Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blogging from Antarctica (we wish!)

What if you lost the roof over your head? It'd probably be a pretty significant change in your lifestyle.

If you were an organism living on the bottom of the sea under the massive Larsen Ice Shelf of Antarctica, this would be more than a rhetorical question.

Duke Graduate Student David Honig is on a ship just off the ice shelf right now with a team that is exploring those questions.

All sorts of critters have lived in the lightless environment below the shelf for millennia, if not eons, making their living on energy sources other than sunlight, namely methane that seeps from the ocean floor. But the Larsen shelf is breaking apart and calving like crazy, exposing huge new areas of this delicate ecosystem to sunlight for the first time in a very long time.

What happens next?

Tune in to the Deep Sea News blog and follow along with David for the next two months as the team tries to find out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Brian Hare on PBS This Month

Duke anthropologist Brian Hare is one of the stars of an upcoming three-part PBS documentary on the links between humans and other primates: The Human Spark.

In a nutshell, the show asks, what makes us so different from our nearest relatives? What makes us special? Hare studies chimps, bonobos and domestic dogs in an effort to figure out some of these questions.

Yes, Brian got to meet host Alan Alda, comic actor turned science journalist. In fact, he took Alda to the North Carolina Zoo to meet some chimps.

Social psychologist Tanya Chartrand of the Fuqua School of Business also spent some time with the PBS crew, but it doesn't appear that her segments survived the editing process. You can see what they talked about on the show's blog, however.

The series airs locally on WUNC at 8 p.m. on Jan. 6, 13 and 20. The local PBS affiliate is also doing added programming and a special website.

The National Science Foundation, which underwrote some of the program, prepared this short webcast interview with Alda and the show's producers shortly before the holidays. (46 Minutes)