Episodes Archive

Spider Silk #146

January 06, 2012

This week, we’re looking at some of nature’s most accomplished materials scientists, and the amazing substance they produce. We’re joined by Leslie Brunetta, co-author of Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating. We’ll discuss the form, function and uses of the sticky wonder material, and the ways that its study can help us understand evolution. And science writer Ed Yong tells us about silkworms with spider genes and the hybrid silk they spin. Read More


World Changing Ideas: Part Two #145

December 30, 2011

This week, it’s Part Two of our series with Scientific American, on the technologies profiled in their World Changing Ideas feature article. We’ll talk to Sci-Am editors and writers, and researchers who are developing cutting edge tech that just might shape the future of our society, our planet, and our survival as a species.  In Part Two, cardiologist Dr. Eric Topol discusses the use of smartphones to monitor your vital signs in real time. Sci-am’s Executive Editor Fred Guterl tells us about software that could mean the end of computer freezes. Senior Technology Editor Michael Moyer explains how metal-loving microbes could revolutionize the mining industry. Sustainability and tech journalist Christopher Mims discusses computer chips that... Read More


World Changing Ideas: Part One #144

December 23, 2011

This week, it’s Part One of our series with Scientific American, on the technologies profiled in their World Changing Ideas feature article. We talk to Sci-Am editors and writers, and researchers who are developing cutting edge tech that just might shape the future of our society, our planet, and our survival as a species. In Part One, we speak with Senior Technology Editor Michael Moyer, about a possible nanotech solution to drug-resistant bacteria. Sustainability and tech journalist Christopher Mims discusses cutting edge battery technology that could power the next generation of electric cars, and a novel new biometric system that might eliminate the need to carry... Read More


Here is a Human Being #143

December 16, 2011

This week, we’re digging into the genome, the molecular blueprint that our bodies use to build themselves. We’ll discuss DNA, genetics, and personal genomics with Dr. Misha Angrist, Assistant Professor at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences Policy, and author of  Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics.  And we’ll speak to Dr. Thomas Perls, Director of the New England Centenarian Study, about his work on the Archon Genomics X Prize. Read More


Science is a Hell of a Drug #142

December 09, 2011

…and drugs are a hell of a science. Researcher and blogger Scicurious returns to examine the various substances that we use to alter consciousness. How do they affect us, how do we study them, and do they have any uses beyond their recreational properties? And we’ll speak to Dr. David Kroll, Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at North Carolina Central University, about cannabimimetics, synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of marijuana. Read More


The Common Cold #141

December 02, 2011

This week we’re discussing the viral menace that makes our lives miserable, and has stymied attempts at a cure from the earliest days of medicine. Pharmacist Scott Gavura returns to the show, to tell us how colds infect us, what causes their symptoms, and why we just can’t seem to keep them from coming back. Find out how – or if – your favorite folk remedy works. Check out our Guide To Science Based Holiday Giving, for links to the organizations mentioned at the end of the show. Here are links to the research tools that Scott mentioned: Free Resources:... Read More


Speedy Neutrinos #140

November 25, 2011

This week, we dig into the story behind the experiment which might have discovered neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light. Guest host Rachelle Saunders talks with theoretical astrophysicist Dr. Ethan Siegel, to discuss the nuts and bolts of the experiment, the supposedly unbreakable speed limit that these particles may be flaunting, and the implications for physics if the results are genuine. And Desiree Schell speaks to Dr. Bradley Voytek, post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at UC San Francisco, about the purpose and function of the peer-review process. Read More


Culture and Tradition #139

November 18, 2011

This week, we’re featuring a panel discussion on the origins and influence of tradition, with biological anthropologist Greg Laden, science education researcher Marie-Claire Shanahan, and primatologist Eric Michael Johnson. We’ll discuss where traditions come from, why some endure and some fade, and whether they appear in non-human populations. (Ethnomusicologist Kyra Gaunt-Palmer was unable to join us.) Read More


Evolution and Politics #138

November 11, 2011

This week, we’re looking at what happens when a bedrock scientific theory goes up for debate in the contentious realm of politics. We’ll speak to Dr. Eugenie Scott, Executive Director, and Steven Newton, Programs and Policy Director, at the National Center for Science Education, about evolution as a political issue. And anthropologist and blogger Greg Laden analyzes the fallout from the so-called “climategate” emails. Read More


Memory Science #137

November 04, 2011

This week, we’re featuring a pre-recorded interview on the work of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, author, university professor, and pioneering researcher into the way our brains make and modify memories. And we’re joined by Iowa State University researcher Gary Wells, to discuss his new study on the ways that the administration of photo lineups can effect the memories of witnesses. Read More


Quantum Mechanics #136

October 28, 2011

This week, we’re looking at the mindbending physics that happens on the smallest imaginable scales. We’re joined by physics professor James Kakalios, to talk about his book The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics: A Math-Free Exploration of the Science that Made Our World. And we’ll speak to physicist and philosopher Victor Stenger, about the ways that quantum physics buzzwords are misused to support some not so scientific claims. Read More


Microorganisms #135

October 21, 2011

This week we’re looking at some of the microscopic organisms that share our planet and, occasionally, our bodies. We’re joined by science writer and blogger Carl Zimmer, to talk about his new book A Planet of Viruses. And we’ll speak to ScientificAmerican.com managing editor Phillip Yam, about the mysterious and (nearly) indestructible prion. Read More


Mad Like Tesla #134

October 14, 2011

This week, we’re talking about the unorthodox thinkers who might help us innovate our way to new energy solutions. We’re joined by journalist Tyler Hamilton, to discuss his book Mad Like Tesla: Underdog Inventors and Their Bold Pursuit of Clean Energy. And law professor and blogger Jason Rantanen joins us to explain the role of patents in developing technology. Read More


Science As Fiction #133

October 07, 2011

This week, we’re speaking to authors whose fiction appeals to the science lover. We’ll speak to astronomer Stuart Clark, about his novel The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth, the first of a trilogy examining pivotal moments in astronomy history. And we’re joined by biologist Jennifer Rohn, author of the novel The Honest Look, a thriller about integrity, passion and betrayal in pharmaceutical research. Read More


Changing Planet #132

September 30, 2011

This week, we’re looking at the medical effects of global climate change. We’re joined by Dan Ferber, to talk about his book Changing Planet, Changing Health: How The Climate Crisis Threatens our Health, and What We Can Do About It. And Josh Rosenau, of the National Center for Science Education, joins us to compare the denial tactics of advocates against climate change and evolution. Read More


Neurology Past and Present #131

September 23, 2011

We’re taking a break from live recording this week. We’ll listen in on an interview recorded live at Dragon*Con 2011. We’ll discuss the history and practice of neurology, with academic clinical neurologist Dr. Steven Novella, and Dr. Jason Schneiderman, post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory at Harvard Medical. And we’re joined by researcher Dr. Thomas Naselaris, of Berkeley’s Gallant Lab, to discuss their new study using computer modeling to reconstruct visual images from the brain. Read More


The Earth That Was #130

September 16, 2011

This week we’ll look back into prehistory, for a glimpse of what life was like before humanity spread across the globe. We’re joined by anthropologist and author Brian Fagan, to discuss his book Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans. We’ll learn how a combination of intellect and technological achievement turned our ancestors into the sole hominid species on the planet. And Junior Skeptic editor Daniel Loxton returns to discuss his new children’s book, Ankylosaur Attack, about a day in the life of this armored dinosaur. Read More


The Prince of Evolution #129

September 09, 2011

This week, we’re discussing evolution, and a less well known, but just as fabulously bearded, scientist who helped to expand the theory. We’ll talk to Dr. Lee Alan Dugatkin, about his book The Prince of Evolution: Peter Kropotkin’s Adventures in Science and Politics. And science history blogger Michael D. Barton joins us to examine the ways that evolution deniers misuse the words of Charles Darwin to make their case. Looking for information about Randi’s cross-Canada tour? Visit the Centre for Inquiry Canada. Read More


Elemental Intrigue #128

September 02, 2011

Guest host Rachelle Saunders talks to science writer Sam Kean, about his book The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements. And we’ll learn about cutting edge research into light-bending metamaterials, with Dr. Peter Palffy-Muhoray, Professor, of Chemical Physics and Associate Director of the Liquid Crystal Institute & Chemical Physics Program at Kent State University Read More


Random Things That Can Kill You #127

August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene interfered with our plans to interview science writer and blogger Carl Zimmer about his new book A Planet of Viruses. Instead, we talked hurricanes with Shaun Tanner, head of Meteorological Operations at the weather science resource site, Weather Underground. We also spoke to journalist Maryn McKenna about her book Superbug: The Fatal Menance of MRSA, to find out what makes antibiotic-resistant staph so scary, and what researchers are trying to do about it. Once we realized we had a “scary death” theme going, we thought it would it be a good idea to revisit our interview with Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear,... Read More