science podcast #39

Swine Flu in the Amazon, Fixing Technological Fixes, Tsavo Lions


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This week: Swine flu continues to spread. In today’s podcast you’ll hear from two parts of the world that are dealing with the pandemic. We also have a story about the lessons two American brothers learned while bringing renewable energy to the rural poor in Nicaragua. We follow up by talking to environmental engineer Anu Ramaswami about why technological fixes often fail. We have an update on negotiations over a new international climate change treaty. And a new twist on an old tale about a duo of man-eating lions in Kenya.

Ukraine Overreacts to Swine Flu: Ukrainians are panicking about the spreading swine flu virus. But is the hysteria justified? You’ll hear how culture and politics rather than science and good information may be causing Ukraine to react so dramatically.
Report: By Brigid McCarthy in Kiev.
Information on H1N1 flu from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
More on the upcoming Ukrainian elections from the BBC

Swine Flu in the Amazon: A thousand members of the Yanomami tribe deep in the Amazon have fallen ill with swine flu. Seven have died. Venezuela has shut off a part of the forest to help protect the tribe.
Guest: Fiona Watson, Survival International.
BBC story
More about the Yanomami people from Survival International

Fighting Poverty in Nicaragua: Two American brothers, Mathias and Guillaume Craig, have dedicated themselves to bringing renewable energy to the rural poor in Nicaragua. They returned home with some important lessons about the limits of technology in eradicating poverty.
Report: By Eliza Barclay in Nicaragua.
Website of blueEnergy, the Craigs’ organization

Re-thinking Engineering: The Craig Brothers are not alone in discovering that technological fixes often fail to produce the intended results. Some educators say engineers need more training in the social sciences, so those who work with technology can fashion their efforts to serve people better. We talk to one educator on the forefront of this movement.
Guest: Anu Ramaswami, University of Colorado.

Do you have an example of a failed technological fix? Or thoughts on how to design solutions that really work? Bring them to our online discussion with Anu Ramaswami in The World Science Forum here. Anu will be taking your questions and sharing her thoughts through November 13th.

Elsa’s Favorite Science Stories:

  • Man-eaters of Tsavo: In 1898, two male lions terrorized and killed workers building a railroad over the river Tsavo, in Kenya. Legend has it that the lions killed and ate more than 140 people. Researchers have now analyzed tissues from the lions – on display at the Field Museum in Chicago – and conclude that the lions did not eat as many people as previously thought.
    The study
    Information about the Tsavo lions, then and now, from the Field Museum of Natural History
    World Wildlife Fund page on human-wildlife conflict
  • Language Learning in the Womb: Babies may start their language lessons earlier than previously thought. German researchers have found evidence that fetuses  pick up elements of their mother tongue in the womb.
    The study
  • Gene Therapy Shows New Promise: Two new gene therapy studies have reported promising results. One treated ADL, a neurodegenerative disease that causes nerves to lose their protective sheath. The other cured hereditary blindness.
    The ADL study
    The blindness study
    Notes on bioethics and gene therapy from Georgetown University

Climate Negotiations: This week negotiators met in Spain to discuss the possibilities of a new international climate treaty, but chances remain slim that countries will settle on a new treaty at the climate summit in Copenhagen next month.
Report: By The World’s Marina Giovannelli.
(This story is a podcast exclusive! It is a longer version of a story that aired on The World earlier this week.)
Collection of BBC stories on the Copenhagen summit

Mysterious Bear Disease: An unknown disease is striking bears in zoos in Germany and elsewhere. It is turning spectacled bears bald.
BBC story

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 4:20 PM and is filed under Science Podcast. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “Swine Flu in the Amazon, Fixing Technological Fixes, Tsavo Lions”

  1. One of my sisters got infected with H1N1 or more commonly known as Swine Flu. Fortunately, she did not have very high fever and she was able to recover fast .

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