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SCOTUS Rulings, Trusting In Democracy, Saharan Dust Cloud

Top of Mind with Julie Rose
  • Jun 30, 2020
  • 01:44:34
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Supreme Court’s Unusual Term Winds Down With Disappointment for Conservatives (0:30) Guest: Kimberly Robinson, Supreme Court Reporter, Bloomberg Law The US Supreme Court struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana this week, despite the fact that conservative justices outnumber liberals. The swing vote in this case was Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush, but in three of the Supreme Court’s most consequential cases this session, has voted with the court’s liberals. Virus Detection Network (17:11) Guest: Pardis Sabeti, PhD, Professor at the Center for Systems Biology and Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and the Department of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the Harvard School of Public Health. COVID-19 infections continue to rise rapidly in the US, prompting many states, including Arizona, Florida, Texas and California, to step back from reopening as they try to slow spread of the virus. Widespread testing and tracking for COVID-19 has proven crucial to the reopening process in other countries that have more successfully managed the pandemic.  Rebuilding Trust in American Democracy (34:00) Guest: Danielle Allen, Director, Harvard University's Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics There’s not much trust to go around these days in American society. Public trust in the federal government is stuck at historic lows. Americans are less trusting than they used to be of businesses, the news media and even religious institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a deep lack of trust in one another to do the right thing. Where do we go from here? A committee of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences held listening sessions with people across the country to get a sense for what might restore our faith in each other and in American democracy. A Giant Saharan Dust Cloud is Coming (52:54) Guest: Thomas Gill, Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso A giant cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa spent most of last week moving over the Southern United States. It’s now headed back out to sea, but another dust cloud is on its heels. Apparently this is normal for this time of year – who knew? But the latest African dust cloud was much bigger than usual. It’s Getting Hot in Here (1:06:21) Guest: Radley Horton, Lamont Associate Research Professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The world is getting hot… and sometimes this heat can peak beyond what humans are capable of surviving. The right combination of heat and humidity could mean that even a healthy adult with unlimited access to water in the shade would die after a couple hours out in the heat. These “superheat events” weren’t supposed to happen until later in the century, but a new study has shown they’re happening now, and have doubled since the 1970s. Chemistry Classes Might Be Responsible for Disparities in STEM Majors (1:20:06) Guest: Scott Freeman, Principal Lecturer Emeritus of Biology, University of Washington At the start of college, students from all different backgrounds express an equal interest in majoring in a STEM field – like biology or engineering or pre-med. But by the end of college, it’s a different picture. Women, first-generation college students, low-income college students and certain racial minority groups are much less likely to have stuck with the STEM major. What happens along the way to derail them? There’s Gold in Them Trees: Leaves Show Where to Mine for Gold (1:31:52) Guest: Melvyn Lintern, Geochemist, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Portable PPB, Former Scientist CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency Money might actually grow on trees after all. Researchers in Australia found trace amounts of gold in the leaves of eucalyptus trees. A hundred feet below ground, under layers of dirt and clay and sand, they found – you guessed it – gold. So instead of drilling randomly to find new sources of the precious metal, could companies prospect for gold by examining tree leaves instead? Show More...

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