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October 23, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

ASU “Sparky” Flower

  |   Video
  • ASU fans can decorate their gardens with school colors in time for ASU’s homecoming. ASU horticulturist George Hull talks about “Sparky”, a flower he developed named after the ASU mascot.
  • George Hull - Horticulturist, ASU
Keywords: ASU, sparky, flower, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: If you're a sun devil fan and would like your ASU spirit to Bloom, have we got the plant for you. It's the sparky, a shrub that sprouts maroon and gold flowers and was developed by an ASU horticulturalist. Here to talk about the ultimate in sun devil fan accessories, George Hull, the man behind the flower. Good to see you.
George Hull: thank you.
Ted Simons: thank you for being on the program. Is this the first flower you've ever developed?
George Hull: No. This is actually the third recently. This breeding program in queen creek, so two years ago we developed a red one. We call it bells of fire. I found sparky two years ago but it takes a bit of time to get the numbers up so you can release it. I-had a red one, then yellow. I have had sparky in the background but we didn't have the numbers up. You need 20,000 or so to start. Then I had to go through trademarking with ASU and everything. That went very smooth. Then there's a patenting process. Then getting the numbers up. That's where we are now.
Ted Simons: that's where you are now. That's what happened after you developed it. How does one begin to develop a flower?
George Hull: Basically you're forcing plants, taking yellow and red ones. I have traveled to Argentina and various places getting other colors, and so basically you force them to have seeds, between the two of them, you plant those, you may have 30,000 babies. You throw all but 100 away. Next year you do it all over. I have been doing this about ten years. I have probably thrown away 50,000 puppies. To keep maybe 100 or so.
Ted Simons: Again, when you're trying to breed these things together, what characteristics, are you just looking for the color, for something hardy?
George Hull: You're looking for something that is compact so it doesn't get too big, something that doesn't have a lot of seed pods on it, a flower that's not deformed. Big, flat, of a color that's unique. They basically started out being yellow and we worked toward a variety of colors. This thing popped out two years ago. It's like, oh! Being that I teach at ASU it's like, okay!
Ted Simons: How exactly -- can you get much more exacting than that?
George Hull: Then you just -- you can get more exacting. It's not really rocket science. It's basically just simple biology and botany anywhere you're putting the boy parts to the girl parts, taking the seeds, planting them, looking to see what comes up.
Ted Simons: obviously the result is you have to be happy with the results.
George Hull: yes.
Ted Simons: was this what you were looking for?
George Hull: You just keep your mind open. You don't know what Mother Nature is going to do to you. This popped out. There have been others appeared there are others coming after this. But this seemed to fit. It didn't have a lot of seeds on it. Being it's parents are native here, it grows here. It's not like something we brought in from Asia and all of a sudden are trying to introduce.
Ted Simons: is this an annual, a bush?
George Hull: It will grow in spite of you. You can put it in the grounds. It's a little bit tender. If it got really cold, but we haven't had really cold weather for quite a while. Basically it's going to Bloom from February through up until past Thanksgiving.
Ted Simons: So it's a summer Bloomer.
George Hull: Oh, yes. It loves full sun. Loves the heat. More so than we do. It does really well here.
Ted Simons: when you say loves heat and full sun, how much water does it need.
George Hull: We're still looking for plants that don't use an awful lot of water. We're not bringing in plants from the Midwest or something where they need too much water. Here it's moderate, oleanders, it's not going to require more than that. Once in a while it will need a hair cut. Chop it back and it will be more bushy.
Ted Simons: bougainvilleaish maybe?
George Hull: Most bougainvillas will get so big. This is more compact. We're talking five feet or so by three, four feet wide. It's not that big.
Ted Simons: how does it do around ducks?
George Hull: Ducks aren't a problem. Basically the ducks will take care of the worms.
Ted Simons: In other words, I made a joke about the ducks.
George Hull: Well, yeah.
Ted Simons: We don't joke about that. As far as animals, can the animals chomp on this.
George Hull: There's no poisonous parts. It would come back with even more flowers. There will be more branches.
Ted Simons: do you have to pinch the flowers off?
George Hull: You don't have to. You can do that if you'd like, if it makes you feel good. You don't have to. It's got a few seed pods on it. Every once in a while, middle of summer chop it halfway back.
Ted Simons: You named it after sparky.
George Hull: I didn't think that was going to happen because you have to go through a lot of bureaucracy but I have taught there for ten years. I walked into the trademark office they said, we're tired of trademarking chemicals and computer parts. Let's do something pretty. They were all for it. The nursery where we're doing it is taking the royalty and putting it into a fund for landscape architectural students.
Ted Simons: No real licensing problems at all?
George Hull: This is a patented plant. Basically I decide who gets to propagate this plant. So but it basically has -- in the future, I have an agent in Germany, this sparky logo will be on a plant and hopefully in southern Europe.
Ted Simons: isn't that something! Yeah. We have one onset here. We are looking at one in the nursery there. We have one also onset. It looks like a very healthy Arizona kind of plant. It has that look about it that says, you know, you can mess up with me a lot and I'm still going to survive.
George Hull: You can not water it. It will wilt and it will come flying back.
Ted Simons: how big does this get?
George Hull: About five feet tall, four feet wide, that neighborhood. Full sun. Don't put it in the shade. It will be just Green then.
Ted Simons: but it would survive full sun meaning even in the deepest darkest days of summer, full sun?
George Hull: Even half a day of sun where it got good light half the day would be okay. Even in a container. It could be in a container anywhere in this country.
Ted Simons: it looks beautiful on the set. That's a nice looking plant.
George Hull: wait until you see it in your yard!
Ted Simons: You should see all the stuff in my yard. Half of township isn't doing that well. It must be fun to look at a plant and go, I made that.
George Hull: The students like that. It's great when you look out on the dock in the morning or into a home depot or Lowe's, retail nursery -- I walked into one in San Diego this summer. That's one of my babies.
Ted Simons: So the interest is pretty high?
George Hull: Right now it's basically in Arizona because it's only been released for a month.
Ted Simons: The duck -- you got it?
George Hull: Chose to ignore it.
Ted Simons: Great to have you here.

Focus on Sustainability: Environmental Fund for Arizona

  |   Video
  • The "Environmental Fund for Arizona" is a group that helps employers help the environment through workplace giving. "EFAZ" Executive Director Lane Seaton explains.
  • Lane Seaton - Executive Director, Environmental Fund for Arizona
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: sustainability, environmental, enviornmental, fund, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The environmental fund for Arizona is a group that helps employers help the environment through workplace giving. EFAZ also gives educational tours, connects organizations with sustainability resources and coordinates volunteer opportunities. As part of "Arizona Horizon"' continuing covering of sustainability issues we learn more from Lane Seaton, executive director of the environmental fund for Arizona. Good to have you here.
Lane Seaton: thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Is that a good enough definition? What does EFAZ really do?
Lane Seaton: First of all we're a statewide alliance of all environmental and conservation organizations. We have 28 across the state, from Flagstaff to Tucson. We formed about 11 years ago to really provide a Green choice to workplace giving across Arizona. We sort of work similarly to the United Way that provides opportunities for employees to give to charitable organizations usually during the fall. But at that time Arizona didn't have different kind of choices. Or environmental choices. That was really the reason why EFAZ formed. We collectively raise awareness, engagement and additional financial support for all these amazing environmental groups.
Ted Simons: In terms of raising awareness for these ecological causes, what kind of causes we talking about here?
Lane Seaton: Our member groups do a lot of different things. We have a lot of wildlife groups. We have four audubon groups. Southwest wildlife, wild at heart, those are really popular groups. Those are our wildlife groups. We have a lot of land trust, land focus groups. Desert hot house land trust, then we have native plants you'll be speaking about later today. The desert botanical garden, arboretum at Flagstaff. Then we have some different kind of groups, Sonoran institute, western resources advocates that focuses on policy, energy, transportation. We have Arizona recycling coalition that's part of city of Phoenix.
Ted Simons: when someone hears about this and say these are causes that I like to support, your group makes it easy through workplace giving to fund those groups.
Lane Seaton: Absolutely. Again, we come into the workplace, it's either public or private. If you go on our website you'll see we currently partner with many cities across the state, counties, also companies and businesses. And so employees can give through the workplace their workplace giving programs through us they can choose one or more of our specific groups if they really love those causes or they can choose if they can't decide they can choose to get to EFAZ, and that one gift is spread equally among our 28 member groups.
Ted Simons: you mentioned cities being involved, Tempe, Peoria, Surprise the latest editions.
Lane Seaton: It's very, very exciting, yes. City of Tempe and Surprise and Peoria we're partnering with them this year. It's been fabulous. Now with city of Phoenix, it's our third year with them. This fall we have done amazing activities with them. It's really, really been terrific.
Ted Simons: We have photographs -- you guys volunteer opportunities and wildlife rehab and you also give tours as we see some of the city of Phoenix workers. What are we seeing there?
Lane Seaton: Yes. That's a huge part of it. It's not just about giving. We really want to build partnerships with workplaces and give them a chance to first learn about our groups. Learn about this incredible work being done, and get to know them through these tourism volunteer opportunities. City of Phoenix, their community service fund drive committee members, they came out to Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center. We did a fabulous tour with them. Actually, their response was so great that city of Phoenix had to schedule back to back tours. It was still so great that we had to do a third tour at Wild at Heart or two tours up there I think the following weekend. So when given the options, some great things can happen. That was really fun.
Ted Simons: and this is fantastic. The bald eagle. You sends people out there, they see where their money is going or where it could go. Makes a big difference.
Lane Seaton: it does. When you're actually there and seeing where your dollar is going, it really makes all the difference. Again, not just for giving but for learning and for volunteer opportunities as well. So that's really what we're about. The giving piece is just one part of it. We really are a statewide hub, resource for Green, for education, for getting involved, volunteering again.
Ted Simons: Jobs even?
Lane Seaton: Jobs even on our site. Under the get involved tab there's a jobs page with some great sustainability resources Green job sites. Other kind of resources locally and nationally.
Ted Simons: and over the years now how much do you think you've raised so far?
Lane Seaton: We're over 1 million right now.
Ted Simons: Very good.
Lane Seaton: That's pretty good. On average every year it's about 125,000 that we raise for all of our member organizations.
Ted Simons: is that number growing despite tough economic times? What's the graph looking like?
Lane Seaton: That's a good question. The last couple of years, last three, four years it's been up and down. '08 was our best year. That was about 150,000. After that with the economy it went down a bit, but it's growing. Then again with new partners, with Tempe and surprise and Peoria, great engagement with city of Phoenix, we're looking at this year having some greater support.
Ted Simons: congratulations on your success. Continued good fortune. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Lane Seaton: Thank you so much.

Lawrence Krauss on Physics

  |   Video
  • World-famous physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University joins Arizona Horizon monthly to talk about the latest science and physics news.
  • Lawrence Krauss - Physicist, Arizona State University
Category: Science   |   Keywords: krauss, innovation, technology, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Once a month we have the privilege to talk about the latest in the world of science with renowned physicist , and Arizona State University professor Lawrence Krauss, who joins us now. Lawrence, good to see you.
Lawrence Krauss: great to be here.
Ted Simons: quickly, those scientists in Italy, they don't predict a earthquake well enough, they are off to jail.
Lawrence Krauss: Yes. Science has become a risky business. It’s amazing and it's so upsetting. The scientists used the data they had for some small tremors in it lip and they announced they couldn't say it was likely there would be an earthquake there. An earthquake happened and they were tried and convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison. It defies imagination, the fact that scientists using the best data tell the truth and are put in jail. It’s just…
Ted Simons: It also suggests people have maybe more of a face in different aspects of science than perhaps they should?
Lawrence Krauss: It means people don't understand science. One of the great strengths of science is uncertainty, being able to state things without certainties. We can say things with confidence or not with confidence. They said we can't say with confidence there's going to be an earthquake. What this represented, this travesty, is the fact that judges don't understand science, but I guess we knew that already.
Ted Simons: let's try to leave the solar system. Voyager one, this was launched in the '70s, correct and now it's out of the solar system?
Lawrence Krauss: There's new evidence that's come in that Voyager one, Voyager one and Voyager two, they are both heading out, Voyager one has crossed the protective bubble that the sun -- like a placenta that the sun puts around the solar system. The sun is pouring out charged particles and they are pushing out against cosmic rays and magnetic fields from the rest of the galaxy to a certain region that is the territory of the sun, if you wish, and as Voyager is moving out one of the ways we would know that it's crossed that boundary is that it is seeing particles coming into it from – cosmic rays coming one direction as opposed to charged particles from the sun. It's seeing the number of charged particles in the sun dropping off. The real test would be if the sun as these magnetic fields around it and outside the fields would be in a different direction. They haven't yet analyzed the data but that would be the real smoking gun. Everything else looks like it's crossed the boundary. It's the first human made object to leave the solar system. In neighbor 50 or 100,000 years it will be passing by the nearest stars and it's going to continue to operate for another -- that's what's amazing about these things. In 1977 though were launched. They are still working. I love that.
Ted Simons: What can they tell us about interstellar space?
Lawrence Krauss: They can measure magnetic fields, cosmic rays, give us the first taste of what the environment is out there but with the two or three simple devices they have to measure it. And then of course, once they die out, once the batteries go they will just be traveling quietly through the galaxy. I find it very romantic to think of them even if they are not reengineered by some alien civilization like star trek.
Ted Simons: just as long as they don't bump into anything.
Lawrence Krauss: they could be, depending what we do here on earth, and who knows what's going to happen to us, it's nice to know there's some evidence somewhere in the galaxy that we existed once.
Ted Simons: that we were here. You mentioned the nearest star. An earth-like planet. Where is this exactly? This is the nearest star?
Lawrence Krauss: The nearest star system to is alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri B, the very closest one, about four light-years away. Takes four years from the light from that star to get to us. I'm amazed because it turns out that that star has an earth-like planet around it. It's not an earth like planet you would want to visit because it's orbiting the star every 3.2 days and the surface temperature is about 1,000 degrees. You may say why haven't we found it before? But it turns out you can't see planets. Generally you can't. Sometimes you can see them reflect the light from the star. That's how we see the planets in our solar system. But these small planets we detect them by this amazing technique. As the earth moves around the sun gravity tugs at the star. You can calculate from this earth mass planet that it causes the star to wobble at a speed of 50 centimeters a second, about the same amount you'd walk. It's amazing that we can measure a star wobbling at 50 centimeters per second four lights years away. Blows me away.
Ted Simons:If it wobbles a certain way do we know about the mass of the planet.
Lawrence Krauss: We can work out the mass -- the speed, the period of which it wobbles will tell us the period of the planet how fast it's going around the star. The amount by which it wobbles tells the mass of the star. So that's how -- the mass of the planet, sorry. That's how we know it's an earth-like mass planet, but our period of our orbit is a year, so 365 days. This goes around the star every 3.2 days, but where there's one planet there could be more. So to me, the fact that even the closest star to us has a planet around it means that there's 100 billion stars in our galaxy. I suspect there's 100 billion solar systems. If there are rocky systems around the star, There may be another habitable planet. It's harder to find if it's farther out. An earth like planet an earth's distance away would cause the star to wobble once a year. To see it you would have to measure over many years. They could see the period because it was 3.2 days they could see it wobble along. If they look at the star for 20 years --
Ted Simons:If we want to find out more about this particular earth like planet, these nearby -- nearby stars. How long would it take to send something up there unmanned?
Lawrence Krauss: Unmanned is a reasonable way to do it. Voyager one is going out in the galaxy, but it's moving very slowly. It would take 50,000 years. You could imagine with technology doing something that might take 100 years to get out to the nearest star system. 100 years one way, which is amazing because it's manageable in the human lifetime. It's the first time I realized a rocky planet, that I began to think, maybe humanity might send out probes that might actually reach habitable planet someday. Before that it seemed like science fiction to me.
Ted Simons: again, of course you'd hate to send something over to this earth-like planet and 50 years later go, what about that one? That one might be more interesting. You have to commit.
Lawrence Krauss: but that's what's so good about unmanned objects. They are cheaper.
Ted Simons: That's true.
Lawrence Krauss: people, you have to worry about getting them back. They are just very complicated.
Ted Simons:I have a question from Mrs. simons, my wife. I thought she had a really good question. I certainly couldn't answer it. If energy is neither created nor destroyed, which we all learned way back when, what happens to photons? They seem like they are here, they're gone.
Lawrence Krauss: They get absorbed by your skin. It's not that energy is never created or destroyed, you can convert energy to mass. That's what Einstein's equation is. E=mc2. You can take energy and turn it into mass and Vice versa. The lights from your studio are absorbed in my skin they actually make me heavier. The energy from those photons when absorbed by the atoms of my skin, my mass actually increases a little bit. Not by a huge amount but it's that thinking your wife's thinking was great. It's that thinking of what happens to light when it's emitted by a source and absorbed by another object that caused Einstein to develop his theory E equals MC2. She's well on the way.
Ted Simons: Okay, don't say that! Everything we talked about today, it's interesting, especially regarding the Voyager one and this earth like planet. We really are stretching out, aren't we? Really learning things at a rapid pace.
Lawrence Krauss: Yes. It seems every moment when we meet there's something new and exciting and there is. That's why we have to keep looking at the universe. The universe continues to surprise us. I suspect that's going to continue. I always say, when I wake up I'm surprised if I'm not surprised.
Ted Simons: All right. It's good to have you here. Back again next month?
Lawrence Krauss: Yep.
Ted Simons: we'll do it. Good to see you.
Lawrence Krauss: Great.