Episodes Archive

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


Bug Girl's Favorite Insects #126

August 19, 2011

From ants to aphids, mosquitoes to mantises, entomology blogger Bug Girl has covered all kinds of things that creep, crawl and fly. This week, she joins us to talk about her favorite bugs, and why she finds them all so fascinating. And anthropologist and blogger Greg Laden joins us to discuss the cultural taboos surrounding eating insects. Here are links to Bug Girl’s posts about some of the topics from this episode: Shellac: It’s a bug AND a feature! Cochineal: It’s a bug AND a feature! Are there roaches in your coffee and chocolate? Pollinator Week 2009: Food! Hoppers, Hats,... Read More


Global Population #125

August 12, 2011

The human population of planet Earth is rapidly approaching 7 billion. This week, we’ll look at how fast our numbers are growing, what they mean for things like resources and the environment, and what we can do about it. Maybe. We’re joined by William Ryerson, President and Founder of Population Media Center and President of Population Institute. And on the podcast, we’ll get a lesson in how population projections are created, and how reliable they are, with Dr. Ronald Lee, Director of the Center on the Economics and Demography of Aging, and professor in the Department of Demography at the University... Read More


The Theory That Would Not Die #124

August 05, 2011

This week, show favorite Sharon Bertsch McGrayne returns to tell us about her new book, The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy. We’ll learn how this once overlooked branch of probability theory has played a central role in some of the biggest turning points in human history. And on the podcast, we’re joined by computer network researcher Dr. Boleslaw K. Szymanski, to discuss his new paper, on the conditions under which minority opinions become social consensus. For more information on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of... Read More


Data Analysis #123

July 29, 2011

This week, data analyst Keith Schon returns to the show. We’ll ask him about his work as an information archaeologist, and how state-of-the-art software can piece together huge datasets of your online interactions, and build a picture of your personality. And on the podcast, science writer Jessica Wapner is back, to explain why pharmaceutical companies are mining prescribing data. Read More


HIV and AIDS #122

July 22, 2011

This week, we’re joined by graduate student and Scienceblogs writer Abbie Smith, to learn about the latest research on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. How does HIV cause AIDS? What are the latest treatments? How close are we to a cure? What strategies are most effective at stopping the spread of infection? And what are the arguments that denialists make for alternate causes of the disease? And on the podcast, we’ll discuss another viral pathogen, the Human papillomavirus, with Dr. Peter Leone, of the University of North Carolina’s Center for Infectious Diseases. Read More


The Nature of Human Nature #121

July 15, 2011

This week, we’re joined by Dr. Carin Bondar, biologist and author, to talk about her book The Nature of Human Nature: Reflections On Our Position As “Natural” Entities In The Animal Kingdom. The book takes a critical look at some of the things that we think make human beings unique in the animal kingdom. Does our ability to use contraception, or our tendency to eat junk food just for the pleasure, set us apart from our animal cousins? And we’ll be featuring the music of science rapper Baba Brinkman, including selections from his 2010 album The Rap Guide to Human... Read More


Tracking the Chupacabra #120

July 08, 2011

This week, Skeptical Inquirer Managing Editor Benjamin Radford returns to the show, to discuss his newest book, Tracking The Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast In Fact, Fiction and Folklore. He’ll explain his investigation of the legendary monster, and his startling conclusion about the real story behind its origins. And writer/producer Kennedy Goodkey joins us to celebrate the DVD release of his film, The Beast of Bottomless Lake, about the Canadian lake monster Ogopogo. Read More


Mistakes Were Made #119

July 01, 2011

This week, we’re learning about the ways our brains are hard wired to fail at reality. Guest host Rachelle Saunders will speak with Dr. Carol Tavris, co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. The bestselling book investigates cognitive dissonance, and the fascinating ways that it affects not just our memories, but politics, business and society. And for the podcast, we’re joined by University of Toronto statistics professor Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, to discuss why we’re so bad at grasping probability. Read More


The Reasonableness of Weird Things #118

June 24, 2011

This week, it’s an hour with Daniel Loxton. The editor of Junior Skeptic and author of Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be returns to the show to share “The Reasonableness Of Weird Things,” his keynote address from LogiCON 2011. Join us for the complete presentation, and an exclusive interview about the science communicators who inspired it. Watch the Pale Blue Dot video on YouTube. Read More


Rural Medicine #117

June 17, 2011

This week, we’ll look at how society and geography affect people’s access to healthcare, and the quality of care they receive. We’re joined by Dr. Sasha Mullally, professor at the University of New Brunswick, to discuss her research into the social history of rural medicine and medical practices. And for the podcast, we’ll speak to Aaron Acharya, Project Manager at HealthRight International, and Dr. Gary Stadtmauer, about their work on healthcare and human rights. Read More


What is Mental Illness? #116

June 10, 2011

This week, it’s an hour on the brain, and the diseases and conditions unique to this amazing organ. We’re joined by Dr. Richard J. McNally, researcher in the psychology department at Harvard University, and author of What Is Mental Illness? And we’re joined by Maia Szalavitz, author and editor at Time.com’s Healthland blog, to discuss the chemistry and controversy of antidepressant medications. Read More


Cell Phone Science #115

June 03, 2011

Researcher and Scientopia blogger Scicurious returns to discuss the fact and fiction of mobile phones. What effect do they have on brain cells? What about sperm cells? And do they have anything to do with declining populations of bees? And we’re joined by medical physicist Dr. Marc MacKenzie, to discuss the science of microwave radiation. Read More


Practical Wisdom #114

May 27, 2011

What exactly is “wisdom,” and how can we apply it in our daily lives? We’re joined by Barry Schwartz,  Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, and Kenneth Sharpe, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College. They’ll discuss their new book Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do The Right Thing. And we’re joined by Brendan O’Brien, to learn about :60 Second Science, the international science video competition. Read More