science podcast #155

Ancient Mayan ‘Place of Bats,’ Clean Cookstoves in Uganda

Mask #3 found at the Diablo in El Zotz. (Photo: El Zotz archaeological Project, Brown University)

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This Week: Northern India, where I am right now has been facing severe power outages these past couple of days. I’m putting together this podcast in candlelight, as almost the entire northern and eastern part of the country is without electricity. I won’t go into the details of the reasons behind this power failure, but I want you to know that this is the first time I’ve podcasted in near complete darkness, with only a candle and the light from my computer screen to guide me. Oh the fun in doing podcasts while traveling! In this episode, you’ll hear sounds from India and Sri Lanka (where I visited recently). You’ll also hear stories from Uganda, Chile and Guatemala.

Clean Cookstoves Help Women and the Environment: An estimated 3 billion people in the developing world cook and heat their homes by burning wood, charcoal, or dung. Their simple stoves cause trendous amounts of air pollution. Ari Daniel Shapiro reports from Uganda on the introduction of more efficient stoves that also help protect women from sexual violence.

Extremely Large Telescope in Chile: Chile’s Atacama Desert is already the site of several astronomical observatories, including the Paranal Observatory. Now, a coalition of 15 European countries is planning on building the world’s biggest optical telescope there. Steven Bodzin has the story for us.
Read more here and here.


Ancient Mayan ‘Place of Bats’: In the northern part of Guatemala lies a Mayan city, long since abandoned. Its name is El Zotz, meaning “place of bats” in the Mayan language. And it is swarming with bats– millions of them. Archaeologists have recently discovered an old temple here. The temple is called “Diablo” or devil’s temple. Brown University archaeologist Stephen Houston tells us more about El Zotz, its ancient temple and the bats that live there.

An ancient temple in Sri Lanka and its resident bats : I recently some time in Sri Lanka doing some reporting. One morning, I visited an ancient Buddhist temple in the historic city of Anuradhapura. The temple, called Isurumuniya has several chambers carved into rock boulders. It was early in the morning and the temple had a calm and serene feel to it. So I wasn’t expecting to stumble upon a cave full of bats in the temple. You’ll get an audio tour of this ancient place in Sri Lanka including its resident bats.



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