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

Author Bill Sargent takes the long view in his new book "Beach Wars: 10,000 Years on a Barrier Beach."

In March of 2012, crews began demolishing five homes on Chatham's North Beach Island. The action was ordered by the owner of the cottages, Cape Cod National Seashore, but came after months of strenuous protest by leaseholders and numerous observers who argued that the buildings were more than just summer homes - they were part of Chatham's cultural heritage.

That's a notion that Bill Sargent challenges in his latest book, Beach Wars: 10,000 Years on a Barrier Beach.

A bowl glazed with sediments from Fukushima, Japan registers no more than background radiation and provides an entrez for learning about radiation in the environment.
Courtesy of Joan Lederman

The seafloor is a treasure trove of information for scientists hoping to glean a better understanding of ocean processes, both past and present. The color and texture of the mud, as well as the organisms that inhabit it, all hold clues. But what happens to sediment samples when scientists are done with them?

Here in Woods Hole, these cast-offs of oceanographic exploration are getting a second life at The Soft Earth Pottery studio, where artist Joan Lederman uses them to glaze her ceramics.

With 2012 drawing to a close, we’ve taken a look back at some of the big moments in science this year. Joining me on this walk down memory lane were Susan Avery, president and director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Eric Davidson, president and senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center; and Gary Borisy, outgoing president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory.

  1. Discovery of the Higgs Boson has garnered the title of Breakthrough of the Year from Science Magazine. Although fundamental to physicists’ understanding of how the universe functions, Higgs Boson is undeniably esoteric – difficult for most of us to cozy up to. That’s why I so enjoyed Cape Cod Times columnist Sean Gonsalves very personal take on the discovery.
  2. Humans return to deepest spot on Earth. Mars rovers are all well and good but there’s plenty left to explore here on Earth, and this year marked an historic return to the deepest spot on Earth. In March, James Cameron became the third person ever – and the first in over fifty years – to dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Physicist, philosopher and historian Dr. Thomas Kuhn, 1922-1996.
Public domain image

Could Thomas Kuhn’s ideas about the scientific process be behind the divided public opinions we see today on issues like climate change and evolution? The physicist-turned-philosopher would probably turn over in his grave to think so. And, to be fair, no single idea can be held entirely responsible for the current situation. But, 50 years ago, Thomas Kuhn radically changed the way both scientists and the public view science.

An aptly named fishing boat in New Bedford Harbor.
animaltourism.com / flickr

There’s nothing new about tension between New England’s fishermen and the scientists and regulators who oversee their industry. But the situation has reached fever pitch in the past two years, in large part due to a federally mandated deadline to end overfishing and the introduction of a new management scheme, known as catch shares, in which a total catch limit is set and the catch is divvied up among eligible fishermen.

WCAI's new look
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

2012 was an exciting year here at 3 Water Street. As the year draws to a close, we're looking back at some of the most memorable moments. From favorite commentaries to new shows, and even a new building, here are our picks for the Top 12 of 2012. 

  1. WCAI gets a facelift - WCAI is proud to call the historic Davis House in Woods Hole home. But this old house was in desperate need of some updating, both inside and out. Over the past year, we've restored the original wood clapboard siding, added a front porch, and made the first two floors of the building handicap-accessible. It's been a long process, but we're prouder than ever. You're always welcome to stop by and see the results for yourself. Otherwise, you can WATCH THE SLIDESHOW >>

An unnamed mushroom found in South Carolina and posted on mushroomobserver.org.
Patrick R. Smith / Encyclopedia of Life

I feel like I'm becoming a broken record. Each week, my guests wow me with just how little we know about their chosen field. Today, it was the diversity of life on Earth. Earlier this year, Encyclopedia of Life (EOL.org) passed the one million page mark. While that's impressive, it's nowhere close to the project's goal of one page for every species on Earth. In fact, Nathan Wilson, technical director for EOL.org and a curator on the site, says we don't even have a good handle on how many species there are on Earth.

You can train a dog, but what about its owner?
Carlos Smith / Flickr

You don't expect your dog to speak English or use a toilet. So you make accommodations. But Melissa Berryman, author of People Training for Good Dogs, says there are a lot of common misconceptions that lead to unreasonable expectations of human behavior from dogs. The results can be frustrating or even dangerous, and that's why Berryman recommends training for dog owners, as well as their pets.

At least ninety percent of household dust contains chemicals that pose a health risk.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

Dust is unsightly, a sign of poor housekeeping, perhaps. But toxic? Unfortunately, yes.

In 2003, researchers from Massachusetts-based Silent Spring Institute sampled dust from 120 homes on Cape Cod looking for hormone-like chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. They followed that up with a study of 50 homes in California. In both cases, they found what they were looking for.

One of the chemicals they found in high levels was a banned flame retardant called PBDE. So they went back, again, to look for other flame retardants in those California homes. And, again, they found what they were looking for in abundance. One class of flame retardants, known as chlorinated Tris compounds, made up as much as 0.1% of dust. That's a lot for a single chemical.

An eruption of an underwater volcano in the Mariana Arc, 2006.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, so it’s no surprise that three quarters of volcanic activity happens on the sea floor. Understanding those volcanoes has ramifications for everything from climate science to the evolution of life. But studying volcanoes covered, in some cases, by miles of water is no mean feat. So it’s also no surprise that there are still plenty of discoveries yet to be made and questions remaining to be answered.

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