Episodes Archive

Batteries #443

October 13, 2017

This week on Science for the People we take a deep dive into modern batteries: how they work now and how they might work in the future. We speak with Gerbrand Ceder from UC Berkeley, about the most commonly used batteries today, how they work, and how they could work better. And we talk with Kathryn Toghill, electrochemist from Lancaster University, about redox flow batteries and how they could help make our power grids more sustainable. Read More


From Nobel to Ig Nobel #442

October 06, 2017

The Nobel prizes are, well, the Nobel prize of prizes! One of the most elite prizes in the world. But where did they come from, why do they matter, and how do they influence the practice of science? This week we speak with medical historian Nils Hansson and sociologist of science Harriet Zuckerman about the origin and legacy of the Nobel Prizes, and what might help them be more representative of science in the future. And then we talk with Marc Abrahams about another prize, the Ig Nobel prizes, which are supposed to make us laugh, and then think. Related... Read More


Superhuman #441

September 29, 2017

This week we take a closer look at people with brain abilities that appear superhuman. We speak with Craig Stark, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California Irvine, about hyperthymesia and people who possess an extremely detailed autobiographical memory. Then we talk with Jamie Ward, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, about synaesthesia, multi-sensory substitution, and people who see sounds, taste words, and hear colours. Read More


Weapons of Math Destruction (Rebroadcast) #440

September 22, 2017

This week on Science for the People we look at the modern, inventive ways we try to use math and algorithms to make better decisions, and what happens when those solutions cause more problems than they solve. We speak with Cathy O'Neil about her book Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy and the increasingly opaque and unregulated algorithms that are creeping into our lives. We also talk with David Robinson, co-founder and principal of the think tank Upturn, about their report on the current use of and evidence behind Predictive Policing. Read More


Flooded #439

September 15, 2017

This week on Science for the People, we take a closer look at what happens when water falls from the sky, how it moves once its on the ground, and what happens when people and water get in each other's way. We talk with Lucy Barker, Hydrological Analyst at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, to get us started with some quick Hydrology 101. And we speak with Anne Jefferson, Associate Professor at Kent State University, about the challenges of redirecting water through, under, and around our cities and communities. Related links: Hurricane Harvey and the Houston Flood: Did Humans... Read More


Big Chicken #438

September 08, 2017

We eat a lot of chicken. But we didn't used to. What changed? In part, what changed was the discovery that antibiotics could build a bigger, better chicken. Now, the big chicken may be suffering the results of too much medicine. This week, we hear from science journalist Maryn McKenna about her new book "Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats." We'll also hear from zoonotic disease specialist Tara Smith about the challenges scientists face trying to get out of the lab and into the pigpen. Read More


Tiny Bubbles, Big Impact #437

September 01, 2017

This week, we're discussing an effect called cavitation: low pressure causes bubbles of vapour to form in a liquid, which can cause a lot of damage when those bubbles collapse. First up is Paul Brandner, Associate Professor and Research Leader of the Cavitation Research Laboratory at the Australian Maritime College, to discuss how these bubbles form and why they can be so destructive. And we talk with Suzanne Cox, artist, scientist, and engineer, to discuss her work with crustaceans who have evolved ways of controlling the effect when they strike snail shells. Related Links: Australian Maritime College’s cavitation tunnel Mantis... Read More


Beauty is A Beast (Rebroadcast) #436

August 25, 2017

This week we're exploring the science of beauty products and procedures. We'll talk to cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski, co-founder of thebeautybrains.com, about his book "It's OK to Have Lead in Your Lipstick." And we'll speak to cosmetic surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay about plastic surgery tourism, and safety regulation in the industry. Read More


Total Eclipse of the Sun #435

August 18, 2017

On August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse is going to appear, visible to most of the continent of North America. Bethany is very, very excited. What's going to happen, and what are scientists doing to take advantage of the event? Bethany Brookshire starts with a primer on the upcoming eclipse with Lisa Grossman, astronomy writer at Science News, then discusses three eclipse-related citizen science projects that need data: Smithsonian Astrophysicist Trae Winter tells us about the Eclipse Soundscapes project; Morrison Planetarium Senior Presenter Elise Ricard discusses the Life Responds project; and University of Massachusetts Assistant Professor of Engineering Kiersten Kirby-Patel... Read More


The Dictionary #434

August 11, 2017

This week we look at the science, art, and craft of lexicography as we go backstage into the process of how dictionaries are made. We spend the hour with Kory Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster and author of the book "Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries", to learn more about the history of dictionaries, what their purpose is, and how defining words isn't as straightforward as you might think. Read More


The State of Science Journalism #433

August 04, 2017

This week we step into the world of science journalism from the perspectives of two unique and reputable popular science publications. Guest host Anika Hazra speaks with Katie Palmer, senior editor of the online science and health section at WIRED, about her direct route into science journalism through a master's in science reporting and her role as an editor of online content. And she talks with Michael Segal, founding editor and editor-in-chief of Nautlius magazine, about how he transitioned from conducting research in engineering and computer science to developing a science and culture magazine, and how Nautilus is forging a... Read More


A Sting In The Tail (Rebroadcast) #432

July 28, 2017

This week we're learning about the fascinating lives of bees, and the important role they play in our global ecosystem. We'll speak to University of Sussex biology professor Dave Goulson about his book "A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees." And we'll talk to Jocelyn Crocker, founding member of YEG Bees, about the rewards and challenges of urban beekeeping. Read More


Memory and Emotion #431

July 21, 2017

This week we look at how our brains process memory and emotion. We talk to Michael Yassa, Associate Professor in the Departments of Neurobiology and Behavior, and Neurology at UC Irvine, about how our brains discriminate similar memories from each other and the conditions that compromise that ability. And we speak with James McGaugh, Research Fellow and Founding Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior and Founding Director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California Irvine, about the pathways that allow emotional experience to strengthen memories and the potential ways we... Read More


Bacteria in Bodies and On The Farm #430

July 14, 2017

This week we look at how new science and new challenges are pushing us to think differently about the role of bacteria in healthcare and pest control in agriculture. We speak to award-winning science writer Ed Yong about his book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life" and how our understanding of how microscopic organisms affect our life and health has changed. And we talk with Emily Monosson, environmental toxicologist and author, about her book "Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health" about the parallels between healthcare and agriculture... Read More


Gene Drives #429

July 07, 2017

This week on Science for the People: who is driving this genetic bus? We'll talk with Kevin Esvelt about gene drives, what they are, where they come from what they can be used for, and why the science on gene drives should be done as openly as possible. Then, we'll speak with Laurie Zoloth about the ethical questions surrounding their use, why people are so afraid, and who should be making the decision to use this technology in the wild. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Related Links How gene drives work Gene Drives... Read More


Cities of the Future (Rebroadcast) #428

June 30, 2017

This week, we're listening to "Cities of The Future," a panel discussion about the future of human living spaces recorded live at CONvergence 2014. Panelists Jamie Bernstein, Ryan Consell and Shawn Lawrence Otto discuss how cities can adapt to accommodate the changing demographics, economics, and environment of a warming planet. Read More


The Life Project #427

June 23, 2017

This week we're diving deep into the history and current state of some of the largest and longest running studies in the world. We speak with science journalist, Chief Magazine Editor for Nature, and author Helen Pearson about her book "The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives" and the history of the long-running series of British longitudinal cohort studies. And we'll talk with Professor Parminder Raina about the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging an what it's like to be at the beginning of a cohort study that could run for decades. Read More


Everybody Poops #426

June 16, 2017

This week on Science for the People, everybody poops! And everybody pees. But we probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about exactly how that works. Well, put down your lunch and listen up. We're talking with David Chu, a pediatric urological surgeon about urine. Then we'll hear from his brother, Daniel Chu, who's a colorectal surgeon, about poop. Finally, we'll hear from IgNobel prize winner Patricia Yang about her work studying the flow rate of mammal pee, and why all mammals pee and poop at the same rate. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from... Read More


Cooperative Microbes #425

June 09, 2017

This week, we're looking at some of the ways bacteria cooperate with other organisms to break down plants. First we speak with Dr. Lisa Karr, Associate Professor of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and get into the details of how rabbits and cows ferment their food. And Mark Stumpf-Allen, Compost Programs Coordinator for the City of Edmonton, has some practical tips to help you keep your compost pile and soil alive and happy. Read More


Biohacking (Rebroadcast) #424

June 02, 2017

This week we're talking about do-it-yourself biology, and the community labs that are changing the biotech landscape from the grassroots up. We'll discuss open-source genetics and biohacking spaces with Will Canine of Brooklyn lab Genspace, and Tito Jankowski, co-founder of Silicon Valley's BioCurious. And we'll talk to transdisciplinary artist and educator Heather Dewey-Hagborg about her art projects exploring our relationship with genetics and privacy. Read More