Episodes Archive

Gene Drives (Rebroadcast) #510

January 25, 2019

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


Anisogamy: The Beginning of Male and Female #509

January 18, 2019

This week we discuss how the sperm and egg came to be, and how a difference of reproductive interest has led to sexual conflict in bed bugs. We'll be speaking with Dr. Geoff Parker, an evolutionary biologist credited with developing a theory to explain the evolution of two sexes, about anisogamy, sexual reproduction through the fusion of two different gametes: the egg and the sperm. Then we'll speak with Dr. Roberto Pereira, research scientist in urban entomology at the University of Florida, about traumatic insemination in bed bugs. Read More


Freedom's Laboratory #508

January 11, 2019

This week we're looking back at where some of our modern ideas about science being objective, independent, and apolitical come from. We journey back to the Cold War with historian and writer Audra Wolfe, talking about her newest book "Freedom's Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science". Read More


Poaching, and We Don't Mean Eggs #507

January 04, 2019

We all know poaching elephants for their ivory and pangolins for their scales is wrong, right? Then why do people keep doing it? We speak with Rachel Nuwer, author of the book "Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking", to find out, and figure out what can be done to stop it. And we'll talk with Vincent Nijman about why, when scientists find a new or rare species, they might want to keep that exciting information to themselves. Related links: Secrecy considerations for conserving Lazarus species Keeping an ear to the ground: monitoring the trade in earless monitor lizards... Read More


Everybody Poops (Rebroadcast) #506

December 28, 2018

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


Top Science Stories of 2018 #505

December 21, 2018

We're looking back over 2018 and calling out our favourite science news stories from this past year: the ones we think you should remember -- or hear about for the first time if maybe you've been taking a break from the internet -- and we've brought in a team of reports from Science News to do it. Buckle up for a whistle stop tour of this year's most fascinating science news. Related links: Top 10 stories of 2018 on Science News News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm by Tina Hesman Saey Chinese scientists raise ethical questions with... Read More


The Art of Logic #504

December 14, 2018

How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions. Read More


Postpartum Blues (Rebroadcast) #503

December 07, 2018

When a woman gives birth, it seems like everyone wants to know how the baby is doing. What does it weigh? Is it breathing right? Did it cry? But it turns out that, in the United States, we're not doing to great at asking how the mom, who just pushed something the size of a pot roast out of something the size of a Cheerio, is doing. This week we talk to anthropologist Kate Clancy about her postpartum experience and how it is becoming distressingly common, and we speak with Julie Wiebe about prolapse, what it is and how it's... Read More


Nerd Gift Extravaganza #502

November 30, 2018

It's that time of year when nerds who care about each other buy each other nerdy presents. And because we know it can be so difficult to find that "just right" gift for the geek in your life, we're here to jump start the process with a boost of inspiration. We've brought back pop-science power-readers Joanne Manaster and John Dupuis to highlight their favourite books from the last year that you might not have heard of. And Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders prowl the internet for gift ideas that make our inner geeks squee with delight. Visit our news section... Read More


Hidden Technology #501

November 23, 2018

This week we spend the hour with Kat Jungnickel to discuss her new book "Bikes & Bloomers: Victorian women inventors and their extraordinary cycle wear". New technology can change social expectations and sometimes requires other new inventions so everyone can participate. Those might sound like modern problems, but Victorian Britain in the 1890's had to answer the question: how can a woman use the latest must-have technology, the safety bicycle, while wearing a corset and long, multilayered skirts? Read More


500th Episode #500

November 16, 2018

This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes! Read More


Technology, Work and The Future (Rebroadcast) #499

November 09, 2018

This week, we're thinking about how rapidly advancing technology will change our future, our work, and our well-being. We speak to Richard and Daniel Susskind about their book "The Future of Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts" about the impacts technology may have on professional work. And Nicholas Agar comes on to talk about his book "The Sceptical Optimist" and the ways new technologies will affect our perceptions and well-being. Read More


The Poison Squad #498

November 02, 2018

This week, let's go back in time. Back to the 1900s, when life was pure and clean, and your milk was preserved with formaldehyde, your meat with Borax and your canned peas with copper. On second thought, that trip back in time doesn't sound so great. This week, we're meeting the Poison Squad. We're spending the hour with Deborah Blum talking about the history of food regulation, or the lack thereof, and her new book "The Poison Squad: One Chemist's Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer... Read More


Built #497

October 26, 2018

This week we're talking about towers, bridges, sinking cathedrals, and other feats of structural engineering. How do we build skyscrapers? How do engineers plan for disaster? What have we learned from structures that have failed about how to build things better? We speak with structural engineer Roma Agrawal about her book "Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures" and what the constructed world we live in looks like through an engineer's eyes. Read More


Anti-Intellectualism: Down With the Scientist! #496

October 19, 2018

This week we get to the bottom of anti-intellectualism. We'll be speaking with David Robson, senior journalist at BBC Future, about misology -- the hatred of reason and argument -- and how it may be connected to distrust of intellectuals. Then we'll speak with Bruno Takahashi, associate professor of environmental journalism and communication at Michigan State University, about how the way we consume media affects our scientific knowledge and how we feel about scientists and the press. Read More


Earth Science in Space #495

October 12, 2018

Some worlds are made of sand. Some are made of water. Some are even made of salt. In science fiction and fantasy, planet can be made of whatever you want. But what does that mean for how the planets themselves work? When in doubt, throw an asteroid at it. This is a live show recorded at the 2018 Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. Featuring Travor Valle, Mika McKinnon, David Moscato, Scott Harris, and moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Note: The sound isn't as good as we'd hoped but we love the guests and the conversation and we wanted to... Read More


The Tangled Taxonomic Tree #494

October 05, 2018

The idea of the tree of life appears in many of the world's religions, and it appears, famously, in science, with Darwin's famous tree of life, where species evolve over millions of years from a common ancestor in the trunk to new species in the branches. But while Darwin's tree of life endures in textbooks, t-shirts and tattoos, science has moved on. And the tree of life has become more of a tangle. We will speak with David Quammen about his new book "The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life", and with Julie Dunning Hotopp, who studies how... Read More


Trowel Blazing (Rebroadcast) #493

September 28, 2018

This week we look at some of the lesser known historical figures and current public perception of anthropology, archaeology, and other fields that end in "ology". Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist, writer, and co-founder of the TrowelBlazers, tells us about the Raising Horizons project and how their team is trying to shine the spotlight on the forgotten historical women of archaeological, geological, and palaeontological science. And Kristina Killgrove, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida and science writer, talks about the public perception of the fields of anthropology and archeology, and how those science are represented -... Read More


Flint Water Crisis #492

September 21, 2018

This week we dig into the Flint water crisis: what happened, how it got so bad, what turned the tide, what's still left to do, and the mix of science, politics, and activism that are still needed to finish pulling Flint out of the crisis. We spend the hour with Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a physician, scientist, activist, the founder and director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, and author of the book "What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City". Read More


Frankenstein LIVES #491

September 14, 2018

Two hundred years ago, Mary Shelley gave us a legendary monster, shaping science fiction for good. Thanks to her, the name of Frankenstein is now famous world-wide. But who was the real monster here? The creation? Or the scientist that put him together? Tune in to a live show from Dragon Con 2018 in Atlanta, as we breakdown the science of Frankenstein, complete with grave robbing and rivers of maggots. Featuring Tina Saey, Lucas Hernandez, Travor Valle, and Nancy Miorelli. Moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Related links: Scientists successfully transplant lab-grown lungs into pigs, by Maria Temming on Science... Read More