Episodes Archive

Colour Me... Structurally? #473

May 11, 2018

This week on Science for the People, we're looking at a different way of producing colour than you might be used to. Structural colour relies on nano-scale structures to reflect particular wavelengths of light. To start things off, we'll be discussing some of the science behind naturally occurring colours, and the engineering to produce manufactured ones with PhD student Victoria Hwang. After that, Dr. Maria McNamara joins us to discuss how colour information is preserved in the fossil record and where the research is going. And we couldn’t give you an episode on colour without some pictures! Photos of structural... Read More

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A Good Bout of Plague #472

May 04, 2018

Who doesn't love a good medical pandemic? This week we're diving into the bubonic plague. We'll talk with Boris Schmid about whether rats should really get the blame for the Black Death, and we'll talk with Loren Cassin Sackett about what happens today when plague strikes... prairie dog towns! Don't blame the rats for spreading the Black Death on Science News Human ectoparasites and the spread of plague in Europe during the Second Pandemic Do pathogens reduce genetic diversity of their hosts? Variable effects of sylvatic plague in black-tailed prairie dogs. Does the host matter? Variable influence of host traits... Read More

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Pigs and Fish: Personality in Animals #471

April 27, 2018

This week we learn about how personality is studied in two of our favorite animals: pigs and fish. We'll be speaking with Rose O'Dea, PhD candidate at the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre in Sydney, about using computer animation technology to stimulate behavioral responses in zebrafish. Then we'll speak with Kristina Horback, assistant professor at the University of California-Davis, about the connection between personality traits in domesticated pigs and their ability to cope with stressful farm conditions. Related links: Computer Animation Technology in Behavioral Sciences: A Sequential, Automatic, and High-Throughput Approach to Quantifying Personality in Zebrafish Read More

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Information Spookyhighway #470

April 20, 2018

This week we take a closer look at a few of the downsides of the modern internet, and some of the security and privacy challenges that are becoming increasingly troublesome. Rachelle Saunders speaks with cyber security expert James Lyne about how modern hacking differs from the hacks of old, and how an internet without national boards makes it tricky to police online crime across jurisdictions. And Bethany Brookshire speaks with David Garcia, a computer scientist at the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna, about the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, and how social media platforms put a wrench... Read More

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The Death and Life of the Great Lakes #469

April 13, 2018

What happens when you take 5 enourmous freshwater lakes isolated in the middle of a continent and suddenly open them up to the Atlantic? The ecology of the North American Great Lakes is changing fast. We spend the hour with Dan Egan, an award-winning writer and reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a senior water policy fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences, to talk about his book "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" and how invading species have caused havoc in the Lakes, from sea lampreys making their way up canals to zebra... Read More

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Slicing into Surgery #468

April 06, 2018

Surgery isn't generally a good time these days. There's pain and danger. But surgery today is nothing to the surgery of the past, when desperate patients had to sit, awake and with no painkillers, through the sawing-off of their own limbs. If they made it through that, they frequently died of infections from the dirty hands and instruments of their own doctors. What changed, and who changed it? This week we talk about the transformation of the butchering art with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris, author of "The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine". And... Read More

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Pests in the City (Rebroadcast) #467

March 30, 2018

This week, we're exploring the ways human-made environments support - and shape - the lives of many species we think of as vermin. We'll talk to Geography and Environmental Studies Professor Dawn Day Biehler about her book "Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats." And we'll speak to postdoctoral researcher Clint Penick about his research on the junk food diets of urban ants. Read More

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Wildfire #466

March 23, 2018

This week we're talking about fire: in particular, wildfires. How they spread and how we manage them, but also the deeper history of wildfires on our planet and how they've been shaping our world for a long, long time. We speak with Andrew Scott, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Royal Holloway, University of London, about his book "Burning Planet: The Story of Fire Through Time", learning about wildfire on our planet now and in deep history. And we catch up with Caroline Weinberg, interm executive director of the March for Science organization, about this year's march on April 14. Read More

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How The Nose Knows #465

March 16, 2018

We've all got a nose but how does it work? Why do we like some smells and not others, and why can we all agree that some smells are good and some smells are bad, while others are dependant on personal or cultural preferences? We speak with Asifa Majid, Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition at Radboud University, about the intersection of culture, language, and smell. And we level up on our olfactory neuroscience with University of Pennsylvania Professor Jay Gottfried. Read More

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How We Endure #464

March 09, 2018

Endurance athletes. How do they do it? How does someone push themselves to run an almost 2 hour marathon? How does someone else push themselves to finish a marathon at all? How did humans conquer Everest and free dive to the ocean floor? There's a new book for that. Just in time for the Winter Olympics, we'll hear from Alex Hutchinson, author of the new book Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. And we'll hear from neuropsychologist Lori Haase Alasantro about her work using mindfulness to change the brains of endurance athletes. Related links: A... Read More

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Trench to Bedside (Rebroadcast) #463

March 02, 2018

This week we're taking on maggots, wounds, and diarrhea in an episode about medical problems that plague the military, so make sure your last meal is a few hours behind you before you tuck in your ear buds. We speak with Captain Mark Riddle, the director of the United States Military Diarrheal Disease Vaccine Research Program at the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, about new ways to prevent and treat travelers' diarrhea. And we talk with George Peck, a medical entomologist, about using maggots to help wounds heal. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from... Read More

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The Future of Energy #462

February 23, 2018

This week, we have some very special guest hosts, sharing a recording of a panel they moderated about the future of energy and where we can draw inspiration from science fiction. This panel was recorded at the Generation Energy Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and moderated by Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel, the ladies that run the most excellent podcast Métis in Space. Read More

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Adhesives #461

February 16, 2018

This week we're discussing glue from two very different times. We speak with Dr. Jianyu Li about his research into a new type of medical adhesive. And Dr. Geeske Langejans explains her work making and investigating Stone Age and Paleolithic glues. Read More

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Brake For Menopause #460

February 09, 2018

I don't know about you, but when I learned about the female reproductive cycle, I learned that hey, these are the hormone changes that happen. Then in menopause they stop. And you get hot flashes. But it turns out it is a lot more complicated than that. First, we'll speak with cognitive neuroscientist Lauren Drogos about the memory changes that happen during menopause. Then, where does this menopause thing even come from and why don't men suffer too? We'll take up the topic with biological anthropologist Lennette Sievert. Related links: Papers from Lauren Drogos: Sex differences in age-related changes in... Read More

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Postpartum Blues #459

February 02, 2018

When a woman gives birth, it seems like everyone wants to know how the baby is doing. What does it weigh? Is it breathing right? Did it cry? But it turns out that, in the United States, we're not doing to great at asking how the mom, who just pushed something the size of a pot roast out of something the size of a Cheerio, is doing. This week we talk to anthropologist Kate Clancy about her postpartum experience and how it is becoming distressingly common, and we speak with Julie Wiebe about prolapse, what it is and how it's... Read More

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Circumcision (Rebroadcast) #458

January 26, 2018

This week we’re looking at the contentious medical and ethical history of circumcision. We're joined by Sarah B. Rodriguez, medical historian and lecturer in global health and bioethics at Northwestern University, to talk about about her book “Female Circumcision and Clitoridectomy in the United States: A History of a Medical Treatment." And we'll discuss the medical and ethical implications of infant male circumcision with Brian Earp, University of Oxford Research Fellow in Science and Ethics. Read More

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Trowel Blazing #457

January 19, 2018

This week we look at some of the lesser known historical figures and current public perception of anthropology, archaeology, and other fields that end in "ology". Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist, writer, and co-founder of the TrowelBlazers, tells us about the Raising Horizons project and how their team is trying to shine the spotlight on the forgotten historical women of archaeological, geological, and palaeontological science. And Kristina Killgrove, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida and science writer, talks about the public perception of the fields of anthropology and archeology, and how those science are represented -... Read More

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Inside a Conservation NGO #456

January 12, 2018

This week we take a close look at conservation NGOS: what they do, how they work, and - most importantly - why we need them. We'll be speaking with Shyla Raghav, the Climate Change Lead at Conservation International, about using strategy and policy to tackle climate change. Then we'll speak with Rebecca Shaw, Lead Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, about how and why you should get involved with conservation initiatives. Read More

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New Year's Resolutions #455

January 05, 2018

Happy New Year! Science for the People is ringing in the new year with a hard look at new year's resolutions. A lot of these involve long term goals, and forming new habits. But how do we stick with them? We'll speak with Charles DuHigg, author of the the book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business", to find out. Then we'll talk with behavioral scientist Ayelet Fishbach about what she's learned from studying the stick-to-it-iveness of students. Related links: Immediate Rewards Predict Adherence to Long-Term Goals, paper from Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet... Read More

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Sports Science (Rebroadcast) #454

December 29, 2017

This week we're exploring the ways that science and technology are changing sports, on and off the playing field. We'll speak to journalist Mark McClusky about his book "Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes - and What We Can Learn from Them." And we'll get the scientific perspective on sports supplements with Dr. Bryan Chung, founder of Evidence Based Fitness. Read More

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