Episodes Archive

The Sugar Pill #399

December 09, 2016

This week, we're taking on the science of the sugar pill. We're talking about the placebo effect, its potential benefits and its pitfalls. We speak with Erik Vance about his new book "Suggestible You: The Curious Science of your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform and Heal". And we'll talk with Kathryn Hall, a genetic epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, about why we experience the placebo effect, why some people are more open to suggestion than others, and why that might not be a weakness. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science... Read More

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Gifts For Nerds #398

December 02, 2016

Once again, we're here to help you with all your nerd-specific holiday shopping with our annual gift guide for science lovers. We brought back Skepchick writer Mary Brock and science librarian John Dupuis to give us their top picks from their 2016 science reads. And we invited back Mad Art Lab's Courtney Caldwell and GeekWrapped's Simon Saval to recommend some science and geek themed gifts you won't find in a library. Visit our news section for the full book list with links and the full non-book science-themed gift idea list with links. Read More

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Risk Management #397

November 25, 2016

This week we’re talking about risks and resources. We speak with Dr. Lianne Lefsrud, Assistant Professor of Engineering Safety and Risk Management in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta, about how engineers think about and evaluate risks, and her research into how language and conversations about resource development have changed over time. Then we'll talk with Dr. David Sauchyn, Research Professor at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina about historical patterns of water resources, and how his research is being used for better planning. The Science for the People team are also pleased... Read More

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Trench to Bedside #396

November 18, 2016

This week we're taking on maggots, wounds, and diarrhea in an episode about medical problems that plague the military, so make sure your last meal is a few hours behind you before you tuck in your ear buds. We speak with Captain Mark Riddle, the director of the United States Military Diarrheal Disease Vaccine Research Program at the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, about new ways to prevent and treat travelers' diarrhea. And we talk with George Peck, a medical entomologist, about using maggots to help wounds heal. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from... Read More

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Happy People (Rebroadcast) #395

November 11, 2016

This week we're exploring what science can tell us about happiness. We'll speak to John Helliwell, Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Programme on Social Interactions, Identity, and Well-Being, about the World Happiness Report, a global project that uses tools from economics, psychology, health statistics and more to study the happiness of people and nations. And we'll speak to journalist  Michael Booth about his book "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Read More

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On the Origin of Bad Science #394

November 04, 2016

This week we're talking about what bad science looks like, why good scientists with good intentions often use techniques of bad science in their work, and how we may be unintentionally selecting for bad science over good science in our culture. We speak with Michael Inzlicht, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, about the replication crisis currently underway in the field of social psychology. And we talk with Paul Smaldino, Assistant Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced, about his recent paper "The Natural Selection of Bad Science" and how the incentives built... Read More

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Check Your Facts #393

October 28, 2016

This week we're sitting down with three experienced fact-checkers to better understand what the process of fact-checking looks like from the inside, and what the challenges are when news and politics collide. We speak with Brooke Borel, a contributing editor to Popular Science and author of the book "The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking"; Michelle Ciarrocca, a researcher, reporter, and writer; and Dave Levitan, a science journalist and author of the upcoming new book "Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More

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Venomous #392

October 21, 2016

This week we're looking at some of the animals, insects, and creatures we fear the most and the venom that makes them so powerful. Biologist and science blogger Christie Wilcox returns to talk about her first book "Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry". And Jim Olson, a physician scientist and Director of Project Violet, tells us about "Tumor Paint", a fluorescent molecule that binds to solid tumors to help guide surgeons during surgeries, which was partially derived from the venom of the deathstalker scorpion. Read More

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Effective Altruism (Rebroadcast) #391

October 14, 2016

This week, we're learning how science can boost the effectiveness of philanthropy. We'll talk to philosophy professor William MacAskill about his book "Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference." And we'll speak to education researcher Brendan Rigby about the ethics and impact of "voluntourism." Read More

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Decolonizing Colonization #390

October 07, 2016

This week we're trying to wrap our head around our colonial history and the ideas of decolonization. We speak with Ryan McMahon, creator of the Indian & Cowboy podcast network, about what reconciliation and decolonization mean today and why they are necessary work still in front of us. And in a panel discussion from Skepchickcon at CONvergence 2016, panelists Emily Finke, Celia Yost, and Cassandra Phoenix think about how we can learn lessons from our colonial past so we don't repeat the same mistakes in the far future as we explore the stars and expand our reach. Special thanks to... Read More

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The Jazz of Physics #389

September 30, 2016

This week we look at what science, music and art can learn from each other. Theoretical physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander, author of the new book "The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe" talks about how science and art have frequently merged in his work and life. And Pamela Romero, a neuroscience major and Honduran painter at Emory University, talks about her "Elementally Latino" sculpture project and asks you to fill out her survey as part of this project. Listen to Stephon Alexander and Erin Rioux's album "Here Comes Now". Find... Read More

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Fish #388

September 23, 2016

This week on Science for the People we have a trio of fishy experts helping us look at how fish are adapted to their — sometimes extreme — environments, and what their behaviour can tell us about their intelligence and experience. We speak to Kristin O'Brien, a zoologist at the University of Alaska, about how fish manage to survive the extreme cold of Arctic waters. We talk with Heidi Golden, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Connecticut, about the Arctic grayling. And we speak with Jonathan Balcombe, director of animal sentience at the Humane Society Institute for Science and... Read More

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The Melting World (Rebroadcast) #387

September 16, 2016

This week, we look back at a previous episode about how climate change is altering the face of the planet, and affecting the lives of the people who live here. Desiree Schell speaks to science writer and naturalist Christoper White, about his book "The Melting World: A Journey Across America's Vanishing Glaciers." And she's joined by sociology researcher Stephen Castles, to discuss the factors driving human migration, and how it could be affected by the shifting climate. Download "Foresight: Migration and Global Environmental Change" (2011) Final Project Report from the UK Government Office for Science, London. Download Stephen Castles' "concluding remarks... Read More

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Humans Vs Robots #386

September 09, 2016

This week we're airing a recorded panel, moderated by Desiree Schell, from the recent Skepchickcon track at CONvergence 2016 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Human spaceflight captures the imagination like nothing else, but robotic probes have explored the Solar System with relative ease. We'll weigh the costs and benefits of sending humans to other planets versus sending our robotic proxies. Panelists include Amy Shira Teitel, space flight historian and author; blogger and podcaster Jim Tigwell; astronomer Nicole Gugliucci; and Jason Thibeault, I.T. systems engineer and space nerd. Special thanks to Kevin Eldridge and The Flopcast, who helped us record panels when our... Read More

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Sociolinguistics #385

September 02, 2016

This week we're learning about the field of sociolinguistics: what it is, why it's important, and what it can tell us about our culture and our society. University of Toronto Professor Sali Tagliamonte helps us better understand the field, how her research is done, and how language changes over time in cultural and regional groups. And Dr. LeAnn Brown talks about how language cues reveal -- or more often fail to reveal -- gender and sexual preference. Read More

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Grunt #384

August 26, 2016

This week we're tackling the science of the soldier and how to keep them fighting when difficult conditions -- and our own human bodies and brains -- get in the way. We spend the hour with best selling science author Mary Roach, talking about her latest book "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More

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The Atomic Era (Rebroadcast) #383

August 19, 2016

This week, we're looking back at a previous episode and learning about the power and peril of the atom, with two books about women who were instrumental in helping us unlock its secrets. We're joined by Huffington Post editor Shelley Emling, to discuss her book "Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family." And we'll speak to author Denise Kiernan about her book, "The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II." Read More

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Risk of Going Nowhere #382

August 12, 2016

This week we're airing a recorded panel, moderated by Desiree Schell, from the recent Skepchickcon track at CONvergence 2016 in Bloomington, Minnesota. As a safety and headline driven culture, how will we explore dangerous, distant places that are inherently unsafe without losing the public will or disrespecting the lives of those who go? Panelists include Abra Staffin-Wiebe, speculative fiction author; blogger and podcaster Jim Tigwell; trivia show host Sarah Prentice; and Rebecca Watson, creator of Skepchick. Special thanks to Kevin Eldridge and The Flopcast, who helped us record panels when our equipment failed! We're looking for Guest Hosts to join... Read More

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The Triumph of Seeds #381

August 05, 2016

This week we're exploring the world of seeds: how they've become so successful, how they work, how humans depend on them, and what we still don't understand about them. We spend the hour with Thor Hanson, conservation biologist and award-winning author, about his book "The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History". Read More

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Yer A Wizard Harry #380

July 29, 2016

Today we mashup the science of genetics with the world of Harry Potter to get a better handle on how genetics works, and to find out what the odds are when it comes to getting a Hogwarts invite. (We can dream, right?) Dr. Tina Saey, who covers the molecular biology beat at Science News, helps us understand how to make a wizard with a little genetics 101. And Dr. Julian Knight, Professor of genomic medicine at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, talks about his paper that looks to genetics for the origins of... Read More

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