The Pulse – March 7, 2014


    Where do you get your weather forecasts? TV news channels?  Maybe you use the web? Or the local paper? The Farmers Almanac? No matter how you answer, the follow-up question remains: Where do they get their weather? We take a look at the science (and art) of predicting the weather and speak to the organization that best forecasted this wild and snowy winter. Hint: They aren’t exactly the most high-tech organization in the weather game.

    While we’re talking climatology, we look back into the eternal question of winter weather: Could it really be true that no two snowflakes are alike? The answer, of course, is still yes, but why is worth knowing. And we join the crew of a ship that sailed to the Arctic in the mid 1800s. Well, not really, but we do link up with some citizen scientists pouring over the weather logs of ships from the 19th and 20th centuries in search of ancient weather patterns that could one day help us predict future storms.

     And while we’re talking inclimate weather, we infiltrate Walgreens’ small squad of data crunchers who analyze what we’re buying in an attempt to determine where a flu outbreak has occurred, before we even call in sick from work. Turns out that sales of toothbrushes and orange juice are powerful predictors of a coming flu epidemic.

     We also join researchers using gene editing methods to rid genes of the doorway HIV uses to infiltrate our immune systems, and we talk to a malacologist about her work with mollusks. 

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