Episodes Archive

The First Cell #552

February 23, 2020

This week we take a closer look at what cancer is, how it works, and what makes it so hard to treat without shying away or ignoring the human experience of cancer for patients and their families. We talk with Dr Azra Raza, oncologist, Professor of Medicine, Director of the MDS Center at Columbia University, and author of the new book "The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last". Read More

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Translating Science, Part 2 #551

February 16, 2020

This week on Science for the People, we're discussing how Siksika become one of the official translation languages for press releases from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). The area of the world that is now known as Canada has an abundance of distinct languages; according to the 2016 Census, over 70 are still spoken. But the British government, and then the Canadian government, spent generations trying to prevent children from learning these languages. One of the languages spoken in the prairies is Siksika, also called Blackfoot (the English translation). Host Marion Kilgour speaks to Sharon Yellowfly and Corey Gray... Read More

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Translating Science, Part 1 #550

February 09, 2020

This week, we're discussing the opportunities and challenges of using Zulu, a language that has traditionally been excluded from science journalism, to share discoveries with a new audience. Host Marion Kilgour speaks with Sibusiso Biyela, science communicator at ScienceLink and a contributor at South African science news website SciBraai. Related links: Decolonizing Science Writing in South Africa on The Open Notebook by Sibusiso Biyela Read More

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Let's Get Slimy #549

February 02, 2020

Algae. What springs to mind when you read that word? Maybe a seaweed forest? Maybe a pond covered in scum? Maybe a red tide? Those are all algae, and they can all change the world in different ways. This week Bethany Brookshire talks with Ruth Kassinger about the history, present and future of algae and her new book, "Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More

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Land and Ocean Conservation 101 #548

January 19, 2020

This week we're talking about land and ocean conservation: what it means to protect our land and oceans, the complexities of competing interests and international boundries, and how well Canada is doing at conserving its most important wild areas. Helping us wrap our heads around it are National Parks Program Director Alison Ronson and National Oceans Program Director Candace Newman from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). This episode is hosted by Rachelle Saunders. Related links and resources: 2019 Parks and Protected Areas Report 2019 Oceans Report 2019 Climate Change Report 2019 Successes Blog Aichi Biodiversity Targets IPBES Global... Read More

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The D Factor: The Dark Side of Your Personality #547

January 12, 2020

This week on Science for the People, we're discussing dark personality traits. Everyone has them, and how they manifest themselves depends on your "D" level. We'll be speaking with Ingo Zettler, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Copenhagen and a member of the team of researchers who put forward the theory of the common core of dark personality traits, about what the "D" factor is and what influences your "D" level. This episode is hosted by Anika Hazra. Related links: The dark core of personality on APA PsycNET The Dark Factor of Prsonality: Theory of Common Core of... Read More

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2019, But Make It Science #546

January 04, 2020

It's 2020, but we're looking back. What were the biggest science stories of 2019? Well, it was a big year for lots of things. Black hole pictures, vaping illnesses... and lots and lots of climate change news. Come on a trip down memory lane with us and the writers at Science News magazine as we take a look back at some of the top science stories of the last year. Related links: Most Americans now see signs of climate change where they live Countries urgently need to ramp up emissions cuts to meet climate targets IPCC report warns of a... Read More

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Where Have All the Antibiotics Gone? #545

December 21, 2019

Antibiotics. You know the drill. You get a bacterial infection, you get an antibiotic, and a few days or a week later, you're all better. But these days, that idyll is under threat as bacteria evolve to work around our drugs. So... where are the new, better antibiotics? Well, it's time to follow the money. We speak with David Shlaes about how the antibiotic drug pipeline works and why it's drying up. And we'll speak with Maryn McKenna about what happens when one antibiotic drug's price goes through the roof. Related links: The Antibiotics Business Is Broken - But There's... Read More

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Prosperity Without Growth #544

December 14, 2019

The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of... Read More

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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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