Episodes Archive

Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Medical Consent #606

August 03, 2022

Even the luckiest and healthiest of us will interact with the medical systems we live in eventually, and navigating these systems can be frustrating, scary, and intimidating. In this labyrinth filled with jargon, bureaucracy, and opaque layers of expertise we often don't understand, we expect to have some control over what happens to our bodies and to get a say in opting in or out of what treatments are offered, in particular if they are experimental. But this assumption does not always hold true, and we are not always aware of when our ability consent to medical research has been... Read More

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Designing wilderness #605

July 18, 2022

There's no doubt that we humans have done some pretty awful things to our landscapes. Draining swamps, cutting down forests, shooting almost all the bison. Now, there are movements to preserve, conserve and bring those landscapes back. But for whom? Who benefits? This week we are talking to Laura Martin, author of the book Wild by Design: The Rise of Ecological Restoration about the often colonizing history of ecological restoration, and what that means for its future. Read More

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Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces #604

July 08, 2022

This week we’re zooming in on surfaces, where lots of action happens as things slip, grip, slide, and more. Our guest Laurie Winkless, author of the book "Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces", takes us on a tour of these in-between spaces, delving into what’s going on with atoms and molecules and how that plays out in nature and the engineered world. Read More

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Remaking the face #603

June 07, 2022

In 2022 it seems surgery can perform miracles. Plastic surgery in particular can reshape noses, jaws, and even transplant entire faces. But not so long ago, plastic surgery as a field didn't even exist. This week, we're going back to the trenches of World War I to learn about the birth of plastic surgery in Lindsey Fitzharris' new book: The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon's Battle to Mend the Disfigured Faces of World War I. We'll go ahead and warn you not to listen while eating. Read More

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Working while Marginalized #602

May 23, 2022

The thing about humans is that, as a social species, we work with other people. And this means we often, consciously or unconsciously, end up being awful to each other. If you are someone who is marginalized in the workplace--something that often happens to people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities and white women--how do you deal? The advice to lean in, put your head down and do the work, it's just not working. This week, we're talking with Alan Henry about his new guide to getting ahead as a marginalized person at work with his new book, Seen,... Read More

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This is not about dinosaurs #601

April 25, 2022

Most people know how the age of dinosaurs ended. An asteroid hit and all the dinosaurs died out. But it's never quite that simple. In her newest book, The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World, Riley Black describes what the immediate post-impact world looked like, and what it would become. Read More

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The one about vaginas #600

April 11, 2022

Vagina. Clitoris. Uterus. Ovary. These are body parts that about half the population is born with. And yet, there are so many questions about them that scientists have never answered. But there's also more new science about the vagina than you've ever, ever dreamed. We're talking with Rachel Gross about her new book Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Journey. Read More

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Losing Our Minds #599

March 29, 2022

Mental illness is being discussed openly and publicly more than it ever has been, but our understanding of what it is and its impacts are still a work-in-progress. What is mental illness and how do we distinguish it from the expected suffering that comes from being human? How has the public discussion around mental illness impacted our language, sometimes mixing together clinical language and colloquial language in complicated, confusing ways? We speak with academic psychologist Lucy Foulkes about her book "Losing Our Minds: What Mental Illness Really Is - And Isn't" and dig into the complexity of what mental illness... Read More

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Train, boat, truck, it's the supply chain #598

March 14, 2022

I'm sure we've all heard the phrase 'supply chain disruption' by now. It might bring to mind ships floating outside LA or trucks jackknifed across a highway in the snow. But it's far, far more than that. Get ready for miles of conveyor belts and the largest robot in the world. Christopher Mims is here to talk about his book Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door -- Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy. Read More

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The Trouble With Passion #597

February 18, 2022

Choosing a career path is a big decision. In the modern western world a career is practically synonymous with identity: whether we like it our not, what we do is a big part of who we are. And we are told to choose a career carefully, to find and follow our passion. But what is passion in this context? And why should we follow it? Does following passion into a career path leave us happier? Leave us on more sturdy footing in our life and career? Who gets ahead and who gets left behind when we all chase passion to... Read More

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Tailoring your brain with science #596

January 31, 2022

Intent on improving your creativity or focus? Want to raise your IQ? What does that even mean? This week, we've got Emily Willingham back on the show to talk about tailoring the brain with science: The good, the bad, and the totally not proven. We're talking about her new book The Tailored Brain: From Ketamine, to Keto, to Companionship: A user's guide to feeling better and thinking smarter. Read More

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Handmade: A Scientist’s Search for Meaning Through Making #595

January 17, 2022

In Handmade: A Scientist’s Search for Meaning Through Making, author Anna Ploszajski takes her experience of materials science out of the lab and into the world of craftspeople. Ploszajski's quest to fashion a broader perspective on stuff surpasses the dry and academic. In her book, Anna brings readers along through an exploration of materials ancient and modern, bringing out the ways that matter intersects with society and identity. On the show, we’ll talk about matter from glass to human hair, and we'll hear about the entwined history of some materials and how they have shaped history. Read More

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Science to look forward to in 2022 #594

January 04, 2022

2021 has vanished, sucked into the black hole created by 2020. But while the pandemic continues, we are steadily climbing our way out. And what better way to gain momentum than to look forward at where science might be going? We’ve looking from the tiniest parts of the human body to the vast expanse of space to find out where we are going. Related Links: Floods Have Swamped the US. The Next Health Problem: Mold Covid Protections Kept Other Viruses at Bay. Now They’re Back As Covid Cases Rise, So Do Hospital-Related Infections Another Global Pandemic is Spreading - Among... Read More

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Indigenous Knowledge and Decolonising Academia #593

December 23, 2021

We often think the practices of science and academics as a western-European invention, and while both science and the academy have created a lot of positive knowledge, it's important to take a step back and recognize the blind spots of science that come from European ways of thinking about the world, and to see how academics can disadvantage people who don't align with that worldview. We speak to Ray Pierotti, Associate Professor in the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, about his book "Indigenous Knowledge, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology" to help us better understand how... Read More

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The One About Nerdy Gifts, 2021 Edition #592

December 06, 2021

Last week we filled your reading list with 2021's best science books, and this week we're back with Bethany and Rachelle's giddy, geeky, and (hopefully) delightful list of non-book gift ideas to surprise the nerd in your life. And as always, we've created a companion blog post to this episode with links to everything we talked about (while supplies last!). You can also find this year's book recommendations episode here, and the companion blog post to that episode here. And if that's still not enough to satisfy your nerdy gift-giving needs, you can always check out our full Bookshelf here,... Read More

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The One About Science Books, 2021 Edition #591

November 28, 2021

Another year, another haul of excellent science books! We bring back John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to share some of their favourite science reads from 2021 to help you curate your reading list for 2022. Grab a cosy beverage and click on over to our companion blog post with the full book list (plus a few extra) and enjoy our annual book episode that is sure to expand your reading list. Read More

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Furry felons and mammalian misdemeanors #590

October 28, 2021

Most true crime details the terrible deeds that humans do. But nature can be nefarious too. Animals and plants can kill, maim, or just make people deeply uncomfortable. Wild creatures can steal, trespass, jaywalk and much more. It’s the world of human-animal conflict, and we’re sitting down with Mary Roach, to talk about her latest book FUZZ: When Nature Breaks the Law. Read More

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Damsels and Dragons #589

October 20, 2021

We sit down for a whirlwind tour of the entomological world of dragonflies and damselflies with Evolutionary Biologist Dr Jessica Ware, Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. We get a crash-course in what makes these insects unique, how they fly, their life-cycles, and theories for how they got so colourful. And we talk about the importance of diversity in science and entomology, and how EntoPOC helps by providing POC paid memberships to entomological society to make participation, science communication and outreach more inclusive to POCs. Related Links: Jessica Ware's Lab Group EntoPOC Read More

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What's Wild About Wilderness #588

September 30, 2021

Conserving wild species doesn't seem like it would be that controversial. No one wants to see an extinction. But at the same time, don't we believe that every animal matters? If every animal matters, how can we justify killing some to save others? And how do we determine what deserves saving in the first place? We sit down with Emma Marris to talk about her new book, "Wild Souls: Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-Human World". Read More

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Dripping with Sweat #587

August 03, 2021

It's summer and that means sweat. But why do we use all those antiperspirants and deodorants? Why are we so ashamed of a cooling bodily function? This week host Bethany Brookshire talks with Sarah Everts, author of the new book "The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration". Read More

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