Episodes Archive

The Last Episode #642

December 31, 2023

Join the team of Science for the People for one last episode, where we interview... ourselves. We talk about our time as Skeptically Speaking and Science for the People, the rebranding, our favourite episodes, how the podcast has changed us, and what it's been like to be a science podcast from 2009 to 2023. To our listeners: thank you all for sticking with us all these years, for supporting us, and most importantly for listening. We hope you'll continue to ask questions, to support science, and to think critically about the world around you. It's been an honour and a... Read More


The Last Nerd Gift Guide #641

December 16, 2023

For the last time, Bethany and Rachelle skip gleefully across the world wide web, plucking nerdy objects out of obscurity to shine a spotlight on in hopes a few of these fascinating, delightful things find their way into the right kind of geeky forever-home. Maybe there's someone in your life one of these things would be perfect for, and we've just solved your holiday gift-buying dilemma! Maybe there's something in this list you fall in love with and pass along as ideas to people looking to buy gifts for you. Or maybe, just maybe, you decide it's time to get... Read More


The Last Science Book Club #640

December 07, 2023

For the last time, Joanne Manaster and John Dupuis talk us through their favourite science reads from the last year, and add a little "time travel" seasoning in to keep things interesting, harkening back to old favs as well as talking about the best of the best from 2023. As always, we've got our companion blog post ready with the full book list, including links to Amazon where you can find more information. Happy reading! Read More


The One About Periods #639

November 20, 2023

Period. Menstruation. For something that roughly half the human population does, we sure don't talk about it much. But it's a fascinating biological phenomenon with a really interesting history, and the potential for a better future. We're talking with anthropologist Kate Clancy about her book Period: The Real Story of Menstruation. Read More


Do you feel love? What about ecstasy? #638

November 07, 2023

If you're plugged in to science news (and you, our listeners, definitely are) then you know that psychedelics like ketamine and LSD are having a moment in therapy. But what about Ecstasy (MDMA)? What makes it different, and what could it do? This week we talk with Rachel Nuwer about her new book I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World. Read More


A special announcement #637

November 06, 2023

In the beginning, way, way back in 2008, this podcast was just a bunch of Canadians wanting to talk about science and skepticism. Nearly 15 years later, we've spread out all over the globe, spoken to famous writers and scientists the world over, and satisfied so many of our curiosities! We've talked about the things we want to talk about. Now, it's time for someone else to step into our shoes. Read More


Life on an unruly planet #636

October 24, 2023

We might say climate change is coming for us. But really, it's here. Fires are worse in hotter, drier conditions. Hurricanes are powered up supersoaking storms. Even tides are now rising into the streets and the beautiful oceanfront property we always wanted isn't looking so good. It's easy to feel despair, because no one individual thing will solve this problem. But where individuals will collapse, communities can build. This week we're talking with Madeline Ostrander about her book, At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding refuge on a changed earth. Read More


Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet #635

October 09, 2023

In the book Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet, journalist Ben Goldfarb details how roads have transformed our world. On this week’s show, Ben shares insights from his reporting on the science of studying how roads interact with animals and ecosystems. He recounts tales of tallying roadkill, scooping up stranded frogs, and visiting the roadkill capital of the world. Along with discussing the problems wrought by roads, Ben shares how efforts to help animals, such as wildlife crossings, have fared. And we talk about what roads reveal about people and our societies.  Read More


Back to the future #634

September 25, 2023

We all know that climate change is coming for us. It's already here. But it's really, really hard to change people's actions, especially when those actions don't benefit the here and now, but matter most for the future. They require long views of time, the ability to not just imagine, but to care about people in the future. Why don't we do that now, and how do we get there? We're talking with Richard Fisher, author of The Long View: Why We Need to Transform How the World Sees Time. Read More


An Ice History #633

September 14, 2023

Ice is one of those invisible little gears of the modern, westernized world. We don't notice it when we have it, and as soon as we can't get it we find ourselves desperate to get it back. It wasn't always like this: ice started as a luxury of more northern climates, and the story of how it became more ubiquitous -- including in southern climates where natural ice is rare to non-existant -- is a fascinating one. We speak to writer and author Amy Brady about her new book "Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks - a Cool History... Read More


We are what we eat #632

August 28, 2023

You are what you eat, right? Well then, who were the ancient Romans, and who were the people they colonized? And who are we? And why do we eat so much chicken? This week we're sitting down with Silvia Valenzuela Lamas to talk about how Roman colonization changed both the animals people raised and how people ate them. We're also talking with Richard Thomas about chickens, and how our taste for it may be one of the most enduring things we leave behind.   Links: Richard Thomas: The Broiler Chicken as a signal of a human reconfigured biosphere. Silvia Valenzuela-Lamas:... Read More


Tenacious Beasts #631

August 14, 2023

In his book Tenacious Beasts, philosopher and writer Christopher Preston explores creature comebacks. Some of these stories highlight the evolutionary advantages that animals have racked up over millennia, while others are marked by intensive human intervention. Along the way, Preston opens some big questions about conservation dilemmas, such as what to do when helping one species means harming another. Amidst the bad news about biodiversity loss, Tenacious Beasts brings snippets of hope and lessons learned from animals such as beavers, bison and humpback whales. On this week’s show, Christopher shares about these animal recoveries, insights collected from Indigenous communities and... Read More


The Jewel Box #630

July 31, 2023

A lot of us learned basic ecology in primary school. Maybe we took a biology class in high school or secondary school and dug in a little more. We use terms like "niche" but do we really know what they mean? How much complexity does that little word cover, if you start to unpick it? We are joined by Tim Blackburn, Professor of Invasion Biology at University College London and author of the book "The Jewel Box: How Moths Illuminate Nature's Hidden Rules", where he combines his years of working in the field of ecology with his love for catching... Read More


How birds go the distance #629

July 05, 2023

Birds carry out some of the most amazing feats of athleticism in the world. Hummingbirds cross the entire Gulf of Mexico, their tiny wings beating continuously for three days straight. A single bird will fly across the entire Pacific ocean in one go. What do we really know about bird migration, and how do we know it? This week we're talking with Rebecca Heisman about her new book: Flight Paths: How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration. Read More


Brave the Wild River #628

June 19, 2023

In 1938, two botanists, Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter, made an ambitious voyage down the Colorado River driven by the desire to chronicle the plant life of the American Southwest. In her new book Brave the Wild River, science journalist Melissa Sevigny traces their expedition through the Grand Canyon, which led them through seething rapids and the occasional mishap. Journalists of the day gawked at their gender and the pair were forced to pick up chores labeled as “women’s work." Still, they managed to collect hundreds of plants that hadn't yet been catalogued by researchers. Their observations about desert ecosystems... Read More


Ancient Migrations #627

June 05, 2023

Humans are a roaming species. We've been traveling from continent to continent since our very earliest evolution. In fact, we've been doing it even before we were humans. This week, we're talking with archaeologist Radu Iovita about the ancient silk road, a travel network that was in use tens of thousands of years ago, and we speak with archaeologist Elroy White and anthropologist Alisha Gauvreau about what the oral histories of Indigenous people have to say about North American settlement and how archaeologists are working with First Nations to confirm those histories. REFERENCES Rodriguez A, Yanamandra K, Witek L, Wang... Read More


Our Friend, the Wasp #626

May 25, 2023

Is there an insect more universally despised than the wasp? What have they done to incur so much of our ire? No one likes them. Well... almost no one. Seirian Sumner, Professor of Behavioural Ecology at University College London and cofounder of the Big Wasp Survey, is on a mission to improve the wasp's PR with her book "Endless Forms: Why We Should Love Wasps". She joins us to talk about the fascinating biology and behaviour of wasps and their societies, and how we can learn to better coexist with the wasp, thinking of it less as pest and more... Read More


This one really is about aliens #625

May 09, 2023

Do you believe there's something Out There? What do our ideas of aliens say about what life is, how life could look and act? And what does it say about us, about what we think life needs, wants, and should be? We're talking with Jaime Green about her new book: The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos. Read More


The Devil’s Element #624

April 24, 2023

With fertilizers that supply phosphorus–what Asimov called “life’s bottleneck”– people broke the circle of life. Dan Egan’s new book The Devil’s Element traces the history of this essential element from curiosity to crop miracle. Egan documents the mayhem unleashed by a flood of phosphorus, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and discusses how people can act to stop phosphorus-fueled blooms of algae that are closing beaches, killing animals and sickening people. Read More


Peopling the Americas #623

April 11, 2023

Thousands of years ago, people crossed a land bridge from Siberia to Western Alaska and dispersed southward into what we now call the Americas. The story of exactly when that was, how they did it, and who they were has fascinated us for a long time as excavations have uncovered pieces of those stories. University of Kansas Associate Professor of Anthropology Jennifer Raff joins us to talk about her book "Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas", digging into the ways modern genetics is being used to help us understand the history of people dispersing across the Americas. Along the... Read More