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Undisciplined: The GeoScientist

U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

This week on Undisciplined, we’re talking about “Project Iceworm,” a secret U.S. government project to build nuclear launch sites in northern Greenland back in the 1960s. Now the project site is getting a renewed look by scientists, thanks to a 1.3-kilometer-long ice core sample that was extracted from the site and kept in storage for more than 50 years. What secrets does it hold?

Tammy Rittenour is a geologist, a paleo climatologist and the director of the luminescence lab at Utah State University. We’ll have some time today to get into what each of those roles means, but we’re going to start our conversation today by talking about a research opportunity that emerged more than 50 years after a secret U.S. military project was buried in the ice in northern Greenland. 

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including Inheritance with geneticist Sharon Moalem and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His forthcoming book, Superlative, will look at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways.