Living Lab on The Point

Mondays at 9am and 7pm

Living Lab on The Point is a forum for the stories behind science headlines — the people who do the research, the unexpected ways that science gets done, and how the results make their way into our everyday lives.

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Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

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Living Lab on The Point is Produced by Dr. Heather Goldstone. The Executive Producer is Mindy Todd.

Major support for the Living Lab is provided by the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and The Kendeda Fund. Additional support is provided by Lee McGraw and the Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation.

White cross jellyfish on a Maine beach reported using Twitter hashtag #Mainejellies.
Trina Stephenson

Science-based weather forecasting dates back some 150 years, and we've grown used to detailed, daily predictions of temperatures, precipitation, winds, and clouds. But nowhere in all those forecasts is there anything about the arrival of lobsters or jellyfish in nearshore waters, or the number of ticks and mosquitos one might encounter.

Scott Bennett / MBL

Contagious cancer is rare, thankfully. Until recently, there were only three documented examples, none of them in humans (again, thankfully) - a facial tumor in Tasmanian devils, a sexually transmitted cancer in dogs, and a hamster cancer. Earlier this year, researchers added one more to the list: a contagious leukemia that affects soft-shelled clams (a.k.a. steamers).

TGoeller / Wikimedia Commons

Cheryl Hayashi loves spiders, so much so that she says being asked to name a favorite is like asking a mother to pick which child she loves most. She challenges even arachnophobes to not crack a smile at jumping spiders' "teddy bear"-like cuteness. But it's not their good looks that attracts Hayashi, professor and vice chair of biology at University of California, Riverside, to spiders. It's their silk.

Piping plovers recovered from hunting, but now face threats from habitat destruction and sea level rise.
Putneypics / flickr

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, close to ninety percent of all life on earth disappeared. Sixty-five million years ago, a wave of extinction wiped out the dinosaurs. Today, many scientists say we are on the verge of another mass extinction event – the sixth in our planet’s history, but the first to be caused by humans.

Just over a year ago, SharkCam - an underwater vehicle equipped with five cameras and the ability to independently follow radio tags placed on sharks - took Discovery Channel's Shark Week by storm with dramatic video of being attacked by great white sharks.

Cape Cod's salt marshes drew early European settlers with the promise of lush grazing and plentiful hay for cattle.
Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management

For thousands of years, native Americans lived on Cape Cod, fishing, farming, and managing the forests in a sustainable way. Then, along came European settlers who, in the span of a few hundred years, fished out the oceans, deforested the land, and depleted the soil.

Courtesy of Buzzards Bay Coalition

Long before crowd-sourcing and citizen science were buzzwords, volunteers for Buzzards Bay Coalition were monitoring water quality along the estuary's edges, from Westport to the Elizabeth Islands. The resulting data set spans twenty four years, and includes information about nutrients, temperatures, oxygen levels, and algral growth at two hundred locations. It's a scientific treasure-trove, but one which has gone relatively un-mined ... until now.

Ken Kostel / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

In 1998, Ben LeComte swam some 3,700 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, eight hours at a time. It took him seventy three days in total. Now, he's taking on an even bigger challenge - The Longest Swim - a 180-day, 5,500 mile swim across the Pacific Ocean, from Tokyo to San Francisco. His goal is to boost our understanding and awareness of ocean health issues.

Pope Francis has called climate action, variously, a moral, religious, and ethical imperative.

Pope Francis recently released a 184-page letter, Laudato Si, dedicated to environmental issues. In it, he argues that respect for the poor, future generations, the Earth, and God all demand major changes in how we use resources.

The waters off the coast of the northeastern U.S. are currently much warmer than normal, and have been warming at a dramatically accelerated rate.

You may have heard that global warming has slowed down in recent years. It's true, the rate of warming has been slightly less over the past fifteen years than in preceeding decades, if you look at atmospheric temperatures alone. But add in the ocean, and it's a different story altogether.