Episodes Archive

The Biggest Science Stories of 2017 #453

December 22, 2017

Should old science findings be forgot, and never brought to mind? No! For the year may be nearly over but we're going to see it out in style! This week, Bethany and Rachelle look back on some of the biggest science findings of the year with the writers of Science News Magazine. We've got colliding neutron stars, new planets, edited genes, splitting ice shelves and more! Related links: Top 10 Science Stories of 2017 on Science News This year’s neutron star collision unlocks cosmic mysteries, by Emily Conover CRISPR gene editing moved into new territory in 2017, by Tina Hesman... Read More

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Face Recognition and Identity #452

December 15, 2017

This week we deep dive into the science of how we recognize faces and why some of us are better -- or worse -- at this than others. We talk with Brad Duchaine, Professor of Psychology at Dartmouth College, about both super recognizers and face blindness. And we speak with Matteo Martini, Psychology Lecturer at the University of East London, about a study looking at twins who have difficulty telling which one of them a photo was of. Charity Links: Union of Concerned Scientists Evidence For Democracy Sense About Science American Association for the Advancement of Science Association for Women... Read More

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Merry Science Giftmas #451

December 08, 2017

You probably have shopping to do and plenty of gifts to buy, and -- as is our tradition -- we have put together a list of helpful suggestions for things the science lover in your life might appreciate receiving. This year we brought in Illinois’s School of Integrative Biology lecturer and science educator Joanne Manaster, and brought back our unofficial "Librarian in Residence" John Dupuis to talk about some of their favourite science books from 2017. And your regular hosts Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee with delight over a list of fun science-themed gifts you won't find in a... Read More

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Sing a Little Song #450

December 01, 2017

How do we talk? And how do we sing? Most of us walk around making sound all day without any real idea of how we do it. We'll speak with vocologist Ingo Titze about how the human voice sings, the parts of a human singing voice, and more. We'll also speak with Tecumseh Fitch about why we talk... but monkeys don't. The reason? They've got the voice, but not the brains. We've even got some creepy recordings. Related links: Ingo's tips for tired voices: grab a straw! A reflex resonance model of vocal vibrato in The Journal of the Acoustical... Read More

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Arctic Energy #449

November 24, 2017

This week we're looking at how alternative energy works in the arctic. We speak to Louie Azzolini and Linda Todd from the Arctic Energy Alliance, a non-profit helping communities reduce their energy usage and transition to more affordable and sustainable forms of energy. And the lessons they're learning along the way can help those of us further south. Read More

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Pavlov (Rebroadcast) #448

November 17, 2017

This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."  Read More

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Stormy Weather #447

November 10, 2017

This week on we take a closer look at weather forecasting, meteorology, and the science (and art) of predicting severe weather patterns, both locally and more broadly across the planet. We speak with Rick Smith, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman, Oklahoma, about how local weather forecasting and severe storm warnings work. And we talk with Chris Huntingford, a climate modeller at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK, about how we're trying to model an entire planet's climate with much greater detail than ever before to try and get a clearer... Read More

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Frogs From the Skin In #446

November 03, 2017

Pictures of poison frogs are a popular form of home decor. Tiny size, bright colors, super deadly, they've got it all. But how exactly do poison frogs avoid poisoning themselves? This week we talk with Rebecca Tarvin and Cecilia Borghese, two scientists who studied how poison frogs survive their own toxins. And we speak with Sandra Goutte, a herpetologists who studies frog ears, how they work, and whether one tiny, adorable pumpkin toadlet can hear itself talk. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More

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AI: Ant Intelligence #445

October 27, 2017

This week we look at why ants seem to act much smarter in groups than on their own, and how we can study their swarm intelligence using robots. We'll be speaking with Stephen Pratt, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, about how ants in a colony work together to look for things they need, like nest sites and food. Then we'll speak with Simon Garnier, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, about ants that can make living structures out of their own bodies. Read More

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The V-Word (Rebroadcast) #444

October 20, 2017

This week, we're looking at the social and biological science of female sex organs. We'll talk to Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Institute for Regenerative Medicine, about the creation and use of lab-grown vaginas. Biology professor Marie Herberstein exposes the bias against female genitalia in scientific studies. And science writer Emily Anthes tells us about the history and promising future of female condoms.  Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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. This episode is... Read More

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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

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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

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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

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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

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