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Webcasts for the News Media

NSF produces background briefings that bring together leading scientists and engineers and the news media in advance of the announcement of major news discoveries or breakthroughs. These events, originally webcast live, are now available for on-demand viewing.

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Slide for The Human Spark Webcast, Dec. 16, 2009
The Human Spark

December 16, 2009

Why did our ancestors who made cave paintings in France thrive while Neanderthals died out? What do our closest living ancestors have to teach us about what it means to be human? How do images of the human brain reveal our faculties for language, the use of tools and the ability to forge social bonds? These questions and more are examined in "The Human Spark," a three-part television series funded in part by NSF. In this background briefing, host Alan Alda and the producers of the series discuss their interactions with dozens of scientists to get at the sources of human uniqueness through the lenses of neuroscience, anthropology, human evolution, child development and primatology.

Video icon View webcast
(Time: 46:57)
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Slide for In Search of Earth-like Planets Webcast, Dec. 14, 2009
In Search of Earth-like Planets

December 14, 2009

David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and NSF's 2009 Waterman Awardee announces an advance in the search for life on other planets: the discovey of a super-Earth planet orbiting a small, low mass star only 40 light years from Earth. This planet is a water-world, with an estimated surface temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit and a thick atmosphere that blocks light and produces crushing conditions at the surface. The planet was found with eight 16 inch ground-based telescopes. Findings are detailed in the December 17 issue of the journal Nature.

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(Time: 36:39)
  Dinosaur illustration and the words Webcast, Dec. 9, 2009, Sterling Nesbitt, University of Texas, Topic: Tawa hallae--Dinosaur Ancient History
Tawa hallae--Dinosaur Ancient History

December 9, 2009

When paleontologists unearthed the ancient dinosaur Tawa hallae, they knew it was different--and remarkably well preserved. What they did not know is that the animal has an intriguing lineage, one that answers questions about the earliest evolution of dinosaurs. In this webcast, paleontologist Sterling Nesbitt of the University of Texas at Austin talks about the discovery.

Video icon View webcast
(Time: 35:52)
  Slide for Computer Science Education Week Webcast, Dec. 7, 2009
Computer Science Education Week

December 7, 2009

The United States' leadership in computer science and information technologies may be threatened as other countries begin to develop a crucial component missing from America's science pipeline--a comprehensive curriculum in computer science at the K-12 level. In response to this, Congress has declared December 6-12, 2009 as Computer Science Education Week. Joining this webcast to discuss the week and why computer science education needs extra attention right now are Jan Cuny, Program Director at NSF, Cameron Wilson of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Maggie Johnson, Director of Education and University Relations for Google Inc., and Jane Margolis, a UCLA researcher who is working in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Video icon View webcast
(Time: 29:14)
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Slide for Online Deception webcast showing a man and a woman with laptop computers and the words Webcast, Dec. 1, 2009, Jeffrey Hancock, Cornell University, Topic: Online Deception
Online Deception

December 1, 2009

In this briefing, Dr. Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University's department of communication and faculty of information science discusses the science behind detecting lies on dating Web sites and in other online activities. Hancock and his collaborators have studied self-presentation and online deception for years, and have come up with some interesting findings, including when, where and how people lie online.

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(Time: 27:12)
  Slide for evolution webcast showing illustration of Charles Darwin, a tree and the words, Webcast, November 23, 2009, Mohamed Noor, Duke University, Video feed from the University of Cincinnati, Topic: The Evolution of Evolution
Evolution of Evolution

November 23, 2009

On Nov. 24, 1859, Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" sent ripples throughout the world. The scientific community was intrigued, religionists were appalled and the public was fascinated. Now, 150 years later, Darwin's seminal work still causes ripples. Duke University evolutionary geneticist, Dr. Mohamed Noor, discusses current evidence for evolution and modern evolution theory in this Nov. 23, 2009, NSF webcast honoring 150 years of "On the Origin of Species."

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(Time: 27:54)
  Slide for Sleep Apnea webcast with thermal infrared image of person sleeping, Oct. 22, 2009
Sleep Apnea

October 22, 2009

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that causes a person to momentarily stop breathing while he or she sleeps. In this media briefing, Ioannis Pavlidis, Eckhard-Pfeiffer Professor of Computer Science at the University of Houston, and Jayasimha N. Murthy, M.D., assistant professor of medicine from the Division of Pulmonary Critical Care Sleep Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, describe a new method they created called thermal infrared imaging (TIRI) to diagnose sleep apnea. TIRI is less invasive and more comfortable than traditional sleep studies that use a variety of leads and probes on the patient's upper and lower face to gather data.

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(Time: 22:50)
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Samuel Silverman
Teaching the Teachers

October 15, 2009

Research experiences for science teachers can have a direct impact on the achievement of their students, increasing their performance significantly on state assessments. This is one of the findings Samuel C. Silverstein of Columbia University and his colleagues describe in the Oct. 16 issue of Science magazine. In this background briefing, Silverstein discusses the benefits of having science teachers take part in research experiences.

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(Time: 28:32)
  Dead Zones image with text: Webcast, October 8, 2009, Jack Barth, Oregon State University, Topic: Pacific Northwest's Oceanic Dead Zones
Dead Zones

October 8, 2009

The Earth currently has more than 400 so-called "dead zones"--expanses of oxygen-starved ocean covering hundreds, or even thousands, of square miles that become virtually devoid of animal life during the summer; the worldwide count of dead zones is doubling every decade. The latest research on Oregon's oceanic "dead zones" and how climate change may be promoting them is the topic of this webcast featuring Jack Barth of Oregon State University.

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(Time: 28:26)
  Aerial view of LIGO facility and text LIGO: Uncovering Properties of the Early Universe, Webcast
LIGO: Uncovering Properties of the Early Universe

August 19, 2009

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration's first major paper on the early universe was published in the Aug. 20 issue of the journal Nature. In a background briefing, Vuk Mandic, one of the paper's lead authors, describes the new findings. Mandic is assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and LIGO's Stochastic Working Group cochair.

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(Time: 18:44)
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Atlantic Hurricanes and Climate Over the Past 1,500 Years, Aug. 11, 2009 Webcast
Hurricane Seasons Are More Active

August 11, 2009

An interview with Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and the lead author of a paper in the August 13, 2009 edition of the journal Nature. Mann and his colleagues studied sediment cores and statistical models to show that hurricane activity has increased in recent decades to a level not seen in over 1,000 years.

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(Time: 25:44)
  Storms on Titan, August 10, 2009, Webcast
Storms on Titan

August 10, 2009

Taking advantage of adaptive optics, astronomers used the NSF-supported Gemini Observatory to capture the first images of clouds over the tropics of Titan. The images helped astronomers gain a better understanding of Saturn's largest moon, and they reported their findings in the Aug. 13, 2009, issue of Nature. In a background breifing, astronomers Henry Roe of Lowell Observatory and Mike Brown of Caltech discussed observations of storm clouds in Titan's tropics.

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(Time: 25:54)
  Sign that reads 'Til Mortgage Do Us Part: The Science
'Til Mortgage Do Us Part: The Science

July 29, 2009

Economists discuss psychological and neurobiological aspects of nation's mortgage crisis. Guests: Robert Shiller, Yale University economist; Colin Camerer, Caltech economist; Nancy Lutz, program director for economics at NSF

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(Time: 35:37)
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Mid-rise building on a shake table
In Defiance of Earthquakes: Standing Strong--2009 NEESWood Capstone Test

July 14, 2009

Only hours after a full-scale earthquake test of six-story building, researchers discussed the test and NSF's multi-year NEESWood project. Guests: John van de Lindt, civil engineer at Colorado State University and principal investigator for NEESWood; Hidemaru Shimizu, researcher with E-Defense, Japan National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention; Hiroshi Isoda, Associate Professor, Dept. of Architecture & Civil Engineering Shinshu University, Nagano, Japan; Joy Pauschke, director of NSF's George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation research program; and Edward Matsuyama from American Forest & Paper Association, Tokyo Office.

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(Time: 43:32)
  Angels and Demos movie poster
The Science Behind "Angels and Demons" Is No Laughing Antimatter

May 19, 2009

Embracing the opportunity presented by the release of the motion picture, "Angels and Demons," three world renowned physicists--Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Leon Lederman and Boris Kayser--discussed the real science of CERN, the LHC, antimatter and the excitement of particle physics.

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(Time: 36:31)
  Photo of a fire in a pine forest
The Role of Fire in Earth Systems

April 23, 2009

A teleconference on fire and Earth systems featuring David Bowman, University of Tasmania; Thomas Swetnam, University of Arizona; Jennifer Balch, National Center for Ecological Analysis + Synthesis; and Henry Gholz, National Science Foundation.

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(audio only)
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