Locust Plague, Presidential Cabinet, Biomimicry

Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Radio Archive, Episode 1303

  • Apr 2, 2020 8:00 pm
  • 1:39:44 mins

City-Sized Swarms of Locusts Are Annihilating Crops in East Africa and Middle East (0:32) Guest: Quinn Mecham, Professor of Political Science, BYU While the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, a plague of locusts is swarming across East Africa and the Middle East. The locusts are devouring crops and their numbers are multiplying rapidly. It really is like the book of Exodus come to life – but it’s not landing on the front pages of newspapers in America. When Invasive Species Stand in for Extinct Animals in an Ecosystem (18:17) Guest: Erick Lundgren, PhD Student, Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology Sydney Hippos are native to Africa. But there’s a thriving population of the lumbering plant-eaters in Colombia on the former estate of drug lord Pablo Escobar. The hippos were part of his private zoo and after Escobar’s death in 1993, they were left to fend for themselves. Now they’ve moved into Colombia’s main river and may number around 100. This is the classic example of an invasive species setting up shop in a place it doesn’t belong – and usually it’s bad news. Just look at Florida’s python problem. But these hippos might be a case of helping the ecosystem because they behave a little like some of the ancient creatures that used to roam this part of Colombia. Should I Be Wearing a Mask When I Go Outside? (33:59) Guest: Arnold Monto? MD, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Michigan School of Public Health. For weeks, US health officials have been telling us not to wear masks in public unless you’re already infected with COVID-19. But now both the CDC is considering changing that recommendation to say that a basic face mask is a good idea for everyone – even if it’s just a bandana tied around your face, since masks are nearly impossible to find in stores now. Some Asian countries have encouraged face masks throughout the pandemic. Have we been putting ourselves at risk this whole time? US Presidents Weren’t Supposed to Have Cabinets, But They All Do. Here’s Why. (50:40) Guest: Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Historian, White House Historical Association, Author of “The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution” During the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has relied on a close group of advisors to guide the response. We’ve seen them standing beside him during daily briefings: the Vice President; Treasury Secretary; Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Surgeon General and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. We also know that behind-the-scenes, President Trump has reached out to a range of friends, business leaders, media personalities and celebrities for advice.  Presidents need advisers they can trust in a crisis. So, perhaps it will surprise you to learn that the US Constitution doesn’t actually provide for a Presidential cabinet. In fact, the idea that a president would consult with a small group of advisers was really upsetting to many of the founding fathers. And yet, every US president since Washington has had one. The Physics of a Bird’s Nests (1:27:49) Guest: Dr Hunter King, Assistant Professor, Department of Polymer Science, University of Akron I have short curly hair and when I wake up in the morning it looks like birds have nested on my head. Except that birds’ nests aren’t just tangled and haphazard. They’re actually an impressive feat of engineering that physicist Hunter King is trying to figure out so we can create new materials and building techniques.