Moratorium On Sulfide Mining Repealed, Year In Science, Antonin Scalia Writings

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Governor Walker signs a bill today repealing the state’s moratorium on sulfide mining. We discuss the implications. Before his death, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia carved out a reputation as one of the high court’s most conservative members. We talk to his son about a new collection of Scalia’s writings that detail his legal philosophy. We also look back on the most fascinating and important science stories of the year.

Featured in this Show

  • Walker Signs Bill Lifting Mining Moratorium

    Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that would lift Wisconsin’s almost two-decade old sulfide mining moratorium. We talk to a reporter about what the measure means for Wisconsin’s environment and economy.

  • Scientists Throw Out Conventional Evolution Timeline

    Scientists have long held onto a theory that humans began migrating out of Africa no earlier than 50,000 years ago.

    But in recent years, discoveries have begun to challenge that notion.

    In June 2016, archeologists found 100,000-year-old human remains in Israel. Then this summer, scientists discovered the oldest known Homo sapien remains, roughly 300,000 years old.

    “I’ve been seeing these other stories just pop all year just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the year they’re going to rewrite the timeline,’” said Gemma Tarlach, senior editor at Waukesha-based Discover Magazine. “And sure enough, they did.”

    Last week, researchers rewrote the conventional timeline of human migration in a review published in the prestigious journal Science.

    The move threw out decades of conventional knowledge in favor of a consensus that Homo sapiens evolved 300,000 to 400,000 years ago, Tarlach said, and began moving from Africa more than 100,000 years ago in various waves of migration.

    It’s one of the most important scientific discoveries of the year, Tarlach said.

    “I think one of the great things about this new consensus shift is for decades, there were paleoanthropologists, very senior in their field, who kind of laid down the law, like, ‘No, this is the story, Homo sapiens are no older than 200,000 years,’” she said. “Finally I think what we’re seeing here in this shift … is really that the field as a whole is saying, ‘OK guys, let’s face it, the evidence no longer supports that model.’ It frees paleoanthropologists now as they find new things to come up with new models and new ideas. They’re not so stuck in the old way of thinking.”

    Another study from the summer suggested that a Homo sapien woman mated with a Neanderthal male as long as 470,000 years ago, passing mitochondrial DNA through the Neanderthal gene pool.

    That possibility makes the sense with the new timeline, Tarlach said, but it’s still not widely accepted. Though it would mean that Homo sapiens were meeting Neanderthals earlier than scientists believed.

    “We’re not quite ready for a consensus shift on that particular point,” she said. “But we are finding all this evidence, like I said, that we were around earlier, we were around earlier in time and we were around earlier in geography.”

  • Year In Science: Human Timeline Evolution And How The Current Administration Is Affecting The Science World

    This week the prestigious journal Science published a review calling for a revision of the conventional timeline of human migration our of Africa. This story is one of the biggest of the last year, according to Discover Magazine. We talk to an editor about this and other top science news from 2017.

  • Justice Antonin Scalia In His Own Words

    Former US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a sought-after speaker. His speeches didn’t just help to illuminate his judicial positions for a broad audience. They also reflected his deep Catholic faith, and his philosophies on life outside fo the legal realm.

    His son Christopher Scalia has collected many of his most memorable speeches in a new collection called “Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived.”

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Host
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Jason Stein Guest
  • Gemma Tarlach Guest
  • Christopher Scalia Guest

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