Science

This episode originally was broadcast in March, 2017.

Humans think, feel and plan for the future. We say hello, and goodbye. We design and use tools to our advantage. But what if animals can do these things, too? What if we’ve just never really understood how to discern animal intelligence? Biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal challenges us to think more like an animal in his new book, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?”

LM Otero / AP Images

The struggle to save the embattled greater sage grouse — while keeping the ground-dwelling bird off the Endangered Species List — has been going on for decades. Its population has plummeted from millions of birds to less than 500,000 in recent years.

Key to the fight is identifying and attacking what’s killing the bird, a challenge complicated by the fact that the threats vary depending on the state.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Monday's solar eclipse was at about 99 percent of totality in Boise. About 250 people in the Capital City took in the unique experience at the top of Table Rock. Some set up their chairs and blankets on the east side of the hilltop, facing the Boise River Wildlife Management Area as the moon slowly moved across the sun.

With the 2017 total solar eclipse less than two weeks away, excitement is reaching a fever pitch in Idaho and other places across the country where this stunning celestial event will be visible.

Katy Mersmann / NASA

In the latest installment of our news experiment, we wanted to know what you've been wondering about the August 21 solar eclipse in Idaho. We got a lot of great questions, and because this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, Samantha Wright decided to answer all 17 of them.

Jerry Mathes

The August 21 total solar eclipse is less than three weeks away. Towns around Idaho are expecting big crowds of people coming from all over the world to watch the moon cross in front of the sun. Unofficial estimates run as high as 250,000 visitors flooding into the Gem State.

The two-minute blackout is an event that appeals to people for many reasons. Some are coming to be part of a once in a lifetime event. Others are interested in astronomy. What is it about the eclipse that could motivate a quarter million people to come here?

The Exploratorium / NASA

Most hotels and campgrounds in Idaho along the path of the total solar eclipse this August have been sold out for months if not years. But one group still has campsites available near Stanley. They plan to stream the eclipse to those who can’t make it into the backcountry.

The Exploratorium / NASA

Tens of thousands of people will watch the total solar eclipse in Idaho on August 21, and some of them will be taking part in a citizen science experiment.

The Citizen Continental-America Telescope Eclipse Experiment, or CATE for short, is a project by the National Solar Observatory. Using special telescopes, the plan is to record the eclipse at more than 68 different sites, including three in Idaho.

Every once in a while, you come across individuals who make you feel better just for having encountered them. As today’s guest, David Brooks, puts it, “They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.”

Terry McCombs / Flickr Creative Commons

A state committee has made another attempt to break a deadlock over addressing climate change in Idaho classrooms.

But the last word in this three-year controversy belongs to Idaho lawmakers — who removed references to climate change from state science standards earlier this year.

Tim Bartholomaus / University of Idaho

An Idaho scientist is part of a team looking at Greenland’s ice sheet. It’s the Earth’s second-largest ice sheet and it’s melting, contributing to a rise in sea levels around the globe. The team’s goal was to figure out which glaciers to watch to predict how the sea level will respond in the future.

When University of Idaho geography professor Tim Bartholomaus started studying glaciers in Greenland for NASA, he thought they would be boring.

“That they’d all be the same, they just sit there, maybe they move a little bit, they melt, how interesting could this be?” he asked.

Idaho March for Science Facebook

Thousands plan to attend the national March for Science that takes place Saturday in Washington D.C. In Boise, Austin Hopkins is one of the people planning an Idaho version of the march.

Hopkins -- who is with Idaho Conservation League -- hopes Saturday’s march furthers a dialogue between politics and science in Idaho.

In our complex and data driven world, scientists are facing a major challenge to understand and document plant and animal species that may be in the process of disappearing. Climate change, habitat fragmentation, pollution and population growth are among the threats that are pushing some species toward extinction.

Wildfire,
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Firestorms are a particularly terrifying – and largely unknown – phenomenon. The naturally occurring events happen during megafires, when a wildfire burns so hot and so fiercely that surrounding air is drawn in, creating powerful winds that remove moisture from nearby fuel – increasing the already extreme fire risk.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (IPAC)

Scientists from Boise State University and the University of Washington are studying a newly found group of planets around a nearby star. They’ll talk about their research Friday night in Boise. Turns out, these planets are good candidates for hosting life outside Earth.

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