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.

Do you have a story or photo to share? Send it to livinglabradio@capeandislands.org. Or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

Living Lab on The Point is Produced by Heather Goldstone and Elsa Partan. The Executive Producer is Mindy Todd.

Major support for the Living Lab is provided by The Kendeda Fund: furthering the values that contrubute to a healthy planet. Additional support is provided by Lee McGraw and the Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation.

Infrared image of the core of the Milky Way Galaxy. Our solar system orbits the galactic center once every 225-250 million years.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/S. Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) / Public Domain

Thanks to Galileo, it's common knowledge that the Earth orbits the sun. What's not as commonly known is that the sun - and our entire solar system - is orbiting around a massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. It takes 225 million Earth years to make one loop around the Milky Way.

A small group of science enthusiasts thinks we should all stop and ponder this and other amazing facts about our place in the universe once in a while, and they’ve declared a holiday this Thursday for exactly this purpose. It’s called Galactic Tick Day.

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

As if you need one more reason to hate household dust, science increasingly indicates it could be a hazard to your health. A recent review of research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, finds that the vast majority of household dust contains potentially toxic chemicals.

Caine Delacy

Emily Callahan was working at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 when she noticed something strange. The workers said they couldn’t wait to get back to fishing near oil rigs. She thought they were crazy until they told her, “That’s where the fish are.”

That experience started her down the path of promoting a program that lets companies turn old oil rigs into artificial reefs that support a surprising array of sea life.

Roger Hanlon

We all know camouflage when we see it, or when we don’t, as the case may be. But what does that actually mean?

“Qualitatively, it’s pretty easy for people to say ‘that’s camouflaged’ or ‘it’s not,’” says Roger Hanlon, a senior scientist at MBL, whose research focuses on camouflage in marine animals. “But to grade camouflage or to quantify it somehow, really has hardly ever been attempted until very recently.”

Since August, several thousand Native Americans have been camping in the path of a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota. They are concerned that the Dakota Access pipeline will threaten their drinking water and their sacred sites. It is the single largest protest by Native Americans in more than 100 years. Earlier this month, President Obama temporarily halted construction on the pipeline for the section near the Standing Rock reservation, though the company is allowed to build other parts of the project. The protesters say they are staying put.

International Press of Boston

In December 2015, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider saw an unusual disturbance in their signal that they couldn’t explain. They’re working right now to figure out whether it was a fluke, or a game-changing discovery.

Jayne Doucette / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Oceans cover seventy percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water, and there's even more water trapped inside the Earth. Where did it all come from? And when? There have long been two possible answers to those questions: it could have been here since the very beginning, or it could have arrived later, carried by bombarding asteroids and comets.

The prevailing thought has been that the latter is more likely because, when the planets were forming nearly four and a half billion years ago, Earth's neck of the solar system would have been too hot for there to be water around.

Students from Jonah Maidoff's Resilient Communities course at Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School traveled to the Alaskan Arctic with climate scientists this summer.
Courtesy of Astrid Tilton

Last fall, Jonah Maidoff's Resilient Communities class at Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School was planning a trip to Paris. They were to attend the U.N. climate negotiations and witness history in the making. But the trip was canceled after the November 13th terrorist attacks.

www.flickr.com/photos/cblue98/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

If consciousness is what makes us human, memory – it could be argued – is what defines us as individuals. Each of us carries within our brains a unique set of memories that, together, make up our life stories. But how do we remember? That is the question that drives Erin Schuman.

There Is No Tsunami of Autism Cases

Aug 29, 2016
Avery Books

The number of autism diagnoses has risen steadily in recent years and currently stands at one in 45 American children diagnosed each year. There’s been concern that the increase is being fueled by environmental causes, but a new history of autism research says the condition has always been common and is widely misunderstood.

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