Episodes Archive

Animal Research Revisited #418

April 21, 2017

This week we’re revisiting animal research. There's no denying animal research has done amazing things for both humanity and the animals we live and work with. But there are also good reasons why it makes people uncomfortable. We'll talk with philosopher John Hadley about the different philosophical perspectives on animal research, and how scientists might be more open about their practices. We'll also speak with philosopher Janet Stemwedel about current practices regulating research in the United States, how reducing animal use dovetails with issues of scientific reproducibility, and how we can have better, more productive conversations on what is often... Read More

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Lab-Cultured Beef #417

April 14, 2017

This week we go into a lab that's working to make our kitchens more sustainable. Guest host Jessie Yaros speaks with Professor Mark Post about lab cultured beef, including how a hamburger is grown from scratch in the lab, the advantages of cultured beef over traditional factory farming processes, and the currently public perception of eating lab-made meat products. And Bethany Brookshire chats with astronomy writer Chris Crockett about the approaching Grand Finale of the Cassini mission and how the spacecraft's destruction could provide us with exciting new information about Saturn and its rings. Read More

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Bodies Everywhere (Rebroadcast) #416

April 07, 2017

This week we're looking at the morbid and fascinating history of our attempts to grapple with disease and death. We're joined by medical historian Richard Barnett to talk about his book "The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration." And we'll speak to mortician and blogger Caitlin Doughty about her book "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory", and her ongoing YouTube series "Ask a Mortician", about the history, science and cultural attitudes attached to dealing with the deceased. Read More

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Weapons of Math Destruction #415

March 31, 2017

This week on Science for the People we look at the modern, inventive ways we try to use math and algorithms to make better decisions, and what happens when those solutions cause more problems than they solve. We speak with Cathy O'Neil about her book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy and the increasingly opaque and unregulated algorithms that are creeping into our lives. We also talk with David Robinson, co-founder and principal of the think tank Upturn, about their report on the current use of and evidence behind Predictive Policing. Read More

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Perpetual Now #414

March 24, 2017

Most of us probably think about memories as being about the past. But when memories are gone, it becomes clear just how much they are also about the future. This week we are in search of lost memories. We'll speak with Michael McCloskey about how memories are formed and how you test for memory in people with amnesia. We'll also talk with Michael Lemonick about his new book, The Perpetual Now: A Story of Memory, Amnesia and Love", and the story of Lonnie Sue Johnson and her memory loss. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science... Read More

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Concrete #413

March 17, 2017

This week is all about that most ubiquitous of building materials: concrete. Historian Robert Courland joins us to talk about his book "Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World's Most Common Man-Made Material", our long history using concrete, and what modern engineers could learn from the Romans. We'll speak with Cristina Zanotti, Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia, about building better -- and more sustainable -- modern concrete structures. And we'll talk with organizers Andrew Tefs and Dave Barchyn about the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race. Read More

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PTSD #412

March 10, 2017

This week on Science for the People, we’re talking about our changing understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how we define the trauma that can trigger it. We speak with Alexei Morozov, an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, about his work studying the social signals of distress in mouse models, and about how animal models are helping us better understand PTSD in humans. And we talk with Dr. Monnica Williams, Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut and licensed psychologist, about our changing understanding of what trauma is and how it can be caused. Read More

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Coal Wars (Rebroadcast) #411

March 03, 2017

This week we're learning more about the fossil fuel that powered humanity's first industrial age, and helped set us on a course for a looming climate crisis. We'll speak to Richard Martin, energy editor at the MIT Technology Review, about his book "Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet." And we'll explore the environmental impact of coal with Jeff Deyette, assistant director of energy research in the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Read More

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The Big Sleep #410

February 24, 2017

This week we take a closer look at hibernation and how it works. We speak with Kelly Drew, a neuroscientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who studies the Arctic ground squirrel, the "Usain Bolt" of hibernators. And we talk with Frank van Breukelen, a biologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies an animal who isn't very good at hibernating: the tenrec. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More

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Trump War On Science #409

February 17, 2017

This week we look at what's happening to science in the first days of the Donald Trump presidency, and what might happen if we don't take action in a world where science is growing increasingly political — whether or not we want it to. Librarian John Dupuis returns to talk about what's happened so far, why he's started a chronology of this administration's affects on science, and the similarities and differences to the Canadian War on Science he tracked previously. And we speak with Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, about the particular challenges and concerns of scientists... Read More

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The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar #408

February 10, 2017

This week, we look at the strange, curious, and sometimes amusing strategies creatures use to make it through the day. Guest host Jessie Yaros spends the hour with science writer and author Matt Simon talking about his new book "The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems". The Science for the People team is excited to welcome Jessie Yaros, a new guest host, to our team. Jessie is a doctoral student in Neurobiology and Behavior in California. Read More

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Voices Within #407

February 03, 2017

This week we're thinking about how we think: the ways we talk to -- and with -- ourselves, why we do it at all, and what happens when some of us hear voices that aren't our own. We spend the hour with Charles Fernyhough, Professor of Psychology at Durham University, about his book "The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk To Ourselves". More links of interest: Hearing The Voice, an interdisciplinary study of voice hearing. You can find their FAQ here. Intervoice: The International Hearing Voices Network Read More

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Running Low (Rebroadcast) #406

January 27, 2017

This week, we're going back to a previous episode and looking across the Periodic Table and assessing the scarcity of modern society's essential elements. We're joined by Dr. Thomas Graedel, Director of the Center for Industrial Ecology at Yale University, to talk about the rare metals that play a role in our electronic devices. We'll speak to physics Professor Dr. Moses Hung-Wai Chan about our dwindling supply of helium. And we'll talk about the phosphorous that plays a critical role in modern agriculture, with ecology professor Dr. James Elser, co-organizer of the Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative at Arizona State University. Read More

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STEM Pipeline #405

January 20, 2017

This week we look at the current state of the STEM pipeline and what happens when people drip out. We speak with Paula Stephan, Professor of Economics at Georgia State University, about practicing "PhD contraception" in order to better match supply with realistic demand. We talk with Gary McDowell, Executive Director of Future of Research, about ways we might try to change the STEM process from the inside. And we speak with Melissa Vaught, a biochemist turned editor, about the realities of going into a science PhD and what to do on the other side. This episode is hosted by... Read More

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Sex In The Sea #404

January 13, 2017

This week we talk about sex... in the sea! Anika Hazra speaks with marine biologist Marah Hardt about her new book "Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep". We discuss the multitude of bizarre strategies marine organisms use to get it on, the obstacles they face as humans become increasingly intrusive on their sex lives, and how we can protect the integrity of marine reproduction. Read More

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Indigenous DNA #403

January 06, 2017

This week we take a closer look at the intersection of genetics, politics, identity, and hundreds of years of colonization. We speak with Kim TallBear, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples Technoscience and Environment and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, about her book "Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science". And we speak with Keolu Fox, a post doctoral fellow in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, about IndiGenomics, an NGO aimed at helping create... Read More

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Boozy Science (Rebroadcast) #402

December 30, 2016

This week, we're looking back at a previous episode an discussing some science surrounding our favorite adult beverages. We'll revisit our interview with Dr. Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, about the chemistry of the brewing process. And we'll speak to researcher and winery owner Robert Hodgson, about his study exposing the shaky science of wine tasting. Read More

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The Serengeti Rules #401

December 23, 2016

This week we're exploring how life is regulated at very small scales -- down to the molecular level -- and how those rules and regulations also seem to apply when we zoom back out to look at environments and ecosystems across the planet. We spend the hour with author and Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin Sean Carroll talking about his new book "The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters". Read More

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What Doesn't Kill You... #400

December 16, 2016

This week we're discussing public perception of entomologists and their study organisms of choice: insects. We speak with Justin Schmidt, author of the new book "The Sting of the Wild", and an example of an entomologist who goes above and beyond for his passion for stinging insects, having created a sting pain index based on his personal experiences with them. He has received a lot of media attention as a result, and so we delve into what the public and other scientists think of his research, where his passion for chemical defences in insects came from, and why he's chosen... Read More

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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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