Living Lab Radio

Mondays at 9am and 7pm

Each week, Living Lab Radio brings you conversations at the intersection of science and culture. Connect with scientists for fresh perspectives on the week's news (science and otherwise), and a deeper - and deeply human - understanding of the world around us.  

Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

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Living Lab Radio is produced by Heather Goldstone and Elsa Partan.

Major support for Living Lab Radio is provided by The Kendeda Fund.

One Step Closer to Diagnosing CTE During Life

Oct 2, 2017
A healthy brain on the left. On the right, a brain with CTE.
Wikicommons /

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is associated with repeated head trauma and it has been found in many football players' brains. Most recently, that of deceased Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.

The association with America’s favorite sport has turned this mouthful of biomedical jargon into a household phrase, but we still don’t have a way to diagnose the disease until after death.

That could change. 

Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world, for obvious reasons. It’s a quick way to get an overview of just about anything.

Schools tend to discourage its use out of concerns about accuracy and reliability, but new research from MIT finds that scientists are using Wikipedia and it is influencing the ideas they investigate and write about.

Between Harvey, Irma, and Maria, hurricanes have left hundreds of thousands of people in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean with a gut-wrenching choice: rebuild, or relocate? It’s a question that some Massachusetts towns and property owners face on a regular – if less dramatic – basis.

Undersea canyons and seamounts off New England's coast are home to rare, slow-growing deep-sea corals.
Dr. Les Watling, University of Maine / NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

About one hundred miles off the coast of Massachusetts, there are dramatic mountains and canyons, some larger than the Grand Canyon. Of course, they're hidden under hundreds to thousands of feet of water. And they're home to fragile and slow-growing deep-sea corals, and entire ecosystems that live on and around them.

The math for 2017 is pretty clear: fourteen North Atlantic right whales are known to have died, while only five new babies were sighted. It's the most dramatic example yet of what scientists have been saying for a few years, and what a new analysis makes official: these highly endangered whales are on the decline.

Entanglements and ship strikes are the leading causes of death for North Atlantic right whales, as well as other large whales. The most recent North Atlantic right whale death was a young female who was found severely entangled in snow crab fishing gear.

Vimeo /

I don’t know about you, but my phone feels like an extension of my brain. I can’t commit to an appointment without checking my calendar. There are to-do lists and voice memos to make sure I don’t lose an idea. And, of course, there’s Google to instantaneously answer any question.

What Wild Bees Can Teach Us

Sep 18, 2017
Wikicommons /

Since honeybees are the original “hive mind,” what can we learn from these social insects?

Thomas Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University. He is based in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, where he teaches courses on animal behavior and does research on the behavior and social life of honey bees. He is the author of Honeybee Ecology (1985), The Wisdom of the Hive (1995), and Honeybee Democracy (2010).

Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon /

September is National Preparedness Month, and the devastation caused by first Harvey and then Irma have us wondering -- will I be ready when a storm comes my way?

NASA/JPL-Caltech /

On Friday, the Cassini spacecraft ended its 20 year voyage with a dramatic kamikaze descent into Saturn.

But that's not quite the end of the story. 

The Zika virus
Wikicommons /

In a surprising result, a team of researchers from a handful of universities has found that Zika virus kills off the cells that start a kind of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer. It’s what Senator John McCain was diagnosed with in July, and it’s the cancer that killed Beau Biden and Senator Ted Kennedy. In fact, most people diagnosed with glioblastoma live less than five years.