Florence Flooding, Algorithms, Dino Demise. Sept. 14, 2018, Part 1 | WBEZ
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Science Friday

Florence Flooding, Algorithms, Dino Demise. Sept. 14, 2018, Part 1

Last month, California passed a bill ending the use of cash bail. Instead of waiting in jail or putting down a cash deposit to await trial at home, defendants are released after the pleadings. The catch? Not everyone gets this treatment. It’s not a judge who determines who should and shouldn’t be released; it’s an algorithm. Algorithms have also been used to figure out which incarcerated individuals should be released on parole. Mathematician Hannah Fry and computer scientist Suresh Venkatasubramanian join Ira to discuss how algorithms are being used not only in the justice system, but in healthcare and data mining too. 

As Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas this week, forecasters and disaster management officials are stressing one key piece of advice to evacuating residents: Take the storm seriously, regardless of the category designation. Once projected to hit Category 4, Florence was at Category 2 as of Thursday morning, but that number only describes the wind speed. Meanwhile, as University of California-Irvine civil engineer Amir AghaKouchak notes, there could be unusually devastating flooding, as storm surge from the ocean meets rainfall from a storm that is projected to pour on the region for days. “Compound flooding” is the phenomenon that left Houston under water after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and, at its worse, could cause rivers to run in reverse. And, AghaKouchak says, climate change and sea level rise both make such flooding more likely in storms like Florence.

The prevailing theory says a meteorite led to the demise of the dinos. But Gerta Keller, a longtime geologist and paleontologist, isn’t buying it, and says volcanoes were the real culprit. The latest episode of Undiscovered tells her story, and asks whether conflict among scientists really makes science stronger. Co-hosts Elah Feder and Annie Minoff join Ira for a preview. Subscribe to Undiscovered wherever you get your podcasts.

 

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