Participate in events which live in both worlds

Friday, October 10, 2008

The NPR radio show Science Friday has been airing its shows with an added Second Life component. The team has designed a spiffy outdoor ampitheater and Ira Flatow has an avatar he uses in world to represent him. His producers read the questions and comments that fly by in chat, relaying the more interesting ones to Ira, who will acknowledge the questioner and answer the question on national radio. During this session, I was delighted to actually have him addresss one of my questions on the air. It was my fifteen seconds – hehe!

Following is my transcript of my notes I took live. Please forgive the rough nature of the notes.

Science Friday host Ira Flatow on Oct. 10 hosted a 2-hour radio show which ran on National Public Radio and also in Second Life, with opportunities for questions from both.

The show included guest Robert Colwell, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut.

Scientists have found a bacterium that is self-sufficient – contains all the tools they need to eat and grow.   Here’s a link:

Off-duty Linden Prospero Linden attended the show in Second Life. “Self-sufficient bacteria should be able to take over the Earth,” he commented in the chat window during a discussion of the self-sufficient bacteria discovered near a gold mine. “They really CAN kill off all other species without worrying about themselves.”

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Visit Science School in Second Life
Be sure to visit the Science Friday Web site for background information about the guests and the topics discussed, as well as a replay of the show.
You can listen to the show live online at
Bjorlyn Loon, the Science Friday group manager in Second Life, adds: “From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns”
Question: re: Congress getting pertinent information from lobbyists, why can’t legitimate science organizations provide information to Congress in addition to lobbyists?
Answer: There is an increasing effort on the part of nonprofits to provide good information to the government. Example: The Bioethics Briefing Book.
The Hastings Center is next working on a book about end of life issues like hospice care and palliative care.
Also, the Hastings Center is working on researching the ethics of performance enhancers such as steroids, etc.

The chat log is scrolling very fast now and people are vociferously debating the ethics of health care policy and how it should/can be made better.
*End of first hour**Second hour to start soon*
A law has been passed which classifies some forms of mental illness as coverable by health insurance. William C. Moyers, Vice President for Internal Affairs at Hazelton Foundation.
The biggest highlight is that Congress and the President have acknowledged that diseases like bipolar and depression are actual chronic diseases that need to be treated and included with other diseases in terms of coverage by private health care insurance.
So the bill is a major step in the right direction of acknowledging mental illness as a legitimate illness. This would affect businesses over 50 employees and are already covering addictions treatment. It would require the same copay for that kind of treatment as for other kinds of treatment that are not classified as mental illness.
Will insurers be able to refuse an application for insurance based upon a family history of mental illness? Moyers said he really didn’t know – it is possible. He said he is a recovering addict and alcoholic and he thinks being able to talk about one’s recovery is a healthy thing and not a negative.
Is addiction treatment a bipartisan issue?
The reality is that this is an illness that has reached across both aisles of Congress. We have a terrible problem with the War on Drugs where we just lock people up for being addicts. Governmental leaders are waking up to the idea that we need a different way to handle this by holding addicts responsible for seeking their own treatment for this.
Correcting an earlier attribution: Not “Hazelton” but “Hazelden” –
Has there been an emergence in this country as talking about addiction as a form of treatable illness.
Stat: Only 25% of people who need treatment for addiction ever get it in this country. (needs attribution)

Question: Does the new law limit the number of visits to the doctor for treatment? It’s not a carte blanche and companies need to be able to limit the overall costs of health care, but the point of the bill is to make the treatments for mental illness and addiction treated in the same way by insurance companies (copays, etc.) as other kinds of illnesses, for companies that cover both already.
Broken: My Story of Redemption and Addiction is the name of Moyers’ book.
Next segment: Gardening
Gardening all year long: four-season gardening.
Most important ingredient for a buffer crop in your own back yard is COMPOST.

Find out why your compost heap just isn’t working.
First guest – Barbara Damrosh, owner of Four Season Farm in Brooksville, Maine and a Washington Post correspondent.

Maine is very cool, moist climate, but not a lot of sun. Growth is pretty much continuous so right now there is just harvesting going on.
ABCs of fall gardening:
1. Clean up any debris or weeds.
2. Put down a couple of inches of well-rotted compost to begin soaking in
If you don’t have to till or dig you can get started more quickly in the spring.
If you want to get crops in early winter, you have to sow crops in early fall or late summer. Some areas are still okay to start this stuff. Look for unusual greens that do well in cooler areas like asian greens, etc.
If you’re in the South you probably can leave them in the regular ground. But if you’re farther north you need to use a cold frame in the ground.
Some of the root crops do very well in colder soil.

Debra Martin on worms and composting. You can set up a worm bin in your home with a plastic storage container of about 14 gallons. Your worms will eat a couple of pounds of kitchen compost per week. The soil should not be too wet but only lightly moist. Martin started her bin with about 200 red worms from a fishing bait store.
Interesting: red worms like warmer environments like manure rather than wild worms which are for the most part night crawlers and like cooler temps.
Preparation of the worm bin – drill some holes in it about 6 inches apart for air flow.
Shred some 3-inch pieces of wet newspaper, mix in a cup of compost and a cup of soil to help the worms digest the food.
Throw in a cup of corn meal to start the food. Mix well and add worms.
When are the worms ready for the kitchen scraps? Not long – a couple of days. Monitor the bin by lifting the lid – if there is a lot of condensation or the worms are near the top, it may be too moist and you’d want to prop the lid up for a while to air it out.
Worms don’t tend to like anything with a potential to grow, as in seeds. They like:
coffee grounds and filters
tea bags
apple cores
bad spots on veggies
egg shells
bread crust
moldy bread
cooked vegetables (not greasy or salted)
NOT onions or citrus
Damrosh has a compost bin outside.
Flatow says there is a video on the Web site about how to make a compost tea out of worm compost. I think it is this one:
Correcting the spelling – not “Damrosh” but “Damrosch”
Managing larva in your compost bin – scrape them off and remove them.
Bury the food in the compost soil to make the scraps more available to the worms and also to discourage the flies from being attracted.
Damrosch’s book can be found here:
Other ways to garden when it’s cool:
floating row cover
wall of water
cold frame
Martin’s book info can be found here (as well as her Web site with lots more info about composting):
Martin – on the care of the worms and harvesting the compost :
dump the compost out on a piece of newspaper in a lighted place in a volcano shape. Gradually scoop off the top and sides of a cone. The worms will continue burrowing to the center to avoid the light, and in this way you can get compost for the garden without getting your worms. Use a soil sifter to get the rest of them before putting the compost in your gardens.

The author of this blog gardened in Oklahoma for 10 years and thoroughly enjoyed it (except for weeding in August!). I got a strange pleasure from handling the worms, but I didn’t know to try out the red worms. I just had night crawlers. But my compost bin was a great design – like two farm pens with a lower dividing section in the center. Both sides had a gate with latch so you could easily turn the pile from one section to the other. Bricks were underneath.
Can you compost with seaweed? Yes, you can – has lots of nitrogen and trace elements and composts very easily. Shells are also wonderful for the compost bin and will gradually break down. Lobster shells and similar chitin coverings also will compost, a bit more quickly than the clam shells.
“Worms Eat my Garbage” by Mary Hasselhoff
Great starter book on worm composting.

Can you grow mushrooms in the worm bin in your house? I asked and Ira repeated on national radio. Answer: Yes, we’ve grown mushrooms in worm compost before. It’s worth a try.

These notes were taken using the online live blogging tool If you haven’t yet tried this tool, you really will like it. See the transcript and get a link to the site so you can try it too.

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