Episodes Archive

Animal Weapons (Rebroadcast) #484

July 27, 2018

This week, we're talking about weapons: both the ones that evolve in nature, and those created by humanity. We'll talk about the arms races that spur the development of horns and claws, warships and nuclear weapons, with Doug Emlen, Professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana, and author of "Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle." Read More

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Wild Moms #483

July 20, 2018

This week we're talking about what it takes to be a mother in the wild, and how how human moms compare to other moms in the animal kingdom. We're spending an hour with Dr. Carin Bondar, prolific science communicator and author. We'll be discussing a myriad of stories from her latest book, "Wild Moms: Motherhood in the Animal Kingdom", covering the exciting, stressful and even sinister sides of motherhood. Read More

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Body Builders #482

July 13, 2018

This week we explore how science and technology can help us walk when we've lost our legs, see when we've gone blind, explore unfriendly environments, and maybe even make our bodies better, stronger, and faster than ever before. We speak to Adam Piore, author of the book "The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human", about the increasingly amazing ways bioengineering is being used to reverse engineer, rebuild, and augment human beings. And we speak with Ken Thomas, spacesuit engineer and author of the book "The Journey to Moonwalking: The People That Enabled Footprints on the Moon" about... Read More

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23 and You #481

July 06, 2018

These days, all you need to do is fill a tube with spit and mail it off to find out all about your ancestors, and even about your risks for certain diseases. Loads of DNA sequencing and typing companies exist to tell you all about yourself. But how accurate are they? And how safe is that information? We'll speak with science writer Tina Hesman Saey about her big project sending off her spit to more companies than she can count. For science, of course. Then, we'll take out ethical concerns to bioethicist Kelly Hills, to talk about the potential pitfalls... Read More

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Cursing and Conversation #480

June 29, 2018

Ever notice how the bits of language we use all the time are often the bits we study the least? Like 'ums' and 'uhs', the way conversations flow and of course curse words! Today we're taking a deeper look under the hood of the conversation machine, and inspecting it's sweary bits and bobs a little more closely than usual. First we'll take a closer look at the flow of a typical conversation with Nick Enfield, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney, about his book "How We Talk: The Inner Workings of Conversation" and examine the signalling we use... Read More

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Garden of Marvels (Rebroadcast) #479

June 22, 2018

This week we're learning about botany and the colorful science of gardening. Author Ruth Kassinger joins us to discuss her book "A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered that Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of the Way Plants Work." And we'll speak to NASA researcher Gioia Massa about her work to solve the technical challenges of gardening in space.  Read More

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She Has Her Mother's Laugh #478

June 15, 2018

What does heredity really mean? Carl Zimmer would argue it's more than your genes along. In "She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Power, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity", Zimmer covers the history of genetics and what kinship and heredity really mean when we're discovering how to alter our own DNA, and, potentially, the DNA of our children. Read More

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Cure for Catastrophe #477

June 08, 2018

Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Volcanoes. These are the sorts of natural disasters movies are made from, because throughout history we've learned that natural disasters often become human disasters. But how much are we contributing to the scale of the human toll of natural disasters when they hit? How much do our decisions about where to build, what to build, and how to build impact that cost? We spend the hour with Robert Muir-Wood, author of "The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disaster", talking about what he's learned over his 25 years working to understand the risks associated with... Read More

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Science in Fiction #476

June 01, 2018

Nerds and geeks of all stripes love to dissect exactly how their favorite (or least favorite) sci-fi and fantasy tales got science so wrong. But many TV shows, movies and book actually manage to get science pretty right (except for those pesky time-travel impossibilities). How do they do that? A lot of times, they phone a scientist. We'll speak with one of those scientists, Mika McKinnon, about the work she does advising TV shows and movies on physics, space and more. And we'll talk with science journalist and novelist Annalee Newitz about the scientists she consulted for her novel, "Autonomous".... Read More

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2018 Science Birthday Bonus Short Minisode: Lloyd Quarterman #SB1

May 31, 2018

Our very first Science Birthday spotlight shines on Lloyd Quarterman, born May 31, 1918. He died in 1982, but not before leaving his mark on science. Join Bethany and Rachelle in a little special birthay minisode celebrating Lloyd and his accomplishments. Thanks to everyone who joined our Patreon anew! Read More

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Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You (Rebroadcast) #475

May 25, 2018

This week, we're learning how deadly and delightful our planet and its ecosystem can be. We're joined by biologist Dan Riskin, co-host of Discovery Canada's Daily Planet, to talk about his book "Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You: a Lively Tour Through the Dark Side of the Natural World." And we'll talk to astronomer and author Phil Plait about Science Getaways, his company that offers educational vacation experiences for science lovers. Read More

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Appearance Matters #474

May 18, 2018

This week we talk about appearance, bodies, and body image. Why does what we look like affect our headspace so much? And how do we even begin to research a topic as personal and subjective as body image? To try and find out, we speak with some of the researchers at the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Psychology Professor Phillippa Diedrichs walks us through body image research, what we know so far, and how we know what we know. Professor of Appearance and Health Psychology Diana Harcourt talks about visible... Read More

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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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