Episodes Archive

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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. This episode is... 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