science

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Ever wonder whether hard facts play a part in changing a person's mind? Turns out, not so much. Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote about the real influences on choice for The New York Times Magazine.

OK. Maybe you're in your desk chair. You're in your office. You're in New York, or Detroit, or Timbuktu. You're on planet Earth. But where are you, really? This hour, Radiolab tries to find out.

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Produced with Phoebe Axtman and Zach Nugent

Mounting research has shown that the most important factor in a child’s successful education is not his or her socioeconomic status, class size, or even the design of the curriculum…. it’s the teacher.  But teacher dropout rate is high and the highly talented teachers are too few, especially in Science and Math.

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If you want to learn about the earth, you’re gonna have to get your hands dirty.   That’s the philosophy of environmental educator David Sobel: senior faculty member at Antioch University New England, and author of the book "Beyond Ecophobia".

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Two Harvard professors are developing a proposal for a first-of-its-kind field experiment in geo-engineering… a trial balloon that would release chemical particles into the atmosphere.  Their hope?  To better understand the effectiveness and dangers of technology designed to manually reverse climate change.  Henry Fountain covere

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Angus Batemen’s mid-twentieth century study into the breeding habits of fruit flies concluded that females are a limiting factor in reproduction – in other words, they are choosy about mates – while males are sexually indiscriminate. Sound familiar?  Batmen’s paper on sexual selection has been cited nearly two-thousand times since its original publication. His ideas have trickled into popular portrayals and jokes about   prudish, commitment-centric women and indiscriminate, sex-hungry men.

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In 1968, L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, declared as the result of a scientific experiment an unusual and disturbing notion: that tomatoes scream when sliced.  However strange his declaration may have seemed, Hubbard is in good company when it comes to prodding garden produce in search of an emotional response.

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The science behind our most-sought after emotional state has positively exploded in recent years – with psychologists and social scientists probing just about everything – income, gender, relationships, kids, chocolate – in an effort to find out what makes us more or less happy.   June Gruber is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and Director of the Yale Positive Emotion and Psychopathology lab. 

Part 1: Is "Liking" Free Speech?/The Legacy of Limmer

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Dr. Daniel Palanker is associate professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, a member of the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory, and senior author on a paper published last month in Nature Photonics describing his work on photovoltaic retinal prosthetics.

 

Geek Cuisine

Jun 4, 2012
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Jeff Potter is a software engineer and author of Cooking for Geeks, which breaks down the science of what happens to our food while it’s cooking. Jeff invited reporter Britta Conroy-Randall into his kitchen to learn more about how anyone can master the culinary arts…even the soufflé, as long as they combine two specific ingredients

 

 

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Thanks to growing awareness of a national obesity epidemic, and the lowering of complication rates since its introduction in the 1960s, gastric bypass procedures have become an increasingly popular treatment option for the morbidly obese.  At least 200,000 people signed up last year in the U.S. alone. 

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Recently, popular books like Max Brook’s World War Z, and Colson Whitehead’s Zone One took serious literary stabs at the realm of the living dead.

Nano-technology is enabling breakthroughs in a number of scientific fields at an unimaginably small scale. Consider that the basic unit of measurement for nano-particles is 40,000 times smaller than the width of the average human hair.  Recently, researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital developed a nano-particle capable of infiltrating the human immune system and delivering a targeted dose of powerful antibiotics.

A special broadcast of NPR's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday host Ira Flatow, recorded in front of a live audience at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.  

In part one, Flatow talks about the declining state of science coverage in the news, and his hope that new media will be the new outlet for spreading the gospel of science. In part two, I sit down with Flatow and we talk about his career, the challenges of expanding online platforms, and address questions form the audience. 

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All that "40 is the new 30" boosterism aside, midlife is not the start of a downward spiral. David Bainbridge is a clinical veterinary anatomist at Cambridge University, and the author of several books including Middle Age: A Natural History. He believes middle age might be a pivotal part of the human evolutionary process, and potentially the most productive years of our lives. 

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Sting and Trudie have the rainforest, George Clooney has Sudanese refugees, and Alan Alda has… well, science contests for kids.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Sociobiologist E.O. Wilson

Apr 30, 2012

Pulitzer Prize Winning Socio-biologist, E.O. Wilson  has spent a lifetime exploring the ideas of evolution and the genetic basis for social behavior in humans. In his latest book, "The Social Conquest of Earth", Wilson overturns his earlier theory on why our species developed strong social ties. Group selection, Wilson now says, not kin selection is the primary driving force of human evolution

Guest

E.O. Wilson - Biologist, naturalist and author of more than 20 book. His latest is called "The Social Conquest of Earth" 

DNA U.S.A.

Apr 26, 2012

We sit down with Oxford professor Bryan Sikes whose new book. "DNA U.S.A." explores the complicated genetic melting pot of America. The findings are fascinating, southwestern Spanish Catholics with Jewish genes, African DNA in southern whites. Though we are all born with surnames, Sykes says, "those names fragment and mutate with far more regularity than the DNA we inherit”

Guests

(Photo by seRVe Photography via Flickr)

Every parent hopes to foster a healthy and safe environment for bright and gifted babies…  but no amount of exposure to classical music, sign language, or Baby Einstein videos can guarantee your kid will be a genius on the level of Heidi Hankins. 

Scientists at the University of Illinois report that they have mapped the physical architecture of the brain with accuracy never before achieved. Their study, published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology is the largest, most comprehensive analysis so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence –which depends on a remarkably circumscribed neural system – and to specific cognitive functions, like memory, self-control and recognizing speech. 

Get it?

Stories about someone beating a traffic ticket by using an imaginative defense always seem to strike a chord.

Team Astrobotic

Space – a private frontier…

With the shuttle program behind us, companies and enterprising college students are today’s celestial pioneers. Their mission?  To seek out new ways of launching into orbit on a shoe-string budget. 

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Author David Rothenberg talks about the mystery of animal's preferences for particular colors, shapes, and songs in his book, Survival of the Beautiful.

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