Transcipt: April 22, 2008

Justin: Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer. There are places in the imagination that defy the laws of what is possible in reality, in wistful meanderings of the mind or purposeful ponderings of the impossible we construct these non-realities into definable states of being.
And when the mind that plays unsatisfied with the state of reality beyond its membrane textured walls begins to tinker with that reality and challenge the authority of what is and is not possible. And so, art, science and civilization are born.
While the meanderings of thought that precede our reality like the following hour of programming do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University Of California Davis KDVS or its sponsors, it is these very imagery meanderings whose outcomes, evidences, and flagrant flauntings of brave new realities we celebrate here on This Weekend Science- KDVS fund raiser edition, coming up next.
[musical interlude]

Justin: Good morning Kirsten!
Kirsten: Good morning Justin! It’s fund raising!
Justin: It’s fund raising. So get your pens out, because at the top of the show we are going to give you the phone numbers to call in to donate.
Kirsten: That’s right.
Justin: But then we are not going to say them ever again during the show.
Kirsten: No, that’s a lie.
Justin: So get your pen out [laughs] wait, just go along with me for a minute.
Kirsten: You should get your pen out right now.
Justin: Now that I’ll just say the number a lot of times [laughs] might write it down.
Kirsten: Write it down, everybody ready? If you would like to donate during this hour to support science on the radio and KDVS free form college radio, live 24/7 365 days a year, call 530-754KDVS or if you are listening to us streaming on the internet you can call toll free.
Justin: At 888-654-6294. That sounds like a makity-up number [laughs] every time I hear it. It’s like somebody just call like 888-654-6294, I don’t…or you can go online to
Kirsten: Now note the fund raiser web site where you can donate directly, I mean, you can go to
Justin: it’s easy to remember.
Kirsten: And that will get you there. It’s easy to remember. But if you just go to…oh! And then what if you forget to put the dot
Justin: it’s so much more complicated.
Kirsten: You too can donate and support all the wonderful things that go on down here at KDVS. The song that you were just listening to is one of the songs on the 2008 This Week in Science, science compilation CD. It’s a band called My Robot Friend and the song is called Robot High School, and the song was lovingly donated to us by the band My Robot Friend, thank you Howard, so that we could have a fabulous song, one of many on this year’s CD. I am so excited about it and for $25 we will give you the CD as a gift.
Justin: Wow!
Kirsten: Yay! We already got $40…sweet… you people are fast on the draw. This is awesome. Our show goal for this morning…
Justin: We have one?
Kirsten: We have a goal.
Justin: 5,000 [laughs] I have no idea. 10,000, 400…?
Kirsten: No, no, if we get, what is it? If we get…
Justin: Why don’t we make it 40 bucks…
Kirsten: …one $25 donation every five minutes for this hour…
Justin: That’s a lot of math now.
Kirsten: That’s 30 times 25…
Justin: it’s not 30…what ..are you sure?
Kirsten: It’s 30 minutes, there are 35 minute.
Justin: No! There are 32 minutes in our show.
Kirsten: You’re confused, oh two minutes, oh my god I am so confused [laughs] what is wrong with me.
Justin: I can do math. That’s what is really surprising.
Kirsten: I can’t do math this morning.
Justin: Other shows are taking like really fanciful approaches on trying to figure it all out. We are just going to straight demand that you send us money.
Kirsten: Show goal: Let’s do every two minutes I want a $25 CD, every two minutes.
Justin: That’s like $8,000 [laughs] I think.
Kirsten: Every two minutes, I want a $25 donation and we will give you a CD, come on people…CDs for the…that’s the goal, huh?
Justin: The 18,000, that’s too high! [laughs] you’ve got to set goals, no, if you ever get your goal that means you’re setting you goals in life too low.
Kirsten: That’s an interesting, interesting point Justin.
Justin: It’s true, but of course I guess if you put a goal like $18,000 and get like $800, then you got to look back at your [laughs]…
Kirsten: Our wonderful phone shift leader down here is smiling and nodding her head very nicely. Sure Justin, $18,000, $18,000 everybody!
Justin: You need to make the goals high enough so that you have something to really strive for in this world.
Kirsten: That’s right. What were you going to say? You have a wonderful story you were going to bring up just there?
Justin: Oh! I am not, I didn’t say any but yes, I do have a wonderful. I have…
Kirsten: The thing that people listen to this for right? The science.
Justin: The science.
Kirsten: So let’s give them a little.
Justin: Yes, absolutely. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Harvard Business School have found that contrary to popular sayings, it is possible to buy happiness – as long as you buy it for someone else it seems.
And these series of studies psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn found that individuals report significantly greater happiness when they spend money on gifts for other people or charitable donations rather than spending that money on themselves.
Much like you can do now by donating at 754 KDVS. We wanted to test our theory on how people spend their money and whether it is as important as how much they earn, right, okay.
So the researchers looked at more than 630 Americans and asked participants to rate their general happiness report their annual income and provided breakdown of their monthly spending including bills, gifts for themselves, gifts for others, and donations to charity which actually reminds me that KDVS donations, tax deductible.
Kirsten: They are tax deductible.
Justin: They actually are. We should do this like before tax time next time [laughs] like right before. Regardless of how much income the people made and studied, those who spent more money on others reported greater happiness while those who spent more on themselves did not. So, anyone out there in need of feeling greater happiness today? Call us down here at 530-754-KDVS or the makity-up number 888…
Kirsten: 888-654-6294, that’s 888-654-6294 or go to if you’re listening online.
Justin: The study also measured the happiness levels of employees at a firm in Boston before and after they received their profit sharing bonus which ranged between three to $8,000 affected the employees happiness was not so much the size of the bonus that they got but how they spent it.
The employees who devoted more of their bonus to gifts to others, towards charity consistently reported greater benefits and happiness than the employees who simply spent their money on their own needs. And how lucky those employees would have been if they lived in Davis. They could have done both [laughs]. They could have given the money to KDVS…
Kirsten: And also supported their own needs of science and free form radio.
Justin: Yes! This is, this is my favorite part because I have… there is another study in here that sort of relates to the sort of same idea. Another experiment, researchers gave participants a five or $20 bill asking them to spend the money by 5 p.m. that day.
Half the participants were instructed to spend the money on themselves and the other half were told spend the money on others. The participants who spent the money on others again reported feeling happier at the end of the day than those who spent the money on themselves.
And these findings suggest that very minor alterations in your spending allocation such as $5, as little as $5 might be enough to produce real gains and happiness on any given day. So $5 in one day can make you happy.
$40 bucks, that could take care of you for like a week! [laughs] A month maybe even that would be great to change your life!
Kirsten: It could change your outlook on life. Well, today we have lots more science. We also have Dr. Michael Stebbins. He will be joining us on the phone in a little bit, in about 15 or 20 minutes and he joins us…
Justin: I have been dying to ask him if he is riding the bus or if he has invested in…
Kirsten: In a new car, that’s right. Michael Stebbins joins us every other week to talk about science policy that is happening, what is happening in our government’s capital. He is located in Washington DC and he brings us the news from the spot. He is our embedded correspondent.
Justin: Yes, he has got such a great lowdown on all the policy.
Kirsten: Right. So our show brings you all sorts of science every week plus science policy, plus our opinions and antics that we get into. Justin’s disclaimers, how could, how…I mean the show was, Andy Fell was wonderful last week and he is knowledgeable. He does not bring the disclaimers.
Justin: Yes, I actually….and this is nothing…It’s like, just for the general audience out there who might be interested in doing radio shows, this is a community radio station and even though I have some very…I have gotten some heat for some of the opinions I put out on the air…
When I am not here I am a very mild mannered person. I don’t like to share my opinions with people very often.
Kirsten: Yes, right .
Justin: I am very reserved and not very outgoing. So, this has been a real, sort of coming out of the shell for me, being able…
Kirsten: To come down and be on the radio. And I believe there is a premium available so that you can actually host a radio show down here at KDVS if you donate $100 or more.
Justin: Wow!
Kirsten: Yes. We also have more music for the This Week in Science, science compilation CD that is your gift as our thank you present to you for donating at least $25 to this show and we would appreciate it if you would get on the phone right now and call 530-754-KDVS or 888-654-6294 or go to and donate. You could hear a song much like this one because this one is on the CD.
[musical interlude]
Kirsten: This song here is by Unbalanced Wheel, it is called The Perpetual Motion Machine and it is one of the songs on the This Week in Science 2008 science compilation CD that you can get for a donation of only $25.
Justin: Which is cheap. The first time we did this I think was $40.
Kirsten: Yes, you know, they brought the price down a little bit.
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: $25. And if you donate online…seeing if I can get over here.
Justin: If you are donating online and you want to kudos the show because it is your favorite show you have ever heard in your entire life, there is no This Week in Science. They won’t know what you are talking about.
Kirsten: That’s right. When you go to the list of all of the DJs on this station, it does not say This Week in Science unfortunately, but it does say Dr. Kirsten Sanford and Justin.
Justin: It does not say any Justin. If you look for, if they look for Justin it actually wont’ be there.
Kirsten: But if you look for Dr. Kirsten Sanford, it will be there, right?
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: And so then you can say thank you, put your attribution of love down for our show if you look for my name.
Justin: It’s one of my biggest disappointments when I did join KDVS down here is that the public affairs people, we don’t get DJ names, like that was a thing, I was like, oh yes you can pick out a cool DJ name, like I wonder how or where should I, do I go into a room that I [laughs] the group will decide your name based on these three questions. Like, I don’t – like how does it work? Because I wanted to be DJ Devious.
Kirsten: DJ Devious? Justin you still can, you can be….do you want to be DJ Devious from now on? I will put in down.
Justin: …then I would do the call letters of the radio station and it would be like, you’re listening to K Devious and then it would be like all about me.
Kirsten: And DJ Devious.
Justin & Kirsten: DJ Devious on KDVS.
Kirsten: If you want to support Justin’s dreams [laughs]. No, I am kidding.
Justin: No, no, no….no, no, no, that might be legally prosecutable.
Kirsten: So, public affairs shows down here, there is not just This Week in Science but everyday of the week there are original shows that people are producing about local and world news, bicycles, agriculture, poetry, technology, and of course science, sports, education.
Some of our shows are also syndicated shows. We have Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News, and Planetary Radio. So, I mean, we got a huge selection of locally produced programming and programming that is syndicated. Thank you very much everybody for donating so far. Please keep the donations coming in.
Justin: Oh! I just got word. If you are not a student it costs $45 for the compilation CD.
Kirsten: Even though I said I only wanted it to be $25.
Justin: I don’t know.
Kirsten: I want it to be $25 forever.
Justin: It’s…we are making the CDs…it’s $25 for every…it’s $50.
Kirsten: It’s $40 [laughs].
Justin: It’s now $50. Anybody give me a lip around here, I am making it $60, all right?
Kirsten: [Laughs] Bringing it up, working it up. Okay. The higher the people. The higher-up has spoken, $40 for community members, $25 for students, giving students a break I guess.
Justin: And $50 if you’re hot.
Kirsten: [Laughs] That’s right. A story… part of what we do down here at This Week in Science is thanks to our wonderful TWIS minions, I have a story that was sent in by Jay Scott Burge about a disappearing lake.
There has was a giant lake that formed on top of an ice sheet in Greenland and satellite pictures showed that the lake was 2.2 square miles and up to 40 feet deep and so this is a huge lake and these lakes, they formed from melt water and they you know, they take awhile to build but they can disappear in a snap for what is apparently no reason at all and researchers have been trying to figure out how on earth they disappeared because it is such a huge quantity of water.
Justin: Thirsty polar bears [laughs].
Kirsten: Not thirsty polar bears. Anyway, there is a huge crack that formed underneath this lake and it’s otherwise known as a moulin crack, moulin, and it opened up the ice underneath the lake and allowed 11.6 billion gallons of water to leave under the ice into the bedrock in just under 24 hours.
Justin: It was even quicker that that. The majority that left is in like 90 minutes.
Kirsten: Right.
Justin: They said it had the force of Niagara Falls as it left.
Kirsten: Which is huge.
Justin: Crazy.
Kirsten: And the question is though, what actually allows this huge crack to fall and so they have coming up with different hypotheses and the idea is that there is some kind of a deformity in the ice sheets underneath all the melt water and that, that little tiny deformity if there is like movement against it, a little tiny bit of water can just start trickling through a very, very, very tiny imperfection in the ice and that small amount of water can lead to just – can cut through ice all the way to the bedrock and actually open it up. And so…
Justin: And actually, if we are talking Greenland here, there is not a whole lot of bedrock under the ice. I mean [laughs] there is very little land under. There is a small chain perhaps above sea level, you know, like land on, kind of like a horseshoe. Basically, it’s like it caught this giant ice sheet glacier back in the day and then it just kind of hung onto it. So yes, most of that ice sheet going underneath, it’s back into the sea.
Kirsten: Yes, it will get underneath the ice and then probably carve out a path that it will flow down out to the sea. There is a quote here from one of the researchers. She says we set out to influence whether the melting at the surface which is sensitive to climate change could influence how fast the ice can flow.
If the ice sheet is frozen to the bedrock or has very little water available then it will flow much more slowly that if it has a lubricating and pressurized layer of water underneath to reduce friction. So, the flow of the ice sheets could actually determine the calving of ice bergs off of the ice sheet. And the landing more ice.
Justin: And they are beautiful by the way flying over there because they all have this sort of turquoise, like, it’s that sort of bluish ice that forms at the bottom of these lakes, in these ponds, and they are, yes, it’s beautiful.
Kirsten: The process is called “hydrofracture”. So, if you are interested in looking that up, the researcher who is involved in this is Sarah Das of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and this was published in Science Magazine.
Justin: Very cool.
Kirsten: If you would like to hear more stories like this on KDVS, support.
Justin: Stay tuned [laughs] yes, yes, you got to support us so we stay on the air with the…because the financing thing. It’s a….you can call in now 754-KDVS. If you don’t have letters on your phone, that is 754-5387.
Kirsten: Yes.
Justin: Or you can…there is that 800 number that I can’t see from here.
Kirsten: 888-654-6294, if you would like to call in from wherever you are outside of the 530 area code.
Justin: Or you can go in the internet.
Kirsten: Yes, if you listen to us streaming online, go to the internet,, and open up a new window, all it takes is control T. Open up a new tab in your browser, enter
Justin: That sounds very technical [laughs].
Kirsten: URL box.
Justin: Speaking of technical things, we have a technical director on the show, technically speaking. Don’t we? Marshall?
Kirsten: Marshall!
Justin: I’ve got a story for him. This actually might be some intriguing interest to him that might actually answer one of those odd questions you had about the inner workings of his mind? Okay, so, blueberries.
Kirsten: Blueberries reinforcements.
Justin: Yes, is it reinforcements or is it charge? I thought it was charge.
Kirsten: No, it’s reinforcements.
Justin: It’s reinforcements. Okay. So how does the story go? He was…
Kirsten: He was sitting watching television when he was a child and there was some kind of, you know, war movie or something, he was…
Justin: A cowboy movie or something.
Kirsten: Yes, and he was eating a bowl of blueberries and somebody in the movie said something about bring in the reinforcements.
Justin: Like right as he was falling asleep and eating a blueberry?
Kirsten: Right [laughs] and now every time he hears blueberry…
Justin: Inside his head he thinks…
Justin and Kirsten: Reinforcements!
Justin: Like, right away.
Kirsten: Exactly.
Justin: Okay, well, there may be a reason. Blueberries are nature’s source of flavonoids. Flavonoids, that’s not a made up word. In particular, this might be anthocyanins and…
Kirsten: Anthocyanins.
Justin: Anthocyanins and flavonols. Although the precise mechanisms by which these plant-derived molecules affect the brain are unknown, they have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier after dietary intake, right?
Kirsten: Right.
Justin: So you eat it and it can pass that blood-brain barrier, go right to the noggin and is now believed that they exert effects on learning and memory by enhancing existing neural brain cell connections improving cellular communications and stimulating neuronal growth.
So that might be what happened to poor Marshall, is that he is sitting there munching away on these blueberries and they are going across his blood-brain barrier getting all fired up to make some sort of a connection to work hard on the neuron and all of a sudden there he is stuck with “reinforcements” every time he hears the word blueberry.
Kirsten: [laughs] I’d like to thank Eric Foss from Bakersfield for donating and getting a 2008 compilation CD. That’s what he gets as his gift from us, thank you very much for donating and supporting This Week in Science on KDVS. Our show total now, tadaaa! Is $120! Our show total is $120. That’s not quite toward our show goal.
Justin and Kirsten: A little bit shy of 18,000.
Justin: But that’s worth still aiming high, that’s the whole point, right?
Kirsten: [laughs] Aim high, that’s what we always say.
Justin: You don’t get to the moon by aiming for the corner store. Do you know what I mean?
Kirsten: That’s very accurate I guess. Yes. I got another story from a listener, I think there is another Scott Burge story that is really fascinating to me and I am trying to wrap my head around it and having some issues but you know, it’s all okay. There is in archive, publishing archive, there is a story about birds using quantum properties to be able to migrate. So…
Justin: Huh!
Kirsten: Yes, it’s really fascinating and I just did something to actually click the button and I’m not connected to the internet so it just destroyed my connection but the story is basically that navigating birds, migrating birds have very iron or ferromagnetic particles in their retinal cells in the back of their eyes.
There are these very small particles that respond to the magnetic field of the earth and those magnetic response to the magnetic is like a compass that allows them to hone in on particular directions and when used in combination with the sun moving across the sky or if they are night time migrators with the stars across the sky at night, the two can be used to allow the birds to navigate from their summer breeding grounds to their winter fattening grounds [laughs].
Justin: Wow. Able to nav?
Kirsten: Yes, they’ve got built-in navigational properties. It’s like OnStar but you know, not, and so this story, I mean, the question I was really like how it works and how the magnetic particles like align with the earth’s field and what exactly about their alignment tells the birds where they are suppose to go.
And this paper suggests that because of the spin states of the electrons in these small particles that they can be actually quantumly tied to the magnetic fields and I’m guessing that it’s something to do with as the bird develops, they develop an innate understanding of the way that the magnetic particles coincide with the field with where they are suppose to go.
So I don’t know, I’m fascinated by this study and I will have to bring it back when I have actually like dug my head into it a little bit more, but it’s amazing to think that you know, these quantum properties could be influencing the migration of birds.
Justin: Oh absolutely, that makes good sense because it is such a very narrow tiny thread of the electromagnetic spectrum in which we humans actually utilize visible light.
Kirsten: Yes.
Justin: I mean, there is so, I mean radio is like one end of the spectrum far, far away. It’s kind of a weird thing like you would like maybe we could at some point develop senses that can actually sense these things and we do, I mean, we have created technology that can of course.
Kirsten: Yes.
Justin: We have radios.
Kristen: We have radios!
Justin: There is radio signal that you’re listening to now is being beamed from a tower and it’s being beamed into your room. And what is also interesting it’s being beamed to your radio which is translating at back into what we said before it got beamed. But what is also amazing is so are so many other lousy radio stations that you’re not listening to it at the moment.
Kirsten: Right.
Justin: They’re also being beamed in with their commercials and with their…
Kirsten: And you’re choosing this particular radio station to listen to.
Justin: …With their redundant song play.
Kirsten: We have to go take a break but…
Justin: Already?
Kirsten: Yes, before we go I’d just like to let people know that even were taking a break you can still work on dialing getting on the phone and donating. So, while we’re taking a break why don’t you call 530754KDVS that’s 7545387 or if you are outside the area code call 8886546294 or if you’re on the internet it’s just a click away. We have just got in $210 thank you for donating everyone. So far we have half an hour left.
Justin: Half an hour left.
Kirsten: …Let’s bring that total up. Okay.
Justin: We are probably going to need one donator at about $17,000.
Kirsten: Yes.
Justin: …One very large donation. If it’s within your capacity please don’t hesitate…
Kirsten: I’d like to thank John Therm from the UK calling in from England. He’s like calling in at the end of his work day. It’s awesome. He says thanks for the great show, keep up the good work. Thank you John. I appreciate the fact that you listen to us and that you took the time out of work day to give us a call.
Justin: Yes.
Kirsten: And wow! It’s just really amazing. I hope that you enjoy the science compilation CD that we sent you.
Justin: [Clapping] Whoa!
Kirsten: Yay! So were going to take a break. or 4754 KDVS. Stay tuned.

[musical interlude]

Justin: Were then back with more science-y goodness news. Here’s one brain reacts to fairness as it does to money and chocolate. Brain reacts to fairness the same way as it does to money and chocolate.
The human brain response being treated fairly the same way it response to winning money and eating chocolate. According to UCLA scientists being treated fairly turns on the brains reward circuitry.
So we may be hard wired to treat fairness as a reward. This kind of makes sense because from what I understand if right now if you donated $25 to KDVS you’d be receiving the fair offer of our 2008 compilation CD and your brain would see that as a reward.
There is a buzz hum. Where did Kirsten go? What’s going on girl?
Kirsten: I’m right here but where not back from our break yet really.
Justin: Were not?
Kirsten: So call 530754 KDVS or 8886546294 and donate to This Week in Science. The CD is going for $40 if you’re not a student. So tell people you’re a student, so you can get it for $25. [Laughs].
Justin: Hang on, hang on a second. Let me finish this.
Kirsten: And finish your story. I may go back to the break so I can call Michael Stebbins.
Justin: Yes. There is really interesting study that what they did was they had this fairness thing were they’ve got an amount of money and they’ve got two people supposedly who are going to negotiate over how to split it up. Right?
So the participants are asked whether they will accept or decline the persons offer to divide the money in a particular way. If they were to decline they knew that neither of the person making the offer or themselves would receive anything. Some of the offers were fair such as receiving 5 out of $10 or five out of $12 and some of the offers were unfair. So you would receive, you know, you would be offered $5 out of $23. In both tasks they were being offered the same amount of money. That’s kind of the key thing.
You’re always getting $5 but its five out of whatever. And the person who you’re supposedly doing this negotiation with doesn’t exist. This is just a picture. You are not a real person. Right? Everything has been set up.
Almost most of the time people agreed to accept unfair offers that were just like 20-30% but less than 2% would not accept offers that or only 10% of the lump some of the money.
Preferring to get nothing for themselves and the other person. [Laughs]. So it’s really like, oh if I don’t get more then we get nothing even though the dollar amount never changes.
Brains reward system was more active when people got the fair offers and it actually activate the parts of the brain that registered disgust and insult when they were getting the unfair offer.
I love that the ending of this though, if we can regulate our sense of insult we can say yes to the insulting offer and accept the cash. Said one of the researches in the study which means that yes someday, they’re may be a pill that we can swallow that will eliminate the need for us to swallow our pride.
We won’t be disgusted or insulted by greedy people who take advantage of us any more. Won’t that be nice?
Kirsten: That would be great.
Justin: Yes. So, I bet that the research is going to get oodles of corporate funding. Unlike KDVS which relies on you proud disgustable, insultable listeners to exert – not overcome your free will and donate by calling 754 KDVS or or if you’re living somewhere were they would charge you money to make a phone call 18886546294… Let’s get back to break Kirsten!
[musical interlude]
Justin: Citizens of earth. Davis Community Residence donate to KDVS now or we will stop talking to you.
Kirsten: [Laughs].
Justin: …Not because we want to be rude but we would fold like a house of cards.
Kirsten: We really do rely on the donations from listeners like you to be able to keep bringing you the amazing wealth of programming that we have done here at the station. We’ve got public affairs, we have live music.
KDVS has started its own record label to be able to give artist an opportunity to get their music out to the public and because of the connections here at KDVS were able to get those records out to stations all over the country. So, donate.
Justin: Vibrant Radio Theater.
Kirsten: …Radio theater yes, we have news. The station does it all 24 hours a day, 7days a week, 365 days a year and its run by students.
Justin: Some former KDVS DJs have gone on to become NASA astronauts.
Kirsten: That’s right.
Justin: Gone up in space shuttles and such.
Kirsten: And if you would like to support the continuation of such an amazing community resource, get online and go to and donate 530…
Justin: And write this down. Write down the phone number.
Kirsten: Yes, write it down if you can’t do it right now…
Justin: 7545387.
Kirsten: Right.
Justin: If you’re driving right now its still… oh its okay.
Kirsten: Just repeat it to yourself…754 KDVS. Whoa!
Justin: That law hasn’t passed yet. You can drive and call in to the station right now. Still able.
Kirsten: Yes. And you can call toll free 8886546294 and for a donation of just $40 you can get the 2008 This Week in Science compilation CD.
Justin: Please! Please! Please!
Kirsten: $25 if you’re a student. Tell us you’re a student and without further ado lets bring Dr. Michael Stebbins on the air.
Justin: Alright. Do I have to push this button, this button right here? This the one?
Kirsten: That one, the green one. Press it! Tan tan tan…
Justin: Good morning doctor!
Michael Stebbins: Good morning.
Kirsten: Good morning! How was everything in Washington D.C. [singing]
Michael Stebbins: Oh strange as usual.
Justin: How’s your bike?
Kirsten: So weird.
Michael Stebbins: [Laughs]. How’s my bike? That’s terrible.
Justin: What? No it’s good for you.
Michael Stebbins: I had a good morning. [Laughs].
Justin: Good morning. Yes. You’re right.
Kirsten: [Laughs].
Justin; That would be…
Kirsten: So, what do you have for us today?
Michael Stebbins: Oh well, we can start of with ITER everyone knows what ITER is an International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: They don’t actually call it that anymore.
Justin: No they have French name for it now, don’t they?
Michael Stebbins: Yes. Tokamak or something like that. This is a giant nuclear reactor that’s going to be doing fusion experiments.
Justin: Whew.
Michael Stebbins: Future once its finished being built.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: So its an international agreement between 7 groups including the United States and the EU. However, the United States last December we talked about the fact that they cut the $160 million slated for ITER out of the budget at the last minute.
As it turns out the Lamar Alexander was pointing out at a hearing the other day in the Senate Appropriations sub committee when he was speaking the Condoleezza Rice and mentioned that part of that deal was that if we don’t pay our part of it that we actually wind up paying a $750 million a year penalty.
Kirsten: Wow!
Michael Stebbins: So we actually may have to pay $750 million instead of the original $160 million a year if we do not pay up. So that’s what you get for welching.
Justin: Oh but that’s an international agreement. We don’t care about those. Right?
Michael Stebbins: Yes. I mean I don’t think anyone is under any self illusion that we would actually pay a $750 million penalty but – we don’t even pay our UN bill but it really is just a kind of another paint of embarrassment where you know our congress kind of screwed up.
You would have thought that someone over in the state department might have called them up when they heard that they were cutting out the ITER funding instead…
Kirsten: You guys. This is going to look bad in the end.
Michael Stebbins: This is going to cost more. So anyhow.
Kirsten: Interesting. Yes, I know before December there was a pretty…I mean I’ve seen the ITER people out promoting it and talking about how excited our portion of the researchers are here in the US to be a part of it.
Is there any news on whether or not the funding cuts like are they still all right over there or do you if there… if they’re still running and still planning on doing the work they were planning on doing or?
Michael Stebbins: Yes. Work still going ahead because they presumed that in a year from now that the US will be more sane.
Justin: Ah…very good.
Michael Stebbins: Also, we are likely to actually put that $160 million back into a supplemental appropriations bill to fund the Iraq war. It will be stuck in there somewhere so that we don’t have to pay our $750.
Kirsten: Right.
Michael Stebbins: So, it will wind up going through because of that and but also because a lot of the ITER money was actually not going abroad it was going to Fermilab and so we now have a new a congressman, a Bill Foster from the district that has Fermilab in it. That seat was originally held by Dennis Hastert and as it turns out Bill Foster is a former physicist and is already asking for money back for Fermilab and ITER.
Kirsten: Right. Let’s keep supporting physics here in the United States.
Justin: Scientists of the world unite!
Michael Stebbins: Indeed. We all need capes.
Kirsten: [Laughs]. That’s right.
Justin: Capes aren’t bad.
Michael Stebbins: This goes in with earth day?
Kirsten: [Laughs].
Justin: A what?
Michael Stebbins: This goes in with earth day?
Kirsten: It is! That’s right it is. It’s earth day today.
Justin: Its earth day everyday.
Michael Stebbins: I think I’m going to eat a vegetarian meal or something.
Kirsten: [Laughs]. That right. Have you heard the statistics, I think it’s been out for a while that if you are going vegetarian you supposedly better for the environment than I think buying a Prius or something hybrid car.
Michael Stebbins: That makes sense to me. Purchasing meat is actually a really dirty business you know, with the amount of fertilizer that goes into the ground. So I would be so surprised and really the hybrid cars aren’t saving that much individually over a period of time. Whereas soap…
Kirsten: Right.
Justin: Yes, I guess that’s possible. I suppose it depends on how much you drive.
Kirsten: I celebrate earth day everyday.
Justin: I disagree with you on the hybrids but…
Kirsten: [Laughs].
Michael Stebbins: My problem with the hybrids is that they’re ugly but they are actually are pretty cool cars. I have mentioned several times before that senator Colburn was blocking the genetic information non discrimination act…
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: … From getting to the floor this the act that would prevent discrimination based on you having a genetic test or a family history or predisposition to a disease. He is now blocking the breast cancer research bill. That would cancel…
Kirsten: Why…
Michael Stebbins: Yes. He did that just the other day.
Kirsten: Did he give any reason for that?
Michael Stebbins: They are 67 co-sponsors for the bill and no I actually called his office and nobody had an answer for me just yet but I suppose that they’re going to. And so. yes, this bill will give a $40 million for breast cancer research annually through 2012 so it actually kind of big deal.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: And it’s a breast cancer and environmental research act. The money will go to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to make grants for development and operation of research centers regarding environmental factors that be related to etiology of breast cancer.
I’m not sure how wise it is to set up new research centers specifically for breast cancer but it is certainly wise to spend the money on the research itself. That is actually the bad news. However, the good news is and this is just I mean, when I say hot off the presses, I mean 11:48, it came in.
Kirsten: Nice.
Michael Stebbins: Senator Colburn came to an agreement with the sponsors of the genetic information non discrimination act and there’s going to be a two hour debate equally divided with no amendments and there will be a unanimous consent agreement. It is going to be voted on this week.
Kirsten: Excellent!
Justin: Wow!
Michael Stebbins: Yes, it’s happening.
Kirsten: Excellent.
Michael Stebbins: So that is the really, really good news. So the senate will be voting on the genetic information non discrimination act and it will be going to the president by the end of the week.
Kirsten: How long has this been?
Justin: Oh we still got to go to that guy.
Kirsten: How long has the act been like sitting, waiting to be voted?
Michael Stebbins: 15 years.
Kirsten: Wow. That’s great!
Justin: Yup.
Kirsten: That’s great. We’ll see what happens.
Michael Stebbins: And… so that all the good news… Now the question is even if Colburn had – I think part of it was like Colburn continued to threaten and hold the bill but I think Reed was basically telling him that if you don’t allow it to go through were going to ignore all your holds.
Kirsten: [Laughs].
Justin: Wow. Because you know I guess in a way that if there some source of strategy the holding lots of popular legislation because then you’ll get somebody somewhere who is going to want to bribe you with something that you want.
So I guess a source of like a power grabbing sort of situation which you can get away with it if you’re a majority but if you’re not probably you won’t last too long. Which is I guess is what’s happening.
Michael Stebbins: Yes. So, one last thing, so last Friday Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled”. No intelligence allowed came out.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: And it made $3 million at the box office over the weekend, So they actually made less money than they spent on advertising on this horrible film.
Kirsten: Yey!
Michael Stebbins: I have seen the transcript for the film I haven’t actually spent my money at the theater yet. The transcript is disturbing to say the very least where Ben Stein draws lines between people who believed in evolution which he calls Darwinians. He never actually says evolution throughout the whole thing to Nazis.
Kirsten: That’s terrible.
Michael Stebbins: And actually blames Darwin’s ideas on the formation of the Third Reich and yes its pretty unbelievable actually and…
Justin: Wait, evolution equals eugenics? Really? How did that happen?
Kirsten: Yes, but the thing is his language strategy is he’s like getting a name for this group of people who scientifically accept the evidence that evolution is the process of change in species through time and he calls them Darwinians and…
Michael Stebbins: Yes.
Kirsten: … There is no such thing as a Darwinian. I mean he is putting it back to a single man and his ideas in…
Michael Stebbins: Oh I’m and Einsteinian.
Kirsten: You’re and Einsteinian? Excellent.
Michael Stebbins: Yes, I used to be a Newtonian but now I’m just an Einsteinian. Yes it’s horrible.
Kirsten: I’m a Feyn-manian. [Laughs].
Justin: Wow!
Kirsten: Hubble-anian. [Laughs].
Michael Stebbins: Yes, Ben Stein in this movie clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of evolution and therefore evolution is not true because he doesn’t understand it and the weird thing is that he is pushing the whole idea that he is pushing this sort of I mean very odd paranoid conspiracy theory about scientists expelling people who believed intelligent design. But really in the movie he doesn’t explain what intelligent design is.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: I read through this thing several times. I could not find a single like explanation of what intelligent design is. It’s really perplexing. So the whole idea here is he is manufacturing this controversy.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: So anyone who wants to learn more about the movie rather than going to see it, if you’re not interested in seeing scientists being called Nazis…
Kirsten: And if you’re not interested in putting your money into that kind of a thing.
Justin: As opposed to putting your money into a community radio station that brings you scientific news by calling 754 KDVS also if you don’t have the letters on your phone that’s 7545387 in the 53 area code or toll free at 18886546294 or something.
Michael Stebbins: Actually, you know what? I’m going to do exactly that. I’m going to the money I was going to put towards to the ticket for this movie…
Justin: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: I will I’m presuming perhaps falsely that I would find a date for it and spend some popcorn. I will actually give that money to you guys and not see the movie.
Kirsten: [Laughs].
Justin: That’s a great idea!
Kirsten: That’s wonderful and you were going to say where?
Michael Stebbins: In exchange you guys have to check out the website put up by the National Center for Scientification which is called Expelled exposed.
Kirsten: Yes.
Justin: Nice.
Michael Stebbins: It really goes through all the problems with it. People should link up to site too from their websites and really take a look at what’s going on there because this is really… this is a very, very scary thing. It’s one of these areas where it’s perplexing why Mr. Stein got involved in this.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: And really I think it’s probably an unfortunate end to his career because he had a really interesting career going from Nixon speech writer to of course…
Kirsten: A popular culture figure.
Michael Stebbins: A pop culture figure and columnist. Now like a really paranoid and somewhat crazy – some of the things that are coming out of his mouth and the senses.
Kirsten: Yes.
Michael Stebbins: You know calling people, really it’s really bothersome to me to be equated with the Nazi regime because I believe in evolution.
Kirsten: Yes absolutely.
Justin: Yes, that’s very disturbing and of course they don’t give any…
Michael Stebbins: That make me shake a little bit maybe want to get someone. Or maybe I am really that bad.
Justin: Oh no.
Kirsten: [Laughs]. Well thank you for all of your news today and thank you for that website. I think the anti propaganda campaign can get out there and do some good work. Thank you.
Michael Stebbins: Scientist for Americas website you people can blog for a CA and there is a virtual internship on there as well. I was told to plug those. Thank you so much.
Kirsten: Nice, Thank you so much Dr. Stebbins! He’s brought the weird from Washington.
Justin: Watch out for tax on the road.
Kirsten: And thanks for donating your movie money to KDVS. [Laughs].
Michael Stebbins: Ha ha. Bye bye.
Kirsten: Bye. That’s Michael Stebbins, he joins us every other week to bring news from Washington D.C. what’s happening with science and policy in our nations capital and across the country.
You can support stuff like that on KDVS. Stuff like This Week in Science by calling in right now to 530754 KDVS, 8886546294 or going online to We have three minutes left in our show.
Justin: And we’re very close to our goal.
Kirsten: [Laughs]. We are very close to our goal. Three minutes left in our show. If you can get some donations in there it would be fabulous so that’s we can say thank you to you before we go, though I don’t know if we have enough time to do that and we can get you a This Week in Science…
Justin: Compilation CD.
Kirsten: Which is our gift to you for donating. $25 at a student level, $40.
Justin: Kirsten has worked really hard compiling this issue.
Kirsten: Yes, and its not, you know not you buying a CD. You’re not buying a CD what you’re doing is you are supporting community radio and you are getting a very special compilation of music from independent artists across the country and around the world. That’s mailed to you by people down here the volunteers done at the KDVS.
We’ve been trying to bring you as much science as possible today. What with all of the donating and everything. I don’t think we have enough time to get anymore stories.
Justin: We’ll get the some of this next week. There is a virus that has 30% fatality rate you should know about that’s…
Kirsten: Scientist have announced…
Justin: …Tons of blood hemorrhaging.
Kirsten: Scientist have also announced that there getting a little bit closer to creating sperm from skin cells.
Justin: Really?
Kirsten: Yes! That’s exciting isn’t it?
Justin: Can’t we already…
Kirsten: Converting skin cells into pluripotent stem cells which makes them to be able to be anything in man. They can make into sperm and then anybody can have the babies.
Justin: Truth about bio fuels that make your bread prices go up even higher and all the rest of it. There is some bad news. I will save the bad news for next week.
Kirsten: Yes. Music, maybe Mozart. The Mozart thing isn’t so funny. Music helps to build brain connections in young children.
Justin: Yes, and wine may prevent dementia.
Kirsten: Wow! Oh thank God! Thank goodness I love to drink it. We are hitting the end of our show, all the music you have listened to today during the show is on the 2008 compilation CD.
If you’d like to donate one last plug in our last minute or call 8886546294 and support community radio.
Justin: And I you donated anything to today’s show remember.
Kirsten: It’s…
Justin: All in your pledge.
Kirsten: It’s all in your pledge.