarmouth - plus thousands more across the Cape and Islands - are still without electricity. Many school districts are already announcing closures or delays for Friday.

A DC8 packed with atmospheric sensors and samplers is making four laps around the globe.
Craig LeMoult / WGBH

One of the first science policy ideas put out by Trump transition team back in November was a proposal to move all earth science out from under the umbrella of NASA and perhaps give it to another agency, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That transfer hasn’t come to pass – at least not yet – and earth science is still carrying on. In fact, right now, scientists from Harvard University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and – yes – NASA and NOAA are flying around the world trying to get a better handle on what’s going on in our atmosphere.

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