Science & Nature

Chemistry prof keeps Christmas Cheery for the 47th time

It’s always fun to watch a show that discusses safety precautions and fire extinguishers before a lecture begins. So it is, once again, for University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, leading his 47th annual “Once Upon a Christmas Cheery In the Lab of Shakhashiri” in 2016.

As Wisconsin Public Television prepares to celebrate 100 years of public broadcasting in Wisconsin in 2017, the lecture, which airs multiple times over the next few days (as well as online), is a perfect example of local, educational programming that has enhanced the station’s reputation for outreach and engagement.

Chemistry professor Bassam Shakhashiri ignites a gas-filled balloon during a free demonstration about the science of fireworks held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Memorial Union Terrace on June 28, 2009. The outreach event, led by Shakhashiri and others from the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy, explored the chemistry used to create the colors, shapes, light and explosive heat that combine to create fantastic firework displays such as the city's Rhythm and Booms that occurred later in the evening. ©UW-Madison University Communications 608/262-0067 Photo by: Jeff Miller Date: 06/09 File#: NIKON D3 digital frame 2008
©UW-Madison University Communications/Jeff Miller

WPT has been there from the early years, broadcasting since 1973. The program has grown so popular that it not only sells out but airs on television stations around the country. Here on WPT, upcoming airings take place at the following times:

  • Thursday, Dec. 22 – 8 a.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 23 – 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 24 – 8 a.m.

 

Not by a TV? Watch the full program online or on the PBS channel of your Roku or other digital TV device now!

Then, read more inside about the history and pageantry of this holiday mainstay.

Continue reading Chemistry prof keeps Christmas Cheery for the 47th time

The One Place That Can Take You Anyplace – Including the Top of the Great Pyramid

Wisconsin Public Television is the one place that can take you anyplace – like this brilliant 360-degree immersive view from the top of Khufu’s Pyramid, or the Great Pyramid of Giza from our friends at NOVA. Spend some time exploring one of the world’s rarest vistas.  (Click through on the image if it isn’t interactive in this window.)

And don’t miss NOVA Wednesday nights at 8 on WPT. Or watch full programs online anytime.

Door County Cana Island Lighthouse Moonrise

Here’s a moment of beautiful serenity.

Wisconsin Public Television producers captured this gorgeous full moonrise behind the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County during filming last year.

Enjoy this rare moment of natural wonder and then watch our all-new history documentary, Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Door County Monday night, June 27 at 8 on WPT.

So Much More Than “The Girl From The Wonder Years”

“I discovered that I could be smart and capable and valuable for something that had nothing to do with Hollywood. This is me. And it felt great.”

In this powerful and inspirational video, Wonder Years actress Danica McKellar shares how her discovery of mathematics  in college helped her discover she is so much more than a former child star. Knowledge truly is power!

Watch more of Nova’s Secret Life of Scientists series online here.

Streaming Favorites for May

The Good Stuff

I’m not even sure I can pinpoint what this series is about, but I love it. It might be safe to say that it’s actually about everything. The hosts, Craig & Matt, explore a crazy diversity of topics, covering everything from wine tasting to warp drives. They’re funny, fun and generally seem like they would make nice neighbors. Dive in and learn something!

Re:Dream | Pursuits of Happiness

According to their site, this narrative project “is about people living in America as they navigate opportunity, meet obstacles, and pursue happiness in the 21st century.”

The is a huge collaboration between KCPT, Detroit Public TV, PBS SoCal, GPB, WETA and Thinkshift, and it amazes me completely. It’s digital and social. It’s beautifully shot and edited. It tells real, intimate stories. It shows how truly diverse our country is. Just go watch it. Now. Continue reading Streaming Favorites for May

Garden Expo: Dan Tyler’s Search for Abundance

“This is a great way to spend a cold February day. It has us all looking forward. Ken Burns called it ‘the fond expectancy of spring.’” – Dan Tyler, Garden Expo Volunteer and Speaker

BackyardBlueberries

Each year, the Garden Expo brings thousands of people in from the cold to share their love of gardening. We wouldn’t be able to organize this event without the help of dedicated volunteers, folks who are passionate about their experiences and willing to share with others.

I sat down with Dan Tyler, an avid gardener and Madison resident, to talk about his personal experiences and his presentation on maintaining small-scale eco-yards.

DanTylerWhat inspired you to start presenting at Garden Expo?
I’ve come to the Garden Expo for years. I enjoy getting a lot of ideas and sometimes pick up a little equipment, but I especially love the opportunity to be on the stage.

I’m a volunteer; I’m not sponsored by anyone or selling any product, but it’s important to me to tell my story. I’m a younger homeowner, and I think it’s part of the American dream to own some land of your own. I always looked forward to that, and it became an enjoyable journey from a quarter-acre of lawn to a quarter-acre of abundance.

You use the word abundance a lot; can you talk more about that idea?
The notion of abundance – and I’m not talking about higher production rate – is the notion that the earth gives so much when you tend to its ecosystem, even on a small scale. Even a small yard can do a lot for you.

A lot of people today, we don’t have a lot of want in our life. We have so much going for us. Some people discover abundance out of need, but the more I study or contemplate it, I see that it’s about spending time on projects that are meaningful. I’m here at Garden Expo because I like to share that with people. Continue reading Garden Expo: Dan Tyler’s Search for Abundance

WPT at the Wisconsin Science Festival

Today, kids all across the state were learning about science through hands-on experiments, games and puzzles at the annual Wisconsin Science Festival. WPT joined the fun in Madison at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, hosting a booth with some lessons on UV rays and their effects. The Cat in the Hat helped teach all about our skin – what it’s made of, how it works and why we need it!

If you’re looking to learn and play at the same time, join us! WPT will be at the WID all weekend, with an appearance from the Cat in the Hat himself on Saturday. We hope to see you there!

Your Pets’ Secret Lives

Nature "Pets: Wild at Heart" premieres 7 p.m. tonight.
Nature “Pets: Wild at Heart” premieres 7 p.m. tonight.

I share my apartment with two pets: a longhaired gray tabby named Donna and a shorthaired orange tabby named Harvey. They’re full of personality, fond of food and usually tolerant of my presence. Donna likes to curl up on my lap when she feels like it, and on the rare occasion that Harvey’s not sleeping, he loves to play with his catnip mouse. Continue reading Your Pets’ Secret Lives

PBS NewsHour Covers NASA’s Discovery of Water on Mars

Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Over the weekend, NASA teased a big announcement across their social media accounts, and when it arrived this morning it was a doozy! Scientists have not only found evidence of the existence of water on the red planet, they’ve found actual flowing water.

As PBS NewHour science reporter Nsikan Akpan writes this morning, “Mars has seasonal rivers of flowing water. Note the verb ‘has’ rather than ‘had,’ as in liquid water is a current feature on present-day Mars. In other words, this is not from the distant past — the water is flowing now. What appeared to be a dry void of red-orange rock is wetter than previously thought.”

Follow full coverage of this exciting discovery and what it means – and to see more of the stunning photos like the one above of some of the sites that researchers found the flowing water – visit PBS NewsHour’s Rundown online.

 

Uncovering the Past: Wisconsin's Sustainable Agriculture

Harriet Behar of Organic Valley CROPPOver the past couple months we’ve been digging through our video library and making several classic programs available on-demand. We’ve uncovered a lot of gems, including the 1995 documentary Covering New Ground: Wisconsin’s Sustainable Agriculture. The picture may not be high-definition, but the subject matter certainly holds up in today’s consumer-conscience society.

In Covering New Ground, WPT talks with farmers around the state who choose sustainable methods to produce the food we eat. The film covers rotational grazing, urban farming, targeted herbicide use and more sustainable farming methods.

Chances are good you’ve heard of some of the farmers featured in the 20-year-old film. Organic Valley, Harmony Valley and Milwaukee’s Will Allen are some of the more well known farmers on the program.

Take a moment to look back on this classic documentary and to marvel at some sustainable business models that seem progressive even by today’s standards.