SciTech Now Episode 24

Episode twenty-four of SciTech Now brings you the latest breakthroughs in science, technology and innovation. We discover the peculiar death rituals of crows and go looking for the pterosaur, elusive cousin of the dinosaur.

TRANSCRIPT

COMING UP, THE FUTURE OF TH TELESCOPE...

HUBBLE HAS PROBABLY A FINIT LIFETIME, TOWARDS THE END OF THIS DECADE OR SO, BEFORE IT CAPABILITIES WILL BE SEVEREL DEGRADED

THE SPORT BEHIND SCIENCE...

WE BRING PEOPLE IN TH POMPONS, PERHAPS, OR WITH OU SMILES, BUT THEN WE KEEP THE THERE WITH THE SCIENCE

INSIDE A BIRD'S BRAIN.. [ CROWS CAWING ]

A CROW WILL COME ACROSS THE BODY OF A DEAD CROW, AND IT WILL VOCALIZE AND RECRUIT OTHER BIRDS TO THE SCENE

IT'S ALL AHEAD.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS STATION.

HELLO. I'M HARI SREENIVASAN WELCOME TO 'SciTech NOW,' OU WEEKLY PROGRAM BRINGING YOU TH LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION LET'S GET STARTED.

IN 2020, THE WORLD-FAMOU HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE WIL LIKELY BE RETIRED.

JON MORSE, A FORMER NASA EMPLOYEE AND FOUNDER OF TH BoldlyGo INSTITUTE, IS HOPING TO BUILD A NEW TELESCOPE THAT WILL FILL THE VOID LEFT BY THE DECOMMISSIONED HUBBLE.

REPORTER JENNA FLANAGAN GIVE US A LOOK AT THIS FUTURISTIC TELESCOPE.

ASTRO-1 IS A SPACE TELESCOP THAT IS MEANT FOR THE ERA BEYOND THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE HUBBLE HAS PROBABLY A FINITE LIFETIME, TOWARDS THE END OF THIS DECADE OR SO, BEFORE IT CAPABILITIES WILL BE SEVEREL DEGRADED

YES, THAT'S RIGHT THE WORLD-FAMOUS HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE WIL LIKELY BE RETIRED SOMETIME AROUND 2020, LEAVING A HOLE, S TO SPEAK, IN OUR INTERGALACTIC FIELD OF VIEW.

TO FIX THIS, NASA VETERA JON MORSE STARTED BoldlyGo, AN HE'S HOPING TO BUILD A NEW TELESCOPE THAT CAN CONTINUE TO CAPTURE THE SPECTRUM OF LIGH THAT HUBBLE DID.

RIGHT NOW, IN NASA's MISSIONS THAT THEY'RE PLANNING, THERE'S NO CAPABILITY FOR ULTRAVIOLE SPECTROSCOPY, WHICH IS ONE O THE MAINSTAYS OF SPACE ASTRONOMY.

THIS NEW TELESCOPE, TENTATIVELY TITLED ASTRO-1, WILL BE A LIGHTER AND SMALLER VERSION OF ITS COUSIN, THE HUBBLE.

LIKE ITS PREDECESSOR, ASTRO- WILL CAPTURE ULTRAVIOLET-LIGHT IMAGES, BUT IT'LL HAVE A 10-TIMES-LARGER FIELD OF VIE THANKS TO UPDATED TECHNOLOGY FROM THE SAME COMPANY THAT HELPED BUILD HUBBLE.

NEW YORK'S OWN CORNING INCORPORATED RECENTL MADE A MAJOR DONATION TO BoldlyGo TO CREATE A NEW SPACE-TELESCOPE MIRROR, SIMILA TO THIS PROTOTYPE THAT WAS CREATED FOR THE FAMOUS HUBBLE TELESCOPE

SO, IF YOU CAN ENVISION A HONEYCOMB, SO IT'S MOSTLY AIR, BUT IT'S VERY STRONG STILL SO THAT'S ESSENTIALLY WHAT WE'RE MAKING IS A HONEYCOMB STRUCTUR OUT OF LOW-EXPANSION MATERIAL, WHICH IS OUR U.L.E., TO MAKE THE PRIMARY MIRROR AND IT WILL BE VERY RIGID AN ALLOW THE TELESCOPE TO FOCUS VERY PRECISELY

NESTLED IN THE NORTHERN TOW OF CANTON, JUST OUTSIDE TH ADIRONDACK STATE PARK, IS ONE OF CORNING GLASS' HIGH-TECH FACILITIES IN 1978, THE COMPANY BUILT THE GLASS MIRRORS FOR TH HUBBLE TELESCOPE THAT WERE LIGHT-WEIGHTED BY 60%, MEANING FOR A GLASS STRUCTURE ITS SIZE THEY WERE ABLE TO REDUCE THE WEIGHT BY 60%. WITH TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY, THE CAN PRODUCE THE SAME PIECE THAT'S LIGHT-WEIGHTED BY WHILE MAINTAINING THE SAME STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY

WHEN THE TEMPERATURE CHANGES, ESSENTIALLY, THE MIRRO STRUCTURE DOES NOT CHANGE.

IT STAYS VERY CONSTANT, WHICH, AGAIN, ALLOWS YOU TO FOCUS VER PRECISELY OVER A LARGE TEMPERATURE GRADIENT

THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A MINO DETAIL, BUT IT'S CRUCIAL FOR SPACE TELESCOPES OUTSIDE OF THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE, TEMPERATURES CAN SWING AS MUCH AS 300 DEGREES IN A MATTER OF SECONDS, AN TELESCOPE GLASS SIMPLY CANNO AFFORD TO CRACK.

ONCE THE CORNING GLASS COMPONENTS ARE FINISHED IN CANTON, THEY'LL BE SENT HERE T EXELIS, IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK WHERE THEY'LL BE POLISHED AN FINISHED AND FITTED FOR TH ASTRO-1 TELESCOPE.

WE CAN PRODUCE VERY CLEAR IMAGES FROM SPACE.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, WE'VE PRODUCED 99% OF ALL THE OPTICS THAT TAKE PICTURES FROM SPACE, BOTH LOOKING AT THE EARTH AN LOOKING OUT INTO SPACE

EXELIS HAS 50 YEARS O EXPERIENCE BUILDING SPAC TELESCOPES, LIKE THIS PROTOTYP OF A SATELLITE BUILT FOR DigitalGlobe EARLIER THIS YEAR ONCE THEY RECEIVE TH LIGHT-WEIGHTED GLASS COMPONENT FROM CANTON, THEY'LL BE COATED WITH A LIGHT REFLECTIVE MATERIAL LIKE ALUMINUM AND THEN MOUNTED INTO THE MIDDLE THE TELESCOPE AS ITS PRIMARY MIRROR EXELIS WILL THEN PRODUCE A SECONDARY MIRROR THAT WILL SIT BEHIND THE PRIMARY MIRROR AN TRANSFER COLLECTED LIGHT ONT AN INSTRUMENT SCREEN THE MIRRORS WILL BE HELD I PLACE WITH A HIGHLY STABLE COMPOSITE, KEEPING THE ENTIR STRUCTURE AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE

THE BENEFIT FOR THAT IS THE SPACECRAFT CAN THEN PUT THAT LOWER MASS, OR THAT LOWE WEIGHT, FARTHER INTO SPACE, AN IT ALSO ALLOWS THE MISSION T LAST LONGER BECAUSE NOT AS MUC FUEL IS REQUIRED TO MANEUVER I ONCE IT'S IN PLACE

ONCE COMPLETED, ASTRO-1 WIL BE SENT A MILLION MILES INTO SPACE TO COLLECT IMAGES LIKE DARK MATTER.

THE ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT IT COLLECTS WILL HELP DETERMINE HOW FAST AN OBJECT IS MOVING, WHAT IT'S MADE OF, AND DETERMINE IT TEMPERATURE AND DENSITY.

WE WILL ALSO BE ABLE TO INVESTIGATE EXOPLANETS AROUN NEARBY STARS OUR OFF-AXIS DESIGN IS WHA PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOR AT LEAST 15 YEARS, ABOUT WHAT IS NEEDED TO MAKE REALL CLEAN STELLAR IMAGES

MORSE SAYS ASTRO-1 WILL ACTUALLY HELP THE ASTRONOMICAL COMMUNITY TAKE ON SPACE-FRONTIER PROJECTS WITH PRIVATE FUNDING.

THE ASTRO-1 TELESCOPE WOULDN'T TAKE THE PLACE, BUT SIMPLY BUILD ON THE LEGACY OF HUBBLE.

BUT DESPITE CORNING' $1.8 MILLION GLASS DONATIO AND PRIVATE FUNDRAISING, THE TELESCOPE PROJECT ISN'T ANYWHERE NEAR COMPLETION.

MORSE SAYS THE ENTIRE ASTRO- PROJECT WILL LIKELY COST HALF BILLION DOLLARS AND WON'T GE OFF THE GROUND UNTIL 2025 AT THE EARLIEST

I'M SHAHID NAEEM.

I'M THE PROFESSOR OF ECOLOGY A COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY, EVOLUTION, AND ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGY.

I'M ALSO THE DIRECTOR OF THE EARTH INSTITUTE FO ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY [ TYPEWRITER CLACKING [ BELL DINGS ] WHEN WE THINK ABOUT OUR PLANET I THINK THE MOST UNIQUE FEATUR WE THINK ABOUT ARE ALL THE SPECIES THAT WE CAN FIND THERE ARE MILLIONS AND MILLION OF THEM.

SOME OF THEM WE KNOW ARE VER POPULAR -- LIONS, TIGERS, BEARS, AND SO FORTH BUT THERE ARE ACTUALLY ABOUT 8.7 MILLION SPECIES -- MAYBE MORE AT LEAST CURRENT ESTIMATES PREDICT THAT SO, WHEN WE SAY, 'WHAT I BIODIVERSITY?' MOST PEOPLE THINK IT'S JUST THOSE MILLIONS O SPECIES, BUT ACTUALLY, IT'S MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT HERE, FOR EXAMPLE, IMAGINE YOU HAD A GARDEN WITH A HUNDRE SPECIES OF ROSES IN IT, BUT YOUR NEIGHBOR HAD THREE SPECIES - ONE WAS A SPECIES OF ROSE, BUT ALSO HAD AN ORCHID AND A SUNFLOWER.

ACTUALLY, MOST BIOLOGISTS WOUL CONSIDER THAT YOUR NEIGHBOR HA A MUCH MORE DIVERSE GARDEN THA YOU, WHICH CONTAINS MOSTLY JUS ROSES.

SO THE NUMBER OF SPECIES ISN'T REALLY THE ISSUE HERE'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT ECOSYSTEMS DO IMPORTANT WORK LIKE RECYCLING NUTRIENTS O PRODUCING OXYGEN, THERE ARE MANY SPECIES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THA FUNCTIONING.

BUT IF YOU HAD AN ECOSYSTE WHICH WAS MISSING SOME OF THOS KEY SPECIES, WELL, THAT'S NO VERY DIVERSE EITHER 'CAUSE IT' MISSING WHAT WE WOULD CALL 'FUNCTIONAL DIVERSITY.

SO, I JUST TALKED ABOU TAXONOMIC DIVERSITY AN FUNCTIONAL DIVERSITY, BU THERE'S ALSO GENETIC DIVERSITY GENOMIC DIVERSITY, PROTEOMIC DIVERSITY, LANDSCAPE DIVERSITY -- IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON SO BIODIVERSITY IS ALL THA STUFF WRAPPED INTO ONE AND IT'S A REALLY COMPLICATE TERM, BUT IT'S ALSO AN IMPORTANT ONE.

AND I THINK, WITH THE TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE TODAY, WE'RE MAKIN GREAT INROADS INTO UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANS.

WHEN A GROUP OF CROWS GATHERS, IT'S CALLED A 'MURDER,' BUT A MORE APPROPRIATE TER MIGHT ACTUALLY BE A 'FUNERAL.'

RESEARCHERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ARE INVESTIGATING WHETHER CROW MOURN WHEN ANOTHER CROW DIES AND SOPHISTICATED BRAIN SCAN COULD HELP UNLOCK THE MYSTERY.

REPORTER MICHAEL WERNER GIVES US A LOOK [ BIRDS SINGING

FEW BIRDS HAVE A SPOOKIER REPUTATION THAN CROWS.

[ SOUR NOTES PLAY BUT THAT WASN'T ENOUGH TO SCAR KAELI SWIFT AWAY

COME ON OH, YOU MISSED IT.

THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTO GRADUATE STUDENT IS FASCINATED BY THEM.

LATELY, SWIFT HAS BEEN LOOKING INTO A UNIQUE BEHAVIOR -- WHEN A CROW DIES, LARGE GROUPS GATHER AROUND THE BODY.

[ CROWS CAWING ]

SOME OF THE MORE INTERESTIN ANECDOTES WE WERE RECEIVING THAT PIQUED OUR INTEREST IN RESEARCHING THIS SCIENTIFICALL WAS OBSERVATIONS OF CROW SITTING FOR PROLONGED PERIOD VERY SILENTLY -- SORT OF SILEN VIGILS AROUND THESE BODIES SOMETIMES EVEN PLACING OBJECTS ON TOP OF THE BODY AS IF THE WERE BURYING IT.

AND THEN THEY DISPERSE AND LEAVE THE BODY WHERE IT IS IN MUCH SIMILAR WAY TO HOW I'V EXPERIENCED, YOU KNOW, THE FUNERALS FOR MY FAMILY MEMBERS

THIS HUMANLIKE BEHAVIOR HAS LED OBSERVERS TO WONDER WHETHE CROWS MIGHT ACTUALLY BE HOLDIN FUNERALS SWIFT AND A TEAM ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT IF THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL DISPLAY OR IF IT'S SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY.

MAYBE IT'S A WAY FOR THEM T GATHER BIRDS AROUND AND SAY, 'LOOK AT THIS PLACE WHERE WE FOUND THIS DEAD BODY THIS PLACE IS DANGEROUS.

WE SHOULD AVOID IT.'

[ WHISTLES ] SO, TO STUDY THIS, WHAT I DO IS, FOR THE FIRST THREE DAYS, I JUST FEED THE BIRDS [ WHISTLES ] THEN, ON THE FOURTH DAY, WE'LL INTRODUCE OUR FUNERAL ELEMENT.

IN OUR EXPERIMENTS, WE USE STUFFED, TAXIDERMIED CROWS SO, YOU WANT TO LOOK UP AT THE BIRDS SOMETIMES, BUT ALSO LOOK AWAY JUST TRY AND ACT SORT OF A NATURAL AS YOU CAN, CONSIDERIN YOU'RE HOLDING A DEAD CROW I THE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE.

SO, WE SEND OUT A MASKED VOLUNTEER HOLDING OUR DEAD CRO THE WAY YOU MIGHT HOLD AN HORS D'OEUVRE PLATTER [ CROWS CAWING ] A CROW WILL COME ACROSS THE BODY OF A DEAD CROW, AND IT WIL VOCALIZE AND RECRUIT OTHER BIRDS TO THE SCENE THE NUMBER OF BIRDS THAT I RECRUITS CAN VARY UP TO 50 OR 60 BIRDS.

WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR IS, FIRST OF ALL, WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPOND, AND I MEASURE THAT BY LISTENING FOR THOSE HARSH CAWS THE SCOLD CALLS.

AND I'M ALSO LOOKING FOR HOW MANY BIRDS THEY RECRUIT TO THE AREA, HOW MUCH TIME THEY'R SPENDING THERE [ CAWING CONTINUES ]

SWIFT RETURNS SEVERAL MOR TIMES TO SEE WHETHER THE CROWS REACT DIFFERENTLY.

IF THEY APPEAR WARY, IT MAY BE A SIGN THAT THEY'RE ASSOCIATIN THE PLACE OR THE PERSON WITH DANGER CROWS HAVE A REMARKABLE ABILIT TO REMEMBER HUMAN FACES, ESPECIALLY FRIENDS AND ENEMIES SO THE THINKING IS THAT THEY'L REMEMBER THE MASK AND NOT TH PERSON UNDER IT.

SO, THE MAIN THING I'VE LEARNED THROUGH THIS FIELDWORK IS THAT CROWS ARE LEARNING A LOT MORE PEOPLE THAN I THINK W PREVIOUSLY EXPECTED THEM TO BE LEARNING THEY ARE LEARNING FOLKS THAT THEY SEE WHO ARE SIMPLY CLOSE TO OR WHO ARE HANDLING DEAD CROWS

BUT DO THEY FEEL ANYTHING WHEN THEY SEE A DEAD CROW?

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON PROFESSOR JOHN MARZLUFF HAS BEEN STUDYING CROWS FOR NEARLY THRE DECADES, AND HE'S FOUND THAT THEY'RE ANYTHING BUT BIRDBRAINS.

CROWS, RELATIVE TO BIRDS, HAVE BRAINS THAT ARE REALLY ON PAR WITH SOME OF THE SMALL MONKEYS AND APES, AND THEY'R MORE LIKE LITTLE FLYING MONKEY THAN THEY ARE BIRDS.

A CROW'S BRAIN IS ONLY AS BIG AS A HUMAN THUMB, BUT LIKE THE HUMAN BRAIN, IT'S VERY COMPLEX DOES THAT MEAN THAT CROWS COUL EXPERIENCE DEATH SIMILAR TO TH WAY WE DO?

TO FIND OUT, MARZLUFF AND HI TEAM HAVE PIONEERED A NE TECHNIQUE.

THEY PEEK INTO THE CROWS' BRAINS USING P.E.T. SCANS

WHAT THIS DOES IS BASICALLY ASSESSES WHERE IN THE BRAIN TH MOST ENERGY IS BEING UTILIZED AS AN ANIMAL'S DOING SOME TASK.

THE RESEARCHERS SHOW TH CAGED BIRDS A DEAD CROW AND THEN QUICKLY SCAN THEIR BRAINS.

WE SCAN THE BIRDS BY PUTTIN THEM UNDER ANESTHESIA SO THA THEY'RE PERFECTLY CALM IN TH SCANNER AND WE GET A GOOD IMAGE.

BUT WHAT WE'RE SCANNING, REALLY, IS THE BRAIN ACTIVITY THAT TOO PLACE ABOUT 20 MINUTES AGO, WHEN THEY WERE LOOKING AT THAT DEAD CROW WE GET AN IDEA OF WHAT THE BIR MAY BE THINKING, WHAT THE BIRD MAY BE EXPERIENCING WHEN I LOOKS AT A DEAD CROW, BY SEEIN WHAT PART OF THE BRAIN'S ACTIVE.

IF THE EMOTIONAL CENTER O THE BRAIN IS ACTIVE, THAT COUL MEAN THE BIRDS ARE FEELING STRONG EMOTIONS.

WE KNOW, IN THE HUMAN'S BRAIN, WHEN WE LOOK AND SEE DEAD PERSON, CERTAINLY IF YOU'RE VIEWING A LOVED ONE, YOU'R GONNA HAVE A STRONG EMOTIONA RESPONSE, AND THAT'S GONNA B CENTERED IN THE AMYGDALA

THIS IS THE SIDEWAYS VIEW O THE CROW, AND YOU CAN SEE A BEAK AND THE THROAT AND THE NECK.

THIS IS THE EYE, AND HERE'S TH BRAIN.

IN HUMAN BRAIN IMAGING, WE CAN SEE...LANDMARKS, BUT IN THE CROW BRAIN, IT'S JUST SORT OF A FLA GRAY SURFACE IT'S LIKE DOING A JIGSAW PUZZL THAT'S ONE COLOR

AFTER ANALYZING NUMEROU SCANS, MARZLUFF'S TEAM IS SEEING MORE ACTIVITY IN A DIFFERENT PART OF THE BRAIN -- THE ARE ASSOCIATED WITH LONG-TER MEMORY SO WHEN THE BIRDS SEE A DEAD CROW, THEIR BRAINS ARE WORKING HARD TO LEARN AND REMEMBER IT COULD BE A SIMILAR REACTION TO WHEN PEOPLE SEE A FATAL CAR CRASH.

YOU KNOW, IF YOU SEE STRANGER THAT'S DEAD, YO PROBABLY -- YOU MIGHT FEEL SORRY, BUT YOU'RE ALSO AFRAID, AND YOU'RE ALSO WONDERING, YOU KNOW, 'WHAT HAPPENED HERE?

SHOULD I BE HERE AM I GONNA BE THE NEXT ONE TO BE HIT?

[ CROWS CAWING ]

AND THIS FITS WITH WHAT KAELI SWIFT IS SEEING IN THE FIELD.

AT LEAST OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE FUNERAL IS TO LEARN ABOUT DANGER, BUT IT DOESN'T MEA THERE AREN'T OTHER THINGS ALSO GOING ON YOU KNOW, AT THE SAME TIME THA YOU'RE LEARNING ABOUT DANGER YOU MIGHT BE FEELING BAD O AFRAID ABOUT IT.

[ BIRDS CHIRPING ]

LIKE HUMANS, CROWS HAVE STRONG FAMILY BONDS, AND THE MAY REACT DIFFERENTLY TO A DEA FAMILY MEMBER THAN THEY DO TO STUFFED CROW FROM MARZLUFF'S LAB.

BUT MARZLUFF WON'T BE KILLIN OFF CROW FAMILIES ANYTIME SOON

[ Singsong voice ] HI

AFTER PARTICIPATING IN TH RESEARCH, THESE CROWS GO BACK TO THE WILD IF FUTURE STUDIES SHOW THA THESE BIRDS FEEL EMOTIONS, RESEARCHERS WOULD BE FLYIN HIGH

ACCORDING TO TH CENSUS BUREAU, IN 2011, WOME MADE UP ABOUT HALF OF TH WORKFORCE, BUT ONLY ABOUT QUARTER OF THOSE WOMEN WER EMPLOYED IN S.T.E.M. CAREERS ONE ORGANIZATION SCIENCE CHEERLEADERS, IS TRYIN TO ENGAGE MORE YOUNG WOMEN INT THE SCIENCES BY PLAYFULL CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES THROUG THE SPORT OF CHEERLEADING.

WITH US IS CHRISTINE McCARTHY, A GEOLOGIST AND A FORMER CHEERLEADER FOR TH ST. LOUIS RAMS AND A MEMBER OF SCIENCE CHEERLEADERS NOW, THEY WERE STILL THE L.A. RAMS BACK THEN, RIGHT

THEY WERE. [ Laughing ] YEAH.

SORRY TO PUT AGE AN PERSPECTIVE -- I JUST WANT TO BE ACCURATE SO, WHAT I SCIENCE CHEERLEADERS

SCIENCE CHEERLEADERS IS REALLY THE BRAINCHILD OF DARLENE CAVALIER, WHO WAS FORMER 76er.

AND WHEN SHE WAS GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL, SHE WAS LOOKING AT POLICY AND PUBLIC OPINION AN WAS REALIZING THAT THE ATTITUDES AND THE -- THERE'S ALMOST A FEAR THE PUBLIC HAS OF SCIENCE, AND THAT'S AFFECTING THE NUMBERS O KIDS GETTING INTO IT AND SHE WANTED TO TRY TO FIN SORT OF A CREATIVE WAY TO SHAK THINGS UP A BIT AND TO GET PEOPLE EXCITED ABOUT SCIENCE AND SHE USED HER BACKGROUND, A WELL SO SHE ENLISTED THE HELP O FORMER NFL AND NBA CHEERLEADER WHO HAVE CAREERS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, MATH -- AND I SHOULD ADD MEDICINE.

WE HAVE A COUPLE OF SURGEONS INVOLVED, TOO.

WOW

WE GO TO VARIOUS OUTREACH EVENTS -- MAKERS FAIRE, SCIENC FAIRS.

IS SCIENCE BECOMING COOLER?

[ LAUGHS WE HOPE SO THAT'S OUR GOAL, REALLY, IS TO TRY TO PUT THIS VERY ACCESSIBLE, HAPPY, CHEERFUL FACE ON SCIENCE.

WE BRING PEOPLE IN WITH TH POMPONS, PERHAPS, OR WITH OU SMILES, BUT THEN WE KEEP THE THERE WITH THE SCIENCE SO WE'RE ABLE TO, HOPEFULLY, DESCRIBE WHAT WE DO AND DESCRIBE WHATEVER SCIENCE EXHIBIT THA WE'RE CHEERING FOR AT TH TIME -- BE ABLE TO DESCRIBE IT IN AN APPROACHABLE WAY

SO, TELL ME, HOW DID YOU TURN INTO A SCIENTIST WHAT WAS IT?

WAS THERE AN 'AHA' MOMENT WHER YOU SAID, 'ALL RIGHT, THIS I WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO'?

YEAH, THERE ABSOLUTELY WAS.

SO, UNLIKE SOME OF THE MEMBERS THE WOMEN IN THE GROUP, WH CONCURRENTLY DID THEIR CHEERLEADING AS WELL AS THEI SCIENCE, I RETIRED FRO CHEERLEADING AND WAS WORKING A A PARALEGAL, KIND OF LOOKING TO -- 'WHAT DO I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE?

AND I WAS ROCK-CLIMBING AND WA OUT THERE LOOKING AT THESE AMAZING CRAGS, LOOKING AT THES EXPOSURES THAT JUST REALLY DRE ME IN, AND THINGS THAT I LEARNED FROM MY GEO 101 COURSE WAY BAC WHEN REALLY KEPT BACK FLOODING BACK AND I JUST DECIDED IT THEN THA I WANTED TO QUIT MY JOB.

I ALREADY HAD A DEGREE, AND WAS WORKING FULL TIME.

I WANTED TO QUIT MY JOB, START ALL OVER, AND LEARN AS MUCH AS I COULD ABOUT THIS EVEN IF I NEVER EARNED A DIME, I THOUGHT MY LIFE WOUL BE...ENHANCED.

AND IS IT

ABSOLUTELY.

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO YOU DO NOW?

YOU'RE A DIFFERENT KIND OF ROC STAR YOU'RE THINKING OF WITH ROCKS ALL THE TIME

RIGHT SO, I WORK IN TH ROCK MECHANICS LAB A LAMONT-DOHERTY, WHICH IS A INSTITUTE UNDE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

I TRY TO UNDERSTAND HOW STUF BEHAVES, HOW ICE OR ROCK -- HO IT RESPONDS WHEN IT EXPERIENCE SOME KIND OF A STRESS.

SO THE SETTINGS COULD BE THE WAY THAT GLACIERS FLOW OR HOW IC MOONS OF THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTE EVOLVE, HOW SEISMIC WAVES TRAVEL THROUGH THE EARTH -- THINGS LIKE THAT

OKAY, SO, AND HOW DOES THAT ALL WORK LET'S SAY A SEISMIC WAVE'S TRAVELING THROUGH THE EARTH -- THAT'S INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT FO STUDYING EARTHQUAKES, RIGHT...

ABSOLUTELY.

...AND HOPEFULLY CREATIN SCENARIOS WHERE PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND IF THEY'RE IN A DANGEROUS ZONE OR NOT.

RIGHT

AND SO THE ICY MOONS ON ANOTHER PLANET -- I MEAN, THAT SEEMS LIKE A HUGE LEAP, AND YO CAN STUDY THAT HERE ON EARTH

ABSOLUTELY.

WE CAN RE-CREATE THE SETTING WITH, YOU KNOW, GETTING TO THE RIGHT TEMPERATURES AND PRESSURES.

AND WE CAN CREATE SAMPLES USIN THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT THE MATERIALS ARE ACTUALL MADE OF, AND JUST TORTURE ROCK AND ICE AND TRY TO PULL OUT AS MUCH AS WE CAN FROM THEM

OKAY, AND YOU MENTIONED YOU GO TO MAKER FAIRS, AND THERE'S ALSO SORT OF CITIZEN SCIENCE EMERGING

RIGHT

SO TELL US HOW SCIENCE IS KIND OF LEAVING JUST THE CLASSROOM OR JUST THE ACADEMIA AND MORE PEOPLE ARE GETTIN INVOLVED WITH IT

RIGHT SO ANOTHER ORGANIZATION THAT WE'RE AFFILIATED WITH IS SciStarter AND IT'S REALLY GREAT.

IT'S AN ONLINE CITIZEN-SCIENCE GROUP WHERE, YOU KNOW, SCIENCE CLASSROOMS OR HOMESCHOOLED FAMILIES OR JUST ANYONE WH ALWAYS DREAMED OF DABBLING I SCIENCE COULD GET HOOKED UP WITH RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS WHO AR DOING -- THERE'S A WHOLE MYRIA OF THINGS.

YOU HAVE TO CHECK OUT THEI WEBSITE -- ANYTHING FROM MONITORING THE BEE AND CRICKET POPULATIONS IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD OR MOBILE APPS WHERE PEOPLE, WHEN THEY GO ON CAMPING TRIPS, CAN NOTE THE WILD ANIMALS THAT THEY SEE OR THEY CAN GET HOOKED UP WITH ONLINE GAMERS AND SCIENTISTS WHO ARE TRYING TO UNRAVEL RN SEQUENCES.

SO THERE'S LOTS OF GREAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE AT HOME TO REALLY GET INVOLVED AND THERE'S ACTUALLY ONE -- IF YOU DON'T MIND ME TALKING ABOU IT, THERE'S AN EXCITING PROJEC GOING ON RIGHT NOW CALLE MERCCURI, WITH TWO C's AND A 'I,' WHERE THE SciStarter, ALONG WITH SCIENCE CHEERLEADERS -- AND I THINK THEY ENLISTED THE HELP OF SOME POP WARNER CHEERLEADERS -- THEY WENT AROUND ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SPORTING EVENTS AND OTHER COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS AND TOOK SWABS TOOK MICROBES OF CELLPHONES AN UNDER YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS HERO'S SHOES AND THEY DID SOME PRE-ANALYSIS AND THEN THEY TOOK A SUBSET OF THAT, AND THEY'RE ACTUALLY - THEY SENT IT UP TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

AND THEY'RE MONITORING ITS GROWTH RATE.

'CAUSE I GUESS THERE'S -- AN LIKEWISE, THEY TOOK SOME SWABS FROM THE INSIDE OF THE ISS AND THEN BROUGHT THEM DOWN HERE TO GROW AND ACTUALLY, TODAY THEY'V STARTED THE ANALYSIS AND THE IDEA IS THAT THERE WAS PREVIOUS STUDIES THAT SHOWED THAT MICROBE GRAVITY AFFECTS GROWTH RATES OF THESE MICROBES AND SO IT'S JUST SORT OF A FUN WAY PEOPLE CAN ROOT FOR THEI SPORT HERO'S MICROBIAL SHOES O SOMETHING.

TO GROW, OKAY

RIGHT AND YOU KNOW, THE WHOLE REASON FOR IT, THOUGH IS -- OR TH IMPLICATIONS ARE FOR FUTUR SPACE TRAVEL AND TO TRY TO EXPLORE THE HABITABILITY O THESE KINDS OF ENVIRONMENTS LIKE THE ISS.

OKAY, CHRISTINE McCARTHY FROM LAMONT-DOHERTY EARTH OBSERVATORY AND A SCIENCE CHEERLEADER.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVIN ME [ DOG BARKING

ONE FOSSIL THAT CONTINUES T EVADE PALEONTOLOGISTS IS THE PTEROSAUR, A CLOSE COUSIN OF THE DINOSAUR THIS FLYING REPTILE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST ANIMALS AFTER INSECT TO EVOLVE POWERED FLIGHT WE SAT DOWN WITH EXPERTS FRO THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY, WHO ARE CONTINUING TO HUNT FOR REMNANTS OF THI ELUSIVE CREATURE [ ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYS ]

BECAUSE OF THE FRAGILITY OF THE PTEROSAUR SKELETON, THER AREN'T MANY PTEROSAUR FOSSIL THAT ARE FOUND PTEROSAURS HAVE INCREDIBLY FRAGILE HOLLOW BONES I CAN SAY THAT, AFTER 25 YEARS OF COLLECTING FOSSILS IN THE GOBI DESERT EVERY SINGLE SUMMER, WE'VE COLLECTED THOUSANDS OF DINOSAURS.

I FOUND PTEROSAUR BONE THA ENTIRE TIME.

A LOT OF PTEROSAUR DISCOVERY I JUST SERENDIPITY SOME OF THE FIRST PTEROSAURS T BE DISCOVERED WERE DISCOVERED BY QUARRYMEN IN LIMESTONE QUARRIE IN SOLNHOFEN, IN SOUTHER GERMANY.

[ French accent ] DESPITE THE FACT THAT YOU DO FIND PTEROSAURS IN ALL CONTINENTS, OVER 90% OF ALL PTEROSAUR SPECIMENS AN ABOUT 50% OF ALL PTEROSAUR DIVERSITY ONLY COME FROM FIV DEPOSITS SO EVEN IF YOU FIND PTEROSAURS IN DIFFERENT PLACES, THEIR PRESERVATION IS VERY POOR.

AND IN ONLY FIVE PLACES, YOU REALLY HAVE ENOUGH SPECIMENS T BE ABLE TO RECONSTRUCT THE WHOLE ANIMAL AND TO HAVE A BETTE INSIGHT ABOUT THEIR DIVERSITY.

BECAUSE PTEROSAUR FOSSILS ARE SO RARE, EVERY SINGLE NE DISCOVERY ADDS TO THE BODY O KNOWLEDGE THAT WE KNOW ABOUT I THINK THAT THERE WAS PROBABL THOUSANDS OF DIFFERENT PTEROSAUR SPECIES.

WE ONLY HAVE 150 RIGHT NOW

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME FOR MORE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION, VISIT OU WEBSITE.

YOU CAN ALSO CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK AND JOIN TH CONVERSATION ON TWITTER.

UNTIL NEXT TIME, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN THANKS FOR WATCHING.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WA MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS STATION.