Exploradio

Exploradio brings you captivating stories about science worth discovering and examines powerful questions worth answering. With a trained scientist as our host, we uncover Ohio’s top science innovations and explore science that impacts us all, in an engaging manner, that is understandable by all.

a photo of John Nicholas and Stan Smith
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

Like death and taxes, being hit by a computer virus seems inevitable.

Cybercrime took a $100 billion bite out of the U.S. economy last year alone.

It’s not just individuals who are hacked. Cities, schools and small businesses are increasingly targeted.

In this week’s Exploradio, a look at local efforts to fight the onslaught by training the next generation of cyber warriors.

Kelly Kendrick is IT director at Coventry Local Schools, a small district south of Akron.

Joe Hannibal, curator of Invertebrate Paleontology. Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

“Cultural geology in my eye is the interface of geology and human culture,” Joe Hannibal said.

Joe Hannibal is curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He’s a fossil expert, but he’s also used his fossil and rock identification skills to track the movements of cultural materials.

A tangle of wires await the next subject in the Cleveland Clinic sleep lab. Around 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and nearly 80 percent of those cases are undiagnosed.
JEFF ST CLAIR / WKSU

When we think about it, we usually remember to breathe when we’re awake. But who’s at the controls when we’re sleeping?

“We’re still continuing to understand the coupling between the neural control in the brain stem and the controlled system, which is the nasal pharynx and oral pharynx and the position of the tongue," said  Kingman Strohl, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Case Western Reserve University.

amish farmer with horses
DOYLE YODER / USED WITH PERMISSION

The Amish are an anachronism in modern America.

They don’t own cars, they’re not on the grid, but researchers at the College of Wooster find that the Amish relationship with technology is more nuanced than it appears at first glance, and doesn’t always fit our stereotypes.

In this week’s Exploradio, we look at the complexities of Amish life in the 21st century.

A photo of autophagosomes
THE JCB / CREATIVE COMMONS

To live and function, we know cells have to eat and reproduce. But, they also have to take out the trash. What seems like a simple chore to us is actually a matter of life or death for the cell, and drug designers are finding this useful in the fight against disease.

“If you have, let's say, something toxic to the cell, the cell tries to eliminate that toxin by encapsulating it and getting rid of it,” said Dr. Jürgen Bosch.

large metal parts
NICK COOL / TEAM NEO

Additive Manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, is one of the fastest growing technology sectors.

It’s a printing process where plastic or metal parts are built-up layer by layer.

In this week’s Exploradio, we look at where the industry is headed and how Northeast Ohio is building itself into the nation’s additive leader.

a photo image of the brain
DIGITALBOB8 / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

It seems our brains are never truly quiet. We dream when we are asleep, and in sensory deprivation experiments, participants start hallucinating within 15 minutes. Where does this spontaneous activity in our brains come from?

"My contention is, based on experiments and computational models, that spontaneous activity is triggered by what is called 'noise,'" said Roberto Galan. 

DIARI LA VEU / FLICKR CC

Lake Erie has one of the highest concentrations of microplastic pollution in the world.

Sherri Mason, a researcher at Penn State Behrend in Erie, was the first to report that finding.

Her discovery led to congressional action banning microbeads in consumer products.

On this week’s Exploradio,  we spend some time with Mason finding out how microplastic pollution remains a health hazard.

a photo of a leaf with beech leaf disease
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

A mysterious disease is killing one of the most majestic trees in American forests, the beech. 

Known for its smooth gray bark, the beech is an important anchor species. 

No one knows exactly what causes Beech Leaf Disease, but a team of tree scientists is narrowing down the list of culprits in this botanical whodunit.

JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

WKSU asked listeners for ideas for what to explore in the next episode of our Exploradio science series.

We had some great suggestions. When the ideas were put to a vote, the top choice was –

“Is enough being done to find a cure for type-1 diabetes…?”

In this week’s Exploradio, we try to find the answer.

Around 1.25 million Americans have type-1, or insulin dependent diabetes.

Rich Janus is one of them.

Photo of an Amur tiger
CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO

Our local zoos are changing.  The Akron Zoo is in the midst of a $17 million expansion, making new homes for lions and tigers.  The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo recently opened exhibits featuring Asian wildlife and rare Siberian tigers.

In this week’s Exploradio, we examine the research that goes into making captive animals a little more comfortable.

photo of Dr. Matthew Kraay and Clare Rimnac
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

Nearly one million Americans will have hip or knee replacement surgery this year. They’re among the fastest growing procedures in medicine.

For most people, the implants function just fine, but sometimes, that artificial knee or hip needs taken out …

And in this week’s Exploradio, we investigate what those discarded devices can tell us.

A photo of brain researchers Lique Coolen and Michael Lehman.
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

The brain remains one of the final frontiers of science.

Researchers are only beginning to unlock how addiction works, how the brain controls other organs, the causes of brain diseases, among other mysteries.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair meets a pair of researchers who are launching a new collaborative at Kent State University to tap into Northeast Ohio’s ‘brain trust.’

photo of a bald eagle
RICK McMEECHAN

Bald eagles were nearly wiped out in Ohio a generation ago. But now they’re back, and a pair is nesting close to the industrial heart of Cleveland.

On this week’s Exploradio, we explore one of the most encouraging signs of a rebounding waterway.

A photograph of liquid helium.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

When we cool things down, classically, we can think of the atoms moving around inside the material getting slower and slower until they stop moving. That should make really cold things really boring, right? 

“Supercool liquid helium crawls out of containers," Nandini Trivedi said. "And certain supercool metals lose all their resistance. So as substances get cold they start behaving in really unusual ways.” 

A photo of a replica of Lucy's skeleton.
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

“People always want to know where they came from, right? They get excited by new discoveries of dinosaurs, but they become curious by the discovery of early human fossils.” 

CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO

They’re the largest of the great apes.

Imposing and impressive, gorillas inspire fear and admiration.

But local researchers say they also serve as models of gentleness and family harmony.

In this week’s Exploradio, we look at Ohio’s role in gorilla conservation and visit the gorillas in our midst.

In order to function, the cells in our bodies need to coordinate and pass information, say, if we need a burst of energy to flee a threat. But, without eyes, ears, or even radios, how do they signal this information reliably?

GILLETTE

The American Psychological Association has issued new guidelines for understanding and treating the unique problems faced by men.

The project took more than a decade to complete and was launched by a researcher at the University of Akron.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair examines the evolving definition of what it means to be a man in America.

A photo of rings from a neutron star's flare.
NASA / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Scientists have spent centuries studying how matter works. They’ve boiled it, they’ve frozen it, and they’ve even thrown it into particle colliders and smashed it up. They’ve learned a lot about what matter does in these conditions, but--that’s just what we can do on Earth.

“A neutron star is basically the densest object aside from a black hole. When they collide, the matter itself is deformed in such a way that we can probe densities inaccessible to laboratories on Earth,” Leslie Wade said.

A photo of the disease in the liver.
CDC / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

When Dr. Robert Brown started teaching physics at Case Western Reserve University, he had no idea he’d be using his expertise in magnetic fields to hunt malaria. The earlier malaria is diagnosed, the more likely you are to survive, but most lab techniques can’t be used in rural villages.

“We wanted to diagnose malaria with something fast, portable, and cheap and accurate, which sounds challenging, but in fact we were able to really do it,” Brown said.

photo of Jay Corrigan
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

How do you measure the value of something that’s free?

It’s a challenge for economists who study the economic impact of the Internet revolution.

In this week’s Exploradio, we look  at research that puts a price on your network of virtual friends.

How much would someone need to pay you for you to stop using Facebook?

PROF. CHRISTOPHER CULLIS / CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

What if I described a plant that has nutrient-rich beans, protein-rich roots, produces high quality oil, and, grows in desert regions where rural communities desperately need a drought-resistant crop? Sound too good to be true? Maybe not. I’ve just described the wild Marama bean, native to Africa.

“It has never been grown as an organized crop, it’s just collected out of the bush. The idea is can we find ways of developing a set of lines that give you decent yield which we can give to farmers,” Christopher Cullis, professor of biology at Case Western Reserve University, said.

A photo of a bottle of Depo-testosterone.
Wikimedia Commons

How do embryos know how to become male or female? Prof. Mike Weiss, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University, is studying how one protein, known as the sex-determining protein Y, or “SRY,” can program gender.

“SRY is like the light switch. The bulb is this downstream developmental pathway that leads to the formation of the organs,” Weiss said.

JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

It's something our health depends on, but it's often hard to get.

That something is a good night's sleep. 

Researchers are only beginning to understand the consequences of interrupted sleep, and the long-term health effects of poor sleep habits.

In this week’s Exploradio, we visit a sleep clinic where doctors are developing new treatments for an age-old problem.

We’re visiting one of the Cleveland Clinic’s sleep labs.   

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