science

Word of Mouth
1:27 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Word Of Mouth 08.17.13

Credit Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

Looking for the best hour in public radio? Look no further than the Word of Mouth Saturday show. 100% nutritional content with no fillers or by products. On this week's show...

  • Ever wondered what it takes to be the Dungeon Master of a Dungeons & Dragons game? David Ewalt tells Virginia the secrets of the popular dice game from his book, Of Dice and Men...
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Word of Mouth
11:23 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Dartmouth's 'Yeti' Robot Explores Arctic Dangers

Credit engineering.dartmouth.edu

Imagine a four-wheeled robot, rolling slowly over frozen landscapes, equipped with high-tech sensors, and funded by NASA . You’re imagining a robot named Yeti, a polar rover designed by a team of Dartmouth Engineering students.  Yeti has ground penetrating radar, and helps scientists in Antarctica and Greenland detect and map dangerous and possibly deadly crevasses before manned expeditions.  Laura Ray is professor of engineering at Dartmouth College and Yeti project leader; she joined us earlier to discuss the new technology.

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Word of Mouth
9:29 am
Thu August 8, 2013

U.K. Welcomes The World's First Lab Grown Burger

Credit sneurgaonkar via Flickr Creative Commons

You may have heard the news earlier this week that taste-testers and scientists in the U.K. sampled the world’s first lab-grown burger.  One food researcher said that the burger tasted “close to meat, but not that juicy”. Another quipped, “what was consistently different was the flavor”. Not a great review for a patty costing somewhere around three hundred and thirty thousand dollars, but you’ve got to start somewhere.  Henry Fountain, science reporter for the New York Times, tells us about the science under the bun.

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Word of Mouth
12:04 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Salt Smarts: How Iodine Has Increased American I.Q.s

Credit Joe Mud via Flickr Creative Commons

Iodized salt is so common today that you may never have considered the two as separate elements. This wasn’t always the case -- in 1924 iodized salt was first sold commercially in the U.S. to reduce the incidence of goiter – or swelling of the thyroid gland. Within a decade the average I.Q. in the United States had risen three and a half points. In areas that had been iodine deficient, I.Q. levels rose an average of fifteen points. A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research traces this leap in I.Q. back to iodized salt.  We spoke with Max Nisen, war room reporter for Business Insider, where he wrote about I.Q. increases as a result of iodized salt.

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Word of Mouth
11:52 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Turning Data Into Art

Credit Brian House via Wired.com

IBM calculates that the human race creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day, with information ranging from scientific research to consumer tracking to social media output. As businesses, governments and researchers continue to search for new ways to parse through this vast amount of information, one man is searching for the bridge between data collection and everyday life. In his project “The Quotidian Record,” Brian House interprets a year’s worth of his own location and movement data into an 11 minute musical track, morphing binary code into warm vinyl rhythm. House is a doctoral student at Brown University in the Music and the Modern Culture and Media Departments; he also teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. He created the quotidian record while he was a member of The New York Times Research and Development Lab.

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Word of Mouth
9:30 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Word Of Mouth 07.27.2013

Credit Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content, curated in one amazing hour of radio. This week, the science behind J.K. Rowling's unmasking, a guy who played Mr. Darcy at a Jane Austen Summer Camp, the Libertarian festival for Seasteaders, a new telescope technology that will send balloons into space, regular folks drive NASCAR cars, and a musician who writes songs based on the New York Times column, "Modern Love."

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Word of Mouth
12:44 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Voice Almighty: Our Favorite Vocal Icons

dahlia.delilah via Flickr Creative Commons

As we explored earlier, the voice is a powerful tool. We form very strong images and opinions about others without ever having seen or met or interacted with them, simply because of the way they sound.  Even when they aren’t a good representation of the person, voices are often the first impression we choose to trust. From actors who have built entire careers on their voice, to the often unnoticed background on thousands of film trailers and television spots, here are some of the most iconic voices we’ve heard, whether you’ve realized it or not.

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Word of Mouth
11:00 am
Thu July 25, 2013

The Voice Is Not A Window To The Soul

Credit alykat via Flickr Creative Commons

The human voice paints powerful pictures in the minds of listeners – just listen to some of public radio’s distinctive voices …have you ever imagined what they look like or what kind of person they might be? 

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Word of Mouth
9:48 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Word Of Mouth 07.20.2013

Credit Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content of the week, wrapped up in one audio-licious program. This week, author Chuck Klosterman defines villainy, the Cronut craze catches a Harvard researcher's eye, head transplants are given an examination, robots roll into vinyards, and a pair of hard-partying vegetarians share their take on potato salad (spoiler alert: it's got Doritos in it!)

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Word of Mouth
11:22 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Head Transplants: Ethical Nightmare Or Medical Breakthrough

Credit NIH Library via Flickr Creative Commons

In 1970, Dr. Robert White attempted an experimental surgical procedure that might as well have been lifted from the pages of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – he removed the head of one living monkey, and attached it to the body of another. Dr. White called it a head transplant and a success. His detractors called it a medical and ethical nightmare. In June of this year, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero declared that advances in medical technology have made head transplants possible. A number of medical professionals greeted his announcement with skepticism. The Atlantic’s health editor James Hamblin wrote about how Canavero says the procedure will work.

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Word of Mouth
9:20 am
Mon July 8, 2013

The Cold Hard Truth About Freezing Yourself

Patient storage at Alcor.
Credit Arenamontanus via flickr Creative Commons

Human beings have long worked to prolong life and cheat death – but few efforts have been as ambitious, and speculatively optimistic, as the nearly fifty year-old field of cryonics. The scientific pursuit of preserving human bodies at sub-zero temperatures was once regarded with public disgust, but is now gaining new traction ­­­– in Silicon Valley.  Our guest is Josh Dean, author of Showdog, and contributor to Buzzfeed, where his long-form article “Inside the Immortality Business” was featured earlier this month.

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Word of Mouth
12:14 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

The Secret Lives Of Sports Fans

Credit ericsimons.net

If you’re a New England sports fan of a certain age, chances are you can describe exactly what happened during game 6 of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner missed a roller at first.

That error allowed the Mets a winning run and further cemented the “Curse of the Bambino” in the minds of Red Sox fans…many of those same fans still get weepy when thinking of 2004 – when the Sox finally reversed the curse and won the World Series.

Along with the thrill comes the agony …just ask any Bruins fan who watched Boston’s 2 - 1 lead in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals squandered  by two Blackhawk goals in the last 76 seconds of the game.

We spoke to science writer and Radiolab contributor Eric Simons before the Bruins crushing defeat. Eric’s latest book “The Secret Lives of Sports Fans,” is his attempt to figure out the science and psychology of sports fans…and it begins with a play-by-play of heartbreak.

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Word of Mouth
11:32 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Cicadas Aren't The Only Creatures With Bizarre Life Cycles

Credit mark i geo via flickr Creative Commons

You’ve likely heard about the seventeen-year cicada, last seen when the Macarena was popular. Long before the insects began to poke out of the ground along the east coast, the species was making headlines for its wacky life cycle. Nature has plenty of examples of biological oddities… science journalist Brandon Keim compiled a list of nature’s strangest life-cycles for Wired magazine.

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Word of Mouth
10:49 am
Mon May 20, 2013

The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene And The Quest To Cure Cancer

Schematic representation of formation of the Philadelphia Chromosome
Credit via wikimedia commons

In 1959 scientists caught their first glimpse of a genetic mutation, ‘the Philadelphia chromosome’ and began unraveling the mysterious role it plays in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and led to the development of Gleevec, a groundbreaking drug that made this once-fatal cancer treatable with a single daily pill. Jessica Wapner is a freelance science writer, and her new book chronicling the back story behind the breakthrough, “The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level” was released this month.

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Word of Mouth
11:51 am
Thu May 9, 2013

A Quantum Internet? Apparently, Yes.

Schroedinger's cat thought experiment as a mind bending illustration. If we apply this logic to a Quantum Internet, maybe it means that when we use it we are both wasting time AND saving it!
Credit jieq via flickr Creative Commons

A government lab announced earlier this month that it’s been operating a quantum internet at Los Alamos for the past two years. Which led us to wonder, um, WHAT IS A QUANTUM INTERNET???  Joining us to explain it is Rob Fleischman, Chief Technology Officer at Xero-Cole, and the guy we call to help us understand things like, you know, quantum technology.

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