Hawai'i's Volcanic Eruption, Science Of Chemistry Nobel, What Is ‘Swing’ In Jazz? Dec 2, 2022, Part 1


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Hawai’i’s Mauna Loa Volcanic Eruption Sparing Homes For Now

Hawai’i’s famed Mauna Loa volcano began to erupt this past weekend, after weeks of increasing small earthquakes. So far the flow of lava is posing no risk to homes in nearby Hilo, though that could change rapidly. But in the meantime, an important climate research lab is without power and unable to make measurements. And as lava flows and cools into new rock formations, one unusual product, called Pele’s Hair, looks uniquely soft and straw-like—while being dangerously sharp.

Ira talks to FiveThirtyEight’s Maggie Koerth about the less high profile side effects of a major volcanic eruption. Plus, a new analysis of the magma under Yellowstone National Park, the leadership potential for wolves infected with a cat parasite, and other research stories.

A Nobel Prize For Chemistry Work ‘Totally Separate From Biology’

This year, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Carolyn Bertozzi of Stanford University, Morten Meldal of the University of Copenhagen, and K. Barry Sharpless of the Scripps Research Institute “for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistry.” In “click chemistry,” molecular building blocks snap together quickly and efficiently to let chemists build more complicated molecules. But bioorthogonal chemistry takes that work one step farther, allowing the technique to be used within living organisms without damaging cells.

“When someone is thinking outside the box, or in a very different way, we like to think of that as orthogonal thinking,” Dr. Bertozzi explained. “So biorthogonal means not interacting with biology. Totally separate from biology.” Her research began with an interest in developing ways to see specific sugar molecules on the surface of cells. But it has developed into an approach that can be used for advanced drug delivery in fields such as chemotherapy. Bertozzi joins Ira Flatow for a wide-ranging conversation about her research, chemistry education, her early music career, and the importance of diversity in the field of chemistry.

Scientists Discover What Makes Jazz Music Swing

Swing is a propulsive, groovy feeling that makes you want to move with the music. It’s hard to put into words, but if you listen to jazz, you’ve probably felt it yourself. Now, researchers have arrived at a better understanding of what generates that feeling: Their work, published in Communications Physics, focuses on timing differences between a group’s soloist and its rhythm section.

Joining Ira to discuss the new findings are Theo Geisel, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self Organization, and Javier Arau, a saxophonist and the founder and executive director of the New York Jazz Academy.

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com.

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