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.

Ways to Connect

This four-bladed arrow can be used to cut fishing gear off entangled whales.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

The disentanglement team at the Center for Coastal Studies might be forgiven for some off-color jokes. Dozens of whales get tangled in fishing gear each year. The results can be grizzly – wounds that cut to the bone, infections, starvation – if not deadly. And attempting to free entangled whales is both physically and emotionally exhausting, not to mention dangerous. What’s not to joke about?  

Bob Lynch stands on the bow of the Center for Coastal Studies' response boat, Ibis, preparing to shoot a four-bladed crossbow arrow to cut the ropes entangling a female North Atlantic right whale known as Kleenex.
NOAA/NEFSC/Leah Crowe / Image collected under MMPA research permit #17335

North Atlantic right whales are severely endangered, and entanglement in fishing gear is a leading cause of both deaths and low birth rates. A small Provincetown-based team tries to free as many whales as possible each year, but these efforts are dangerous and not a permanent solution.

Many long-time Cape Codders would be surprised to learn that there is coral growing along Cape Cod’s shores – no big reefs, just hearty chunks of coral that can survive water temperatures close to freezing.

UAW / https://bit.ly/2I4px9g

Academics make up almost a sixth of the United Auto Workers’ union members. Teaching and research assistants at Harvard this month became the latest (and one of the largest) student groups to join the UAW. Meanwhile, graduate students at Columbia University went on strike last week to demand the university recognize their union.

Niilo Isotalo / https://bit.ly/2rae6CI

A new survey finds that seventy percent of Americans think climate change is happening, and nearly sixty percent understand that it is largely human-caused. That puts us back approximately where we were ten years ago, before politics and economics eroded public acceptance of climate change.

Mary Woesner

Children of the Cold War grew up ducking under their desks to practice for the possibility of a nuclear attack. Now, nine out of ten public schools hold lockdown drills to prepare for an active shooter scenario. One psychiatrist wonders if we know enough about the long-term mental health effects of forcing kids to confront, even act out, these violent and deadly threats.

A new proposed rule would bar EPA from considering scientific studies that don’t release their data publicly or that haven’t been independently verified. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt says the rule would increase transparency, strengthen the science behind EPA regulations, and end the era of ‘secret science.’ But the rule has prompted strong condemnation from the science community.

SpaceX

On Wednesday, April 18th, NASA launched a science satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the first time.  After the launch, SpaceX managed to pull off its signature move, landing the first stage of the rocket booster on a barge.

Mike Eklund / American Museum of Natural History

 

A fossil found in Kansas seventy years ago has been identified as a large cartilaginous fish, like a shark or a ray. That wouldn’t be so noteworthy if the same fossil hadn’t already been identified, twice – first as a green alga, and then as a squid or cuttlefish.

pbslearningmedia.org

Forty thousand years ago, a massive volcanic eruption in southern Italy devastated what today is Europe. And yet, the culture of the early humans who lived there persisted. Now, archeologists say the key was long-distance trade and social networking.

greenpeace.org.uk

Japanese scientists announced this past week that they had not only discovered bacteria that naturally digest the PET plastic used to make many water bottles, they had also genetically modified them to make them better at breaking down plastic. Headlines made it seem like our plastic pollution woes were over.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The twilight zone. It’s not just a spooky 1960s television series. It’s what scientists call the part of the ocean between about 600 and 3000 feet below the surface. It’s deep, it’s dark (thus, the name), and it’s relatively unstudied. But it may be home to more life than the rest of the ocean, combined, and also key to the ocean’s ability to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

UMass Boston

Severe coastal flooding during storms in January and March of this year jolted Massachusetts residents and officials into an unwelcome awareness of just how vulnerable we are to rising sea levels. Last month, Governor Baker announced a 1.4 billion dollar bond bill to finance climate resilience efforts.

baa.org

Not all marathoners are twenty-somethings, or even forty-somethings. Last year, the oldest finisher in the Boston Marathon was eighty four years old. This year, a seventy-nine year old three-time cancer survivor is running the race. What is the secret of these older athletes?

Most brain scientists will never know what it feels like to live with the mental illnesses they study. Barbara Lipska is the exception; brain tumors caused her to lose track of her left hand, forget where she lived, go running with hair dye dripping from her head, and accuse a familiar pest exterminator of trying to kill her family. 

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