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Iowa Physicists Discover A New Type Of Aurora

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Kathie Obradovich, editor in chief of the Iowa Capitol Dispatch about the latest work in the Iowa Legislature and the reverberations of national politics in the state.

Sybil Soukup, executive director for the Human Society of Northern Iowa joins the program to talk about how the Humane Society of the United States ranked Iowa as the state with the third-highest number of puppy mills — with 11 noted locations in "filthy, hazardous" condition.

The annual Horrible Hundred report lists dog breeders that fail to provide adequate care to dogs and puppies, based on state and federal inspections, complaints from the public and undercover investigations. Missouri had the largest number of businesses on the Horrible Hundred list at 21, followed by Ohio with 16, and Iowa at 11.

Iowa Public Radio's Natalie Krebs talks about the new CDC guidance and what it means for fully vaccinated people in most indoor settings. IPR's Kate Payne outlines how the word “abolish” became hotly debated this week in Iowa City.

The show concludes with a conversation on the northern lights — though you rarely, if ever, see them from Iowa. However, for millennia, humans in the higher latitudes have been enthralled by auroras, those dancing ribbons of light above the Earth. It turns out they still hold some secrets. In a new study, physicists led by the University of Iowa, report a new feature to Earth’s atmospheric light show.

Assistant professor, Allison Jaynes, and Ph.D. candidate Riley Troyer in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa talk about the behavior, which they call diffuse auroral erasers, and how it has yet to be mentioned in the scientific literature. The findings appear in the Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics.


  • Kathie Obradovich, editor in chief, Iowa Capitol Dispatch
  • Sybil Soukup, executive director, Human Society of Northern Iowa
  • Natalie Krebs, health reporter, Iowa Public Radio
  • Kate Payne, eastern Iowa reporter, Iowa Public Radio
  • Allison Jaynes, assistant professor, department of physics and astronomy, University of Iowa
  • Riley Troyer, Ph.D. candidate, department of physics and astronomy, University of Iowa
  • Mark Simmet, host, Studio One, Iowa Public Radio
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa