science

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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Word of Mouth
12:35 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Bacteria Lurking In Unlikely Places

M540-1 Filamentous yeast from spoiled beverage. Filaments and budding. Phase. (1008X) (Maunder)
Credit Microbe World via flickr Creative Commons

Nearly 10 million cases of food poisoning occur in the United States every year. Moreover, one in five outbreaks of food-borne illnesses are caused by food that people eat in their homes. A new report looked at the parts of the kitchen most and least likely to harbor bacteria and the results might not be what you’d expect. Here to discuss the matter is Lisa Yakas, Microbiologist and Manager of NSF International's  Home Product Certification Program and co-author of the report.

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Word of Mouth
10:31 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Hunting For Elements

Credit euthman via flickr Creative Commons

Over seventy years ago, mankind completed an ambitious map unlike any other - the periodic table of the elements – which contained and organized all the known elements at the time. Like other maps, the period table has changed as the geography of its contents - especially since 1941, when researchers at the University of California, Berkeley produced the first man-made element… plutonium.  Many more elements have been added to the list, and efforts to create and research new ones continues –here to discuss this difficult scientific quest is Rob Dunn, biologist and writer in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University. He recently wrote about element hunting for National Geographic.

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Word of Mouth
3:30 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Breaking: Men Struggle With Understanding Women's Expressions

Credit grosdab via Flickr Creative Commons

A new study by German researchers sheds light on men’s inability to read the expressions of women.  It seems that males are better wired to interpret the non-verbal signals of other men.  Here to add neurological and historical context to our understanding of male/female communication is Tom Jacobs, staff writer for Pacific Standard, who wrote about the study.

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Word of Mouth
2:44 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

The Cicadas Are Coming!

Credit Joe Hanson courtesy of his blog, It's Okay To Be Smart

Drive south of the Massachusetts border this summer and you’re bound to hear the deafening buzz of the 17-year cicada.  From the Carolinas to Connecticut, residents can expect a full-on plague of these large, loud, winged creatures to emerge after nearly two decades of underground hibernation.  We wanted to better understand these bizarre bugs – called “brood-two” cicadas - so we called biologist Joe Hanson, host and writer of PBS digital studios’ It’s Okay To Be Smart.

And if you're interested in a cheap snack this summer, David George Gordon is author of The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook.  We called him to ask, what does a Cicada taste like?

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