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Living Lab Radio: Science in SOTU, the Limits of Human Performance, and Changing American Diets

Japan speed skaters practice at the Gangneung Oval during a training session prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018.
Felipe Dana/AP
  • Nature News: We discuss the top science headlines with "Nature" senior reporter Heidi Ledford, including the earliest human fossils ever found, the first cloned monkeys, and the former astronaut who may become the next leader of the U.S. Geological Survey.  
  • History of Science in SOTU: President Trump isn’t the first to avoid science in his State of the Union address, but presidents all the way back to George Washington have made science a significant focus. Jamie Vernon, executive director and CEO of Sigma Xi and publisher of "American Scientist," says most presidents have acknowledged the importance of science, even when their politics are at odds with research results.
  • Could Boston House Amazon HQ2? It’s no secret that Massachusetts has an affordable housing problem. A new analysis of the cities on Amazon's short list for a new headquarters puts Boston into the "high-priced, hard-to-build" category.
  • Changing American Diets: American meat production is expected to hit a record high this year, but the kind of meat Americans are eating is changing. Richard Waite, an associate with World Resources Institute’s Food Program, says we've been steadily shifting toward more chicken and less beef — and that's healthier for both our bodies and our planet.
  • The Limits of Human Performance: Every Olympics brings new world records. Science and technology have enabled the escalation, changing the way athletes eat and train. At some point, athletes will hit the physical limits to what the human body can do. But Cynthia Bir of University of Southern California says she can’t think of a sport that’s reached this point yet, and sports science is still a very young field.


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