Episodes Archive

Mathtastic! Part One #153

February 24, 2012

This week, we’re diving into the fascinating math that describes the world around us. Guest host Rachelle Saunders speaks to Malcolm Roberts, PhD Applied Mathematician at the University of Alberta, about fluid dynamics, the math that models motion in fluids, gasses, plasmas, and reveals the secret to pouring the perfect beer. And Desiree Schell talks to theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, about building a reliable science and health news aggregator. Read More


The Poisoner's Handbook #152

February 17, 2012

This week, we’re talking science and storytelling. Guest host Marie-Claire Shanahan speaks to science journalist and author Deborah Blum about her national bestseller The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. The book tells the fascinating story of the way that chemical detectives started a revolution in the investigation of crime. And Desiree Schell talks to Bora Zivkovic, blog editor at Scientific American, about a new event that teaches science through personal stories. Read More


Everyday Superpowers #151

February 10, 2012

This week, we’re looking at the amazing abilities and potential of the human body. Evolutionary neurobiologist Mark Changizi joins us to talk about his book The Vision Revolution, which looks at the evolution of vision from a novel new direction. And Dr. Torah Kachur discusses practical ways that science and technology can get us closer to the extraordinary abilities we see in science fiction. Read More


Fungi and Fossils #150

February 03, 2012

This week, we’re talking about strange lifeforms that stretch our assumptions about the natural world. Molecular pharmacologist David Kroll, Science Communications Director of the Nature Research Center at North Carolina’s state Museum of Natural Sciences, returns to tell us about fungi and their amazing uses, from necessities like bread and beer, to medical and environmental breakthroughs. And on the podcast, we’re joined by Sarah Mathews, principal investigator at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, to discuss a new study that used genetic techniques to overturn the popular conception of cycads as “living fossils.” Read More


There Will Be Blood: The Evolution and Function of Menstruation #149

January 27, 2012

This week, we’re talking about what may be the most stigmatized facet of human reproduction. We’re joined by Dr. Kate Clancy, anthropology professor and science blogger, to learn about the physiology and function of menstruation, and the history of how it’s been considered in medicine and myth. And on the podcast, biologist P.Z. Myers looks at menstruation from an evolutionary perspective. Read More


Brain Bits #148

January 20, 2012

This week, we take a look at some of the most interesting things we’ve learned about the brain. We’ll revisit some of our favorite episodes on the brain and its fascinating functions, from interpreting music, to justifying cruel behavior, and its role in gender identity. And we’re joined by Ingrid Wickelgren, editor at Scientific American Mind, for a new segment on how our brains are wired to believe weird things. Read More


Science and Politics #147

January 13, 2012

This week, it’s a panel discussion about what happens when science intersects with politics. We’re joined by Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-author of Unscientific America, anthropologist/blogger Greg Laden, and Shawn Lawrence Otto, co-founder of ScienceDebate.org and author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. We’ll explore the tension between evidence and rhetoric, and what happens when public policy ignores solid science. And National Center for Science Education Executive Director Eugenie Scott returns to discuss an exciting new project to defend consensus science. Read More


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