Science Friday for Friday, September 27, 2013

Modern Humans Still Evolving, and Faster Than Ever

For those who think the forces of natural selection no longer apply to modern humans, paleoanthropologist John Hawks would urge you to reconsider. In recent times — that's 10 to 20 thousand years, for a paleoanthropologist — Hawks says we've picked up genetic variations in skin color, and other traits that allow us to break down starch and digest cheese.

Saving Wild Places in the 'Anthropocene'

We're living in the epoch some scientists call the "Anthropocene"�"an age in which human influence touches nearly everything on the planet. Forty years after the signing of the Endangered Species Act, and nearly 50 years after the Wilderness Act, do we need to rethink how we protect nature? Environmental historian William Cronon and environmental geographer Paul Robbins discuss protecting wild places in the age of climate change.
IceCube, the largest neutrino observatory on earth, covers one cubic kilometer of Antarctic ice. The detector is looking for high-energy neutrinos coming from deep space. Physicist Francis Halzen discusses the decision to build the telescope at the South Pole and how we can construct a map of the cosmos with neutrinos.

Food Fermentation: The Science of Sausage and Cheese

Fermentation is one of the oldest methods of preserving foods. How does acid affect sausage and cheese? What role do microbes play in determining texture and flavor? We'll discuss the science behind these fermented foods.

Les Paul: Inventor and Innovator

Guitarist Les Paul is best known as the inventor of his namesake solid-body electric guitar, the Gibson Les Paul. But even as a teen, he was a tinkerer. Sue Baker of the Les Paul Foundation talks about some of his early innovations, such as a harmonica holder constructed from a coat hanger, and an electric guitar built with a railroad rail.
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