Think for a minute about the victims of climate change. You might envision the polar bear, right? You see a lot of that in the news, atop a block of melting ice or - where there's no ice to grab onto, or the great ice sheet covering Greenland drip, drip, dripping away, or the tiny island of Tuvalu whose people and beaches might soon be swallowed by rising seas.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. He's been called Mayor McSchwinn for riding his bicycle to work. He's pledged to turn his town of Seattle into a model for what one city can do to lower its carbon footprint, and for good reason. As the climate changes, coastal cities like Seattle are challenged by rising sea levels.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Your brain has nearly 100 billion neurons, and one of my next guests compares that complexity to the Amazon rainforest. In fact, he says there about as many trees in the Amazon as there are neurons in your brain. Think about what the Amazon looks like for a second.
We are broadcasting today from the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. And just steps away from this building, right outside is something that should be familiar to anyone who's ever received a postcard from Seattle or taken home a pen or a glass or anything tchotchke of any kind. And it's the Space Needle, built in connection with the 1962 World's Fair. It is an iconic part of the Seattle skyline.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that the mere act of isolating a DNA sequence does not make human genes patentable. Mary-Claire King, who helped discover the breast cancer gene at the center of the court dispute, discusses the ruling and its implications for genetics.
Since his days as head of the Solar Energy Research Institute under President Jimmy Carter, Denis Hayes has been pushing to add more renewable energy sources to the country's energy portfolio. Hayes discusses the current U.S. market for renewables such as solar and wind, and gives his take on where he sees America's energy future headed.
Look through a series of 15th-century woodcuts, and you'll find that the leper is as much an icon of medieval art as the crown or the cross.
Leprosy was so common in Europe during the Middle Ages that it's estimated 1 in 30 people was infected with the bacteria. But by the turn of the 16th century, after the Crusades had swept across Europe, the disease mysteriously disappeared. And it never returned.
This left scientists puzzled. Did the bacteria mutate to become less harmful, or did Europeans become resistant to the germs?