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 a prosthetic hand with touch receptors
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

A research group at Case Western Reserve University, led by professor of biomedical engineering Dustin Tyler, works with neural implants in people who’ve lost limbs to restore not only motion with prosthetics, but also the sense of touch.   "We spent a lot of time understanding how our language, the electrical language, is translated into the human perception, predominantly in terms of sense of touch," Tyler said.   "The first time we went in with our subject, we had no idea what was going to happen. So we first turned on the first stimulus pulses and he said, 'Wow, that's my thumb.

Zoophycos fossil in rock. Trace fossils are any indirect evidence of ancient life. They refer to features in rocks that do not represent parts of the body of a once-living organism.
JAMES ST. JOHN / CREATIVE COMMONS

 

"If we find life on another planet, it's likely going to be microbial," said Ashley Manning-Berg, assistant professor in geology at The University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. 

"So a lot of the focus for evidence for life is not just to learn about the ecosystems on early Earth,  it's a way of telling us that if life evolved and then died on Mars, what do we look for?

Manning-Berg is studying how billion-year-old fossils of microorganisms were preserved on Earth, so we can know what to look for on other planets.  

david cooperrider
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

Cleveland’s greatest export may not be world-class healthcare, auto parts, or even LeBron James, it might be a management philosophy.

Appreciative Inquiry was invented at Case Western Reserve University three decades ago and has become a transformative tool for companies and organizations around the world.

The process was used recently to help create a new vision for Cleveland.

In this week’s Exploradio, we look into the science of positive planning.

an image of a brain
CREATIVE COMMONS

Epilepsy is a condition that we usually think of as being in the brain. Doctors typically identify it by measuring brain activity. However, new evidence has emerged showing that the brain may not be the only place we can see epilepsy.

Roberto Galan is an adjunct associate professor of electrical engineering at Case Western Reserve University. 

“When I investigated the electrocardiograms - the electrical activity of the heart - in patients with epilepsy, and in control patients, I found significant differences in the rhythm that the heart displays," Galan said. 

Pierre Auger Observatory at night
Steven Saffi / University of Adelaide, Australia

In the early 20th century, physicists discovered cosmic rays- energetic particles zooming through deep space. 

Many of these come from the sun, and can cause the northern lights. However, a few, very mysteriously, come from somewhere else with enormous energy.

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.

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