Wildfire Smoke, Jurassic Park Reflection, Mosquito DNA Editing. June 9, 2023, Part 1

Canadian Wildfire Smoke Drifts Across The United States

This week, smoke from Canadian wildfires drifted south, enveloping the Northeastern United States, casting an ominous orange glow. The smoke continued spreading outwards to the Southeast and to the Midwest.

While climate change is extending and worsening the Canadian wildfire season, it’s still rare for this many fires, so early in the season.

Ira talks with Katherine Wu, staff writer at The Atlantic, about the latest on the Canadian wildfires and other top news stories of the week, including; a new type of cat contraception, drilling into the Earth’s mantle, and a ‘virgin’ crocodile birth.


30 Years Later, ’Jurassic Park’ Still Inspires

On June 11th, 1993, what would become one of the biggest movies of all time was released in theaters: Jurassic Park.

Based on the novel by Michael Crichton, the film is about people’s belief that they can control nature. Wealthy businessman John Hammond creates a dinosaur nature park. Things go awry quickly. Electric fences break down, dinosaurs get loose, and people are eaten. At the time of its release, the film became the highest-grossing movie of all time.

In the decades since it came out, the film has spawned a multi-movie franchise, amusement park rides, video games, and every type of merchandise imaginable. The movie also had a tremendous impact on visual effects, both computer animated and practical, which are still seen today in the media.

When the first Jurassic Park movie came out, many of the paleontologists of today were children—or not even born yet. Ira speaks with a trio of paleontologists about the film’s impact on them as kids, and its continuous use as an educational tool to inspire young dino enthusiasts: Riley Black, Steve Brusatte and Yara Haridy.


A Biotech Offensive Against Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the primary spreaders of some highly dangerous diseases for people: The insect spreads diseases like yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria, and zika, which kill millions of people globally each year. There’s one species of mosquito that’s invasive to the United States, and whose populations are spreading: Aedes aegypti, which is recognizable by black and white markings on its legs.

Lee County, Florida is taking aim at this species with biotechnology. Their strategy is to release 30,000 sterilized male mosquitoes into the environment, who will go on to mate with females, who then will release eggs that do not hatch. Male mosquitoes don’t bite, only females do. The goal of this method is to decrease the Aedes aegypti population with every generation.

Biotechnology to combat this mosquito species is nothing new. Ira speaks with reporter Cary Barbor at WGCU in Fort Myers about this strategy in her city. He also speaks with Dr. Omar Akbari, professor of cell and developmental biology at UC San Diego, about his research on using CRISPR to alter Aedes aegypti into harmless insects.


To stay updated on all-things-science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

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



science-friday060923a.mp3 (46:49, 43MB)

Older Post Newer Post