Episodes Archive

The Big Sleep #410

February 24, 2017

This week we take a closer look at hibernation and how it works. We speak with Kelly Drew, a neuroscientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who studies the Arctic ground squirrel, the "Usain Bolt" of hibernators. And we talk with Frank van Breukelen, a biologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies an animal who isn't very good at hibernating: the tenrec. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More


Trump War On Science #409

February 17, 2017

This week we look at what's happening to science in the first days of the Donald Trump presidency, and what might happen if we don't take action in a world where science is growing increasingly political — whether or not we want it to. Librarian John Dupuis returns to talk about what's happened so far, why he's started a chronology of this administration's affects on science, and the similarities and differences to the Canadian War on Science he tracked previously. And we speak with Katie Gibbs, Executive Director of Evidence for Democracy, about the particular challenges and concerns of scientists... Read More


The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar #408

February 10, 2017

This week, we look at the strange, curious, and sometimes amusing strategies creatures use to make it through the day. Guest host Jessie Yaros spends the hour with science writer and author Matt Simon talking about his new book "The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems". The Science for the People team is excited to welcome Jessie Yaros, a new guest host, to our team. Jessie is a doctoral student in Neurobiology and Behavior in California. Read More


Voices Within #407

February 03, 2017

This week we're thinking about how we think: the ways we talk to -- and with -- ourselves, why we do it at all, and what happens when some of us hear voices that aren't our own. We spend the hour with Charles Fernyhough, Professor of Psychology at Durham University, about his book "The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk To Ourselves". More links of interest: Hearing The Voice, an interdisciplinary study of voice hearing. You can find their FAQ here. Intervoice: The International Hearing Voices Network Read More


Running Low (Rebroadcast) #406

January 27, 2017

This week, we're going back to a previous episode and looking across the Periodic Table and assessing the scarcity of modern society's essential elements. We're joined by Dr. Thomas Graedel, Director of the Center for Industrial Ecology at Yale University, to talk about the rare metals that play a role in our electronic devices. We'll speak to physics Professor Dr. Moses Hung-Wai Chan about our dwindling supply of helium. And we'll talk about the phosphorous that plays a critical role in modern agriculture, with ecology professor Dr. James Elser, co-organizer of the Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative at Arizona State University. Read More


STEM Pipeline #405

January 20, 2017

This week we look at the current state of the STEM pipeline and what happens when people drip out. We speak with Paula Stephan, Professor of Economics at Georgia State University, about practicing "PhD contraception" in order to better match supply with realistic demand. We talk with Gary McDowell, Executive Director of Future of Research, about ways we might try to change the STEM process from the inside. And we speak with Melissa Vaught, a biochemist turned editor, about the realities of going into a science PhD and what to do on the other side. This episode is hosted by... Read More


Sex In The Sea #404

January 13, 2017

This week we talk about sex... in the sea! Anika Hazra speaks with marine biologist Marah Hardt about her new book "Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep". We discuss the multitude of bizarre strategies marine organisms use to get it on, the obstacles they face as humans become increasingly intrusive on their sex lives, and how we can protect the integrity of marine reproduction. Read More


Indigenous DNA #403

January 06, 2017

This week we take a closer look at the intersection of genetics, politics, identity, and hundreds of years of colonization. We speak with Kim TallBear, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples Technoscience and Environment and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, about her book "Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science". And we speak with Keolu Fox, a post doctoral fellow in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, about IndiGenomics, an NGO aimed at helping create... Read More


Boozy Science (Rebroadcast) #402

December 30, 2016

This week, we're looking back at a previous episode an discussing some science surrounding our favorite adult beverages. We'll revisit our interview with Dr. Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, about the chemistry of the brewing process. And we'll speak to researcher and winery owner Robert Hodgson, about his study exposing the shaky science of wine tasting. Read More


The Serengeti Rules #401

December 23, 2016

This week we're exploring how life is regulated at very small scales -- down to the molecular level -- and how those rules and regulations also seem to apply when we zoom back out to look at environments and ecosystems across the planet. We spend the hour with author and Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin Sean Carroll talking about his new book "The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters". Read More


What Doesn't Kill You... #400

December 16, 2016

This week we're discussing public perception of entomologists and their study organisms of choice: insects. We speak with Justin Schmidt, author of the new book "The Sting of the Wild", and an example of an entomologist who goes above and beyond for his passion for stinging insects, having created a sting pain index based on his personal experiences with them. He has received a lot of media attention as a result, and so we delve into what the public and other scientists think of his research, where his passion for chemical defences in insects came from, and why he's chosen... Read More


The Sugar Pill #399

December 09, 2016

This week, we're taking on the science of the sugar pill. We're talking about the placebo effect, its potential benefits and its pitfalls. We speak with Erik Vance about his new book "Suggestible You: The Curious Science of your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform and Heal". And we'll talk with Kathryn Hall, a genetic epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, about why we experience the placebo effect, why some people are more open to suggestion than others, and why that might not be a weakness. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science... Read More


Gifts For Nerds #398

December 02, 2016

Once again, we're here to help you with all your nerd-specific holiday shopping with our annual gift guide for science lovers. We brought back Skepchick writer Mary Brock and science librarian John Dupuis to give us their top picks from their 2016 science reads. And we invited back Mad Art Lab's Courtney Caldwell and GeekWrapped's Simon Saval to recommend some science and geek themed gifts you won't find in a library. Visit our news section for the full book list with links and the full non-book science-themed gift idea list with links. Read More


Risk Management #397

November 25, 2016

This week we’re talking about risks and resources. We speak with Dr. Lianne Lefsrud, Assistant Professor of Engineering Safety and Risk Management in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta, about how engineers think about and evaluate risks, and her research into how language and conversations about resource development have changed over time. Then we'll talk with Dr. David Sauchyn, Research Professor at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina about historical patterns of water resources, and how his research is being used for better planning. The Science for the People team are also pleased... Read More


Trench to Bedside #396

November 18, 2016

This week we're taking on maggots, wounds, and diarrhea in an episode about medical problems that plague the military, so make sure your last meal is a few hours behind you before you tuck in your ear buds. We speak with Captain Mark Riddle, the director of the United States Military Diarrheal Disease Vaccine Research Program at the US Army Medical Research and Material Command, about new ways to prevent and treat travelers' diarrhea. And we talk with George Peck, a medical entomologist, about using maggots to help wounds heal. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from... Read More


Happy People (Rebroadcast) #395

November 11, 2016

This week we're exploring what science can tell us about happiness. We'll speak to John Helliwell, Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Programme on Social Interactions, Identity, and Well-Being, about the World Happiness Report, a global project that uses tools from economics, psychology, health statistics and more to study the happiness of people and nations. And we'll speak to journalist  Michael Booth about his book "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Read More


On the Origin of Bad Science #394

November 04, 2016

This week we're talking about what bad science looks like, why good scientists with good intentions often use techniques of bad science in their work, and how we may be unintentionally selecting for bad science over good science in our culture. We speak with Michael Inzlicht, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, about the replication crisis currently underway in the field of social psychology. And we talk with Paul Smaldino, Assistant Professor of Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced, about his recent paper "The Natural Selection of Bad Science" and how the incentives built... Read More


Check Your Facts #393

October 28, 2016

This week we're sitting down with three experienced fact-checkers to better understand what the process of fact-checking looks like from the inside, and what the challenges are when news and politics collide. We speak with Brooke Borel, a contributing editor to Popular Science and author of the book "The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking"; Michelle Ciarrocca, a researcher, reporter, and writer; and Dave Levitan, a science journalist and author of the upcoming new book "Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News. Read More


Venomous #392

October 21, 2016

This week we're looking at some of the animals, insects, and creatures we fear the most and the venom that makes them so powerful. Biologist and science blogger Christie Wilcox returns to talk about her first book "Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry". And Jim Olson, a physician scientist and Director of Project Violet, tells us about "Tumor Paint", a fluorescent molecule that binds to solid tumors to help guide surgeons during surgeries, which was partially derived from the venom of the deathstalker scorpion. Read More


Effective Altruism (Rebroadcast) #391

October 14, 2016

This week, we're learning how science can boost the effectiveness of philanthropy. We'll talk to philosophy professor William MacAskill about his book "Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference." And we'll speak to education researcher Brendan Rigby about the ethics and impact of "voluntourism." Read More