Episodes Archive

Give a Nerd a Gift #543

December 07, 2019

Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since... Read More

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Climate Doomsday #542

November 30, 2019

Have you heard? Climate change. We did it. And it's bad. It's going to be worse. We are already suffering the effects of it in many ways. How should we TALK about the dangers we are facing, though? Should we get people good and scared? Or give them hope? Or both? Host Bethany Brookshire talks with David Wallace-Wells and Sheril Kirschenbaum to find out. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Related links: Why Climate Disasters Might Not Boost Public Engagement on Climate Change on The New York Times by Andrew Revkin The other kind... Read More

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Wayfinding #541

November 16, 2019

These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders... Read More

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Specialize? Or Generalize? #540

November 09, 2019

Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World". Read More

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A Bit of Bird Behaviour #539

October 26, 2019

This week we're discussing birds, behaviour, and chickadees. How do you look at behavioural traits in birds, how different birds value information gathering, and how those traits affect foraging? Marion Kilgour speaks to Dr. Kim Mathot, the Canada Research Chair in Integrative Ecology, about how and why birds make decisions, and how individuals value and act on information, how they share information within groups, and what value that information has in managing uncertainty. Chickadees calls recorded by Jonathon Jongsma, from xeno-canto. Read More

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Nobels and Astrophysics #538

October 19, 2019

This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes. Read More

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Science Journalism, Hold the Hype #537

October 11, 2019

Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This... Read More

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Let Them Eat Dirt #536

September 27, 2019

This week on Science for the People, we're discussing how the gut microbiome is shaped by experiences and circumstances during early childhood. We'll be speaking with Dr. Bretty Finlay, co-author of "Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World", about everything from C-sections to widespread antibiotic resistance to using probiotics to treat diseases. Things are about to get messy! Related links: Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products Available in Canada This episode is hosted by Anika Hazra. Read More

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Superior #535

September 20, 2019

Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back. Read More

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Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ #534

September 13, 2019

What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening... Read More

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Breaking the Rodent Glass Ceiling #533

August 31, 2019

When a new science finding is published about animal research, you might assume that scientists are trying to find out things that are useful for human health. They are, but it might not be so useful to all humans. Why? Because most biomedical research studies done in mice and rats are done only in male animals. Females were seen as too variable. The surging hormones, the emotions! The rodent show cravings, amirite? Well, not anymore. We're talking to Rebecca Shansky about why people should study males and females in research, and maybe stop worrying so much about mousey PMS. Related... Read More

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A Class Conversation #532

August 23, 2019

This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems. Read More

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2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross #SB2

August 09, 2019

Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda... Read More

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Induced Seismicity #531

August 02, 2019

This week we're talking about earthquakes. If you live in Alberta or Oklahoma, you've probably heard about fracking or waste water wells causing earthquakes. We'll speak with seismologist Ruijia Wang about how that happens, and what we can control with these earthquakes. Then we speak to Sara McBride, with the United States Geological Survey, who explains why earthquake response communication should be taking embarrassment into account. Related links: Canadian Induced Seismicity Collaboration Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills Earthquake protective actions if you have a physical disability Read More

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Why Aren't We Dead Yet? #530

July 19, 2019

We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System". Read More

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Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy? #529

July 05, 2019

At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced... Read More

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A Shock Machine and The Lost Boys #528

June 28, 2019

This week, we take a look at 2 notable post world war 2 social psychology experiments and their creators: Stanley Milgram and his "shock machine", and Muzafer Sherif's boys camp study on group conflict. How did these scientists approach their work? How did the experiments run? How do the experiments hold up? How did people feel then about the ethics of them, and how do we feel now? We are joined by registered psychologist and author Gina Perry, who has written a book each on these men: "Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments",... Read More

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Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids #527

June 14, 2019

This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends... Read More

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Let Me See You Sweat #526

June 07, 2019

Summer is coming, and summer means sweat. Why do we sweat so much, and how do we do it? We hear from Yana Kamberov about the evolutionary origins of our sweat glands, and why it's one of the things that makes us mammals. Then we talk about why some (but not all) of our sweat STINKS. We'll speak with Gavin Thomas about the bacteria that give us our BO. Related links: Comparative evidence for the independent evolution of hair and sweat gland traits in primates on bioRxiv Structural basis of malodour precursor transport in the human axilla on eLife This... Read More

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Chernobyl #525

May 31, 2019

This week we're looking back at a man-made disaster that changed the world: the Chernobyl meltdown. We take a closer look at all the contributing factors that lead the No 4 reactor at Chernobyl to explode and how the Soviet Union's political, scientific, and administrative culture at the time contributed to the disaster. And we'll look at the fallout, the logistics of trying to clean up a radioactive accident where five minutes in the wrong area will literally kill you, and the long-tail disaster recovery efforts. We are joined by Adam Higginbotham, author of the new best selling book "Midnight... Read More

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