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Locally Sourced Science

LSS 80: Darwin and co-Evolution

Each year, around the time of Charles Darwin’s birthday on February 12, the Paleontological Research Institution, also known as PRI, presents a week-long festival of events called “Darwin Days”.  The theme of this year’s celebration was “The Power of Pollination”!   

Darwin’s Star Orchid

To learn more about Darwin’s observations of flowers and the insects that pollinate them, Locally Sourced Science contributor Esther Racoosin attended one of the Darwin Days events.  It was a presentation, titled “Pollination and Coevolution:  Love Story or Arms race” by Cornell Professor Anurag Agrawal.  At the beginning of today’s show, you’ll hear about Darwin’s thoughts on co-evolution and Dr. Agrawal’s research on the topic.

Acanthurus lineatus, the striped surgeonfish

Later in the show, you’ll hear an interview produced by Cornell undergraduate Alejandro Schmieder.  He spoke with Cornell Assistant Professor Esther Angert about her research on a type of bacteria, Epulopiscium, that lives inside the gut of tropical surgeonfish.  Angert talks about how those two organisms have perhaps co-evolved to develop a symbiotic relationship that allows them to survive changing conditions in the ocean.

And, lastly, you’ll hear our science events calendar for the week.

Image Credits: Paleontological Research Institution, Anurag Agrawal, Cornell University Dept. of Microbiology

Show Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interview of Cornell Professor Esther Angert: Alejandro Schmieder

Science Calendar: Esther Racoosin

LSS 79: The Pale Blue Dot -Anniversary & Astronomy Special

In this episode, we celebrate two significant anniversaries! This month is the 3rd anniversary of Locally Sourced Science, and we celebrate it with a new music and voice introduction by Joe Lewis. We also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the famous photograph of planet Earth taken from the farthest point ever. This photo that Carl Sagan titled “The Pale Blue Dot” was taken by Voyager I on February 14, 1990.

To celebrate this anniversary, Mark Sarvary spoke with Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute, and with writer and director Nick Sagan, Carl Sagan’s son. Kaltenegger talks about the Voyager 1 mission, the Pale Blue Dot picture, and the Carl Sagan Institute. Nick Sagan spoke to us about the legacy of his father, who was both a scientist and a storyteller.

Sagan wrote in his “Pale Blue Dot” book: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

Image Caption

This narrow-angle color image of the Earth, dubbed ‘Pale Blue Dot’, is a part of the first ever ‘portrait’ of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. The spacecraft acquired a total of 60 frames for a mosaic of the solar system from a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic. From Voyager’s great distance Earth is a mere point of light, less than the size of a picture element even in the narrow-angle camera. Earth was a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Coincidentally, Earth lies right in the center of one of the scattered light rays resulting from taking the image so close to the sun. This blown-up image of the Earth was taken through three color filters — violet, blue and green — and recombined to produce the color image. The background features in the image are artifacts resulting from the magnification.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Producer: Esther Racoosin

Interviews: Mark Sarvary

Science News: Liz Mahood

Science Events Calendar: Esther Racoosin

LSS 78: Ocean Health

The health of our Oceans is important, even to us, at the Finger Lakes.

Guest contributor, Vivian Lee interviewed professor Drew Harvell from Cornell University about the health of our oceans. Dr. Harvell has recently published a book titled Ocean Outbreak.

Guest contributor Zach Bellido spoke to Cornell’s Shoals Marine Laboratory Island coordinator Collin Love about marine parasitology.

Professor Harvell and her new book

Science News: Liz Mahood

Science Events: Esther Racoosin

Producer: Mark Sarvary

LSS 77: Christmas bird count

The first show of the year brought us a report from the Christmas bird count conducted by the Cayuga bird club, predictions of scientific discoveries for the new decade, and information about the Tompkins County SciHub.

Interviews: Esther Racoosin

On January 1st, 2020, about 150 volunteers ventured out to count as many local birds as possible.  The birders participated in the Christmas Bird Count sponsored by Audubon and organized locally by the Cayuga Bird Club.

To find out more, Locally-Sourced Science contributor Esther Racoosin spoke with Diane Morton, president of the Cayuga Bird club, as well as with other birders. 


A group at Cornell University is working on developing the Tompkins County Science Hub.

To learn more about Sci Hub, I spoke to Dr. Bruce Lewenstein, Professor of Communications in the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  Lewenstein, project leader Norman Porticella, lecturer in the department of communications, and experts at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, are doing research on what a local science hub would look like.

Predictions for the next decade: Liz Mahood

Events: Patricia Waldron

Producer: Mark Sarvary