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

Dunk Works opens to a wider group of organizations on August 1.
Elsa Partan

Maker spaces have popped up everywhere, typically outfitted with tools and materials that allow people to try making their prototype dreams a reality. Now, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has just launched a maker space for ocean-related innovations called “Dunk Works,” a play on Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunk Works lab.

President Trump has nominated former talk radio host and campaign advisor, Sam Clovis, to be chief scientist at USDA.
Alex Hanson/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

President Trump last week nominated Sam Clovis to be chief scientist for the USDA, formally known as the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.  Clovis is a former economics professor, better known as a conservative talk radio host and Trump campaign advisor. One thing he is not is a scientist, and that has drawn harsh criticism professional organizations of scientists.

Entanglement in fishing gear is the suspected cause of death for some of the eight North Atlantic right whales found dead in recent weeks.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada / Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The story of a species' decline is usually a slow-moving one. Not so for North Atlantic right whales this summer. Eight individuals have died in Canadian waters in the past two months, prompting alarm from researchers and an unprecedented response from Canadian officials. Here's where things stand right now:

CC0 Public Domain

Researchers at Griffiths University in Australia have tackled the age-old question of why birds do, or don't, cross the road. After hours observing birds near and crossing roads around Brisbane, they found that many birds - particularly small, forest-dwelling species – avoid crossing roads, even when they can fly across them. The bigger the road, the stronger the effect.

They’re not sure exactly why, but say it may be fear of exposing themselves to predators. Or, they may be using roads as territorial boundaries.

Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project is currently one of the largest energy storage systems in Massachusetts.
Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project

Massachusetts is pushing hard on the renewable energy front, with more than 1600MW solar installed and a target of 1600MW offshore wind energy by 2020. Since sunshine and wind don’t always match consumer demand for electricity, the Commonwealth has set a goal of 200MWh of energy storage capacity by 2020, and is putting more than $10 million into energy storage research and demonstration projects.

The team aboard the E/V Nautilus explores the deep sea using a remotely operated vehicle equipped with cameras and tools for bringing back samples of rocks or marine life.
Courtesy of OET/Nautilus Live

Amy Fleischer is a teacher at Nauset Regional Middle School. But for most of July, she’s part of a team exploring California’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and mapping the seafloor aboard the exploration ship E/V Nautilus. One of the main goals of the mission is to find where the coastline was during the last ice age.

Ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are the leading causes of death for endangered North Atlantic right whales.
NOAA Photo Library / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

2017 is shaping up to be one of the worst years on record for North Atlantic right whales, one of the most endangered large whale species. There are only about five hundred individuals left, and numbers have been declining in recent years. A spate of recent deaths has sparked particular concern.

Courtesy of Lora Hooper

There are at least as many bacterial cells in your body as their human cells. And there’s a growing recognition that they’re critical for everything from digestion to mental health. They also play a big role in immunity – our ability to fight off diseases. But the relationship isn’t always easy or friendly. For all the good they do, if gut bacteria get into the wrong places, it can be problematic.

Joel Brenner recommends getting critical infrastructure off the web.
Elsa Partan

People around the world have been getting a crash course in cybersecurity in recent weeks. Ransomware attacks have crippled everything from traffic cameras in Australia, multi-billion dollar international companies, healthcare networks, and the Ukrainian electricity grid.

Analysts have caused the attacks worrisome, concerning, and other adjectives clearly intended to not cause mass hysteria. But they also warn that attacks are likely to continue and get worse.

The making and drinking of alcoholic beverages dates back thousands of years, and may be as old as the human race, itself.
Public Domain

Which is older – beer or wine? And just how old is that? Based on the fact that some modern primates consume naturally fermented fruit juices, chances are good that the tradition of drinking alcoholic beverages is as old as the human race. But the earliest versions might best be described as “extreme beverages” made from combinations of ingredients that would seem bizarre by today’s standards.