Under the Microscope

Thursdays at 5:20pm, Fridays at 8:21am

KBIA's weekly look at science, technology, and health in Missouri and beyond. Find us on iTunes

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Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now. Scientists say it’ll be warmer, and the air will be more rich with carbon dioxide. To what degree is still unclear. But even small fluctuations in climate throw farmland ecosystems out of whack. A new study shows certain invasive plant species will not only be able to withstand climate change, but thrive. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon has more.

Shibu Jose is the director of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri Columbia.

Jesse Moss, The Overnighters

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes

The fracking boom in much of the U.S. has opened up a new path for people searching for work, of course, but also for redemption and reinvention.  In the film “The Overnighters,” filmmaker Jesse Moss travels to Williston, N.D., to tell the story of Lutheran Pastor Jay Reinke and the workers he houses in his church and home. Reinke invites newcomers to sleep in extra rooms at the church and to sleep in their cars in the parking lot while they look for jobs and more permanent housing. Some of the men even live in the pastor’s home with his family.

Particle Fever

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

On March 14, 2013, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland tentatively confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, sometimes referred to as the “God particle.” Its discovery was the culmination of nearly 30 years of work. The film "Particle Fever" captures the tension and drama in a group of dedicated scientists on the brink of a once in a lifetime discovery.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Many people struggle to protect their data online, whether it’s what to share on Facebook or how to react to targeted google ads. Farmers are worried about some of the same issues. 

They’re using precision information from their fields to prescribe exact doses of everything from seeds to water to fertilizer. That farm data could help drive new levels of productivity. But as Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock reports, farmers also have to decide just how much they want to share.

Amy mayer / Harvest Public Media

This week, we'll track a virus that's spreading through hog farms, and hear a flock of migrating trumpeter swans.

Carol Ward / University of Missouri

Our hand, the one we use to scroll down this page, is a feature that helps distinguishes us as a species. Carol Ward, professor at the MU Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, puts it this way:

“What we can do with our hands, the way we manipulate objects and use tools and technology, shape all of who we are as a species and how we adapt to the world.”

execution gurney
California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

Missouri has put two people to death since last November, with another execution scheduled for late January. St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon's Chris McDaniel and Véronique LaCapra have been looking into the state's secretive and controversial lethal injection process. They've discovered the state may be ignoring its own laws in carrying out the death penalty.

 

Null Value / Flickr

There’s a certain allure to crime scene forensics. What else could explain the immense popularity of the CSI television franchise.

Harum Helmy / KBIA

Consumers who want to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act have until Monday to enroll in a plan that would start on Jan. 1. But HealthCare.gov still has kinks that frustrate many consumers and navigators. KBIA’s Harum Helmy followed one Columbia resident’s journey with the website. 

Randall Hyman

This week, we’ll hear from a Missouri-based photojournalist about his experience documenting climate change in the Norwegian Arctic, and learn how new technology is being used in Columbia's public schools.

students in classroom
Brad Flickinger / Flickr

Grants for laptops and iPads in recent years have put more technology in the hands of Columbia Public Schools students .

Randall Hyman

Randall Hyman is a St. Louis-based photojournalist and writer. For more than three decades, he has traveled the globe covering cultural and environmental issues.

David Stonner / Missouri Department of Conservation

A report released on Friday by the Missouri auditor's office says the state continued to overspend on its elk restoration project, even after a 2011 audit found it was way over budget.

The current audit found the Missouri Department of Conservation spent close to $3.4 million to bring 129 elk into the state. Only an estimated 115 elk have survived.

But conservation department Deputy Director Tom Ripperger says those figures are misleading.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and scientists have long understood that what lives beneath the soil affects how crops grow. Often, they work to fight plant diseases—warding off infectious viruses and damaging fungi, for example. But now some microbiologists are focused on how to harness the good things microbes can do, with the goal of increasing farmers’ yields and diminishing their dependence on chemical inputs.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

This week, we'll hear how scientists are using microbes to increase crop yields, and learn about a new wetland in Columbia.

Marcus Mo / Flickr

The 2013 edition of the Missouri Hunger Atlas is a 145-page-strong document and, according to one of its main creators, has more than you'd ever want to know about the extent of food insecurity in the Show-Me State. Missouri is in the top ten of states with highest number of food-insecure residents in the nation.

Moberly school promotes healthy living through running

Nov 21, 2013
Eli Sagor / Flickr

The students at Gratz-Brown Elementary School in Moberly get excited every Tuesday and Thursday when the final school bell rings. This is not because school is over for the day, but because Running Club is about to start. The Running Club was started by Principal Della Bell and is in its second year. 

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On this week's show, we'll hear about a program that funds pork research, and hear about the opening of a new Ronald McDonald house.

Every time a hog is sold, farmers contribute to the National Pork Check-off. The program each year raises tens of millions of dollars that goes to the National Pork Board, which is charged with improving the $20 billion dollar industry. Some of that money funds scientific research. But as Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports, though all producers contribute, they aren't all satisfied with the research.

Durrie Bouscaren for Harvest Public Media

On this week's show, we'll hear about efforts to construct wind turbines across the Midwest, and learn why Columbia's "Big Tree" is getting some much needed TLC.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Jay Nixon instructed the Missouri Department of Corrections to come up with a new procedure for carrying out lethal injections.

On Tuesday, the department announced that it had chosen a new execution drug: pentobarbital. But the state also made a change that will end up making it harder, if not impossible, to know where the drugs come from.

Veronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday, Governor Jay Nixon postponed the execution of an inmate that was set for later this month. That execution was going to be carried out using propofol, a common anesthetic that has never been used in a lethal injection before. So why the change in plans?

Fried Dough / flickr

Citizens of Marshall, Mo., are discussing a possible ordinance restricting smoking in businesses and public areas.

At a Tuesday, Oct. 15 meeting, Breathe Easy Marshall, an organization of citizens, business owners and healthcare professionals, presented facts about secondhand smoke and findings from Missouri communities with smoke-free ordinances already in effect.  The panel discussed the potential effects of a smoke-free policy on general health and local businesses.

Marcus Mo / Flickr

The 2013 edition of the Missouri Hunger Atlas is a 145-page-strong document and, according to one of its main creators, has more than you'd ever want to know about the extent of food insecurity in the Show-Me State. Missouri is in the top ten of states with highest number of food-insecure residents in the nation.

Before the atlas, no one really kept a centralized collection of the different aspects of Missouri’s food insecurity problem. 

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

On this week's episode, we'll hear why some rural residents are reluctant to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On this week's show, we'll hear about a program that funds pork research, and revisit a story about food hubs.

Jacob McCleland / Harvest Public Media

 

On this week's episode, we'll hear about efforts to control feral hog populations.

Jennifer Davidson / KSMU

This week on Under the Microscope we'll talk about school gardens, and hear how some farmers are managing an invasive thistle species.

Jennifer Davidson / KSMU

On this week's show, we'll discover some lesser known uses of soybeans, and hear about a decision to redesignate a the White River Watershed in the Ozarks.

Crowd packs field hearing on 'Blueways' designation

Aug 1, 2013
Jennifer Davidson / KSMU

The term “Blueways” has some Ozarks residents seeing red.  At least, that was the case at a Congressional field hearing Monday in West Plains over the “National Blueways Program.” 
m_schipp22 / Flickr

On this week's show, we'll hear about a recent breakthrough in soybean science, and learn about the use of medicinal leeches in one Missouri hospital.

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