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Podcast Profile: New Books in Science

podcast imageTwitter: @NewBooksSci (followed by 0 science writers)
Site: newbooksnetwork.com/category/science-technology/science
619 episodes
2008 to present
Average episode: 62 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Interview-Style

Podcaster's summary: Interviews with Scientists about their New Books | Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science

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List Updated: 2022-Sep-28 12:10 UTC. Episodes: 619. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

Episodes
2022-Sep-28 • 34 minutes
On Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species"
Charles Dawin’s 1859 book The Origin of Species introduced his famous theory of evolution. Darwin developed his theories of life and evolution after a historic voyage circumnavigating the globe on the H.M.S. Beagle. Most people at the time believed what the naturalist theologians believed: that God had created organisms perfectly adapted to their environments. Darwin, however, saw life in a different way. He saw organisms as constantly evolving to better fit their environments. Robert Proctor is a professor...
2022-Sep-22 • 77 minutes
Fred Spier, "How the Biosphere Works: Fresh Views Discovered While Growing Peppers" (CRC Press, 2022)
How the Biosphere Works: Fresh Views Discovered While Growing Peppers (CRC Press, 2022) offers a simple and novel theoretical approach to understanding the history of the biosphere, including humanity’s place within it. It also helps to clarify what the possibilities and limitations are for future action. This is a subject of wide interest because today we are facing a great many environmental issues, many of which may appear unconnected. Yet all these issues are part of our biosphere. For making plans for ...
2022-Sep-15 • 21 minutes
Beronda L. Montgomery, "Lessons from Plants" (Harvard UP, 2021)
We know that plants are important. They maintain the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They nourish other living organisms and supply psychological benefits to humans as well, improving our moods and beautifying the landscape around us. But plants don't just passively provide. They also take action. Beronda L. Montgomery explores the vigorous, creative lives of organisms often treated as static and predictable. In fact, plants are masters of adaptation. They "know" what and who th...
2022-Sep-14 • 61 minutes
History, Space, and Getting Things Wrong
In today’s episode of How To Be Wrong we welcome Dr. Steven Dick, retired Chief Historian at NASA and one of the leading historians of space exploration. Our conversation ranges from Steve’s experiences having his initial dissertation proposal rejected as not focusing on a “legitimate” topic (the history of thinking about extraterrestrials) to his experiences at NASA following the Columbia disaster. Our conversation also moves into one of the more serious problems of our time—the growing tendency of science...
2022-Sep-12 • 70 minutes
Karen Hunger Parshall, "The New Era in American Mathematics, 1920–1950" (Princeton UP, 2022)
In The New Era in Mathematics, 1920-1950 (Princeton University Press, 2022) Karen Parshall explores the institutional, financial, social, and political forces that shaped and supported the American Mathematics community in the first half of the twentieth century. Drawing from extensive archival and primary-source research, Professor Parshall uncovers the key players in American mathematics who worked together to effect change. She highlights the educational, professional, philanthropic, and governmental ent...
2022-Sep-08 • 31 minutes
On Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"
In 1962, American philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn was struck by Aristotle’s beliefs about motion. Actually, he thought that those theories didn’t make any sense. But he also knew that Aristotle was one of the smartest philosophers of the ancient world. Kuhn realized that if Aristotle was stuck within his own way of seeing the world, then so are we. His ideas about scientific revolutions changed the way we perceive and teach science. Samuel J. Gershm...
2022-Sep-08 • 54 minutes
Elise Vernon Pearlstine, "Scent: A Natural History of Fragrance" (Yale UP, 2022)
Plants have long harnessed the chemical characteristics of aromatic compounds to shape the world around them. Frankincense resin from the genus Boswellia seals injured tissues and protects trees from invading pathogens. Jasmine produces a molecule called linalool that attracts pollinating moths with its flowery scent. Tobacco uses a similarly sweet-smelling compound called benzyl acetone to attract pollinators. Only recently in the evolutionary history of plants, however, have humans learned to co-opt their...
2022-Sep-07 • 51 minutes
Survival of the Leftest: Should We Embrace Behavioural Genetics?
Can genetics play a role in crafting left social policy? Or should we not touch those ideas ever again–even with a 10 foot pole? Paige Harden’s book, “The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality” makes a forceful case for an egalitarian politics informed by DNA. However, geneticist Joseph Graves critiqued the book, arguing that we do not need sophisticated genetic knowledge to make a more socially just world. On this episode managing producer Marc Apollonio guest hosts, talking to both. ———————...
2022-Sep-07 • 50 minutes
Georg Striedter, "Model Systems in Biology: History, Philosophy, and Practical Concerns" (MIT Press, 2022)
Biomedical research using various animal species and in vitro cellular systems has resulted in both major successes and translational failure. In Model Systems in Biology: History, Philosophy, and Practical Concerns (MIT Press, 2022), comparative neurobiologist Georg Striedter examines how biomedical researchers have used animal species and in vitro cellular systems to understand and develop treatments for human diseases ranging from cancer and polio to Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. Although there ...
2022-Sep-05 • 89 minutes
John Measey, "How to Publish in Biological Sciences: A Guide for the Uninitiated" (CRC Press, 2022)
Listen to this interview of John Measey, Researcher at the Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. We talk about the needs of early-career researchers and also about our need for early-career researchers. John Measey : "What we really need to know is what a scientific journal is for and what we want it to be for. So, we know, more or less, what it was for and where it came from, but what do we want that to be in the twenty-first century, and how will the journal meet rigor, indep...
2022-Aug-23 • 71 minutes
Peter Winkler, "Mathematical Puzzles" (A K Peters, 2020)
Peter Winkler has been collecting mathematical puzzles since childhood. He has had published two previous collections, and recently he compiled his largest curated collection to date. Mathematical Puzzles (A K Peters, 2021) also takes an alluring new approach to the genre: In the Roman-numbered front matter, 300+ puzzles are presented, roughly in order of increasing difficulty. Fuller discussions of the puzzles are then organized into 24 chapters according to the key insight that leads to their solutions. E...
2022-Aug-22 • 40 minutes
On Edwin Hubble’s "The Realm of the Nebulae"
Until the publication of Edwin Hubble’s 1936 book, The Realm of the Nebulae, astronomers believed that the Milky Way was the only galaxy in the universe. Hubble infinitely expanded our understanding of the cosmos and showed that what scientists thought was everything, was really just the beginning. In this episode, MIT professor emeritus Marcia Bartusiak unpacks Hubble’s findings and discusses how they impact the field of astronomy to this day. Marica Bartusiak is Professor of the Practice Emeritus of the G...
2022-Aug-19 • 59 minutes
The Poison Paradigm: What a Toxic Chemical Tells us about the Politics of Science
We are exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals daily. This is no accident; it is by design. They are everywhere – coating our consumer products, in our food packaging, being dumped into our lakes and sewers, and in countless other places. However, for the most part, regulators say that we need not worry. That assessment is based on a simple 500-year-old adage, “the dose makes the poison.” The logic is simple: anything is poisonous, depending on how large a dose. Dosing yourself with a miniscule amount of le...
2022-Aug-17 • 56 minutes
Adam Nocek, "Molecular Capture: The Animation of Biology" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)
In Molecular Capture: The Animation of Biology (University of Minnesota Press, 2021), Adam Nocek, Assistant Professor in the Philosophy of Technology and Science and Technology Studies at Arizona State University, investigates the collusion between entertainment and scientific visualization in the case of molecular animation. “The very same tools that were invented to animate a character like Shrek or Nemo are now being applied to set in motion protein domains and cellular processes.” Opening with this quot...
2022-Aug-15 • 48 minutes
Joseph Mileti, "Modern Mathematical Logic" (Cambridge UP, 2022)
Today I had the pleasure of talking to Joe Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell College. Even if you are not "into" math, you will enjoy this conversation. We talked about how math is not what you think it is. It's not just memorizing formulas and grinding. It's about thinking and, like all thinking, it involves abstraction, logic, using analogies and metaphors, and a bunch of imagination. We also talked about how math is about talking to other mathematicians and doing a kind of "brainstor...
2022-Jul-29 • 69 minutes
The Science Wars: Post-Truth and the Nature of Science
Welcome to the final day of our weeklong deep dive into the politics of education. Today, we’ve got another episode of Cited for you. If you haven’t heard a Cited episode before, it’s the documentary show that came before Darts and Letters and it specialised in immersive storytelling. This piece takes us on a journey through a little-known, long-past set of debates on the nature of science in democratic society: the Science Wars. They may seem lost to time, but some scholars say the Science Wars might just ...
2022-Jul-20 • 45 minutes
Lisa Jean Moore, "Our Transgenic Future: Spider Goats, Genetic Modification, and the Will to Change Nature" (NYU Press, 2022)
The process of manipulating the genetic material of one animal to include the DNA of another creates a new transgenic organism. Several animals, notably goats, mice, sheep, and cattle are now genetically modified in this way. In Our Transgenic Future: Spider Goats, Genetic Modification, and the Will to Change Nature (NYU Press, 2022), Lisa Jean Moore wonders what such scientific advances portend. Will the natural world become so modified that it ceases to exist? After turning species into hybrids, can we ev...
2022-Jul-15 • 58 minutes
Rachael Pells, "Genomics: How Genome Sequencing Will Change Healthcare" (Random House, 2022)
Genome sequencing is one of the most exciting scientific breakthroughs of the past thirty years. But what precisely does it involve and how is it developing? In Genomics: How Genome Sequencing Will Change Healthcare (Random House, 2022), Rachael Pells explains the science behind genomics. She analyses its practical applications in medical diagnosis and the treatment of conditions that range from cancer to severe allergic reactions to cystic fibrosis. She considers its potential to help with advances in agri...
2022-Jul-11 • 68 minutes
Michela Massimi, "Perspectival Realism" (Oxford UP, 2022)
For many philosophers, the fact that scientists take different perspectives on the world is an obstacle to being a realist about the world. In Perspectival Realism (Oxford University Press, 2022), Michela Massimi argues that to the contrary the plurality of perspectives is the driving force behind realism. On her view, the scientific realism that emerges out of the perspectival nature of scientific representation takes perspectival models as inferential blueprints for exploring what is possible. The realist...
2022-Jul-08 • 24 minutes
Reshaping the Politics of Science: Bioscience Governance in Indonesia
The last few years have brought to the fore the brilliant work of scientists as they worked to find a vaccine for Covid-19. But have you ever stopped to think about the role of biological materials in this and other science- and health-related research? In this episode of SSEAC Stories, Dr Natali Pearson is joined by Associate Professor Sonja van Wichelen to take a close look at the complex world of global health governance, with a particular focus on biotechnology and bioscience governance in Indonesia. Th...
2022-Jul-06 • 93 minutes
Frank Close, "Elusive: How Peter Higgs Solved the Mystery of Mass" (Basic Book, 2022)
On July 4, 2012, the announcement came that one of the longest-running mysteries in physics had been solved: the Higgs boson, the missing piece in understanding why particles have mass, had finally been discovered. On the rostrum, surrounded by jostling physicists and media, was the particle's retiring namesake--the only person in history to have an existing single particle named for them. Why Peter Higgs? Drawing on years of conversations with Higgs and others, Close illuminates how an unprolific man becam...
2022-Jul-01 • 44 minutes
Daniel M. Davis, "The Secret Body: How the New Science of the Human Body Is Changing the Way We Live" (Princeton UP, 2022)
Imagine knowing years in advance whether you are likely to get cancer or having a personalized understanding of your individual genes, organs, and cells. Imagine being able to monitor your body's well-being, or have a diet tailored to your microbiome. The Secret Body reveals how these and other stunning breakthroughs and technologies are transforming our understanding of how the human body works, what it is capable of, how to protect it from disease, and how we might manipulate it in the future. Taking read...
2022-Jun-28 • 58 minutes
Michael Hannah, "Extinctions: Living and Dying in the Margin of Error" (Cambridge UP, 2021)
Today I talked to Michael Hannah about his book Extinctions: Living and Dying in the Margin of Error (Cambridge UP, 2021). Are we now entering a mass extinction event? What can mass extinctions in Earth's history tell us about the Anthropocene? What do mass extinction events look like and how does life on Earth recover from them? The fossil record reveals periods when biodiversity exploded, and short intervals when much of life was wiped out in mass extinction events. In comparison with these ancient events...
2022-Jun-27 • 69 minutes
Ryan North, "How to Take Over the World: Practical Schemes and Scientific Solutions for the Aspiring Supervillain" (Riverhead Books, 2022)
Taking over the world is a lot of work. Any supervillain is bound to have questions: What's the perfect location for a floating secret base? What zany heist will fund my wildly ambitious plans? How do I control the weather, destroy the internet, and never, ever die? Bestselling author and award-winning comics writer Ryan North has the answers. In How to Take Over the World: Practical Schemes and Scientific Solutions for the Aspiring Supervillain (Riverhead Books, 2022), he details a number of outlandish vil...
2022-Jun-27 • 55 minutes
Frans de Waal, "Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist" (W. W. Norton, 2022)
In Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist (W. W. Norton, 2022), world-renowned primatologist Frans de Waal draws on decades of observation and studies of both human and animal behavior to argue that despite the linkage between gender and biological sex, biology does not automatically support the traditional gender roles in human societies. While humans and other primates do share some behavioral differences, biology offers no justification for existing gender inequalities. Using chimpanzees a...
2022-Jun-24 • 59 minutes
Carles Lalueza-Fox, "Inequality: A Genetic History" (MIT Press, 2022)
Inequality is an urgent global concern, with pundits, politicians, academics, and best-selling books all taking up its causes and consequences. In Inequality: A Genetic History (MIT Press, 2022), Carles Lalueza-Fox offers an entirely new perspective on the subject, examining the genetic marks left by inequality on humans throughout history. Lalueza-Fox describes genetic studies, made possible by novel DNA sequencing technologies, that reveal layers of inequality in past societies, manifested in patterns of ...
2022-Jun-22 • 48 minutes
Slobodan Perovic, "From Data to Quanta: Niels Bohr’s Vision of Physics" (U Chicago Press, 2021)
Niels Bohr was a central figure in quantum physics, well known for his work on atomic structure and his contributions to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. In From Data to Quanta: Niels Bohr’s Vision of Physics (U Chicago Press, 2021), philosopher of science Slobodan Perović explores the way Bohr practiced and understood physics, and analyzes its implications for our understanding of modern science. Perović develops a novel approach to Bohr’s understanding of physics and his method of inqui...
2022-Jun-22 • 48 minutes
Agustín Fuentes, "Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature" (Second Edition) (U California Press, 2022)
There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; and men and women are wholly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature (Second Edition) (U California Press, 2022) counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Agustín Fuentes tackles misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, and incorporates an accessib...
2022-Jun-21 • 62 minutes
Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells, "Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed." (Ubiquity Press, 2022)
Plan S: the open access initiative that changed the face of global research. Robert-Jan Smits and Rachael Pells's book Plan S for Shock: Science. Shock. Solution. Speed. (Ubiquity Press, 2022) tells the story of open access publishing - why it matters now, and for the future. In a world where information has never been so accessible, and answers are available at the touch of a fingertip, we are hungrier for the facts than ever before - something the Covid-19 crisis has brought to light. And yet, paywalls p...
2022-Jun-20 • 85 minutes
Robert N. Wiedenmann and J. Ray Fisher, "The Silken Thread: Five Insects and Their Impacts on Human History" (Oxford UP, 2021)
Insects are seldom mentioned in discussions surrounding human history, yet they have dramatically impacted today's societies. The Silken Thread: Five Insects and Their Impacts on Human History (Oxford UP, 2021) places them front and center, offering a multidisciplinary view of their significance. Diseases vectored by insects have killed more people than all weapons of war. Fleas are common pests, but some can transmit illnesses such as the bubonic plague. In fact, three pandemics can be traced back to them....
2022-Jun-16 • 87 minutes
Thomas Dixon and Adam Shapiro, "Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction" Second Edition. (Oxford UP, 2022)
Debates about science and religion are rarely out of the news. Whether it concerns what's being taught in schools, clashes between religious values and medical recommendations, or questions about how to address our changing global environment, emotions often run high and answers seem intractable. Yet there is much more to science and religion than the clash of extremes. As Thomas Dixon and Adam Shapiro show in Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford UP, 2022), a whole range of views, subtl...
2022-Jun-16 • 65 minutes
Juli Berwald, "Life on the Rocks: Building a Future for Coral Reefs" (Riverhead Books, 2022)
Coral reefs are a microcosm of our planet: extraordinarily diverse, deeply interconnected, and full of wonders. When they're thriving, these fairy gardens hidden beneath the ocean's surface burst with color and life. They sustain bountiful ecosystems and protect vulnerable coasts. Corals themselves are evolutionary marvels that build elaborate limestone formations from their collective skeletons, broker symbiotic relationships with algae, and manufacture their own fluorescent sunblock. But corals across the...
2022-Jun-15 • 31 minutes
All About Dwarf Galaxies: A Conversation with Astronomer Charlotte Christensen
Today I talked to astronomer Charlotte Christensen of Grinnell College. She studies (among other things) dwarf galaxies. Dwarf galaxies, galaxies with masses about 10% that of the Milky Way or smaller, such as the Magellanic Clouds, are perfect laboratories for studying galaxy evolution. The small gravitational potentials of dwarf galaxies make them uniquely sensitive environments for understanding the physics of galaxy formation, including the processes that drive gas accretion, gas loss, and star formati...
2022-Jun-15 • 62 minutes
Albert Folch, "Hidden in Plain Sight: The History, Science, and Engineering of Microfluidic Technology" (MIT Press, 2022)
Hidden from view, microfluidics underlies a variety of devices that are essential to our lives, from inkjet printers to glucometers for the monitoring of diabetes. Microfluidics--which refers to the technology of miniature fluidic devices and the study of fluids at submillimeter levels--is invisible to most of us because it is hidden beneath ingenious user interfaces. In this book, Albert Folch, a leading researcher in microfluidics, describes the development and use of key microfluidic devices. He explains...
2022-Jun-14 • 70 minutes
Alison F. Richard, "Sloth Lemur's Song: Madagascar from the Deep Past to the Uncertain Present" (U Chicago Press, 2022)
Madagascar is a place of change. A biodiversity hotspot and the fourth largest island on the planet, it has been home to a spectacular parade of animals, from giant flightless birds and giant tortoises on the ground to agile lemurs leaping through the treetops. Some species live on; many have vanished in the distant or recent past. Over vast stretches of time, Madagascar's forests have expanded and contracted in response to shifting climates, and the hand of people is clear in changes during the last thousa...
2022-Jun-14 • 66 minutes
A. J. Lees, "Brainspotting: Adventures in Neurology" (Notting Hill Editions, 2022)
As a trainee doctor, A. J. Lees was enthralled by his mentors: esteemed neurologists who combined the precision of mathematicians, the scrupulosity of entomologists, and the solemnity of undertakers in their diagnoses and treatments. For them, there was no such thing as an unexplained symptom or psychosomatic problem--no difficult cases, just interesting ones--and it was only a matter of time before all disorders of the brain would be understood in terms of anatomical, electrical, and chemical connections. ...
2022-Jun-13 • 56 minutes
Danielle J. Whittaker, "The Secret Perfume of Birds: Uncovering the Science of Avian Scent" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2022)
The puzzling lack of evidence for the peculiar but widespread belief that birds have no sense of smell irked evolutionary biologist Danielle Whittaker. Exploring the science behind the myth led her on an unexpected quest investigating mysteries from how juncos win a fight to why cowbirds smell like cookies. In The Secret Perfume of Birds: Uncovering the Science of Avian Scent (Johns Hopkins UP, 2022)--part science, part intellectual history, and part memoir--Whittaker blends humor, clear writing, and a comp...
2022-Jun-10 • 66 minutes
Timothy J. Jorgensen, "Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life" (Princeton UP, 2021)
When we think of electricity, we likely imagine the energy humming inside our home appliances or lighting up our electronic devices--or perhaps we envision the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But electricity is more than an external source of power, heat, or illumination. Life at its essence is nothing if not electrical. The story of how we came to understand electricity's essential role in all life is rooted in our observations of its influences on the body--influences governed by the body's cen...
2022-Jun-10 • 55 minutes
Martin Williams, "When the Sahara Was Green: How Our Greatest Desert Came to Be" (Princeton UP, 2021)
The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, equal in size to China or the United States. Yet, this arid expanse was once a verdant, pleasant land, fed by rivers and lakes. The Sahara sustained abundant plant and animal life, such as Nile perch, turtles, crocodiles, and hippos, and attracted prehistoric hunters and herders. What transformed this land of lakes into a sea of sands? When the Sahara Was Green describes the remarkable history of Earth's greatest desert--including why its climate changed, t...
2022-Jun-09 • 69 minutes
Wake Smith, "Pandora's Toolbox: The Hopes and Hazards of Climate Intervention" (Cambridge UP, 2022)
Reaching net zero emissions will not be the end of the climate struggle, but only the end of the beginning. For centuries thereafter, temperatures will remain elevated; climate damages will continue to accrue and sea levels will continue to rise. Even the urgent and utterly essential task of reaching net zero cannot be achieved rapidly by emissions reductions alone. To hasten net zero and minimize climate damages thereafter, we will also need massive carbon removal and storage. We may even need to reduce in...
2022-Jun-07 • 63 minutes
Gernot Wagner, "Geoengineering: The Gamble" (Polity, 2021)
Stabilizing the world's climates means cutting carbon dioxide pollution. There's no way around it. But what if that's not enough? What if it's too difficult to accomplish in the time allotted or, worse, what if it's so late in the game that even cutting carbon emissions to zero, tomorrow, wouldn't do? Enter solar geoengineering. The principle is simple: attempt to cool Earth by reflecting more sunlight back into space. The primary mechanism, shooting particles into the upper atmosphere, implies more polluti...
2022-Jun-06 • 58 minutes
David B. Goldstein, "The End of Genetics: Designing Humanity's DNA" (Yale UP, 2022)
Since 2010 it has been possible to determine a person's genetic makeup in a matter of days at an accessible cost for many millions of people. Along with this technological breakthrough there has emerged a movement to use this information to help prospective parents "eliminate preventable genetic disease." As the prospect of systematically excluding the appearance of unwanted mutations in our children comes within reach, David B. Goldstein examines the possible consequences from these types of choices. Engag...
2022-Jun-03 • 65 minutes
David George Haskell, "Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution's Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction" (Viking, 2022)
We live on a planet alive with song, music, and speech. David Haskell explores how these wonders came to be. In rain forests shimmering with insect sound and swamps pulsing with frog calls we learn about evolution's creative powers. From birds in the Rocky Mountains and on the streets of Paris, we discover how animals learn their songs and adapt to new environments. Below the waves, we hear our kinship to beings as different as snapping shrimp, toadfish, and whales. In the startlingly divergent sonic vibes ...
2022-Jun-02 • 62 minutes
Rob Dunn, "A Natural History of the Future: What the Laws of Biology Tell Us about the Destiny of the Human Species" (Basic Book, 2021)
Our species has amassed unprecedented knowledge of nature, which we have tried to use to seize control of life and bend the planet to our will. In A Natural History of the Future: What the Laws of Biology Tell Us about the Destiny of the Human Species (Basic Book, 2021), biologist Rob Dunn argues that such efforts are futile. We may see ourselves as life's overlords, but we are instead at its mercy. In the evolution of antibiotic resistance, the power of natural selection to create biodiversity, and even th...
2022-Jun-01 • 34 minutes
Paul Huebener, "Nature's Broken Clocks: Reimagining Time in the Face of the Environmental Crisis" (U Regina Press, 2020)
In Nature's Broken Clocks: Reimagining Time in the Face of the Environmental Crisis (University of Regina Press, 2020), Paul Huebener argues that "the environmental crisis is, in many ways, a crisis of time." From the distress cries of birds that no longer know when to migrate, to the rapid dying of coral reefs, to the quickening pace of extreme weather events, the patterns and timekeeping of the natural world are falling apart. We have broken nature's clocks. Lying hidden at the root of this problem are t...
2022-May-31 • 48 minutes
The Future of the Brain: A Conversation with Daniel Graham
When people describe the brain they often compare it to a computer. In fact, the metaphor of the brain as a computer has defined the field for decades now. And in many ways, it works – the are many respects in which the brain is like a computer. But there are other aspects of the brain which are not captured by the computer metaphor which is why the neuroscientist Daniel Graham is suggesting another paradigm for understanding the brain. In his book An Internet in Your Head: A New Paradigm for How the Brain ...
2022-May-31 • 63 minutes
Elisabeth Ervin-Blankenheim, "Song of the Earth: Understanding Geology and Why It Matters" (Oxford UP, 2021)
In today’s podcast, Elisabeth Ervin-Blankenheim explains how understanding harmonics of the earth provides a forward-thinking methodology to confront the challenges presented by the massive changes in the climate. In her book Song of the Earth: Understanding Geology and Why it Matters (Oxford University Press, 2021), Ervin-Blankenheim documents the history of geology, a Western epistemological exploit, properly contextualizing how geologists know what they know. Song of the Earth is framed the around three ...
2022-May-30 • 51 minutes
Jack Ashby, "Platypus Matters: The Extraordinary Story of Australian Mammals" (U Chicago Press, 2022)
Think of a platypus: they lay eggs (that hatch into so-called platypups), they produce milk without nipples and venom without fangs and they can detect electricity. Or a wombat: their teeth never stop growing, they poo cubes and they defend themselves with reinforced rears. Platypuses, possums, wombats, echidnas, devils, kangaroos, quolls, dibblers, dunnarts, kowaris: Australia has some truly astonishing mammals with incredible, unfamiliar features. But how does the world regard these creatures? And what do...
2022-May-30 • 45 minutes
Greg Brennecka, "Impact: How Rocks from Space Led to Life, Culture, and Donkey Kong" (William Morrow, 2022)
The Solar System. Dinosaurs. Donkey Kong. What is the missing link? Surprisingly enough, it's meteorites. They explain our past, constructed our present, and could define our future. Impact: How Rocks from Space Led to Life, Culture, and Donkey Kong (William Morrow, 2022) argues that Earth would be a lifeless, inhospitable piece of rock without being fortuitously assaulted with meteorites throughout the history of the planet. These bombardments transformed Earth's early atmosphere and delivered the complex ...
2022-May-24 • 57 minutes
Timmen Cermak, "Marijuana on My Mind: The Science and Mystique of Cannabis" (Cambridge UP, 2022)
Few substances have been researched as extensively, and debated as fiercely, as cannabis. In Marijuana on My Mind: The Science and Mystique of Cannabis (Cambridge University Press, 2022), psychiatrist Timmen Cermak offers a balanced, science-based analysis of how marijuana affects people physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually. Cermak draws on current understandings of the brain and nervous system to describe how cannabis achieves its effects as well as how it can pose risks to some individuals. C...
2022-May-19 • 50 minutes
Jim Al-Khalili, "The Joy of Science" (Princeton UP, 2022)
Today’s world is unpredictable and full of contradictions, and navigating its complexities while trying to make the best decisions is far from easy. The Joy of Science (Princeton UP, 2022) presents 8 short lessons on how to unlock the clarity, empowerment, and joy of thinking and living a little more scientifically. In this brief guide to leading a more rational life, acclaimed physicist Jim Al-Khalili invites readers to engage with the world as scientists have been trained to do. The scientific method has ...
2022-May-18 • 54 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 11: The Covid Pandemic and Learning about Learning
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to renowned cognitive psychologist Stephen Kosslyn about how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced, or didn't influence, our understanding of the learning process. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A filmmaker's journey in 10 essays) and a series of 24 detailed podcasts with many of the fi...
2022-May-17 • 43 minutes
David M. Peña-Guzmán, "When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness" (Princeton UP, 2022)
Are humans the only dreamers on Earth? What goes on in the minds of animals when they sleep? When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness (Princeton UP, 2022) brings together behavioral and neuroscientific research on animal sleep with philosophical theories of dreaming. It shows that dreams provide an invaluable window into the cognitive and emotional lives of nonhuman animals, giving us access to a seemingly inaccessible realm of animal experience. David Peña-Guzmán uncovers evidence of an...
2022-May-16 • 50 minutes
Will Kinney, "An Infinity of Worlds: Cosmic Inflation and the Beginning of the Universe" (MIT Press, 2022)
In the beginning was the Big Bang: an unimaginably hot fire almost fourteen billion years ago in which the first elements were forged. The physical theory of the hot nascent universe--the Big Bang--was one of the most consequential developments in twentieth-century science. And yet it leaves many questions unanswered: Why is the universe so big? Why is it so old? What is the origin of structure in the cosmos? In An Infinity of Worlds: Cosmic Inflation and the Beginning of the Universe (MIT Press, 2022), phy...
2022-May-11 • 58 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 10: Covid and the Art of Science Communication
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to John Tregoning, Imperial College respiratory infections researcher and author of the acclaimed book Infectious: Pathogens and How We Fight Them. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A filmmaker's journey in 10 essays) and a series of 24 detailed podcasts with many of the film's expert...
2022-May-04 • 61 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 9: Covid, 'Scientism,' and the Betrayal of the Enlightenment
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to bestselling author and University of Oxford law professor Charles Foster on how the coronavirus pandemic reveals how so many of us—including so many scientists—have replaced rigorous scientific skepticism with an alarming cult of "scientism." Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A fil...
2022-Apr-29 • 44 minutes
Maia Weinstock, "Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus" (MIT Press, 2022)
Carbon Queen: The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus (MIT Press, 2022) follows Mildred Dresselhaus (or Millie, as everyone calls her) from her childhood in New York City to her final years in Cambridge. It focuses on her scientific achievements, but also rightfully presents her as a multi-hyphenate: being a resilient student, an adaptive researcher, a professor, an administrator, an advocate, a fundraiser, a patent owner, a book author. The accolades are plentiful and her involvement...
2022-Apr-27 • 59 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 8: Covid and the Embrace of the Biological World
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to renowned UC San Diego neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland about the importance of communicating science, the wonders of the biological world and the dangers of wishful thinking. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A filmmaker's journey in 10 essays) and a series of 24 detailed podca...
2022-Apr-20 • 57 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 7: Covid 19 Political Lessons from Portugal
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to Portuguese Member of Parliament and internationally renowned biologist Alexandre Quintanilha about the many valuable lessons Portugal's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic could teach all of us, if only we'd take the time to pay attention. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A filmmake...
2022-Apr-20 • 57 minutes
John Measey, "How to Write a PhD in Biological Sciences: A Guide for the Uninitiated" (CRC Press, 2021)
Listen to this interview of John Measey, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and author of How to Write a PhD in Biological Sciences: A Guide for the Uninitiated (CRC Press, 2021). We talk about how the communication of science is changing, and we talk about how you can keep up and produce the research you want to produce. John Measey : "We're in an extremely interesting time, because the potential that we have to not just publish what we've written — which i...
2022-Apr-18 • 41 minutes
Jeff Sebo, "Saving Animals, Saving Ourselves: Why Animals Matter for Pandemics, Climate Change, and Other Catastrophes" (Oxford UP, 2022)
In 2020, COVID-19, the Australia bushfires, and other global threats served as vivid reminders that human and nonhuman fates are increasingly linked. Human use of nonhuman animals contributes to pandemics, climate change, and other global threats which, in turn, contribute to biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and nonhuman suffering. Jeff Sebo argues that humans have a moral responsibility to include animals in global health and environmental policy. In particular, we should reduce our use of animals as...
2022-Apr-13 • 61 minutes
Dashun Wang and Albert-László Barabási, "The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021)
Listen to this interview of Dashun Wang, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, and also with Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University. We talk about their new book The Science of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2021) and science, squared. Albert-László Barabási : "There is, of course, the need that you grow professionally. If you're a mathematician, ...
2022-Apr-08 • 45 minutes
Marcus Kaiser, "Changing Connectomes: Evolution, Development, and Dynamics in Network Neuroscience" (MIT Press, 2020)
The human brain undergoes massive changes during its development, from early childhood and the teenage years to adulthood and old age. Across a wide range of species, from C. elegans and fruit flies to mice, monkeys, and humans, information about brain connectivity (connectomes) at different stages is now becoming available. New approaches in network neuroscience can be used to analyze the topological, spatial, and dynamical organization of such connectomes. In Changing Connectomes: Evolution, Development, ...
2022-Apr-05 • 63 minutes
Zeynep Pamuk, "Politics and Expertise: How to Use Science in a Democratic Society" (Princeton UP, 2021)
Our ability to act on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from pandemics and climate change to artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons, depends on knowledge provided by scientists and other experts. Meanwhile, contemporary political life is increasingly characterized by problematic responses to expertise, with denials of science on the one hand and complaints about the ignorance of the citizenry on the other. Politics and Expertise: How to Use Science in a Democratic Society (Princeton Univers...
2022-Apr-05 • 52 minutes
The Future of Delusions: A Discussion with Lisa Bortolotti
The accusation “you’re deluded” is often used as something of a cheap shot intended to silence an opponent in debate. But what is the nature of a delusion and how can we assess rationality and irrationality? In this podcast, Owen Bennett-Jones talks to Professor Lisa Bortolotti who studies the philosophy of psychology and psychiatry at Birmingham University and is the author of among many other things, Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs (Oxford UP, 2010) and most recently edited Delusions in Context (Pa...
2022-Apr-05 • 65 minutes
Daniel Bolnick, Editor in Chief of "The American Naturalist"
Listen to this interview of Daniel Bolnick, Editor in Chief of The American Naturalist and Professor of evolution and ecology at the University of Connecticut. We talk about the role of research journals today and we talk about the location of research journals in the big endeavor that is called science. Daniel Bolnick : "Ultimately, research articles are technical. Articles have to deal with the mathematics or with the details of the physiology or the neurobiology that they're dealing with. But the authors...
2022-Apr-01 • 25 minutes
All About Birds: A Series of Regional Field Guides from Princeton University Press
The All About Birds Regional Field-Guide Series brings birding enthusiasts the best information from the renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website, AllAboutBirds.org, used by more than 21 million people each year. These definitive books provide the most up-to-date resources and expert coverage on bird species throughout North America. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2022-Mar-31 • 67 minutes
Hilary Glasman-Deal, "Science Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English" (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020)
Listen to this interview of Hilary Glasman-Deal, teacher of STEMM communication at the Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London, and author ofScience Research Writing For Native and Non-Native Speakers of English (World Scientific Publishing Europe, 2020). We talk about researching, reading, and writing. Hilary Glasman-Deal : "One of the things I'm very often saying, particularly with early-career researchers, is this: 'Look, your reading is clearly effective, because you understand your field, ...
2022-Mar-30 • 47 minutes
Rachel E. Gross, "Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage" (W. W. Norton, 2022)
A camera obscura reflects the world back but dimmer and inverted. Similarly, science has long viewed woman through a warped lens, one focused narrowly on her capacity for reproduction. As a result, there exists a vast knowledge gap when it comes to what we know about half of the bodies on the planet. That is finally changing. Today, a new generation of researchers is turning its gaze to the organs traditionally bound up in baby-making—the uterus, ovaries, and vagina—and illuminating them as part of a dynami...
2022-Mar-30 • 65 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 4: Science, Societal Values and COVID
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to Lorraine Daston, director emerita of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin about a number of hugely relevant issues at the intriguing overlap between science and societal values. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A filmmaker's journey in 10 essays) and a ser...
2022-Mar-30 • 46 minutes
Hannah Star Rogers, "Routledge Handbook of Art, Science, and Technology Studies" (Routledge, 2021))
I spoke with Hannah Star Rogers, one of the editors of the Routledge Handbook of Art, Science, and Technology Studies (Routledge, 2021). Art and science work is experiencing a dramatic rise coincident with burgeoning Science and Technology Studies (STS) interest in this area. Science has played the role of muse for the arts, inspiring imaginative reconfigurations of scientific themes and exploring their cultural resonance. Conversely, the arts are often deployed in the service of science communication, illu...
2022-Mar-24 • 49 minutes
Lucy Cooke, "Bitch: On the Female of the Species" (Basic Books, 2022)
Bitch: On the Female of the Species (Basic Books, 2022) is a fierce, funny, and revolutionary look at the queens of the animal kingdom. Studying zoology made Lucy Cooke feel like a sad freak. Not because she loved spiders or would root around in animal feces: all her friends shared the same curious kinks. The problem was her sex. Being female meant she was, by nature, a loser. Since Charles Darwin, evolutionary biologists have been convinced that the males of the animal kingdom are the interesting ones—domi...
2022-Mar-23 • 69 minutes
N. J. Enfield, "Language Vs. Reality: Why Language Is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists" (MIT Press, 2022)
Nick Enfield’s book, Language vs. Reality: Why Language is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists (MIT Press, 2022), argues that language is primarily for social coordination, not precisely transferring thoughts from one person to another. Drawing on empirical research, Enfield shows that human lexicons the world over are far more coarse-grained than our perceptual faculties. Yet, at the same time, languages vary in the structure and sophistication of their representations. This means that, for instance, h...
2022-Mar-22 • 68 minutes
Howard Burton, "Pandemic Perspectives: A Filmmaker's Journey in 10 Essays" (Open Agenda, 2022)
Howard Burton has been talking to very wise people for decades--scientists, historians, political thinkers, philosophers, etc. When Covid "hit" he was, like many of us, puzzled. Where did it come from? How should we respond to it? What does it say about us? So he did what he does: Had conversations with 32 very wise people about Covid. He filmed the discussions, and you can watch them here. Some of them will be released as podcasts on the Ideas Roadshow Podcast, which you can find here. He also wrote a book...
2022-Mar-21 • 77 minutes
Stephen B. Heard, "The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed." (Princeton UP, 2022)
Listen to this interview of Stephen Heard, Professor of Biology at the University of New Brunswick. We talk about his book The Scientist’s Guide to Writing: How to Write More Easily and Effectively Throughout Your Scientific Career, 2nd ed. (Princeton UP, 2022), we talk about writing when it's a verb, we talk about writing when it's a choice, and we talk about writing when it's the science. Stephen Heard : "Especially for early-career scientists there's a risk of their writing entering into a positive feedb...
2022-Mar-21 • 57 minutes
Kate Crawford, "The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence" (Yale UP, 2021)
What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence (Yale University Press, 2021), Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fuelling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased racial, gender, and economic inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning science, and technolo...
2022-Mar-16 • 45 minutes
Pandemic Perspectives 2: A Conversation with Stephen Scherer
In this Pandemic Perspectives Podcast, Ideas Roadshow founder and host Howard Burton talks to Stephen Scherer, Chief of Research at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, about how lessons learned from the pandemic might be best harnessed to increase the likelihood of future breakthroughs in biomedical research. Ideas Roadshow's Pandemic Perspectives Project consists of three distinct, reinforcing elements: a documentary film (Pandemic Perspectives), book (Pandemic Perspectives: A filmmaker's journey in 10 e...
2022-Mar-16 • 51 minutes
Florian Jaton, "The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating" (MIT Press, 2021)
The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (MIT Press, 2021) is a laboratory study that investigates how algorithms come into existence. Algorithms--often associated with the terms big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence--underlie the technologies we use every day, and disputes over the consequences, actual or potential, of new algorithms arise regularly. In this book, Florian Jaton offers a new way to study computerized methods, providing an account of where al...
2022-Mar-16 • 33 minutes
Jackie Higgins, "Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses" (Atria Books, 2022)
Packed with beautiful imagery, but also hard scientific facts, Jackie Higgins's book Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses (Atria Books, 2022) explores how we process the world around us by analyzing the incredible sensory capabilities of thirteen animals and reveals that we are not limited to merely five senses. There is a scientific revolution stirring in the field of human perception. Research has shown that the extraordinary sensory powers of our animal friends can help us bett...
2022-Mar-14 • 48 minutes
Annabel Streets, "52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time" (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2022)
Annabel Streets' book 52 Ways to Walk: The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2022) is a first-of-its-kind guide that blends cutting-edge research with an avid walker’s pragmatic how-to advice. This is the book for everyone—new walkers, seasoned walkers, and anyone who wants to boost the benefits of a daily constitutional. Inspirational and grounded in science, 52 Ways to Walk delivers the best kept secrets of healthy and happy walkers—people who hav...
2022-Mar-10 • 46 minutes
Joseph L. Graves and Alan H. Goodman, "Racism, Not Race: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" (Columbia UP, 2021)
The science on race is clear. Common categories like “Black,” “white,” and “Asian” do not represent genetic differences among groups. But if race is a pernicious fiction according to natural science, it is all too significant in the day-to-day lives of racialized people across the globe. Inequities in health, wealth, and an array of other life outcomes cannot be explained without referring to “race”—but their true source is racism. What do we need to know about the pseudoscience of race in order to fight ra...
2022-Mar-10 • 52 minutes
Intellectual Humility in Science: A Discussion with Glenn Sauer
Today’s episode of How To Be Wrong welcomes Glenn Sauer, who is Donald J. Ross Sr. Chair in Biology and Biochemistry and Professor of Biology at Fairfield University, where he also serves as Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. Our conversation covers a range of topics related to the issue of intellectual humility, including the conflict between scientific and religious perspectives in the US and the politics of certainty that dominates much contemporary discourse about policy as well as ideas ...
2022-Mar-08 • 50 minutes
The Future of Consciousness: A Discussion with Eva Jablonka
What makes a living body conscious? What is consciousness and are there different types of it? These questions have been studied by Professor Eva Jablonka from the Cohn Institute for the History of Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. Much of her early work was on epigenetic inheritance which poses questions such as whether learned behaviour can be passed on from one generation to the next and that has led her to think about whether it’s possible to take an evolutionary approach to consci...
2022-Mar-07 • 56 minutes
Jo Handelsman, "A World Without Soil: The Past, Present, and Precarious Future of the Earth Beneath Our Feet" (Yale UP, 2021)
A World without Soil: The Past, Present, and Precarious Future of the Earth Beneath Our Feet (Yale University Press, 2021) by celebrated biologist Jo Handelsman lays bare the complex connections among climate change, soil erosion, food and water security, and drug discovery. Humans depend on soil for 95 percent of global food production, yet let it erode at unsustainable rates. In the United States, China, and India, vast tracts of farmland will be barren of topsoil within this century. The combination of i...
2022-Mar-01 • 46 minutes
The Future of Sleep: A Discussion with Derk-Jan Dijk
Many people, at some stage of their life, worry about sleep: are they getting enough of it? Or even, too much? Derk-Jan Dijk is Professor of Sleep and Physiology at University of Surrey. His current research interests include the contribution of sleep to brain function in healthy ageing and dementia; the role of circadian rhythms in sleep regulation; negative effects of sleep loss; understanding age and sex related differences in sleep physiology and developing tests to monitor sleep. In this podcast he dis...
2022-Feb-25 • 35 minutes
David Rettew, "Parenting Made Complicated: What Science Really Knows about the Greatest Debates of Early Childhood" (Oxford UP, 2021)
Screen time. Daycare. Praise. Sleep training. Spanking and time-outs. Helicopter versus "old school" parenting. There are a lot of questions facing parents of young children but consistent and reliable science-based answers can be hard to find. Parenting Made Complicated: What Science Really Knows about the Greatest Debates of Early Childhood (Oxford UP, 2021), written by child psychiatrist Dr. David Rettew, tackles many of the biggest controversies facing new parents today and examines the science behind t...
2022-Feb-18 • 58 minutes
Sara Manning Peskin, "A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain" (Norton, 2022)
Our brains are the most complex machines known to humankind, but they have an Achilles heel: the very molecules that allow us to exist can also sabotage our minds. Here are gripping accounts of unruly molecules and the diseases that form in their wake. A college student cannot remember if she has eaten breakfast. By dinner, she is strapped to a hospital bed, convinced she is battling zombies. A man planning to propose marriage instead becomes violently enraged, gripped by body spasms so severe that he nearl...
2022-Feb-18 • 74 minutes
Christophe Bernard, Director of Research at INSERM and Editor-in-Chief of eNeuro
Listen to this interview of Christophe Bernard, Director of Research at INSERM and Editor-in-Chief of eNeuro. We talk about the review process, about education in the sciences, and again a little bit more about education in the sciences. Christophe Bernard : "Science is everything that a scientist does. But for many people, science is only the bench work — to them, that's what a scientist really does. And the publishing part — well, that's just something that others do. Even the review process, for too many...
2022-Feb-16 • 66 minutes
Tony Veale, "Your Wit Is My Command: Building AIs with a Sense of Humor" (MIT Press, 2021)
For fans of computers and comedy alike, an accessible and entertaining look into how we can use artificial intelligence to make smart machines funny. Most robots and smart devices are not known for their joke-telling abilities. And yet, as computer scientist Tony Veale explains in Your Wit Is My Command (MIT Press, 2021), machines are not inherently unfunny; they are just programmed that way. By examining the mechanisms of humor and jokes—how jokes actually works—Veale shows that computers can be built wit...
2022-Feb-15 • 51 minutes
Raghuveer Parthasarathy, "So Simple a Beginning: How Four Physical Principles Shape Our Living World" (Princeton UP, 2022)
The form and function of a sprinting cheetah are quite unlike those of a rooted tree. A human being is very different from a bacterium or a zebra. The living world is a realm of dazzling variety, yet a shared set of physical principles shapes the forms and behaviors of every creature in it. So Simple a Beginning: How Four Physical Principles Shape Our Living World (Princeton UP, 2022) shows how the emerging new science of biophysics is transforming our understanding of life on Earth and enabling potentially...
2022-Feb-15 • 48 minutes
In Science We Trust?: An insider Conversation with Health Policy Reporter, Fran Kritz
Americans are deeply polarized on many issues, including science and medicine. Where once was widespread agreement, today the differences are sharp: on one hand, posters announce, “I believe in science!” and on the other hand, dramatic videos show ICU patients affirming their anti-vax beliefs with their final breaths. What is going on? Science is supposed to be based on reason, not faith. We get into a pile of metal – our cars – every day without fear because we trust the engineers, who built cars based on ...
2022-Feb-11 • 89 minutes
Retraction Watch: A Discussion with Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky
Listen to this interview of Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, cofounders of Retraction Watch. We talk about lots of things, retracting very few. Ivan Oransky : "Accountability in science certainly does not come down to only retracting papers, because there are just lots of issues. And by the way, just to remind everyone, science is very much a human endeavor. It doesn't exist outside of humans doing the science. I mean, facts exist, and there is truth out there, and we'd very much appear to be getting close and...
2022-Feb-10 • 69 minutes
Aubrey Clayton, "Bernoulli's Fallacy: Statistical Illogic and the Crisis of Modern Science" (Columbia UP, 2021)
There is a logical flaw in the statistical methods used across experimental science. This fault is not a minor academic quibble: it underlies a reproducibility crisis now threatening entire disciplines. In an increasingly statistics-reliant society, this same deeply rooted error shapes decisions in medicine, law, and public policy with profound consequences. The foundation of the problem is a misunderstanding of probability and its role in making inferences from observations. Aubrey Clayton traces the histo...
2022-Feb-08 • 66 minutes
Fritjof Capra, "Patterns of Connection: Essential Essays from Five Decades" (High Road Books, 2021)
Welcome to the first Systems and Cybernetics episode of 2022! After a short break over the holidays to rest and spend time with family (and, of course, read!), it’s time to jump back into conversations with authors of exciting new works in systems thinking. We have a great lineup, and to kick things off I am thrilled to share my recent conversation with Fritjof Capra. Capra is a scientist, educator and activist. He has also been a best-selling author since his first book, The Tao of Physics, encouraged—rath...
2022-Feb-07 • 42 minutes
Paul A. Offit, "You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation" (Basic Book, 2021)
Every medical decision—whether to have chemotherapy, an X-ray, or surgery—is a risk, no matter which way you choose. In You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation (Basic Book, 2021), physician Paul A. Offit argues that, from the first blood transfusions four hundred years ago to the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, risk has been essential to the discovery of new treatments. More importantly, understanding the risks is crucial to whether, as a...
2022-Feb-04 • 57 minutes
Renny Thomas, "Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment" (Routledge, 2021)
Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment (Routledge, 2021) provides an in-depth ethnographic study of science and religion in the context of South Asia, giving voice to Indian scientists and shedding valuable light on their engagement with religion. Drawing on biographical, autobiographical, historical, and ethnographic material, the volume focuses on scientists’ religious life and practices and the variety of ways in which they express them. Renny Thomas challenges the idea that science and rel...
2022-Feb-04 • 50 minutes
Emily Levesque, "The Last Stargazers: The Enduring Story of Astronomy's Vanishing Explorers" (Sourcebooks, 2021)
Humans from the earliest civilizations through today have craned their necks each night, using the stars to orient themselves in the large, strange world around them. Stargazing is a pursuit that continues to fascinate us: from Copernicus to Carl Sagan, astronomers throughout history have spent their lives trying to answer the biggest questions in the universe. Now, award-winning astronomer Emily Levesque shares the stories of modern-day stargazers in this new nonfiction release, the people willing to adven...
2022-Feb-03 • 67 minutes
Lina Zeldovich, "The Other Dark Matter: The Science and Business of Turning Waste Into Wealth and Health" (U Chicago Press, 2021)
The average person produces about four hundred pounds of excrement a year. More than seven billion people live on this planet. Holy crap! Because of the diseases it spreads, we have learned to distance ourselves from our waste, but the long line of engineering marvels we've created to do so--from Roman sewage systems and medieval latrines to the immense, computerized treatment plants we use today--has also done considerable damage to the earth's ecology. Now scientists tell us: we've been wasting our waste....
2022-Feb-03 • 48 minutes
Leonard Mlodinow, "Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking" (Pantheon, 2022)
Today I talked to Leonard Mdlodinow about his new book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking (Pantheon, 2022). "On or around December 1910, human character changed,” Virginia Woolf memorably wrote, citing the rise of Modernism. Take things ahead a century, and Leonard Mdlodinow is making a similarly striking statement that advances in how neuroscientists can trace the connectivity of neurons has led to another striking advancement in intellectual life since approximately 2010. From the 1980s until that...
2022-Feb-02 • 54 minutes
Walter R. Tschinkel, "Ant Architecture: The Wonder, Beauty, and Science of Underground Nests" (Princeton UP, 2021)
Walter Tschinkel has spent much of his career investigating the hidden subterranean realm of ant nests. This wonderfully illustrated book takes you inside an unseen world where thousands of ants build intricate homes in the soil beneath our feet. Tschinkel describes the ingenious methods he has devised to study ant nests, showing how he fills a nest with plaster, molten metal, or wax and painstakingly excavates the cast. He guides you through living ant nests chamber by chamber, revealing how nests are crea...
2022-Jan-27 • 52 minutes
Christopher Kemp, "Dark and Magical Places: The Neuroscience of Navigation" (Norton, 2022)
Inside our heads we carry around an infinite and endlessly unfolding map of the world. Navigation is one of the most ancient neural abilities we have―older than language. In Dark and Magical Places: The Neuroscience of Navigation (Norton, 2022), Christopher Kemp embarks on a journey to discover the remarkable extent of what our minds can do. Fueled by his own spatial shortcomings, Kemp describes the brain regions that orient us in space and the specialized neurons that do it. Place cells. Grid cells. He exa...
2022-Jan-21 • 23 minutes
Speaking Bones: Unearthing Ancient Stories of Illness and Disease
From mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue to chronic bacterial infections such as yaws, Southeast Asia is home to a wide range of tropical diseases. For a long time, the arrival in the region of these and other dangerous tropical diseases was believed to be connected to the introduction of agriculture. But how long have these diseases really been around for? How are they connected to the region’s fluctuating social and environmental conditions? And how have they impacted the human populations ...
2022-Jan-21 • 55 minutes
Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani, "Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors" (PublicAffairs, 2021)
Human-made climate change may have begun in the last two hundred years, but our species has witnessed many eras of climate instability. The results have not always been pretty. From Ancient Egypt to Rome to the Maya, some of history's mightiest civilizations have been felled by pestilence and glacial melt and drought. The challenges are no less great today. We face hurricanes and megafires and food shortages and more. But we have one powerful advantage as we face our current crisis: the past. Our knowledge ...
2022-Jan-19 • 62 minutes
John Cardina, "Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly" (Cornell UP, 2021)
Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly (Cornell UP, 2021) explores the tangled history of weeds and their relationship to humans. Through eight interwoven stories, John Cardina offers a fresh perspective on how these tenacious plants came about, why they are both inevitable and essential, and how their ecological success is ensured by determined efforts to eradicate them. Linking botany, history, ecology, and evolutionary biology to the social dimensions of humanity's ancient struggle with feral flo...
2022-Jan-13 • 44 minutes
Brendan Borrell, "The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine" (Mariner Books, 2021)
Heroic science. Chaotic politics. Billionaire entrepreneurs. Award-winning journalist Brendan Borrell brings the defining story of our times alive through compulsively readable, first-time reporting on the players leading the fight against a vicious virus. The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine (Mariner Books, 2021), soon to be the subject of an HBO limited series with superstar director and producer Adam McKay (Succession, Vice, The Big Short), dra...
2022-Jan-11 • 67 minutes
Paul Halpern, "Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate" (Basic Books, 2021)
Today, the Big Bang is so entrenched in our understanding of the cosmos that to doubt it would seem crazy. But as Paul Halpern shows in Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate (Basic Books, 2021), just decades ago its mere mention caused sparks to fly. At the center of the debate were Russian American physicist George Gamow and British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. Gamow insisted that a fiery explosion explained how the elements of the universe were created. Attacking the i...
2022-Jan-03 • 51 minutes
Karl Herrup, "How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer's" (MIT Press, 2021)
For decades, some of our best and brightest medical scientists have dedicated themselves to finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. What happened? Where is the cure? The biggest breakthroughs occurred twenty-five years ago, with little progress since. In How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer's (MIT Press, 2021), neurobiologist Karl Herrup explains why the Alzheimer's discoveries of the 1990s didn't bear fruit and maps a direction for future research. Herrup describes the research, explains what...
2021-Dec-31 • 48 minutes
Exploring Science Literacy and Public Engagement with Science
Listen to this interview of Ayelet Baram-Tsabari. We talk about the accessibility of science using Google to scholars and students in languages beyond English and how scholars can de-jargonize their research to ensure increase their reach. Avi Staiman is the founder and CEO of Academic Language Experts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2021-Dec-31 • 63 minutes
Aro Velmet, "Pasteur's Empire: Bacteriology and Politics in France, Its Colonies, and the World" (Oxford UP, 2020)
Aro Velmet's Pasteur's Empire: Bacteriology in France, Its Colonies, and the World (Oxford UP, 2020) is a complex history of the Pasteur Institutes, a network of scientific laboratories established in France and throughout the French empire, beginning in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The book examines the crucial roles Pastorians and Pasteurization played in the imperial project in and between different locations, particularly in Southeast Asia and Africa. Participating in the "civilizing missi...
2021-Dec-30 • 76 minutes
David Sulzer, "Music, Math, and Mind: The Physics and Neuroscience of Music" (Columbia UP, 2021)
Why does a clarinet play at lower pitches than a flute? What does it mean for sounds to be in or out of tune? How are emotions carried by music? Do other animals perceive sound like we do? How might a musician use math to come up with new ideas? This book offers a lively exploration of the mathematics, physics, and neuroscience that underlie music in a way that readers without scientific background can follow. David Sulzer, also known in the musical world as Dave Soldier, explains why the perception of musi...
2021-Dec-29 • 61 minutes
Laurie Winkless, "Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces" (Bloomsbury, 2022)
In Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces (Bloomsbury, 2022), physicist Laurie Winkless brings the amazing world of surface science to the popular science market for the first time. Atoms and molecules like to stick together--take friction, for example. This force keeps our cars on the road, trains on the tracks and our feet on the ground; similarly, anything moving through water or air encounters drag, a force caused by the viscous nature of fluids. In other words, there's a lot of stickiness going on, all...
2021-Dec-28 • 108 minutes
Paul Steinhardt, "Inflated Expectations: A Cosmological Tale" (Open Agenda, 2021)
We have developed two distinct books, Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for Quasicrystals, and Inflated Expectations: A Cosmological Tale, based on Howard Burton’s in-depth, filmed conversations with Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor of Science and Director of the Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University. The first one is called Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for Quasicrystals. This extensive conversation provides a comprehensive account of a marvellous scientific adventure story...
2021-Dec-28 • 63 minutes
Bill Schutt, "Pump: A Natural History of the Heart" (Algonquin Books, 2021)
In this lively, unexpected look at the hearts of animals—from fish to bats to humans—American Museum of Natural History zoologist Bill Schutt tells an incredible story of evolution and scientific progress. We join Schutt on a tour from the origins of circulation, still evident in microorganisms today, to the tiny hardworking pumps of worms, to the golf-cart-size hearts of blue whales. We visit beaches where horseshoe crabs are being harvested for their blood, which has properties that can protect humans fro...
2021-Dec-27 • 134 minutes
Charles Sheppard, “Coral Reefs: Science and Survival” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Coral Reefs: Science and Survival is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Charles Sheppard, Professor of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. Charles Sheppard has worked extensively for a wide range of UN, governmental and aid agencies in tropical marine and coastal development issues. This conversation explores how Prof. Sheppard is trying to find a way through political shortsightedness, corporate greed and societal indifference to use his experience to make the planet...
2021-Dec-24 • 67 minutes
Melinda Baldwin, "Making 'Nature': The History of a Scientific Journal" (U Chicago Press, 2015)
Listen to this interview of Melinda Baldwin about her book Making 'Nature': The History of a Scientific Journal (U Chicago Press, 2015). Melinda is AIP Endowed Professor in History of Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland. We talk about Nature, naturally. Melinda Baldwin : "Yes, I think it will be surprising to many scientists today that Nature has really been thoroughly shaped by the journal's contributors and readership, and certainly to the people who view Nature's editorial staff as these all-p...
2021-Dec-24 • 60 minutes
Dave Goulson, "Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse" (Harper, 2021)
Drawing on thirty years of research, Goulson has written an accessible, fascinating, and important book that examines the evidence of an alarming drop in insect numbers around the world. "If we lose the insects, then everything is going to collapse," he warned in a recent interview in the New York Times--beginning with humans' food supply. The main cause of this decrease in insect populations is the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides. Hence, Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse (Harper, 2021)...
2021-Dec-24 • 76 minutes
Claudia de Rham, “The Pull of the Stars” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The Pull of the Stars is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Claudia de Rham, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. After inspiring insights about Claudia de Rham’s upbringing in Madagascar and her academic journey, this wide-ranging conversation explores her research in cosmology, the public perception and communication of science to the general public, gender issues and stereotypes in physics, and recommendations for physics teachers to inspire the nex...
2021-Dec-23 • 173 minutes
David Politzer, “The Physics of Banjos” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The Physics of Banjos is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and David Politzer, 2004 Nobel Laureate and the Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech. This extensive conversation examines many of the intriguing aspects associated with the physics of banjos, including the ocarina effect, string-stretching, the subtleties of how we hear pitch, transient growth, and the mysterious ringing sound of banjos; while also touching briefly on contemporary issues in b...
2021-Dec-22 • 60 minutes
Joseph Reagle on H. G. Wells's "World Brain" (1937)
In a series of talks and essays in 1937, H. G. Wells proselytized for what he called a World Brain, as manifested in a World Encyclopedia--a repository of scientifically established knowledge--that would spread enlightenment around the world and lead to world peace. Wells, known to readers today as the author of The War of the Worlds and other science fiction classics, was imagining something like a predigital Wikipedia. The World Encyclopedia would provide a summary of verified reality (in about forty volu...
2021-Dec-21 • 43 minutes
Sarah S. Richardson, "The Maternal Imprint: The Contested Science of Maternal-Fetal Effects" (U Chicago Press, 2021)
The idea that a woman may leave a biological trace on her gestating offspring has long been a commonplace folk intuition and a matter of scientific intrigue, but the form of that idea has changed dramatically over time. Beginning with the advent of modern genetics at the turn of the twentieth century, biomedical scientists dismissed any notion that a mother--except in cases of extreme deprivation or injury--could alter her offspring's traits. Consensus asserted that a child's fate was set by a combination o...
2021-Dec-16 • 84 minutes
Rocky Kolb, “A Universe of Particles: Cosmological Reflections” (Open Agenda, 2021)
A Universe of Particles: Cosmological Reflections is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Rocky Kolb, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. After an inspiring story of how Rocky Kolb became interested in science, this wide-ranging conversation covers topics such as the development of and his work on inflationary cosmology, the Standard Model of particle physics, dark matter, dark energy, Modified New...
2021-Dec-13 • 97 minutes
Greg Hickock, “Beyond Mirror Neurons” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Beyond Mirror Neurons is based on an in-depth, filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Greg Hickok, Professor of Cognitive science at UC Irvine, where he directs the Center for Language Science and the Auditory and Language Neuroscience Lab. This thought-provoking conversation examines Greg Hickok’s neuroscience research related to speech and language which led him to eventually reject many aspects of the mirror neuron hypothesis, while giving his views on the mechanisms behind imitation and what mirr...
2021-Dec-10 • 118 minutes
Kalanit Grill-Spector, “Vision and Perception” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Vision and Perception is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Kalanit Grill-Spector, Professor in Psychology and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University. Kalanit Grill-Spector’s is a vision specialist with a background in computational neuroscience. Her research examines how the brain processes visual information and perceives it. This extensive conversation explores how functional imaging techniques are used to visualize the brain in action and how it funct...
2021-Dec-10 • 63 minutes
Ginny Smith, "Overloaded: How Every Aspect of Your Life is Influenced by Your Brain Chemicals" (Bloomsbury, 2021)
From adrenaline to dopamine, most of us are familiar with the chemicals that control us. They are the hormones and neurotransmitters that our brains run on, and Overloaded: How Every Aspect of Your Life is Influenced by Your Brain Chemicals (Bloomsbury, 2021) looks at the role they play in every aspect of our lives, from what we remember, how we make decisions and who we love to basic survival drives such as hunger, fear and sleep. Author Ginny Smith gets to the bottom of exactly what these tiny molecules d...
2021-Dec-07 • 68 minutes
James Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes, "Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics" (Pennsylvania State UP, 2021)
One pervasive stereotype about mathematics is that it is objective, unbiased, or otherwise exempt from the influence of human passions. James Wynn and G. Mitchell Reyes's edited collection will be a revelation even to mathematics professionals who don't take this strict view. The essays in Arguing with Numbers: The Intersections of Rhetoric and Mathematics (The Pennsylvania State UP, 2021) explore the interplays between rhetoric and mathematics that have shaped scholarly and popular culture through to the p...
2021-Dec-07 • 74 minutes
Benjamin Labatut, "When We Cease to Understand the World" (NYRB, 2021)
An interview with Benjamín Labatut, author of When We Cease to Understand the World (2021), a New York Times Top Ten Book of the Year. Benjamin and I cover an enormous amount of ground in our wide-ranging interview: we touch on Heisenberg’s uncertainty principal as a way of his writing; the failure of our societies to make room for overlapping, sometimes contradictory histories; his distaste for genre categories; the inevitable loss involved in translation; Chile’s frightening presidential election; and muc...
2021-Nov-26 • 16 minutes
Shaking the World: How Geology Can Help Us Address the Big Challenges of the 21st Century
Southeast Asia is the most tectonically and geologically active region on Earth. These processes have enriched the mountains and basins with world-famous mineral and energy resources, fresh water, and highly productive soils. However, the same geological processes are responsible for incredible destruction – from the 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption in the Philippines to the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. These natural hazards, coupled with the effects of human-induced climate change, are drivi...
2021-Nov-26 • 76 minutes
Oliver Rollins, "Conviction: The Making and Unmaking of the Violent Brain" (Stanford UP, 2021)
Exposing ethical dilemmas of neuroscientific research on violence, this book warns against a dystopian future in which behavior is narrowly defined in relation to our biological makeup. Biological explanations for violence have existed for centuries, as has criticism of this kind of deterministic science, haunted by a long history of horrific abuse. Yet, this program has endured because of, and not despite, its notorious legacy. Today's scientists are well beyond the nature versus nurture debate. Instead, t...
2021-Nov-26 • 65 minutes
Nina Kraus, "Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World" (MIT Press, 2021)
Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs we ask our brains to do. In Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World (MIT Press, 2021), Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain's core functions. Our hearing is always on—we can't close our ears the way we close our eyes—and yet we can ignore sounds that are unimportant. We don't just hear; we engage with sounds. Kraus explores what goes on...
2021-Nov-24 • 57 minutes
Nolan Gasser, "Why You Like It: The Science and Culture of Musical Taste" (Flatiron Books, 2019)
Why do we love the music we love? In Why You Like IT: The Science & Culture of Musical Taste (Flatiron Books, 2019) musicologist Nolan Gasser, architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project, discusses how psychology, anthropology, history, sociology, and culture combine to define our musical tastes—what he calls “inculturing.” From the Northern California Redwoods to Paris to Africa, from Nashville to New York City, and from medieval music to Phillip Glass to Led Zeppelin to Taylor Swift, Dr. Gasser take...
2021-Nov-24 • 68 minutes
Edie Widder, “Ocean Enlightenment” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Ocean Enlightenment is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Edie Widder, Founder, CEO and Senior Scientist at Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA). After an inspiring story about how Edie Widder became a seagoing marine biologist and deep-sea diver, this conversation covers topics such as bioluminescence which is a fascinating scientific phenomenon that provides us with a deeper understanding of fundamental biological processes and the development of new programs de...
2021-Nov-23 • 107 minutes
Robin Ince, "The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity" (Atlantic Books, 2021)
Comedian Robin Ince quickly abandoned science at school, bored by a fog of dull lessons and intimidated by the barrage of equations. But, twenty years later, he fell in love and he now presents one of the world's most popular science podcasts. Every year he meets hundreds of the world's greatest thinkers. In this erudite and witty book, Robin reveals why scientific wonder isn't just for the professionals. Filled with interviews featuring astronauts, comedians, teachers, quantum physicists, neuroscientists a...
2021-Nov-19 • 72 minutes
Frans de Waal, “On Atheists and Bonobos” (Open Agenda, 2021)
On Atheists and Bonobos is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and primatologist Frans de Waal, Emory University, who is renowned for his work on the behaviour and social intelligence of primates. This thought-provoking conversation examines fascinating questions such as: Are we born with an innate sense of “the good”? Do we learn from others what is “wrong”? Does religion determine, or is it a result of, morality? Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadshow, Ideas on Film ...
2021-Nov-19 • 59 minutes
Brandy Schillace, "Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher: A Monkey's Head, the Pope's Neuroscientist, and the Quest to Transplant the Soul" (Simon and Schuster, 2021)
Today I talked to Brandy Schillace about her book Mr. Humble and Dr. Butcher: A Monkey's Head, the Pope's Neuroscientist, and the Quest to Transplant the Soul (Simon and Schuster, 2021). In the early days of the Cold War, a spirit of desperate scientific rivalry birthed a different kind of space race: not the race to outer space that we all know, but a race to master the inner space of the human body. While surgeons on either side of the Iron Curtain competed to become the first to transplant organs like th...
2021-Nov-18 • 137 minutes
Scott Tremaine, “Astrophysical Wonders” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Astrophysical Wonders is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Scott Tremaine, Professor Emeritus of Astrophysics at the Institute for Advanced Study and an internationally renowned expert in both galactic-scale and planetary-scale astronomy. Topics that are part of this extensive conversation include the process of scientific discovery, in particular related to comets, Pluto, planetary rings, shepherding satellites, exoplanets, chaos theory and the formation, stability and uniq...
2021-Nov-16 • 48 minutes
John S. Tregoning, "Infectious: Pathogens and How We Fight Them" (Oneworld, 2021)
Nature wants you dead. Not just you, but your children and everyone you have ever met and everyone they have ever met; in fact, everyone. It wants you to cough and sneeze and poop yourself into an early grave. It wants your blood vessels to burst and pustules to explode all over your body. And - until recently - it was really good at doing this... Covid-19 may be only the first of many modern pandemics. The subject of infection and how to fight it grows more urgent every day. How do pathogens cause disease?...
2021-Nov-16 • 89 minutes
Jill Tartar, “SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport” (Open Agenda, 2021)
SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jill Tarter, Chair Emeritus for SETI Research at SETI Institute and Former Director of the Center for SETI Research. Astronomer Jill Tarter has spent the majority of her professional life driving forward the science and technology of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, rigorously scanning the sky for the signs of some signal sent to us from outer space. This wide-ranging conversation explores t...
2021-Nov-15 • 64 minutes
Robert Brooks, "Artificial Intimacy: Virtual Friends, Digital Lovers, and Algorithmic Matchmakers" (Columbia UP, 2021)
What happens when the human brain, which evolved over eons, collides with twenty-first-century technology? Machines can now push psychological buttons, stimulating and sometimes exploiting the ways people make friends, gossip with neighbors, and grow intimate with lovers. Sex robots present the humanoid face of this technological revolution―yet although it is easy to gawk at their uncanniness, more familiar technologies based in artificial intelligence and virtual reality are insinuating themselves into hum...
2021-Nov-15 • 33 minutes
Naomi Oreskes, "Why Trust Science?" (Princeton UP, 2021)
Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when our own politicians don’t? In this landmark book, Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength—and the greatest reason we can trust it. Tracing the history and philosophy of science from the...
2021-Nov-15 • 42 minutes
Nancy Langston, "Climate Ghosts: Migratory Species in the Anthropocene" (Brandeis UP, 2021)
In her new book Climate Ghosts: Migratory Species in the Anthropocene (Brandeis UP, 2021), environmental historian Nancy Langston explores three “ghost species” in the Great Lakes watershed—woodland caribou, common loons, and lake sturgeon. Ghost species are those that have not gone completely extinct, although they may be extirpated from a particular area. Their traces are still present, whether in DNA, in small fragmented populations, in lone individuals roaming a desolate landscape in search of a mate. W...
2021-Nov-12 • 86 minutes
Ian Stewart, “The Joy of Mathematics” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The Joy of Mathematics is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Ian Stewart, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and bestselling science and science fiction writer. For Ian Stewart, mathematics is far more than dreary arithmetic, while mathematical thinking is one of the most important—and overlooked—aspects of contemporary society. This wide-ranging conversation explores what mathematics is and why it’s worth doing, symmetry, networks and patterns, th...
2021-Nov-11 • 132 minutes
Paul Steinhardt, “Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for Quasicrystals” (Open Agenda, 2021)
We have developed two distinct books, Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for Quasicrystals, and Inflated Expectations: A Cosmological Tale, based on Howard Burton’s in-depth, filmed conversations with Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor of Science and Director of the Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University. The first one is called Indiana Steinhardt and the Quest for Quasicrystals. This extensive conversation provides a comprehensive account of a marvellous scientific adventure story...
2021-Nov-10 • 69 minutes
Vinciane Despret, "Living as a Bird" (Polity Press, 2021)
Birds sing to set up a territory, but the relationships between the bird, the song, the territory, and the bird’s community are highly complex and individually variable. In Living as a Bird (English translation by Helen Morrison, Polity Press, 2021), Vinciane Despret explores the concept of territory from a perspective that situates philosophical work on human conceptions of other animals within historical and contemporary empirical research into bird song and territorial behavior. Following recent theorizi...
2021-Nov-10 • 78 minutes
How to Be Wrong: An Introduction to the Podcast
"How To Be Wrong" is a podcast series hosted by John J. Kaag, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and John W. Traphagan, Professor of Religious Studies and in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas at Austin. The series explores mistakes, errors, and the importance of embracing intellectual humility in a world that seems increasingly dominated by dualistic an uncritically oppositional thinking, argument, and debate. We talk with sc...
2021-Nov-10 • 61 minutes
Edward Slingerland, "Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization" (Hachette, 2021)
Ever since Noah exited the ark, human beings have been wanting to get drunk and high. Why? Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization (Hachette, 2021) is the latest attempt to answer that question. Drunk elegantly cuts through the tangle of urban legends and anecdotal impressions that surround our notions of intoxication to provide the first rigorous, scientifically-grounded explanation for our love of alcohol. Drawing on evidence from archaeology, history, cognitive neuroscience, p...
2021-Nov-10 • 42 minutes
Andrew Leigh, "What's the Worst That Could Happen?: Existential Risk and Extreme Politics" (MIT Press, 2021)
Did you know that you're more likely to die from a catastrophe than in a car crash? The odds that a typical US resident will die from a catastrophic event—for example, nuclear war, bioterrorism, or out-of-control artificial intelligence—have been estimated at 1 in 6. That's fifteen times more likely than a fatal car crash and thirty-one times more likely than being murdered. In What's the Worst That Could Happen?: Existential Risk and Extreme Politics (MIT Press, 2021), Andrew Leigh looks at catastrophic ri...
2021-Nov-08 • 126 minutes
Lee Smolin, “Examining Time” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Examining Time is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Lee Smolin who is a faculty member of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The basis of this wide-ranging conversation are Lee Smolin’s books Life of the Cosmos and Time Reborn. This detailed discussion offers an investigation of time, both what it is and how the true nature of it impacts our world and future and provides behind-the scenes insights into the development of Lee Smolin’s groundbreaking theory on the na...
2021-Nov-08 • 83 minutes
Bradley Alger, "Defense of the Scientific Hypothesis: From Reproducibility Crisis to Big Data" (Oxford UP, 2019)
Listen to this interview of Bradley Alger, Professor Emeritus of Physiology at University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of Defense of the Scientific Hypothesis: From Reproducibility Crisis to Big Data (Oxford UP, 2019). We talk about definitions of words and about explanations of the world. Bradley Alger : "I don't care how brilliant your data are, but if you don't succeed in explaining them clearly and laying them out and making them accessible to other people, you're really going to be penaliz...
2021-Nov-05 • 55 minutes
Vicky Neale, "Why Study Mathematics?" (London Publishing Partnership, 2020)
Students and their families face a consequential choice in whether to pursue a degree, and in what area. For those considering mathematics programs, the choice may be particularly fraught: A gulf separates the exploratory and experimental mathematics done by professionals from the computational training of most secondary schools, and this can obscure the meanings of program options. Meanwhile, cultural anxieties and stereotypes can dissuade students who would flourish in mathematical careers. This despite m...
2021-Nov-01 • 61 minutes
Peter S. Ungar, "Evolution's Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins" (Princeton UP, 2018)
Whether we realize it or not, we carry in our mouths the legacy of our evolution. Our teeth are like living fossils that can be studied and compared to those of our ancestors to teach us how we became human. In Evolution's Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins (Princeton UP, 2018), noted paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar brings together for the first time cutting-edge advances in understanding human evolution and climate change with new approaches to uncovering dietary clues from fossil teeth to pre...
2021-Nov-01 • 102 minutes
Jonathan Schooler, “Mind-Wandering and Meta-Awareness” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Mind-Wandering & Meta-Awareness is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jonathan Schooler, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This wide-ranging conversation examines how mind-wandering can serve as a window into the psychological world of meta-awareness. further topics include the nature of consciousness, mindfulness, creativity, free will, verbal overshadowing and more. Howard Burton is the founder of the Ideas Roadsho...
2021-Oct-29 • 148 minutes
Stephen Scherer, “Our Human Variability” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Our Human Variability is a comprehensive book based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Stephen Scherer, the GlaxoSmithKline Research Chair in Genome Sciences at the Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto. Stephen Scherer discusses his lifelong passion for science that culminated in his groundbreaking discovery of copy-number variation. This conversation also covers his exciting work in autism research and how copy number variation brings us a deeper understanding of b...
2021-Oct-27 • 65 minutes
A Conversation with Aliyah Kovner, Science Writer and Science Podcaster
Listen to this interview of Aliyah Kovner, science writer and also host of the podcast A Day in the Half-Life. We talk about who science communication reaches: peers, other experts, non-experts, you, me, everyone. Aliyah Kovner : "That's definitely a thing not talked about enough, that is: often the audience for science communication is the scientists themselves, who want to learn about other fields. And even brilliant people with PhDs don't know the lingo for a different field. So, any scientist really act...
2021-Oct-26 • 74 minutes
Jari Saramäki, "How to Write a Scientific Paper: An Academic Self-Help Guide for PhD Students" (2018)
Listen to this interview of Jari Saramäki, author of How to Write a Scientific Paper: An Academic Self-Help Guide for PhD Students (2018) and professor of computational science at Aalto University, Finland. We talk about how hard soft skills are. Jari Saramäki : "Yes, I think that there is something to a kind of immersion approach to learning. Because you can learn a lot by observing, by imitating, by looking at things and asking questions. But this is something you need to decide to do. So, you can read a ...
2021-Oct-22 • 63 minutes
Jacki Edry, "Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery, and Faith" (2021)
Jacki Edry's Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery, and Faith (2021) is a journey between the worlds of autism, neurodiversity, brain surgery recovery, and faith. It provides a rare glimpse into how sensory and neurological processing affect functioning and thought, through the eyes of a professional, parent, and woman who has experienced them firsthand.This book presents an informative, emotional, and empowering account of the challenges and struggles on the road to recovery ...
2021-Oct-20 • 49 minutes
Peter Toohey, "Hold On: The Life, Science, and Art of Waiting" (Oxford UP, 2020)
What do you do when you're not asleep and when you're not eating? You're most likely waiting--to finish work, to get home, or maybe even to be seen by your doctor. Hold On is less about how to manage all that staying where one is until a particular time or event (OED) than it is about describing how we experience waiting. Waiting can embrace things like hesitation and curiosity, dithering and procrastination, hunting and being hunted, fearing and being feared, dread and illness, courting and parenting, anti...
2021-Oct-20 • 56 minutes
Patricia Newman and Annie Crawley, "Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean" (Millbrook Press, 2021)
A little more than 70 percent of Planet Earth is ocean. So wouldn’t a better name for our global home be Planet Ocean? You may be surprised at just how closely YOU are connected to the ocean. Regardless of where you live, every breath you take and every drop of water you drink links you to the ocean. And because of this connection, the ocean’s health affects all of us. Dive in with author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley—visit the Coral Triangle near Indonesia, the Salish Sea in the Pacific No...
2021-Oct-20 • 85 minutes
Hilary Glasman-Deal and Andrew Northern on STEMM Communications
Listen to this interview of Hilary Glasman-Deal and Andrew Northern, teachers of STEMM communication at the Centre for Academic English, Imperial College London. We talk about what's so special about scientists: their communication! Hilary Glasman-Deal : "You know, if I left this work for just one year, it would be the devil-of-a-job to get back in because the communication norms in each field and even the language itself changes so fast that you've got to go like the wind in order to keep up to date. I mea...
2021-Oct-19 • 151 minutes
Roger Penrose, “The Cyclic Universe” (Open Agenda, 2021)
In the last twenty years, cosmology has unexpectedly emerged as one of the most exciting and dynamic fields of modern science. From astoundingly precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background to the ongoing mysteries of dark energy and dark matter, modern cosmology is unquestionably in the midst of its Golden Age. And yet, one of the most eminent mathematical physicists of our age, Roger Penrose is convinced that there is one fundamental problem that is consistently being overlooked: why did our un...
2021-Oct-19 • 58 minutes
Katherine Chandler, "Unmanning: How Humans, Machines and Media Perform Drone Warfare" (Rutgers UP, 2020)
Katherine Chandler's Unmanning: How Humans, Machines and Media Perform Drone Warfare (Rutgers UP, 2020) studies the conditions that create unmanned platforms in the United States through a genealogy of experimental, pilotless planes flown between 1936 and 1992. Characteristics often attributed to the drone--including machine-like control, enmity and remoteness--are achieved by displacements between humans and machines that shape a mediated theater of war. Rather than primarily treating the drone as a result...
2021-Oct-15 • 73 minutes
Vincent Ialenti, "Deep Time Reckoning: How Future Thinking Can Help Earth Now" (MIT Press, 2020)
Based on twelve years of anthropological exploration, Vincent Ialenti's Deep Time Reckoning: How Future Thinking Can Help Earth Now (MIT Press, 2020) is an engaging guide on deep time learning to reorient our understanding of time and space. As each chapter begins with creative vignettes to capture the reader's imagination and empathy and concludes with five to six reflective "reckonings," the book focuses on Finland's nuclear waste experts whose daily lives revolve around considerations of the far-flung fu...
2021-Oct-14 • 79 minutes
The Scholarly Journal: An Interview with Josh Schimel and Karl Ritz of "Soil Biology and Biochemistry"
Listen to this interview of Josh Schimel and Karl Ritz, Editors-in-Chief of Soil Biology and Biochemistry. We talk about the people who all scientists are, and we demonstrate why all that matters to your next submission. Karl Ritz : "It is definitely important that authors take seriously matters of text presentation and formatting. And one of the reasons, perhaps, people don't understand as to why it matters, as to why we need things in a specific format and following certain rules — the reason is that ther...
2021-Oct-11 • 132 minutes
Jenny Nelson, “Harnessing the Sun” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Harnessing the Sun is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jenny Nelson, Professor of Physics and Head of the Climate Change mitigation team at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London. After inspiring insights about Jenny Nelson’s academic journey, the conversation examines different solar energy processes, solar energy conversion technology, novel varieties of material for use in solar cells, and the materials used to build and improve photovoltaic, and other renewab...
2021-Oct-08 • 64 minutes
Michael Yudell, "Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century" (Columbia UP, 2018)
Race, while drawn from the visual cues of human diversity, is an idea with a measurable past, an identifiable present, and an uncertain future. The concept of race has been at the center of both triumphs and tragedies in American history and has had a profound effect on the human experience. Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century (Columbia UP, 2018)revisits the origins of commonly held beliefs about the scientific nature of racial differences, examines the roots of the modern idea of race,...
2021-Oct-08 • 56 minutes
Caitlin Donohue Wylie, "Preparing Dinosaurs: The Work Behind the Scenes" (MIT Press, 2021)
Those awe-inspiring dinosaur skeletons on display in museums do not spring fully assembled from the earth. Technicians known as preparators have painstakingly removed the fossils from rock, repaired broken bones, and reconstructed missing pieces to create them. These specimens are foundational evidence for paleontologists, and yet the work and workers in fossil preparation labs go largely unacknowledged in publications and specimen records. In Preparing Dinosaurs: The Work Behind the Scenes (MIT Press, 2021...
2021-Oct-07 • 49 minutes
65 Octopus World: Other Minds with Peter Godfrey-Smith (EF, JP)
Peter Godfrey-Smith knows his cephalopods. Once of CUNY and now a professor of history and philosophy of science at University of Sydney, his truly capacious career includes books such as Theory and Reality (2003; 2nd edition in 2020), Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection (2009) and most recently Metazoa. RtB--including two Brandeis undergraduates as guest hosts, Izzy Dupré and Miriam Fisch-- loves his astonishing book on the fundamental alterity of octopus intelligence and experience of the world, O...
2021-Oct-06 • 62 minutes
Paul Thagard, "Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart?" (MIT Press, 2021)
Octopuses can open jars to get food, and chimpanzees can plan for the future. An IBM computer named Watson won on Jeopardy! and Alexa knows our favorite songs. But do animals and smart machines really have intelligence comparable to that of humans? In Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart? (MIT Press, 2021), Paul Thagard looks at how computers (“bots”) and animals measure up to the minds of people, offering the first systematic comparison of intelligence across machines, animals, a...
2021-Oct-06 • 61 minutes
David B. Williams, "Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound" (U Washington Press, 2021)
Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound (University of Washington Press, 2021) tells a story about exploitation and a story of hope. Focusing on the life histories of both humans and the natural world, Williams presents an account of how people and place are connected by demonstrating the transformation of the landscape through geologic, ecological, and cultural lenses. Through conversations with archaeologists, biologists, and tribal authorities, and getting out in the field himself, Willia...
2021-Oct-05 • 62 minutes
Jaap-Henk Hoepman, "Privacy Is Hard and Seven Other Myths: Achieving Privacy Through Careful Design" (MIT Press, 2021)
We are tethered to our devices all day, every day, leaving data trails of our searches, posts, clicks, and communications. Meanwhile, governments and businesses collect our data and use it to monitor us without our knowledge. So we have resigned ourselves to the belief that privacy is hard--choosing to believe that websites do not share our information, for example, and declaring that we have nothing to hide anyway. In Privacy Is Hard and Seven Other Myths: Achieving Privacy Through Careful Design (MIT Pres...
2021-Oct-04 • 67 minutes
Michael Moore, "We Are All Whalers: The Plight of Whales and Our Responsibility" (U Chicago Press, 2021)
The image most of us have of whalers includes harpoons and intentional trauma. Yet eating commercially caught seafood leads to whales' entanglement and slow death in rope and nets, and the global shipping routes that bring us readily available goods often lead to death by collision. We--all of us--are whalers, marine scientist and veterinarian Michael J. Moore contends. But we do not have to be. Drawing on over forty years of fieldwork with humpback, pilot, fin, and in particular, North Atlantic right whale...
2021-Oct-04 • 70 minutes
Kerry F. Crawford and Leah C. Windsor, "The PhD Parenthood Trap: Gender, Bias, and the Elusive Work-Family Balance in Academia" (Georgetown UP, 2021)
Academia has a big problem. For many parents—especially mothers—the idea of "work-life balance" is a work-life myth. Parents and caregivers work harder than ever to grow and thrive in their careers while juggling the additional responsibilities that accompany parenthood. Sudden disruptions and daily constraints such as breastfeeding, sick days that keep children home from school, and the sleep deprivation that plagues the early years of parenting threaten to derail careers. Some experience bias and harassme...
2021-Oct-01 • 49 minutes
Kyle Harper, "Plagues upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History" (Princeton UP, 2021)
Kyle Harper's book Plagues upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History (Princeton UP, 2021) is a monumental history of humans and their germs. Weaving together a grand narrative of global history with insights from cutting-edge genetics, Kyle Harper explains why humanity’s uniquely dangerous disease pool is rooted deep in our evolutionary past, and why its growth is accelerated by technological progress. He shows that the story of disease is entangled with the history of slavery, colonialism, an...
2021-Sep-30 • 74 minutes
Sarah Nannery and Larry Nannery, "What to Say Next: Successful Communication in Work, Life, and Love—with Autism Spectrum Disorder" (Simon and Schuster, 2021)
When Sarah Nannery got her first job at a small nonprofit, she thought she knew exactly what it would take to advance. But soon she realized that even with hard work and conscientiousness, she was missing key meanings and messages embedded in her colleagues' everyday requests, feedback, and praise. She had long realized her brain operated differently than others, but now she knew for sure: she had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With help from her neurotypical partner--now husband--Larry, mostly in frantic ...
2021-Sep-30 • 26 minutes
Sandro Galea, "The Contagion Next Time" (Oxford UP, 2021)
How can we create a healthier world and prevent the crisis next time? In a few short months, COVID-19 devastated the world and, in particular, the United States. It infected millions, killed hundreds of thousands, and effectively made the earth stand still. Yet America was already in poor health before COVID-19 appeared. Racism, marginalization, socioeconomic inequality--our failure to address these forces left us vulnerable to COVID-19 and the ensuing global health crisis it became. Had we tackled these ch...
2021-Sep-30 • 119 minutes
Mark Maslin, “Embracing the Anthropocene: Managing Human Impact” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Embracing the Anthropocene: Managing Human Impact is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Mark Maslin, Professor of Geography at University College London. This wide-ranging conversation explores Prof. Maslin’s research on the Anthropocene which according to his definition began when human impacts on the planet irrevocably started to change the course of the Earth’s biological and geographical trajectory, leading to climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and more....
2021-Sep-28 • 45 minutes
Samuel Gershman, "What Makes Us Smart: The Computational Logic of Human Cognition" (Princeton UP, 2021)
At the heart of human intelligence rests a fundamental puzzle: How are we incredibly smart and stupid at the same time? No existing machine can match the power and flexibility of human perception, language, and reasoning. Yet, we routinely commit errors that reveal the failures of our thought processes. What Makes Us Smart: The Computational Logic of Human Cognition (Princeton UP, 2021) makes sense of this paradox by arguing that our cognitive errors are not haphazard. Rather, they are the inevitable conseq...
2021-Sep-28 • 60 minutes
Lisa T. Sarasohn, "Getting Under Our Skin: The Cultural and Social History of Vermin" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)
For most of our time on this planet, vermin were considered humanity's common inheritance. Fleas, lice, bedbugs, and rats were universal scourges, as pervasive as hunger or cold, at home in both palaces and hovels. But with the spread of microscopic close-ups of these creatures, the beginnings of sanitary standards, and the rising belief that cleanliness equaled class, vermin began to provide a way to scratch a different itch: the need to feel superior, and to justify the exploitation of those pronounced et...
2021-Sep-28 • 57 minutes
Jonathan Rees, "The Chemistry of Fear: Harvey Wiley's Fight for Pure Food" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)
Though trained as a medical doctor, chemist Harvey Wiley spent most of his professional life advocating for "pure food"—food free of both adulterants and preservatives. A strong proponent of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, still the basis of food safety legislation in the United States, Wiley gained fame for what became known as the Poison Squad experiments—a series of tests in which, to learn more about the effects of various chemicals on the human body, Wiley's own employees at the Department of Agric...
2021-Sep-28 • 66 minutes
Giorgio Vallortigara, "Born Knowing: Imprinting and the Origins of Knowledge" (MIT Press, 2021)
Why do newborns show a preference for a face (or something that resembles a face) over a nonface-like object? Why do baby chicks prefer a moving object to an inanimate one? Neither baby human nor baby chick has had time to learn to like faces or movement. In Born Knowing: Imprinting and the Origins of Knowledge (MIT Press, 2021), neuroscientist Giorgio Vallortigara argues that the mind is not a blank slate. Early behavior is biologically predisposed rather than learned, and this instinctive or innate behavi...
2021-Sep-28 • 82 minutes
Eric. S. Hintz, "American Independent Inventors in an Era of Corporate R&D" (MIT Press, 2021)
Wonder how America's individual inventors persisted alongside corporate R&D labs as an important source of inventions beginning at the turn of the early twentieth century? American Independent Inventors in an Era of Corporate R&D (MIT Press, 2021) by Eric S. Hintz presents a candid look into the history behind the phenomenon. During the nineteenth century, heroic individual inventors such as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell created entirely new industries while achieving widespread fame. However, by ...
2021-Sep-28 • 51 minutes
Brian Clegg, "Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe" (MIT Press, 2021)
Our universe might appear chaotic, but deep down it's simply a myriad of rules working independently to create patterns of action, force, and consequence. In Ten Patterns That Explain the Universe (MIT Press, 2021), Brian Clegg explores the phenomena that make up the very fabric of our world by examining ten essential sequenced systems. From diagrams that show the deep relationships between space and time to the quantum behaviors that rule the way that matter and light interact, Clegg shows how these patter...
2021-Sep-27 • 102 minutes
Tony Leggett, “The Problems of Physics, Reconsidered” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The Problems of Physics, Reconsidered is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Physics Nobel Laureate Tony Leggett. The basis of this conversation is Tony Leggett’s book The Problems of Physics and further explores the insightful plain-speaking itemization that he developed of the physics landscape according to four basic categories—the very small (particle physics), the very large (cosmology), the very complex (condensed matter physics) and the very unclear (foundations of quan...
2021-Sep-27 • 84 minutes
Chris Bleakley, "Poems That Solve Puzzles: The History and Science of Algorithms" (Oxford UP, 2020)
As algorithms become ever more significant to and embedded in our everyday lives, ever more accessible introductions to them are needed. While several excellent technical and critical treatments have emerged in recent years, i had not come across a book for the general public that would provide a deep sense for the intuitions and motivations behind their development. Chris Bleakley's new book offers this and more: conceptual rigor woven into historical vignettes in a style that i believe general readers wil...
2021-Sep-27 • 74 minutes
Bob Quinn and Liz Carlisle, "Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food" (Island Press, 2019)
How can farmers adapt to climate changes? How can regenerative farmers have livelihoods that nourish themselves and their communities? How can we break free of the commodity mindset and rethink the US food system? Bob Quinn’s remarkable memoir of his decades living and working on a Montana farm offers unique insights into all of these pressing questions, with creativity, intelligence, and a healthy dash of humor. Quinn is a farmer and sustainable business leader. He founded a regional mill for organic and h...
2021-Sep-24 • 130 minutes
Nick Lane, “A Matter of Energy: Biology From First Principles” (Open Agenda, 2021)
A Matter of Energy: Biology From First Principles is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Nick Lane, Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry at University College London and bestselling author. After an inspiring exploration of Nick Lane’s career path, this wide-ranging conversation covers his bioenergetic view of early, evolutionary history, the origin of life and how all complex life is composed of a very particular cell type that we all share, and more. Howard Burton is the f...
2021-Sep-24 • 60 minutes
Allan V. Horwitz, "DSM: A History of Psychiatry's Bible" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)
Over the past seventy years, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, has evolved from a virtually unknown and little-used pamphlet to an imposing and comprehensive compendium of mental disorder. Its nearly 300 conditions have become the touchstones for the diagnoses that patients receive, students are taught, researchers study, insurers reimburse, and drug companies promote. Although the manual is portrayed as an authoritative corpus of psychiatric knowledge, it is a product of in...
2021-Sep-23 • 66 minutes
Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez, "Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human" (Princeton UP, 2021)
Nature, it has been said, invites us to eat by appetite and rewards by flavor. But what exactly are flavors? Why are some so pleasing while others are not? Delicious is a supremely entertaining foray into the heart of such questions. With generous helpings of warmth and wit, Rob Dunn and Monica Sanchez offer bold new perspectives on why food is enjoyable and how the pursuit of delicious flavors has guided the course of human history. They consider the role that flavor may have played in the invention of the...
2021-Sep-22 • 77 minutes
Joshua Schimel, "Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded" (Oxford UP, 2011)
Listen to this interview of Joshua Schimel, Professor of soil ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded (Oxford UP, 2011). We talk about how writing is research, and about how the Vietnam War was really just one big fat rejected manuscript. Joshua Schimel : "One of the challenges, I think, we have in science is that all the way up through university, we're being taught scientific knowledge. But that ...
2021-Sep-22 • 66 minutes
Daniel Gibbs, "A Tattoo on my Brain: A Neurologist's Personal Battle against Alzheimer's Disease" (Cambridge UP, 2021)
Dr Daniel Gibbs is one of 50 million people worldwide with an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. Unlike most patients with Alzheimer's, however, Dr Gibbs worked as a neurologist for twenty-five years, caring for patients with the very disease now affecting him. Also unusual is that Dr Gibbs had begun to suspect he had Alzheimer's several years before any official diagnosis could be made. Forewarned by genetic testing showing he carried alleles that increased the risk of developing the disease, he noticed sympto...
2021-Sep-22 • 59 minutes
Athena Aktipis, "The Cheating Cell: How Evolution Helps Us Understand and Treat Cancer" (Princeton UP, 2020)
When we think of the forces driving cancer, we don’t necessarily think of evolution. But evolution and cancer are closely linked because the historical processes that created life also created cancer. The Cheating Cell: How Evolution Helps Us Understand and Treat Cancer (Princeton UP, 2020) delves into this extraordinary relationship, and shows that by understanding cancer’s evolutionary origins, researchers can come up with more effective, revolutionary treatments. Athena Aktipis goes back billions of year...
2021-Sep-21 • 66 minutes
Ruth Aylett and Patricia A. Vargas, "Living with Robots: What Every Anxious Human Needs to Know" (MIT Press, 2021)
There's a lot of hype about robots; some of it is scary and some of it utopian. In this accessible book, two robotics experts reveal the truth about what robots can and can't do, how they work, and what we can reasonably expect their future capabilities to be. It will not only make you think differently about the capabilities of robots; it will make you think differently about the capabilities of humans. Ruth Aylett and Patricia Vargas discuss the history of our fascination with robots—from chatbots and pro...
2021-Sep-21 • 79 minutes
Justin Khoury, “Cosmological Conundrums” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Cosmological Conundrums is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Justin Khoury, Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. This thoughtful, extensive conversation gives a window into the world of a practicing cosmologist, the often-considerable gap between formal scientific positions and personal scientific interests and examines a wide range of fascinating topics that his research covers such as the early universe, the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, Cosmic Mic...
2021-Sep-17 • 32 minutes
Princeton UP's "Pedia" Series: Beautiful, Short Books About Big, Important Subjects
Today I talked to Robert Kirk, the publisher of Princeton University Press's "Pedia" book series. Encyclopedic in nature and miniature in form, these books explore the wonders of the natural world, from A to Z. These brief compendiums cover wide ground in thoughtful, witty, and endlessly fascinating entries on the science, natural history, and culture of their subjects. Books in the series include: Insectpedia, Dinopedia, Geopedia, Treepedia, Birdpedia, Florapedia and Fungipedia. More titles are forthcoming...
2021-Sep-17 • 73 minutes
Bruce Clarke, "Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene" (U Minnesota Press, 2020)
Often seen as an outlier in science, Gaia has run a long and varied course since its formulation in the 1970s by atmospheric chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis. Gaian Systems: Lynn Margulis, Neocybernetics, and the End of the Anthropocene (U Minnesota Press, 2020) is a pioneering exploration of the dynamic and complex evolution of Gaia's many variants, with special attention to Margulis's foundational role in these developments. Bruce Clarke assesses the different dialects of systems th...
2021-Sep-16 • 78 minutes
Matt Frazier and Robert Cheeke, "The Plant-Based Athlete: A Game-Changing Approach to Peak Performance" (HarperOne, 2021)
The Plant-Based Athlete: A Game-Changing Approach to Peak Performance (HarperOne, 2021) by Matt Frazier and Robert Cheeke reveals the incontrovertible proof that the human body does not need meat, eggs, or dairy to be strong. Instead, research shows that a consciously calibrated plant-based diet offers the greatest possible recovery times, cell oxidation, injury prevention, and restorative sleep, and allows athletes to train more effectively, with better results. However, committing to a plant-based diet as...
2021-Sep-15 • 60 minutes
Lauren Aguirre, "The Memory Thief: And the Secrets Behind How We Remember--A Medical Mystery" (Pegasus, 2021)
How could you lose your memory overnight, and what would it mean? The day neurologist Jed Barash sees the baffling brain scan of a young patient with devastating amnesia marks the beginning of a quest to answer those questions. First detected in a cluster of stigmatized opioid overdose victims in Massachusetts with severe damage to the hippocampus--the brain's memory center--this rare syndrome reveals how the tragic plight of the unfortunate few can open the door to advances in medical science. After overco...
2021-Sep-15 • 50 minutes
Ann Vileisis, "Abalone: The Remarkable History and Uncertain Future of California's Iconic Shellfish" (Oregon State UP, 2020)
From rocky coves at Mendocino and Monterey to San Diego’s reefs, abalone have held a cherished place in California culture for millennia. Prized for iridescent shells and delectable meat, these unique shellfish inspired indigenous artisans, bohemian writers, California cuisine, and the popular sport of skin diving, but also became a highly coveted commercial commodity. Mistakenly regarded as an inexhaustible seafood, abalone ultimately became vulnerable to overfishing and early impacts of climate change. As...
2021-Sep-14 • 64 minutes
Mariska van Sprundel, "Running Smart: How Science Can Improve Your Endurance and Performance" (MIT Press, 2021)
Conventional wisdom about running is passed down like folklore (and sometimes contradicts itself): the right kind of shoe prevents injury—or running barefoot, like our prehistoric ancestors, is best; eat a high-fat diet—and also carbo load before a race; running cures depression—but it might be addictive; running can save your life—although it can also destroy your knee cartilage. Often it's hard to know what to believe. In Running Smart: How Science Can Improve Your Endurance and Performance (MIT Press, 20...
2021-Sep-10 • 47 minutes
Katy Borner, "Atlas of Forecasts: Modeling and Mapping Desirable Futures" (MIT Press, 2021)
To envision and create the futures we want, society needs an appropriate understanding of the likely impact of alternative actions. Data models and visualizations offer a way to understand and intelligently manage complex, interlinked systems in science and technology, education, and policymaking. Atlas of Forecasts: Modeling and Mapping Desirable Futures (MIT Press, 2021), from the creator of Atlas of Science and Atlas of Knowledge, shows how we can use data to predict, communicate, and ultimately attain d...
2021-Sep-10 • 69 minutes
Collin Rice, "Leveraging Distortions: Explanation, Idealization, and Universality in Science" (MIT Press, 2021)
Most of us agree that science aims to tell us what is true about the world. But how do we get at the truth by using theories and models that deliberately, pervasively, and ineliminably distort what they are about? How does a model that makes wholly unrealistic, even impossible, assumptions about reality help explain it and provide us with understanding? In Leveraging Distortions: Explanation, Idealization, and Universality in Science (MIT Press, 2021), Collin Rice tackles this puzzle by examining how ideali...
2021-Sep-09 • 62 minutes
Silvia Casini, "Giving Bodies Back to Data: Image Makers, Bricolage, and Reinvention in Magnetic Resonance Technology" (MIT Press, 2021)
Our bodies are scanned, probed, imaged, sampled, and transformed into data by clinicians and technologists. In Giving Bodies Back to Data: Image Makers, Bricolage, and Reinvention in Magnetic Resonance Technology (MIT Press, 2021), Silvia Casini reveals the affective relations and materiality that turn data into image–and in so doing, gives bodies back to data. Opening the black box of MRI technology, Casini examines the bodily, situated aspects of visualization practices around the development of this tech...
2021-Sep-08 • 40 minutes
Stephen J. Pyne, "The Pyrocene: How We Created an Age of Fire, and What Happens Next" (U California Press, 2021)
Stephen J. Pyne's new book The Pyrocene: How We Created an Age of Fire, and What Happens Next (U California Press, 2021) tells the story of what happened when a fire-wielding species, humanity, met an especially fire-receptive time in Earth's history. Since terrestrial life first appeared, flames have flourished. Over the past two million years, however, one genus gained the ability to manipulate fire, swiftly remaking both itself and eventually the world. We developed small guts and big heads by cooking fo...
2021-Sep-08 • 47 minutes
Emily O'Gorman, "Wetlands in a Dry Land: More-Than-Human Histories of Australia's Murray-Darling Basin" (U Washington Press, 2021)
In the name of agriculture, urban growth, and disease control, humans have drained, filled, or otherwise destroyed nearly 87 percent of the world's wetlands over the past three centuries. Unintended consequences include biodiversity loss, poor water quality, and the erosion of cultural sites, and only in the past few decades have wetlands been widely recognized as worth preserving. Emily O'Gorman asks, What has counted as a wetland, for whom, and with what consequences? Using the Murray-Darling Basin--a mas...
2021-Sep-06 • 113 minutes
Joanna Haigh, “Solar Impact: Climate and the Sun” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Solar Impact: Climate and the Sun is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Joanna Haigh, Professor Emerita of Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London and Co-Director of the Grantham Institute until her retirement in 2019. After inspiring details about how she got into her field of study and how we can encourage more girls to get more interested in science, the conversation examines her research of the influence of the sun and solar variability on our climate, how energy e...
2021-Sep-02 • 79 minutes
Jennifer Groh, “Knowing One’s Place: Space and the Brain” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Knowing One’s Place: Space and the Brain is based on an in-depth, filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jennifer Groh, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. After an inspiring story about how she became interested in neuroscience, this thoughtful conversation examines Jennifer Groh’s extensive research on how the brain combines various streams of sensory input to determine where things are, together with the corresponding implications for a wide range of issues, from neuroplas...
2021-Sep-02 • 64 minutes
Anil Seth, "Being You: A New Science of Consciousness" (Dutton, 2020)
Anil Seth's quest to understand the biological basis of conscious experience is one of the most exciting contributions to twenty-first-century science. An unprecedented tour of consciousness thanks to new experimental evidence, much of which comes from Anil Seth's own lab. His radical argument is that we do not perceive the world as it objectively is, but rather that we are prediction machines, constantly inventing our world and correcting our mistakes by the microsecond, and that we can now observe the bio...
2021-Sep-01 • 35 minutes
Jemma Wadham, "Ice Rivers: A Story of Glaciers, Wilderness, and Humanity" (Princeton UP, 2021)
The ice sheets and glaciers that cover one-tenth of Earth’s land surface are in grave peril. High in the Alps, Andes, and Himalaya, once-indomitable glaciers are retreating, even dying. Meanwhile, in Antarctica, thinning glaciers may be unlocking vast quantities of methane stored for millions of years beneath the ice. In Ice Rivers: A Story of Glaciers, Wilderness, and Humanity (Princeton UP, 2021), renowned glaciologist Jemma Wadham offers a searing personal account of glaciers and the rapidly unfolding cr...
2021-Aug-30 • 109 minutes
Michael Gordin, “Science and Pseudoscience” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Science and Pseudoscience is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Michael Gordin, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University. This thought-provoking, extensive conversation examines the strange case of Immanuel Velikovsky, author of the bestselling book “Worlds in Collision” that managed to provocatively combine unbridled scientific speculation with ancient myth, as a way of probing the often-problematic boundary between science and pseudos...
2021-Aug-30 • 54 minutes
Alfred S. Posamentier, "Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers" (Prometheus Books, 2021)
Alfred S. Posamentier's Math Tricks: The Surprising Wonders of Shapes and Numbers (Prometheus Books, 2021) has a lovely assortment of puzzles from all areas of mathematics. Some will be familiar to many readers, but there are plenty of ones I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen lots of them. Some are at just the right level to intrigue students who may be put off by the dry way a lot of math courses are taught – and this alone is enough to make any parent consider having the book available when their child ...
2021-Aug-24 • 130 minutes
Jay Gargus, “Autism: A Genetic Perspective” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Autism: A Genetic Perspective is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Jay Gargus, Professor of Physiology, Biophysics and Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Autism Research and Translation at UC Irvine. This wide-ranging conversation examines the recent explosion in our genetic understanding and its implications for the future of medicine, together with the importance of understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms in order to successfully treat a wide range of gene...
2021-Aug-20 • 91 minutes
Chris Frith, “In Search of a Mechanism: From the Brain to the Mind” (Open Agenda, 2020)
In Search of a Mechanism: From the Brain to the Mind is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Chris Frith, Emeritus Professor of Neuropsychology at University College London and Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London. After an interesting exploration of how Chris Frith became interested in the study of schizophrenia, this detailed conversation examines topics such how our understanding of schizophrenia has evolved,...
2021-Aug-19 • 81 minutes
Barbara Fredrickson, “The Science of Emotions” (Open Agenda, 2020)
The Science of Emotions is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Barbara Fredrickson, Director Positive Emotions & Psychology Laboratory at UNC Chapel Hill. Why do we smile, laugh and actively seek out personal connections with the people around us? Why does it feel good and what evolutionary purposes do our so-called “positive emotions” serve? Topics covered by this extensive conversation include Barbara’s work on the science of positive emotions, including her broaden-and-buil...
2021-Aug-17 • 66 minutes
Raghav Rajagopalan, "Immersive Systemic Knowing: Advancing Systems Thinking Beyond Rational Analysis" (Springer Nature, 2020)
On this episode, we speak with Ragav Rajagopalan about his book, Immersive Systemic Knowing: Advancing Systems Thinking Beyond Rational Analysis, out from Springer in 2020. This fascinating book advances systems thinking by introducing a new philosophy of systemic knowing. It argues that there are inescapable limits to rational understanding. Humankind has always depended on extended ways of knowing to complement the rational-analytic approach. The book establishes that the application of such methods is fu...
2021-Aug-17 • 66 minutes
P. J. Boczkowski and E. Mitchelstein, "The Digital Environment: How We Live, Learn, Work, and Play Now" (MIT Press, 2021)
Increasingly we live through our personal screens; we work, play, socialize, and learn digitally. The shift to remote everything during the pandemic was another step in a decades-long march toward the digitization of everyday life made possible by innovations in media, information, and communication technology. In The Digital Environment: How We Live, Learn, Work, and Play Now (MIT Press, 2021), Pablo Boczkowski and Eugenia Mitchelstein offer a new way to understand the role of the digital in our daily live...
2021-Aug-17 • 81 minutes
Mark L. Johnson and Don M. Tucker, "Out of the Cave: A Natural Philosophy of Mind and Knowing" (MIT Press, 2021)
Plato's Allegory of the Cave trapped us in the illusion that mind is separate from body and from the natural and physical world. Knowledge had to be eternal and absolute. Recent scientific advances, however, show that our bodies shape mind, thought, and language in a deep and pervasive way. In Out of the Cave: A Natural Philosophy of Mind and Knowing (MIT Press, 2021), Mark Johnson and Don Tucker—a philosopher and a neuropsychologist—propose a radical rethinking of certain traditional views about human cogn...
2021-Aug-17 • 72 minutes
Lee McIntyre, "How to Talk to a Science Denier" (MIT Press, 2021)
Climate change is a hoax--and so is coronavirus. Vaccines are bad for you. These days, many of our fellow citizens reject scientific expertise and prefer ideology to facts. They are not merely uninformed--they are misinformed. They cite cherry-picked evidence, rely on fake experts, and believe conspiracy theories. How can we convince such people otherwise? How can we get them to change their minds and accept the facts when they don't believe in facts? In How to Talk to a Science Denier (MIT Press, 2021), Le...
2021-Aug-16 • 141 minutes
Victor Ferreira, “Speaking and Thinking” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Speaking and Thinking is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Victor Ferreira, Professor of Psychology and Principal Investigator at the Language Production Lab at the University of California at San Diego. This extensive conversation explores Victor Ferreira’s research which is focused on language production, especially with regard to grammar, lexical structure and speaker-hearer interaction, and his interests to incorporate computational and quantitative modelling of cognitiv...
2021-Aug-16 • 61 minutes
Mikkael A. Sekeres, "When Blood Breaks Down: Life Lessons from Leukemia" (MIT Press, 2020)
When you are told that you have leukemia, your world stops. Your brain can't function. You are asked to make decisions about treatment almost immediately, when you are not in your right mind. And yet you pull yourself together and start asking questions. Beside you is your doctor, whose job it is to solve the awful puzzle of bone marrow gone wrong. The two of you are in it together. In When Blood Breaks Down: Life Lessons from Leukemia (MIT Press, 2020), Mikkael Sekeres, a leading cancer specialist, takes r...
2021-Aug-13 • 134 minutes
Lisa Feldman Barrett, “Constructing Our World: The Brain’s-Eye View” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Constructing Our World: The Brain’s-Eye View is a detailed book based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor in Psychology at Northeastern University. This wide-ranging conversations explores Lisa’s winding career path from pre-med to clinical psychology to an academic career in neuroscience, her research on how the brain works and the development of her theory of emotion: every moment of our life, our brain is anticipating and m...
2021-Aug-10 • 69 minutes
Satyan Devadoss and Matt Harvey, "Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries" (MIT Press, 2020)
Sixteen of today's greatest unsolved mathematical puzzles in a story-driven, illustrated volume that invites readers to peek over the edge of the unknown. Most people think of mathematics as a set of useful tools designed to answer analytical questions, beginning with simple arithmetic and ending with advanced calculus. But, as Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (MIT Press, 2020) shows, mathematics is filled with intriguing mysteries that take us to the edge of the unknown. This richly illustrate...
2021-Aug-10 • 68 minutes
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, "When Maps Become the World" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
There are maps of the Earth’s landmasses, the universe, the ocean floors, human migration, the human brain: maps are so integral to how we interact with the world that we sometimes forget that they are not the world. In When Maps Become the World (University of Chicago Press), Rasmus Grunfeldt Winther considers how maps get made, used, and abused, and how processes and problems from cartography can be found in the ways we create and use scientific theories. Winther, who is professor of humanities at the Uni...
2021-Aug-10 • 48 minutes
Beronda L. Montgomery, "Lessons from Plants" (Harvard UP, 2021)
In Lessons from Plants (Harvard University Press, 2021), Dr. Beronda Montgomery connects the science of plants to the behavior of people. She unpacks how their ability to who they are, where they are, and what they are supposed to do translates into good leadership. In the interview, Dr. Montgomery leads us on a quest for societal change through an understanding of plant physiology and ecology. We unexpectantly venture into applying her expertise to the transformation we hope to see in academia. Plants are ...
2021-Aug-09 • 68 minutes
Chiara Marletto, "The Science of Can and Can't: A Physicist's Journey Through the Land of Counterfactuals" (Viking, 2021)
There is a vast class of things that science has so far almost entirely neglected. They are central to the understanding of physical reality both at an everyday level and at the level of the most fundamental phenomena in physics, yet have traditionally been assumed to be impossible to incorporate into fundamental scientific explanations. They are facts not about what is (the actual) but about what could be (counterfactuals). According to physicist Chiara Marletto, laws about things being possible or impossi...
2021-Aug-09 • 176 minutes
Artur Ekert, “Cryptoreality” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Cryptoreality is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Artur Ekert, Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies and Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore. Artur Ekert is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography. This wide-ranging conversation provides detailed insights into his research and covers many fascinating topics such as mathematical and...
2021-Aug-06 • 69 minutes
Yves Agid, "Subconsciousness: Automatic Behavior and the Brain" (Columbia UP, 2021)
We are conscious of only a small fraction of our lives. Because the brain constantly receives an enormous quantity of information, we need to be able to do things without thinking about them—to act in “autopilot” mode. Automatic behaviors—the vast majority of our activities—occur without our conscious awareness, or subconsciously. Yet the physiological basis of subconsciousness remains poorly understood, despite its vast importance for physical and mental health. The neurodegenerative disease expert Yves Ag...
2021-Aug-06 • 106 minutes
Freeman Dyson, “Pushing the Boundaries” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Pushing the Boundaries is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and former mathematical physicist and writer Freeman Dyson, who was one of the most celebrated polymaths of our age. Freeman Dyson had his academic home for more than 60 years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, while pondering nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distant planets. Howard Burton is the...
2021-Aug-04 • 100 minutes
Robert Stickgold and Antonio Zadra, "When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep" (W. W. Norton, 2021)
In When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep (W. W. Norton, 2021), psychologist Dr. Antonio Zadra and neuroscientist Dr. Robert Stickgold offer a fascinating survey of the biological and psychological bases of dreams and dreaming. The authors address head-on fundamental questions such as why do we dream? Do dreams hold psychological meaning or are they merely the reflection of random brain activity? What purpose do dreams serve? As part of their synthesis, Zadra and Stickgold introduce a...
2021-Aug-04 • 72 minutes
Alex Csiszar, "The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century" (U Chicago Press, 2018)
Listen to this interview of Alex Csiszar, professor in the Department of the History of Science, Harvard University and author of The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century (U Chicago Press, 2018). We talk about the British, the French, and the Germans. No joke. Alex Csiszar : "There's this myth out there about what makes a scientist a scientist. It's that they're highly skeptical of everything. They don't believe a claim until they see it with their own eyes....
2021-Aug-02 • 55 minutes
Iris Berent, "The Blind Storyteller: How We Reason about Human Nature" (Oxford UP, 2020)
Do newborns think-do they know that 'three' is greater than 'two'? Do they prefer 'right' to 'wrong'? What about emotions--do newborns recognize happiness or anger? If they do, then how are our inborn thoughts and feelings encoded in our bodies? Could they persist after we die? Going all the way back to ancient Greece, human nature and the mind-body link are the topics of age-old scholarly debates. But laypeople also have strong opinions about such matters. Most people believe, for example, that newborn bab...
2021-Jul-30 • 102 minutes
Joseph Curtin, “The Science of Siren Songs: Stradivari Unveiled” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The Science of Siren Songs: Stradivari Unveiled is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and master violinmaker and acoustician Joseph Curtin, recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. This in-depth conversation explores Curtin’s long quest to characterize the sound of a Stradivari violin and the rigorous series of double-blind tests he and his colleagues developed to probe whether or not professional musicians can really tell the difference between a Stradivari and a modern ...
2021-Jul-30 • 74 minutes
James Ladyman and K. Wiesner, "What Is a Complex System?" (Yale UP, 2020)
While i find it pretty easy to recognize when i'm reading articles in complexity science, i've never been satisfied by definitions of complexity and related concepts. I'm not alone! Researchers' own attempts to define complex systems incorporate a mix of folk wisdom and fraught assumptions anchored to a menagerie of contested examples. The field was ripe for a 2013 article proposing a unified account of complexity, and it's no less ripe today for this book-length expansion. In What Is a Complex System? (Yal...
2021-Jul-28 • 100 minutes
Stefan Collini, “The Two Cultures, Revisited” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The ‘Two Cultures’ debate of the 1960s between C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis is one of the most misunderstood intellectual disputes of the 20th century. Most people think that the debate only revolved around the notion that our society is characterized by a divide between two cultures – the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other. The Two Cultures, Revisited is based on an extensive, filmed conversation between Howard Burton and University of Cambridge intellectual historian Stefan Collini...
2021-Jul-23 • 67 minutes
John Horgan, "Pay Attention: Sex, Death, and Science" (MIT Press, 2020)
What would it feel like to wake up inside the head of someone who writes about science for a living? John Horgan, acclaimed author of the bestseller The End of Science, answers that question in his genre-bending new book Pay Attention: Sex, Death, and Science (MIT Press, 2020), a stream-of-consciousness account of a day in the life of his alter ego, Eamon Toole--a blogger, college professor, and divorced father. This work of fact-based fiction, or "faction," follows Toole as he wakes up in his rented apartm...
2021-Jul-22 • 89 minutes
James Robert Brown, “Plato’s Heaven: A User’s Guide” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Plato’s Heaven: A User’s Guide is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and James Robert Brown, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. This wide-ranging conversation addresses a central theme in current philosophy: Platonism vs. Naturalism and provides accounts of both approaches to mathematics. The Platonist-Naturalist debate over mathematics is explored in a comprehensive fashion and also sheds light on non-mathematical aspects of a dispute that is central ...
2021-Jul-19 • 76 minutes
Terry McGlynn, "The Chicago Guide to College Science Teaching" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
Listen to this interview of Terry McGlynn, author of The Chicago Guide to College Science Teaching (U Chicago Press, 2020). McGlynn is also a professor of biology at California State University Dominguez Hills and research associate in the Department of Entomology in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. We talk about learning, actually. Terry McGlynn : “If you’re giving students a writing assignment, like an experimental protocol, and they’re supposed to write about what they did in the lab or ...
2021-Jul-19 • 70 minutes
John Troyer, "Technologies of the Human Corpse" (MIT Press, 2020)
Death and the dead body have never been more alive in the public imagination--not least because of current debates over modern medical technology that is deployed, it seems, expressly to keep human bodies from dying, blurring the boundary between alive and dead. In Technologies of the Human Corpse (MIT Press, 2020), John Troyer examines the relationship of the dead body with technology, both material and conceptual: the physical machines, political concepts, and sovereign institutions that humans use to cla...
2021-Jul-16 • 61 minutes
Anna Reser and Leila McNeill, "Forces of Nature: The Women who Changed Science" (Frances Lincoln, 2021)
From the ancient world to the present women have been critical to the progress of science, yet their importance is overlooked, their stories lost, distorted, or actively suppressed. Forces of Nature sets the record straight and charts the fascinating history of women's discoveries in science. In the ancient and medieval world, women served as royal physicians and nurses, taught mathematics, studied the stars, and practiced midwifery. As natural philosophers, physicists, anatomists, and botanists, they were ...
2021-Jul-14 • 121 minutes
Roy Baumeister, “Being Social” (Open Agenda, 2021)
Being Social is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Roy Baumeister, Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland. This extensive conversation explores Roy Baumeister’s unique combination of biological and psychological thinking from recognizing essential energetic factors involved with willpower and decision-making, to framing free will in evolutionary biological terms to measuring the numbness associated with social rejection as a form of analgesic response, and mo...
2021-Jul-13 • 121 minutes
Nima Arkani-Hamed, “The Power of Principles: Physics Revealed” (Open Agenda, 2021)
The Power of Principles: Physics Revealed is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Nima Arkani-Hamed, faculty member at the renowned Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Prof. Arkani-Hamed is one of today’s leading particle physicists. This extensive Ideas Roadshow conversation explores how we discover the laws of nature, the “scientific method”, the relation between theory and experiment and how we can push our understanding well beyond where experiments can currently rea...
2021-Jul-12 • 70 minutes
Nichola Raihani, "The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World" (St. Martin's Press, 2021)
Cooperation is the means by which life arose in the first place. It’s how we progressed through scale and complexity, from free-floating strands of genetic material, to nation states. But given what we know about the mechanisms of evolution, cooperation is also something of a puzzle. How does cooperation begin, when on a Darwinian level, all that the genes in your body care about is being passed on to the next generation? Why do meerkat colonies care for one another’s children? Why do babbler birds in the K...
2021-Jul-09 • 74 minutes
Alyssa Ney, "The World in the Wave Function: A Metaphysics for Quantum Physics" (Oxford UP, 2021)
Quantum mechanics is full of weird findings – for example, that systems widely separated can somehow still be correlated, and that a system may be in two different possible states at the same time. Entanglement and superposition, among other phenomena, have prompted debate since the inception of QM about how, exactly, we should understand what it tells us about reality. In The World in the Wave Function (Oxford UP, 2021), Alyssa Ney defends wave function realism, the claim that the basic representation in Q...
2021-Jul-08 • 64 minutes
Warren Mansell, "The Interdisciplinary Handbook of Perceptual Control Theory" (Academic Press, 2020)
Regular listeners to this podcast will be well aware of my strong conviction that the Perceptual Control Theory initially formulated by William T. Powers entails many significant contributions to the domains of systems and cybernetics despite the fact that, for the last several decades, its applications have been further developed in a largely “adjacent” academic community. It is in the ongoing spirit of a much-needed rapprochement between these fields, that previous guest, Warren Mansell, returns to this ...
2021-Jun-28 • 50 minutes
Faith Kearns, "Getting to the Heart of Science Communication: A Guide to Effective Engagement" (Island Press, 2021)
In Getting to the Heart of Science Communication (Island Press, 2021), Dr. Faith Kearns unpacks science communication as so much more than the “sage from the stage” perspective. Dr. Kearns, through decades of experience and countless interviews, writes to further a conversation for best practices and necessary training for science communication practitioners. In this interview, we discuss the past, present, and future of science communication. We dig into Part II of the book, The Tools of Science Communicat...
2021-Jun-23 • 66 minutes
Stuart Farrimond, "The Science of Living: 162 Reasons to Rethink Your Daily Routine" (DK Publishing, 2020)
Explore the science behind your daily living habits and make your day healthier, happier, and more productive. Many of the activities we take for granted are in fact contrary to a healthy lifestyle. In this groundbreaking book, long-held beliefs are exploded by new science: drinking eight glasses a day is too much; breakfast isn't the most important meal of the day; smartphones are not making us all depressed. Bringing to bear the latest research in psychology, nutrition, biology, and physics, Dr. Stuart Fa...
2021-Jun-21 • 97 minutes
Howard Burton, "First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute" (Open Agenda Publishing, 2021)
In this second edition of First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, Howard Burton tells the remarkable and unconventional story—with a bold and biting humour and surprising candour—of the founding of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. Howard was the Founding Director of Perimeter Institute and his experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of PI are described in this thought-provoking book featuring a foreword by Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose. Howard Burt...
2021-Jun-14 • 63 minutes
Rebecca Schwarzlose, "Brainscapes: The Warped, Wondrous Maps Written in Your Brain and How They Guide You" (HMH, 2021)
A path-breaking journey into the brain, showing how perception, thought, and action are products of maps etched into your gray matter—and how technology can use them to read your mind. Your brain is a collection of maps. That is no metaphor: scrawled across your brain’s surfaces are actual maps of the sights, sounds, and actions that hold the key to your survival. Scientists first began uncovering these maps over a century ago, but we are only now beginning to unlock their secrets—and comprehend their profo...
2021-Jun-14 • 77 minutes
Howard Burton, "Conversations About Neuroscience" (Open Agenda, 2020)
This Ideas Roadshow Collection includes five Ideas Roadshow books that have been developed from filmed wide-ranging conversations with the following leading neuroscientists: Lisa Feldman Barrett (Northeastern University), Jennifer Groh (Duke University), Kalanit Grill-Spector (Stanford University), John Duncan (Cambridge University) and Miguel Nicolelis (Duke University). Howard Burton is the founder and host of all Ideas Roadshow Conversations and was the Founding Executive Director of Perimeter Institute ...
2021-Jun-09 • 59 minutes
W. Patrick McCray, "Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture" (MIT Press, 2020)
Artwork as opposed to experiment? Engineer versus artist? We often see two different cultural realms separated by impervious walls. But some fifty years ago, the borders between technology and art began to be breached. In Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture (MIT Press, 2020), W. Patrick McCray shows how in this era, artists eagerly collaborated with engineers and scientists to explore new technologies and create visually and sonically compelling multimedia works...
2021-Jun-07 • 41 minutes
Lydia Denworth, "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond" (Bloomsbury, 2020)
The phenomenon of friendship is universal and elemental. Friends, after all, are the family we choose. But what makes these bonds not just pleasant but essential, and how do they affect our bodies and our minds? In Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond (Bloomsbury, 2020), science journalist Lydia Denworth takes us in search of friendship's biological, psychological, and evolutionary foundations. She finds friendship to be as old as early life on the African sa...
2021-Jun-07 • 66 minutes
Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, "Objectivity" (Zone Books, 2010)
Turns out "objectivity" has a not-so clear-cut definition across time. In this podcast, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison to discuss their work, Objectivity (Zone Books, 2010). This work traces the historical and cultural developments of the word “objective” as it acquired different meanings and associated practices. Similarly, they consider the changing relationship of objectivity as it relates to the subjectivity of the researcher, as the “scientific self.” This deep philosophical work, diving into the cu...
2021-Jun-07 • 74 minutes
Howard Burton, "Conversations About Biology" (Open Agenda, 2020)
This Ideas Roadshow Collection includes five Ideas Roadshow books that have been developed from filmed wide-ranging conversations with the following leading researchers: sleep scientist Matthew Walker (UC Berkeley), biochemist Nick Lane (UCL), neuroscientist Jay Gargus (UC Irvine), neuroscientist Alcino Silva (UCLA), and geneticist Stephen Scherer (University of Toronto). Howard Burton is the founder and host of all Ideas Roadshow Conversations and was the Founding Executive Director of Perimeter Institute ...
2021-Jun-02 • 60 minutes
Rob Boddice, "Humane Professions: The Defence of Experimental Medicine, 1876-1914" (Cambridge UP, 2021)
In this compelling history of the co-ordinated, transnational defence of medical experimentation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Rob Boddice explores the experience of vivisection as humanitarian practice. He captures the rise of the professional and specialist medical scientist, whose métier was animal experimentation, and whose guiding principle was 'humanity' or the reduction of the aggregate of suffering in the world. He also highlights the rhetorical rehearsal of scientific practices a...
2021-Jun-01 • 51 minutes
Skylar Tibbits, "Things Fall Together: A Guide to the New Materials Revolution" (Princeton UP, 2021)
Things in life tend to fall apart. Cars break down. Buildings fall into disrepair. Personal items deteriorate. Yet today’s researchers are exploiting newly understood properties of matter to program materials that physically sense, adapt, and fall together instead of apart. These materials open new directions for industrial innovation and challenge us to rethink the way we build and collaborate with our environment. Things Fall Together: A Guide to the New Materials Revolution (Princeton UP, 2021) is a prov...
2021-Jun-01 • 66 minutes
Martin Paul Eve et al. "Reading Peer Review: PLOS One and Institutional Change in Academia" (Cambridge UP, 2021)
Listen to this interview of Martin Paul Eve (Birkbeck, University of London), Cameron Neylon (Curtin University), Daniel Paul O'Donnell (University of Lethbridge), Samuel Moore (Coventry University), Robert Gadie (University of the Arts London), Victoria Odeniyi (University College London), and Shahina Parvin (University of Lethbridge) about their book Reading Peer Review: PLOS One and Institutional Change in Academia, published this year by Cambridge University Press. The book is part of Cambridge UP's "El...
2021-May-31 • 71 minutes
Howard Burton, "Conversations About Astrophysics & Cosmology" (Open Agenda, 2020)
This Ideas Roadshow Collection includes five Ideas Roadshow books that have been developed from filmed wide-ranging conversations with the following leading physicists: Roger Penrose (University of Oxford), Scott Tremaine (IAS), Paul Steinhardt (Princeton University), Justin Khoury (University of Pennsylvania) and Rocky Kolb (University of Chicago). Howard Burton is the founder and host of all Ideas Roadshow Conversations and was the Founding Executive Director of Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics...
2021-May-31 • 69 minutes
Ellen Peters, "Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers" (Oxford UP, 2020)
To many mathematicians and math enthusiasts, the word "innumeracy" brings to mind popular writing like that of John Allen Paulos. But inequities in our quantitative reasoning skills have received considerable interest and attention from researchers lately, including in psychology, development, education, and public health. Innumeracy in the Wild: Misunderstanding and Misusing Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2020) is a unified treatment of these broad-ranging studies, from the ways more and less numerate p...
2021-May-28 • 58 minutes
Randolph M. Nesse, "Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry" (Dutton, 2019)
Why do I feel bad? There is real power in understanding our bad feelings. With his classic Why We Get Sick, Dr. Randolph Nesse helped to establish the field of evolutionary medicine. Now he returns with Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry (Dutton, 2019), a book that transforms our understanding of mental disorders by exploring a fundamentally new question. Instead of asking why certain people suffer from mental illness, Nesse asks why natural selection has le...
2021-May-26 • 59 minutes
Jenny Bangham, "Blood Relations: Transfusion and the Making of Human Genetics" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
Blood is messy, dangerous, and charged with meaning. By following it as it circulates through people and institutions, Jenny Bangham explores the intimate connections between the early infrastructures of blood transfusion and the development of human genetics. Focusing on mid-twentieth-century Britain, Blood Relations: Transfusion and the Making of Human Genetics (U Chicago Press, 2020) connects histories of eugenics to the local politics of giving blood, showing how the exchange of blood carved out network...
2021-May-21 • 51 minutes
Deborah R. Coen, "The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter" (U Chicago Press, 2013)
Earthquakes have taught us much about our planet's hidden structure and the forces that have shaped it. This knowledge rests not only on the recordings of seismographs but also on the observations of eyewitnesses to destruction. During the nineteenth century, a scientific description of an earthquake was built of stories--stories from as many people in as many situations as possible. Sometimes their stories told of fear and devastation, sometimes of wonder and excitement. In The Earthquake Observers: Disast...
2021-May-21 • 65 minutes
Joseph Rouse, "Articulating the World: Conceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image" (U Chicago Press, 2015)
Naturalism as a guiding philosophy for modern science both disavows any appeal to the supernatural or anything else transcendent to nature, and repudiates any philosophical or religious authority over the workings and conclusions of the sciences. A longstanding paradox within naturalism, however, has been the status of scientific knowledge itself, which seems, at first glance, to be something that transcends and is therefore impossible to conceptualize within scientific naturalism itself. In Articulating th...
2021-May-17 • 55 minutes
Michael D. Gordin, "On the Fringe: Where Science Meets Pseudoscience" (Oxford UP, 2021)
Everyone has heard of the term "pseudoscience", typically used to describe something that looks like science, but is somehow false, misleading, or unproven. Many would be able to agree on a list of things that fall under its umbrella-- astrology, phrenology, UFOlogy, creationism, and eugenics might come to mind. But defining what makes these fields "pseudo" is a far more complex issue. It has proved impossible to come up with a simple criterion that enables us to differentiate pseudoscience from genuine sci...
2021-May-17 • 84 minutes
Adam Rogers, "Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern" (Houghton Mifflin, 2021)
From kelly green to millennial pink, our world is graced with a richness of colors. But our human-made colors haven’t always matched nature’s kaleidoscopic array. To reach those brightest heights required millennia of remarkable innovation and a fascinating exchange of ideas between science and craft that’s allowed for the most luminous manifestations of our built and adorned world. In Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern (Houghton Mifflin, 2021), Rogers takes us on that globe-trotting jou...
2021-May-13 • 63 minutes
Bijal P. Trivedi, "Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine Forever" (Benbella, 2020)
Cystic fibrosis was once a mysterious disease that killed infants and children. Now it could be the key to healing millions with genetic diseases of every type—from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to diabetes and sickle cell anemia. In 1974, Joey O'Donnell was born with strange symptoms. His insatiable appetite, incessant vomiting, and a relentless cough—which shook his tiny, fragile body and made it difficult to draw breath—confounded doctors and caused his parents agonizing, sleepless nights. After six sickly...
2021-May-12 • 68 minutes
Michelle Nijhuis, "Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction" (Norton, 2021)
In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction (Norton, 2021), acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history: from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger s...
2021-May-12 • 78 minutes
Lucy van de Wiel, "Freezing Fertility: Oocyte Cryopreservation and the Gender Politics of Aging" (NYU Press, 2020)
How does egg freezing reshape our conception of time, aging and fertility? In her new monograph, Freezing Fertility: Oocyte Cryopreservation and the Gender Politics of Aging (NYU Press, 2020) Dr. Lucy van de Wiel explores the significance of egg freezing in re-orienting the temporality of the gender politics of aging. Dr. van de Wiel argues that it is critical to examine the politicized dimensions of egg freezing because it transforms the broader discourses around aging and normative timeline of women's rep...
2021-May-11 • 65 minutes
Jason Karlawish, "The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It" (St. Martin's Press, 2021)
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s, and more than half a million died because of the disease and its devastating complications. 16 million caregivers are responsible for paying as much as half of the $226 billion annual costs of their care. As more people live beyond their seventies and eighties, the number of patients will rise to an estimated 13.8 million by 2025. Part case studies, part meditation on the past, present and future of the disease, The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Sci...
2021-May-11 • 55 minutes
David Weill, "Exhale: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant" (Post Hill Press, 2021)
Exhale: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant (Post Hill Press, 2021) is the riveting memoir of a top transplant doctor who rode the emotional rollercoaster of saving and losing lives—until it was time to step back and reassess his own life. A young father with a rare form of lung cancer who has been turned down for a transplant by several hospitals. A kid who was considered not “smart enough” to be worthy of a transplant. A young mother dying on the waiting list in front of her two small children. A fath...
2021-May-10 • 64 minutes
Philip Ball, "The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science" (MIT Press, 2021)
Chemistry is not just about microscopic atoms doing inscrutable things; it is the process that makes flowers and galaxies. We rely on it for bread-baking, vegetable-growing, and producing the materials of daily life. In stunning images and illuminating text, this book captures chemistry as it unfolds. Using such techniques as microphotography, time-lapse photography, and infrared thermal imaging, The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science (MIT Press, 2021) shows us how chemistry underpins the formati...
2021-May-03 • 48 minutes
Peter Godfrey-Smith, "Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind" (FSG, 2020)
Dip below the ocean’s surface and you are soon confronted by forms of life that could not seem more foreign to our own: sea sponges, soft corals, and serpulid worms, whose rooted bodies, intricate geometry, and flower-like appendages are more reminiscent of plant life or even architecture than anything recognizably animal. Yet these creatures are our cousins. As fellow members of the animal kingdom—the Metazoa—they can teach us much about the evolutionary origins of not only our bodies, but also our minds. ...
2021-Apr-29 • 59 minutes
Elise K. Burton, "Genetic Crossroads: The Middle East and the Science of Human Heredity" (Stanford UP, 2021)
Elise K. Burton’s important book, Genetic Crossroads: The Middle East and the Science of Human Heredity (Stanford University Press, 2021), documents how race and nation became fused in concept and in political practice. Over the past century, nation-building and race-making became interdependent through the sciences of heredity and their uses during wartimes and their aftermaths. The book provincializes Euro-American histories of science by centering the intrepid and non-innocent scientists from land along ...
2021-Apr-23 • 60 minutes
Leigh Calvez, "The Hidden Lives of Owls: The Science and Spirit of Nature's Most Elusive Birds" (Sasquatch Books, 2016)
Join naturalist and science writer Leigh Calvez on her adventures into science and spirit of animals, as we discuss her two recent books: The Hidden Lives of Owls, and The Breath of the Whale (Sasquatch Books, 2016 and 2019, respectively). Calvez makes the science and research entertaining and accessible, describing the social behavior of owls and whales while exploring the questions about the human-animal connection. Our conversation highlights the impressive resilience and intelligence of the animals we h...
2021-Apr-23 • 60 minutes
James Doucet-Battle, "Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)
Decades of data cannot be ignored: African American adults are far more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white adults. But has science gone so far in racializing diabetes as to undermine the search for solutions? In a rousing indictment of the idea that notions of biological race should drive scientific inquiry, Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) provides an ethnographic picture of biotechnology’s framings of Type 2 diabetes risk and race and,...
2021-Apr-21 • 60 minutes
Herbert Terrace, "Why Chimpanzees Can't Learn Language and Only Humans Can" (Columbia UP, 2019)
Through discussion of his famous 1970s experiment alongside new research, in Why Chimpanzees Can’t Learn Language and Only Humans Can (Columbia University Press, 2019), Herbert Terrace argues that, despite the failure of famous attempts to teach primates to speak, from these efforts we can learn something important: the missing link between non-linguistic and linguistic creatures is the ability to use words, not to form sentences. Situating language-learning as a capacity gained through conversation, not pr...
2021-Apr-20 • 60 minutes
Allison Cobb, "Plastic: An Autobiography" (Nightboat Books, 2021)
Plastic: An Autobiography (Nightboat Books, 2021) explores how technology, sprung from desire, draws all beings into its net, and asks how to live justly within its grasp. In Plastic: An Autobiography, Allison Cobb’s obsession with a large plastic car part leads her to explore the violence of our consume-and-dispose culture, including her own life as a child of Los Alamos, where the first atomic bombs were made. The journey exposes the interconnections among plastic waste, climate change, nuclear technologi...
2021-Apr-14 • 81 minutes
Christopher Thaiss, "Writing Science in the Twenty-First Century" (Broadview Press, 2019)
Listen to this interview of Christopher Thaiss, author of Writing Science in the Twenty-First Century (Broadview Press 2019). We talk about the research article, about writing styles, and about the uses of rhetoric to scientists. Interviewer: "Too many students learning to write in the sciences lack helpful feedback on their writing, and this causes them to experience, quite personally, that disconnect we were talking about, between doing science and writing science." Christopher Thaiss: "Feedback is one of...
2021-Apr-06 • 68 minutes
Teya Brooks Pribac, "Enter the Animal: Cross-Species Perspectives on Grief and Spirituality" (Sydney UP, 2021)
For centuries, science has largely dismissed the idea that animals experience complex emotions, despite the fact the most humans who’ve spent time in the company of animals would argue otherwise. While research on animal subjectivity is expanding, we still know relatively little about the complexities of non-humans’ emotional lives. Teya Brooks Pribac’s new book, Enter the Animal: Cross-Species Perspectives on Grief and Spirituality, published this year by Sydney University Press, examines the scientific an...
2021-Apr-06 • 54 minutes
Avi Loeb, "Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth" (Houghton Mifflin, 2021)
In late 2017, scientists at a Hawaiian observatory glimpsed an object soaring through our inner solar system, moving so quickly that it could only have come from another star. Avi Loeb, an astronomer, showed it was not an asteroid; it was moving too fast along a strange orbit, and left no trail of gas or debris in its wake. There was only one conceivable explanation: the object was a piece of advanced technology created by a distant alien civilization. In Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life...
2021-Apr-05 • 75 minutes
James S. J. Schwartz, "The Value of Science in Space Exploration" (Oxford UP, 2020)
The Value of Science in Space Exploration (Oxford UP, 2020) provides a rigorous assessment of the value of scientific knowledge and understanding in the context of contemporary space exploration. It argues that traditional spaceflight rationales are deficient, and that the strongest defense of spaceflight comes from its potential to produce intrinsically and instrumentally valuable knowledge and understanding. It engages with contemporary epistemology to articulate an account of the intrinsic value of scien...
2021-Apr-02 • 57 minutes
Jonas Peters and Nicolai Meinshausen, "The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games" (MIT Press, 2021)
Games have been of interest to mathematicians almost since mathematics became a subject. In fact, entire branches of mathematics have arisen simply to analyze certain games. The Raven's Hat: Fallen Pictures, Rising Sequences, and Other Mathematical Games (MIT Press, 2021) does something very different, and something that I think listeners will find intriguing – it uses games in order to explain mathematical concepts. The Raven's Hat presents a series of engaging games that seem unsolvable--but can be solved...
2021-Apr-02 • 55 minutes
Doug Bierend. "In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms" (Chelsea Green, 2021)
From ecology to fermentation, in pop culture and in medicine—mushrooms are everywhere. With an explorer’s eye, author Doug Bierend guides readers through the weird, wonderful world of fungi and the amazing modern mycological movement. In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the Untapped Potential of Mushrooms (Chelsea Green, 2021) introduces us to an incredible, essential, and oft-overlooked kingdom of life—fungi—and all the potential it holds for our future, through the work and resear...
2021-Mar-30 • 62 minutes
Roy Richard Grinker, "Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness" (Norton, 2021)
A compassionate and captivating examination of evolving attitudes toward mental illness throughout history and the fight to end the stigma. For centuries, scientists and society cast moral judgments on anyone deemed mentally ill, confining many to asylums. In Nobody's Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021), anthropologist Roy Richard Grinker chronicles the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma—from the eighteenth century, through...
2021-Mar-22 • 87 minutes
Rick McIntyre, "The Reign of Wolf 21: In the Valley of the Druid King" (Greystone Books, 2020)
Today I talked to Rick McIntyre about the first two books of his ongoing The Alpha Wolves of Yellowstone series. The first book we discuss, The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone's Underdog, introduces us to the wolves of Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park was once home to an abundance of wild wolves—but park rangers killed the last of their kind in the 1920s. Decades later, the rangers brought them back, with the first wolves arriving from Canada in 1995. This is the in...
2021-Mar-19 • 52 minutes
Courtney E. Thompson, "An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America" (Rutgers UP, 2021)
An Organ of Murder: Crime, Violence, and Phrenology in Nineteenth-Century America (Rutgers UP, 2021) explores the origins of both popular and elite theories of criminality in the nineteenth-century United States, focusing in particular on the influence of phrenology. In the United States, phrenology shaped the production of medico-legal knowledge around crime, the treatment of the criminal within prisons and in public discourse, and sociocultural expectations about the causes of crime. The criminal was phre...
2021-Mar-19 • 49 minutes
Barbara J. King, "Animals' Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and in the Wild" (U Chicago Press, 2021)
As people come to understand more about animals' inner lives-the intricacies of their thoughts and the emotions that are expressed every day by whales and cows, octopus and mice, even bees-we feel a growing compassion, a desire to better their lives. But how do we translate this compassion into helping other creatures, both those that are and are not our pets? Bringing together the latest science with heartfelt storytelling, Animals' Best Friends: Putting Compassion to Work for Animals in Captivity and in t...
2021-Mar-19 • 39 minutes
A. Blair and K. von Greyerz, "Physico-Theology: Religion and Science in Europe, 1650–1750 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)
Ann Blair and Kaspar von Greyerz have edited an outstanding volume that breaks important new ground in the history of early modern science and religion. As the contributors to this volume demonstrate, the long-standing discussion of natural theology gave way in the mid-seventeenth century to a new conversation about physico-theology, a distinctive genre of science and religion writing that emphasised the goodness and the predictability of the divine being. Emerging first in the immediate aftermath of the cr...
2021-Mar-18 • 70 minutes
Alisha Rankin, "The Poison Trials: Wonder Drugs, Experiment, and the Battle for Authority in Renaissance Science" (Alisha Rankin, 2021)
In 1524, Pope Clement VII gave two condemned criminals to his physician to test a promising new antidote. After each convict ate a marzipan cake poisoned with deadly aconite, one of them received the antidote, and lived—the other died in agony. In sixteenth-century Europe, this and more than a dozen other accounts of poison trials were committed to writing. Alisha Rankin tells their little-known story. At a time when poison was widely feared, the urgent need for effective cures provoked intense excitement a...
2021-Mar-17 • 105 minutes
Mitchell L. Hammond, "Epidemics and the Modern World" (University of Toronto Press, 2020)
Normally we write blogposts that try to convince you to listen to a conversation with an author about their fascinating book. In the time of COVID-19, it doesn't seem necessary to have to sell you on why you should listen to this podcast. Suffice it to say that Mitchell Hammond’s excellent survey of a dozen deadly diseases is a must-read primer to make sense of epidemic history. In Epidemics and the Modern World (University of Toronto Press, 2020), he balances the science of disease etiology and disease cyc...
2021-Mar-12 • 68 minutes
Jeremy DeSilva, "First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human" (Harper, 2021)
Blending history, science, and culture, a stunning and highly engaging evolutionary story exploring how walking on two legs allowed humans to become the planet’s dominant species. Humans are the only mammals to walk on two, rather than four legs—a locomotion known as bipedalism. We strive to be upstanding citizens, honor those who stand tall and proud, and take a stand against injustices. We follow in each other’s footsteps and celebrate a child’s beginning to walk. But why, and how, exactly, did we take ou...
2021-Mar-12 • 78 minutes
David Payne on the Community of Scientists and Diversity
Listen to this interview of David Payne, who is Chief Careers Editor at Nature. We talk about high quality writing, about the gracious community of scientists, and about diversity, diversity, diversity. Interviewer : "What is the one thing you hope, for sure, that every piece of Careers content will achieve?" David Payne : "Oh, that's a question, isn't it? You know what, I think it is about emotion. And I just want it to––not tug at your heartstrings, that sounds cheesy––but I feel, we spend so much time at...
2021-Mar-08 • 51 minutes
Edzard Ernst, "Chiropractic: Not All That It's Cracked Up to Be" (Springer, 2020)
Of all forms of alternative medicine, chiropractic is the one that is most generally accepted. In the UK, for instance, chiropractors are regulated by statute and even have their own ‘Royal College of Chiropractic’. In the US, chiropractic’s country of origin, most chiropractors carry the title ‘doctor’ and many consumers believe they are medically trained. Despite this high level of acceptance, chiropractic is wide open to criticism. The claims and assumptions made by chiropractors are far from evidence ba...
2021-Mar-03 • 57 minutes
J. Jureidini and L. B. McHenry, "The Illusion of Evidence-Based Medicine: Exposing the Crisis of Credibility in Clinical Research" (Wakefield Press, 2020)
An exposé of the corruption of medicine by the pharmaceutical industry at every level, from exploiting the vulnerable destitute for drug testing, through manipulation of research data, to disease mongering and promoting drugs that do more harm than good. Authors, Professor Jon Jureidini and Dr Leemon McHenry, made critical contributions to exposing the scientific misconduct in two infamous trials of antidepressants. Ghostwritten publications of these trials were highly influential in prescriptions of paroxe...
2021-Mar-03 • 73 minutes
Han Yu, "Mind Thief: The Story of Alzheimer's" (Columbia UP, 2021)
Alzheimer’s disease, a haunting and harrowing ailment, is one of the world’s most common causes of death. Alzheimer’s lingers for years, with patients’ outward appearance unaffected while their cognitive functions fade away. Patients lose the ability to work and live independently, to remember and recognize. There is still no proven way to treat Alzheimer’s because its causes remain unknown. Mind Thief: The Story of Alzheimer's (Columbia UP, 2021) is a comprehensive and engaging history of Alzheimer’s that ...
2021-Feb-25 • 56 minutes
Erika Engelhaupt, "Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science" (National Geographic, 2020)
Would your dog eat you if you died? What are face mites? Why do clowns creep us out? In this illuminating collection of grisly true science stories, journalist Erika Engelhaupt, the writer of National Geographic’s highly acclaimed Gory Details blog, shares the answers to these questions and many more. Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science (National Geographic, 2020) explores the strange and shocking realities of our minds, our bodies and our universe, taking readers on a fascinating tour th...
2021-Feb-24 • 65 minutes
Tracie White and Ronald W. Davis, "The Puzzle Solver: A Scientist's Desperate Hunt to Cure the Illness That Stole His Son" (Hachette, 2021)
Based on a viral article, the gripping medical mystery story of Ron Davis, a world-class Stanford geneticist who has put his career on the line to find the cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, the disease killing his son. For the past six years, Whitney Dafoe has been confined to a bedroom in the back of his parents' home, unable to walk, to eat, to speak. The sound of music causes him pain. At one point, the formerly healthy, young, freelance photographer, faced starvation as his 6'3" frame withered to 115 p...
2021-Feb-24 • 20 minutes
Imitating Viruses: How Technology Can Help Us Be Better Prepared For Pandemics
Viruses are not very different from machines that process information, and thus, how the virus functions can be simulated on a computer. This ability to “imitate” the way viruses behave is particularly useful today, as we battle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and struggle to prepare for similar events. Dr. Klaus Mainzer, Co-founder and Senior Professor at the Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker Center of the University of Tübingen and President of European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg, explain...
2021-Feb-22 • 26 minutes
Seema Yasmin, "Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)
Can your zip code predict when you will die? Should you space out childhood vaccines? Does talcum powder cause cancer? Why do some doctors recommend e-cigarettes while other doctors recommend you stay away from them? Health information―and misinformation―is all around us, and it can be hard to separate the two. A long history of unethical medical experiments and medical mistakes, along with a host of celebrities spewing anti-science beliefs, has left many wary of science and the scientists who say they shou...
2021-Feb-22 • 56 minutes
Milo Beckman, "Math Without Numbers" (Dutton, 2020)
One of the questions I am often asked is exactly what do mathematicians do. The short answer is that they look at different mathematical structures, try to deduce their properties, and think about how they might apply to the real world. Math Without Numbers (Dutton, 2020) does a wonderful job of explaining what mathematical structures are, and does so in a fashion that even readers who are uncomfortable with the process of doing mathematics can appreciate and enjoy. There are courses in music and art apprec...
2021-Feb-18 • 36 minutes
Alan Lightman, "Probable Impossibilities: Musings on Beginnings and Endings" (Pantheon, 2021)
Imagination with a Straight Jacket Alan Lightman is a writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur. He has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities. He is the author of many books, both fiction and nonfiction, including the international best seller Einstein’s Dreams and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. This episode goes to both what’s epic i...
2021-Feb-17 • 43 minutes
Emily Willingham, "Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis" (Avery, 2020)
The fallacy sold to many of us is that the penis signals dominance and power. But this wry and penetrating book reveals that in fact nature did not shape the penis–or the human attached to it–to have the upper…hand. Phallacy looks closely at some of nature’s more remarkable examples of penises and the many lessons to learn from them. In tracing how we ended up positioning our nondescript penis as a pulsing, awe-inspiring shaft of all masculinity and human dominance, Phallacy also shows what can we do to put...
2021-Feb-17 • 39 minutes
David Badre, "On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done" (Princeton UP, 2020)
On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done (Princeton UP, 2020) is a look at the extraordinary ways the brain turns thoughts into actions—and how this shapes our everyday lives. Why is it hard to text and drive at the same time? How do you resist eating that extra piece of cake? Why does staring at a tax form feel mentally exhausting? Why can your child expertly fix the computer and yet still forget to put on a coat? From making a cup of coffee to buying a house to changing the world around them, humans are u...
2021-Feb-16 • 66 minutes
Jacqueline Mitton and Simon Mitton, "Vera Rubin: A Life" (Harvard UP, 2021)
Few astronomers in the 20th century did as much to expand our understanding of the universe as Vera Rubin. To tell her remarkable story in their biography Vera Rubin: A Life (Belknap Press, 2021), authors Jacqueline and Simon Mitton describe both the range of her accomplishments as well as the barriers she overcame in order to achieve them. As they explain, Rubin was drawn early to the study of the stars, determining early in her life that she wanted to be an astronomer. To become one she had to overcome t...
2021-Feb-15 • 62 minutes
Henry T. Greely, "CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing Humans" (The MIT Press, 2021)
What does the birth of babies whose embryos have gone through genome editing mean—for science and for all of us? In November 2018, the world was shocked to learn that two babies had been born in China with DNA edited while they were embryos—as dramatic a development in genetics as the 1996 cloning of Dolly the sheep. In this book, Hank Greely, a leading authority on law and genetics, tells the fascinating story of this human experiment and its consequences in CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing...
2021-Feb-10 • 64 minutes
Thomas Pradeu, "Philosophy of Immunology" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
Vaccines make us wholly or partly immune to disease, such as Covid-19. But what is it to be immune? What is an immune system, and what does it do? In its beginnings, immunology was considered the science of the self/non-self distinction: the immune system comprised the self’s defenses against invading non-self pathogens, and was a sophisticated system possessed only by vertebrates. In Philosophy of Immunology (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Thomas Pradeu explains why these traditional conceptions have b...
2021-Feb-10 • 65 minutes
Jack Price, "The Future of Brain Repair: A Realist's Guide to Stem Cell Therapy" (MIT Press, 2020)
A scientist assesses the potential of stem cell therapies for treating such brain disorders as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Stem cell therapies are the subject of enormous hype, endowed by the media with almost magical qualities and imagined by the public to bring about miracle cures. Stem cells have the potential to generate new cells of different types, and have been shown to do so in certain cases. Could stem cell transplants repair the damaged brain? In his book The Future of Br...
2021-Feb-08 • 66 minutes
Jennifer M. Rampling, "The Experimental Fire: Inventing English Alchemy, 1300-1700" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
A four-hundred-year history of the development of alchemy in England that brings to light the evolution of the practice. Tracing the development of alchemy in England from the beginning of the fourteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, Jennifer M. Rampling illuminates the role of alchemical reading and experimental practice in the broader context of national and scientific history. Using new manuscript sources, she shows how practitioners like George Ripley, John Dee, and Edward Kelley, as well as m...
2021-Feb-05 • 57 minutes
Michael Rossi, "The Republic of Color: Science, Perception, and the Making of Modern America" (Chicago UP, 2019)
The appreciation of color is considered universal among human societies, yet varies vastly according to cultural norms and material circumstances. In the nineteenth century, synthetic chemistry produced new hues like mauve that changed the sensory worlds of people living in industrial societies. In The Republic of Color: Science, Perception, and the Making of Modern America (Chicago UP 2019), historian Michael Rossi explores how reformers and scientists turned to color science to ask and answer profound que...
2021-Jan-26 • 61 minutes
Simon Baron-Cohen, "The Pattern Seekers: A New Theory of Human Invention" (Allen Lane, 2020)
Why are humans alone capable of invention? This question is relevant to every human invention, from music to mathematics, sculpture and science, dating back to the beginnings of civilization. In The Pattern Seekers: A New Theory of Human Invention, Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the Autism Research Center at Cambridge University, presents a new theory of human invention. His unexpected claim is that understanding autistic people — specifically their unstoppable drive to seek patterns, a characteristic o...
2021-Jan-25 • 56 minutes
J. Rosenhouse, "Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles" (Princeton UP, 2020)
Jason Rosenhouse's Games for Your Mind: The History and Future of Logic Puzzles (Princeton UP, 2020) is about a panoply of logic puzzles. You’ll find Mastermind and sudoku discussed early on, and then you’ll be hit with an incredible array of some of the most intriguing logic puzzles that have ever been devised. Some will be familiar to you, but some will almost certainly be brain-teasers you have never heard of. It’s absolutely amazing what a truly deep field grew from recreational pastimes – and this book...
2021-Jan-25 • 54 minutes
Brian Deer, "The Doctor Who Fooled the World: Andrew Wakefield's War on Vaccines" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)
A reporter uncovers the secrets behind the scientific scam of the century. The news breaks first as a tale of fear and pity. Doctors at a London hospital claim a link between autism and a vaccine given to millions of children: MMR. Young parents are terrified. Immunization rates slump. And as a worldwide ‘anti-vax’ movement kicks off, old diseases return to sicken and kill. But a veteran reporter isn’t so sure, and sets out on an epic investigation. Battling establishment cover-ups, smear campaigns, and ga...
2021-Jan-22 • 50 minutes
David Sepkoski, "Catastrophic Thinking: Extinction and the Value of Diversity from Darwin to the Anthropocene" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
We live in an age in which we are repeatedly reminded—by scientists, by the media, by popular culture—of the looming threat of mass extinction. We’re told that human activity is currently producing a sixth mass extinction, perhaps of even greater magnitude than the five previous geological catastrophes that drastically altered life on Earth. Indeed, there is a very real concern that the human species may itself be poised to go the way of the dinosaurs, victims of the most recent mass extinction some 65 mill...
2021-Jan-19 • 73 minutes
R. Douglas Fields, "Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better" (BenBella, 2020)
In Electric Brain: How the New Science of Brainwaves Reads Minds, Tells Us How We Learn, and Helps Us Change for the Better (BenBella, 2020), eminent neuroscientist R. Douglas Fields surveys the history and current state of scientific understanding about the brain as an electrical organ, and how the electrical activity of the brain relates to cognitive functioning and various clinical conditions. The book begins by documenting some of the fascinating and obscure history of the discovery and early science of...
2021-Jan-19 • 41 minutes
Andrew Jewett, "Science Under Fire: Challenges to Scientific Authority in Modern America" (Harvard UP, 2020)
Americans today are often skeptical of scientific authority. Many conservatives dismiss climate change and Darwinism as liberal fictions, arguing that "tenured radicals" have coopted the sciences and other disciplines. Some progressives, especially in the universities, worry that science's celebration of objectivity and neutrality masks its attachment to Eurocentric and patriarchal values. As we grapple with the implications of climate change and revolutions in fields from biotechnology to robotics to compu...
2021-Jan-13 • 64 minutes
Rob DeSalle, "A Natural History of Color: The Science Behind What We See and How We See it" (Pegasus Books, 2020)
Is color a phenomenon of science or a thing of art? Over the years, color has dazzled, enhanced, and clarified the world we see, embraced through the experimental palettes of painting, the advent of the color photograph, Technicolor pictures, color printing, on and on, a vivid and vibrant celebrated continuum. These turns to represent reality in “living color” echo our evolutionary reliance on and indeed privileging of color as a complex and vital form of consumption, classification, and creation. It’s ever...
2021-Jan-06 • 59 minutes
Daniel Oberhaus, "Extraterrestrial Languages" (MIT Press, 2019)
In Extraterrestrial Languages (MIT Press 2020), Daniel Oberhaus tells the history of human efforts to talk to aliens, but in doing so, the book reflects on the relationship between communication and cognition, the metaphysics of mathematics, about whether dolphins have a language, and more. The challenge of communicating with extraterrestrials forces scientists and linguists to consider a range of problems. Would these listeners recognize radio signals as linguistic? How would they decode and interpret them...
2021-Jan-04 • 40 minutes
Can we Bring Extinct Species Back?: A Conversation with Beth Shapiro
Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. In How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction (Princeton UP, 2020), Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in “ancient DNA” research, walks readers through the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction. From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, Shapiro vividly explo...
2020-Dec-31 • 32 minutes
Daniel Lieberman, "Exercised: How We Did Not Evolve to Exercise and What to Do about It" (Pantheon, 2021)
Today I talked to Daniel Lieberman about his book Exercised: How We Did Not Evolve to Exercise and What to Do about It (Pantheon, 2021). In the book Lieberman explodes 12 different myths, chief among them we’re supposed to want to exercise. Much of the conversation explores differences between Westerners and their lifestyles, including of course exercise, versus the daily energy expenditures of non-Westerners and especially people in Africa. It provides insights to show how aging and senescence are not nece...
2020-Dec-24 • 39 minutes
Russell T. Warne, "In the Know: Debunking 35 Myths about Human Intelligence" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
In this episode I talked to Russell T. Warne about his book In the Know: Debunking 35 Myths about Human Intelligence (Cambridge UP, 2020). Warne takes on the “nature versus nurture” debate regarding the source of intelligence. It also looks at a host of other angles related to IQ: from the failures of the No Child Left Behind act to what are the disadvantages to society are of an emerging intellectual meritocracy. Along the way it explores differences in scores based on ethnic/racial origins, plus how well...
2020-Dec-24 • 78 minutes
Paul Davies, "The Demon in the Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information Are Solving the Mystery of Life" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
What is life? For generations, scientists have struggled to make sense of this fundamental question, for life really does look like magic: even a humble bacterium accomplishes things so dazzling that no human engineer can match it. Huge advances in molecular biology over the past few decades have served only to deepen the mystery. In this penetrating and wide-ranging book, world-renowned physicist and science communicator Paul Davies searches for answers in a field so new and fast-moving that it lacks a nam...
2020-Dec-24 • 38 minutes
Jonathan C. Slaght, "Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl" (FSG, 2020)
The Blakiston’s fish owl is the world’s largest living species of owl, with larger females of the species weighing as much as ten pounds. It lives in the Russian Far East and Northern Japan. It is also endangered: global populations are estimated to be around 1500 owls in total. The story of one conservationist’s efforts to save these owls is told in Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2020), the first book by Jonathan Slaght. The book traces...
2020-Dec-23 • 62 minutes
Eben Kirksey, "The Mutant Project: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans" (St. Martin's Press, 2020)
In The Mutant Project: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans (St. Martin's Press, 2020), anthropologist Eben Kirksey visits the frontiers of genetics, medicine, and technology to ask: Whose values are guiding gene editing experiments? And what does this new era of scientific inquiry mean for the future of the human species? At a conference in Hong Kong in November 2018, Dr. He Jiankui announced that he had created the first genetically modified babies—twin girls named Lulu and Nana—sending sho...
2020-Dec-16 • 56 minutes
Nick Haddad, "The Last Butterflies: A Scientist's Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature" (Princeton UP, 2019)
Butterflies have long captivated the imagination of humans, from naturalists to children to poets. Indeed it would be hard to imagine a world without butterflies. And yet their populations are declining at an alarming rate, to the extent that even the seemingly ubiquitous Monarch could conceivably go the way of the Passenger Pigeon. Many other, more obscure, butterfly species are already perilously close to extinction. For the last 20 years, Nick Haddad has worked to identify and save some of the rarest but...
2020-Dec-16 • 47 minutes
Louise M. Pryke, "Turtle" (Reaction Books, 2020)
As ancient creatures that once shared the Earth with dinosaurs, turtles have played a crucial role in maintaining healthy terrestrial and marine ecosystems for more than one hundred million years. While it may not set records for speed on land, the turtle is exceptional at distance swimming and deep diving, and some are gifted with astounding longevity. In human thought, the animal's ties to creativity, wisdom, and warfare stretch back to the world's earliest written records. In Turtle, Louise M. Pryke cele...
2020-Dec-07 • 72 minutes
Scholarly Communications: A Discussion with Elisa De Ranieri, Editor-in-Chief of "Nature Communications"
Listen to this interview of Elisa De Ranieri, Editor-in-Chief of Nature Communications. We talk about knowing the research you have done, but communicating the message you want said. Interviewer: "When a submission lands on your desk, or better said, you call it up on your screen, what are you pleased to see, what makes your work easier?" Elisa De Ranieri: "Yeah, well, I guess what makes the job easier for an editor is to receive a paper that is well-written and well-constructed and where the authors are so...
2020-Dec-07 • 76 minutes
James D. Stein, "The Fate of Schrodinger's Cat: Using Math and Computers to Explore the Counterintuitive" (World Scientific, 2020)
Can we correctly predict the flip of a fair coin more than half the time -- or the decay of a single radioactive atom? Our intuition, based on a lifetime of experience, tells us that we cannot, as these are classic examples of what are known to be 50-50 guesses. But mathematics is filled with counterintuitive results -- and this book discusses some surprising and entertaining examples. It is possible to devise experiments in which a flipped coin lands heads completely at random half the time, but we can als...
2020-Dec-04 • 79 minutes
A. Espay and B. Stecher, "Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
An estimated 80 million people live with a neurodegenerative disease, with this number expected to double by 2050. Despite decades of research and billions in funding, there are no medications that can slow, much less stop, the progress of these diseases. The time to rethink degenerative brain disorders has come. With no biological boundaries between neurodegenerative diseases, illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's result from a large spectrum of biological abnormalities, hampering effective treatme...
2020-Dec-02 • 60 minutes
Glenn Sauer, "Points of Contact: Science, Religion, and the Search for Truth" (Orbis Books, 2020)
As a scientist and practicing Catholic, Dr. Sauer brings a unique perspective to several of the important issues related to finding a space for dialogue between the at times opposing fields of science and religion. Drawing on insights from Darwin, Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Kuhn, and many others, Dr. Sauer presents a powerful and important framework for reconciling the historically changing divide between science and religion. His take is that we need to encourage a stance of intellectual humility on all s...
2020-Dec-01 • 107 minutes
Anna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)
Mathematics as a subject is distinctive in its symbolic abstraction and its potential for logical and computational rigor. But mathematicians tend to impute other qualities to our subject that set it apart, such as impartiality, universality, and elegance. Far from incidental, these ideas prime mathematicians and the public to see in mathematics the answers—for example, an impartial arbiter, or a meritocratic equalizer—to many urgent societal questions. Anna Weltman's new book, Supermath: The Power of Numbe...
2020-Nov-24 • 53 minutes
Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
“What are chromosomes? And what does it mean to treat them as visual objects?” asks Soraya de Chadarevian in her new book, Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Considering this question as she follows the history of microscope-based practices in chromosomal research across a variety of contexts—from the medical clinic to the study of human variation—de Chadarevian offers readers a new history of postwar human genetics. This approac...
2020-Nov-23 • 71 minutes
K. C. Smith and C. Mariscal, "Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology" (Oxford UP, 2020)
Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (Oxford University Press, 2020) focuses on the emerging scientific discipline of astrobiology, exploring many of the humanistic issues this multidisciplinary field is generating. Despite there being myriad scientific questions that astrobiologists have only begun to address, this is not a purely scientific enterprise. More research on the broader social and conceptual aspects of astrobiology is needed and this volume does an outstanding job of setting the course ...
2020-Nov-16 • 45 minutes
Jimena Canales, "Bedeviled: A Shadow History of Demons in Science" (Princeton UP, 2020)
Science may be known for banishing the demons of superstition from the modern world. Yet just as the demon-haunted world was being exorcized by the enlightening power of reason, a new kind of demon mischievously materialized in the scientific imagination itself. Scientists began to employ hypothetical beings to perform certain roles in thought experiments—experiments that can only be done in the imagination—and these impish assistants helped scientists achieve major breakthroughs that pushed forward the fro...
2020-Nov-16 • 39 minutes
Gina Rippon, "Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (Vintage, 2020)
There is a long history of brain research that seems to legitimize widely held beliefs about the men versus women. According to my guest, much of that research is founded on biases and misguided experiments, which raises the questions: Are there any meaningful neurological differences between men and women? And if so, what are they? To find out, you’ll want to listen to my interview with Dr. Gina Rippon, author of the book, Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Femal...
2020-Nov-11 • 57 minutes
Alfred S. Posamentier, "The Joy of Geometry" (Prometheus, 2020)
Alfred S. Posamentier's The Joy of Geometry (Prometheus, 2020) is a book for someone who has taken geometry but wants to go further. This book, as one might expect, is heavy on diagrams and it is sometimes hard to discuss some of the ideas without reference to a diagram. Also, to be fair, this is not a book intended to be read casually. To fully appreciate this book, it is necessary to sit down, preferably in a comfortable chair with a beverage of one’s choosing, and prepare to give the diagrams a close loo...
2020-Nov-04 • 71 minutes
Hugh Raffles, "The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time" (Pantheon Books, 2020)
At once an examination of geology, a biography of monuments, and a meditation on the connection between personal loss and massive loss, Hugh Raffles’ The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time (Pantheon Books, 2020) is a truly beguiling book. Moving through Manhattan marble, Norwegian “blubberstone”, extra-terrestrial meteorites, and several other geological forms, Raffles uses the geological concept of “unconformity” to examine those historical moments where time seems to have disappeared. By si...
2020-Nov-03 • 66 minutes
M. Bekoff and J. Pierce, "The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age" (Beacon Press, 2017)
A compelling argument that the time has come to use what we know about the fascinating and diverse inner lives of other animals on their behalf Every day we are learning new and surprising facts about just how intelligent and emotional animals are—did you know rats like to play and laugh, and also display empathy, and the ears and noses of cows tell us how they’re feeling? At times, we humans translate that knowledge into compassion for other animals; think of the public outcry against the fates of Cecil th...
2020-Oct-30 • 49 minutes
I. Newkirk and G. Stone, "Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion" (Simon and Schuster, 2020)
The founder and president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, and bestselling author Gene Stone explore the wonders of animal life and offer tools for living more kindly toward them. In the last few decades, a wealth of new information has emerged about who animals are—intelligent, aware, and empathetic. Studies show that animals are astounding beings with intelligence, emotions, intricate communications networks, and myriad abilities. In Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to S...
2020-Oct-27 • 68 minutes
Gina Rippon, "Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds" (Vintage, 2020)
For decades if not centuries, science has backed up society’s simple dictum that men and women are hardwired differently, that the world is divided by two different kinds of brains—male and female. However, new research in neuroimaging suggests that this is little more than “neurotrash.” In Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (Vintage, 2020), acclaimed professor of neuroimaging, Gina Rippon, finally challenges this damaging myth by showing how the scie...
2020-Oct-22 • 71 minutes
Robert Plomin, "Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are" (MIT Press, 2019)
Have you ever felt, “Oh my God, I’m turning into my mother (or father)!” ? Robert Plomin explains why that happens in Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are (MIT Press, 2019). A century of genetic research shows that DNA differences inherited from our parents are the consistent lifelong sources of our psychological individuality―the blueprint that makes us who we are. Robert Plomin’s decades of work demonstrate that genetics explains more about the psychological differences among people than all other facto...
2020-Oct-20 • 68 minutes
Valerie Olson, "Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth" (U Minnesota Press, 2018)
What if outer space is not outside the human environment but, rather, defines it? This is the unusual starting point of Valerie Olson’s Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth (U Minnesota Press, 2018), revealing how outer space contributes to making what counts as the scope and scale of today’s natural and social environments. With unprecedented access to spaceflight worksites ranging from astronaut training programs to life science labs and architecture studios, Olson examin...
2020-Oct-15 • 37 minutes
Rene Almeling, "GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health" (U California Press, 2020)
Rene Almeling’s new book GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health (University of California Press, 2020) provides an in-depth look at why we do not talk about men’s reproductive health and this knowledge gap shapes reproductive politics today. Over the past several centuries, the medical profession has made enormous efforts to understand and treat women’s reproductive bodies. It is only recently, however, that researchers have begun to ask basic questions about how men’s health matters ...
2020-Oct-14 • 69 minutes
Scholarly Communication: An Interview with Joerg Heber of PLOS
Open Access is spelled with a capital O and a capital A at the Public Library of Science (or PLOS, for short), a nonprofit Open Access publisher. Among PLOS's suite of journals, PLOS One is the nonprofit's largest in number of articles published and its broadest in coverage, ranging as it does over all topics in the natural sciences and medicine, to include, as well, some in the social sciences, too. PLOS One appears only online, a format the staff bring into service to foster Open Access Science, whether t...
2020-Oct-12 • 59 minutes
Boel Berner, "Strange Blood: The Rise and Fall of Lamb Blood Transfusion in 19th-Century Medicine and Beyond" (Transcript Verlag, 2020)
In the mid-1870s, the experimental therapy of lamb blood transfusion spread like an epidemic across Europe and the USA. Doctors tried it as a cure for tuberculosis, pellagra and anemia; proposed it as a means to reanimate seemingly dead soldiers on the battlefield. It was a contested therapy because it meant crossing boundaries and challenging taboos. Was the transfusion of lamb blood into desperately sick humans really defensible? Boel Berner, Strange Blood: The Rise and Fall of Lamb Blood Transfusion in 1...
2020-Oct-09 • 51 minutes
Kat Arney, "Rebel Cell: Cancer, Evolution, and the New Science of Life's Oldest Betrayal" (Benbella Books, 2020)
Cancer exists in nearly every animal and has afflicted humans as long as our species has walked the earth. In Rebel Cell: Cancer, Evolution, and the New Science of Life's Oldest Betrayal (Benbella Books, 2020), Kat Arney reveals the secrets of our most formidable medical enemy, most notably the fact that it isn't so much a foreign invader as a double agent: cancer is hardwired into the fundamental processes of life. New evidence shows that this disease is the result of the same evolutionary changes that all...
2020-Oct-07 • 18 minutes
Morality in Nature: What Honeybees and Flowers Can Tell Us about its Origin
Is morality solely a human creation? Or can we find evidence of morality in other parts of nature? Honeybees and flowers have co-evolved to form a mutualistic relationship. This means that these creatures have developed optimization processes that ultimately contribute to the continuity of life itself, pointing towards the existence of morality between the two. In this podcast episode, Dr. Christopher Ketcham, an independent researcher, discusses his theories on how studying the flower and honeybee facultat...
2020-Oct-05 • 99 minutes
Jeremy England, "Every Life is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things" (Basic Books, 2020)
“How did life begin? Most things in the universe aren't alive, and yet if you trace the evolutionary history of plants and animals back far enough, you will find that, at some point, neither were we. Scientists have wrestled with the problem through the ages, and yet they still don’t agree on what kind of answer they are even looking for. But in 2013, at just 30 years old, physicist Jeremy England published a paper that has utterly upended the ongoing study of life’s origins. In Every Life is on Fire: How T...
2020-Oct-01 • 60 minutes
Frans de Waal, "Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves" (Norton, 2019)
Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company) is a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals, beginning with Mama, a chimpanzee matriarch who formed a deep bond with biologist Jan van Hooff. Her story and others like it—from dogs “adopting” the injuries of their companions, to rats helping fellow rats in distress, to elephants revisiting the bones of their loved ones—show that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, h...
2020-Sep-30 • 69 minutes
Thom van Dooren, "The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds" (Columbia UP, 2019)
Crows can be found almost everywhere that people are, from tropical islands to deserts and arctic forests, from densely populated cities to suburbs and farms. Across these diverse landscapes, many species of crow are doing well: their intelligent and adaptive ways of life have allowed them to thrive amid human-driven transformations. Indeed, crows are frequently disliked for their success, seen as pests, threats, and scavengers on the detritus of human life. But among the vast variety of crows, there are al...
2020-Sep-29 • 48 minutes
Scholarly Communications: An Interview with Helen Pearson of 'Nature'
Nature is the premier weekly journal of science, the journal where specialists go to read and publish primary research in their fields. But Nature is also a science magazine, a combination unusual in journal publishing because in an issue of Nature, research stands side by side with editorials, news and feature reporting, and opinion articles. In fact, over two-thirds of the pieces Nature publishes are journalism and opinion content. This is the remit of Helen Pearson. Helen Pearson is Chief Magazine Editor...
2020-Sep-24 • 67 minutes
Dr. Christopher Harris on Teaching Neuroscience
Dr. Christopher Harris (@chrisharris) is a neuroscientist, engineer and educator at the EdTech company Backyard Brains. He is principal investigator on an NIH-funded project to develop brain-based robots for neuroscience education. In their recent open-access research paper, Dr. Harris and his team describe, and present results from, their classroom-based pilots of this new and highly innovative approach to neuroscience and STEM education. They argue that neurorobotics has enormous potential as an education...
2020-Sep-18 • 61 minutes
Zachary Dorner, "Merchants of Medicine: The Commerce and Coercion of Health in Britain’s Long 18th Century" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
In Merchants of Medicine: The Commerce and Coercion of Health in Britain’s Long Eighteenth Century (The University of Chicago Press), medicines embody the hopes of those who prepared, sold, and ingested them. By investigating the different contexts and practices associated with the British long-distance trade in patent medicines, Zachary Dorner unravels the intertwined history of financial markets, health concerns, and colonial warfare. He argues that from the late seventeenth-century, medicines were produc...
2020-Sep-17 • 99 minutes
Nick Chater, "The Mind Is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of the Improvising Brain" (Yale UP, 2019)
Psychologists and neuroscientists struggle with how best to interpret human motivation and decision making. The assumption is that below a mental “surface” of conscious awareness lies a deep and complex set of inner beliefs, values, and desires that govern our thoughts, ideas, and actions, and that to know this depth is to know ourselves. In the The Mind Is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of the Improvising Brain (Yale UP, 2019), behavioural scientist Nick Chater contends just the opposite: rather than bei...
2020-Sep-17 • 65 minutes
Carl Safina, "Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace" (Henry Holt, 2020)
Some people insist that culture is strictly a human accomplishment. What are those people afraid of? Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace (Henry Holt and Co.) looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. It shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual within a particular community. You too are not who you are b...
2020-Sep-14 • 73 minutes
Jessica Pierce, "Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets" (U Chicago Press, 2016)
A life shared with pets brings many emotions. We feel love for our companions, certainly, and happiness at the thought that we’re providing them with a safe, healthy life. But there’s another emotion, less often acknowledged, that can be nearly as powerful: guilt. When we see our cats gazing wistfully out the window, or watch a goldfish swim lazy circles in a bowl, we can’t help but wonder: are we doing the right thing, keeping these independent beings locked up, subject to our control? Is keeping pets actu...
2020-Sep-11 • 52 minutes
Katherine Kinzler, "How You Say It: Why You Talk the Way You Do - And What It Says About You" (HMH, 2020)
We gravitate toward people like us; it's human nature. Race, class, and gender shape our social identities, and thus who we perceive as "like us" or "not like us". But one overlooked factor can be even more powerful: the way we speak. As the pioneering psychologist Katherine Kinzler reveals in How You Say It: Why You Talk the Way You Do - And What It Says About You (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the way we talk is central to our social identity because our speech largely reflects the voices we heard as childr...
2020-Sep-10 • 45 minutes
David Haig, "From Darwin to Derrida: Selfish Genes, Social Selves, and the Meanings of Life" (MIT Press, 2020)
In his book, From Darwin to Derrida: Selfish Genes, Social Selves, and the Meanings of Life (MIT Press), evolutionary biologist David Haig explains how a physical world of matter in motion gave rise to a living world of purpose and meaning. Natural selection is a process without purpose, yet gives rise to purposeful beings who find meaning in the world. Haig proposes that the key to this is the origin of mutable “texts” that preserve a record of what has worked in the world, in other words: genes. These tex...
2020-Sep-04 • 77 minutes
David J. Hand, "Dark Data: Why What You Don't Know Matters" (Princeton UP, 2020)
There is no shortage of books on the growing impact of data collection and analysis on our societies, our cultures, and our everyday lives. David Hand's new book Dark Data: Why What You Don't Know Matters (Princeton University Press, 2020) is unique in this genre for its focus on those data that aren't collected or don't get analyzed. More than an introduction to missingness and how to account for it, this book proposes that the whole of data analysis can benefit from a "dark data" perspective—that is, care...
2020-Aug-27 • 95 minutes
György Buzsáki, "The Brain from Inside Out" (Oxford UP, 2019)
In The Brain from Inside Out (Oxford University Press, 2019), György Buzsáki contrasts what he terms the ‘outside-in’ and ‘inside-out’ perspectives on neuroscientific theory and research methodology. The ‘outside-in’ approach, which he sees as dominating thinking in the field at present and in most of recent history, conceptualizes the brain as a passive, information-absorbing, coding device. The ‘inside-out’ perspective, which Buzsáki seeks to develop and advocate, sees the brain rather as a device sculpte...
2020-Aug-27 • 78 minutes
Adam Rutherford, "How to Argue With a Racist" (The Experiment, 2020)
Racist pseudoscience has become so commonplace that it can be hard to spot. But its toxic effects on society are plain to see—feeding nationalism, fueling hatred, endangering lives, and corroding our discourse on everything from sports to intelligence. Even well-intentioned people repeat stereotypes based on “science,” because cutting-edge genetics is hard to grasp, and all too easy to distort. Paradoxically, these misconceptions are multiplying even as scientists make unprecedented discoveries in human gen...
2020-Aug-26 • 74 minutes
Steven Shapin, "The Scientific Revolution" (U Chicago Press, 2018)
“There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.” With this provocative and apparently paradoxical claim, Steven Shapin begins The Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2018), his bold, vibrant exploration of the origins of the modern scientific worldview, now updated with a new bibliographic essay featuring the latest scholarship. Steven Shapin is the Franklin L. Ford Research Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. His books include Levia...
2020-Aug-24 • 87 minutes
David Bressoud, "Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas" (Princeton UP, 2019)
Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas (Princeton UP, 2019) takes readers on a remarkable journey through hundreds of years to tell the story of how calculus evolved into the subject we know today. David Bressoud explains why calculus is credited to seventeenth-century figures Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, and how its current structure is based on developments that arose in the nineteenth century. Bressoud argues that a pedagogy informed by the historical development of calculus represents a s...
2020-Aug-10 • 78 minutes
Stuart Ritchie, "Science Fictions: Exposing Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype in Science" (Penguin Books, 2020)
So much relies on science. But what if science itself can’t be relied on? In Science Fictions: Exposing Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype in Science (Penguin Books, 2020), Stuart Ritchie, a professor of psychology at King’s College London, lucidly explains how science works, and exposes the systemic issues that prevent the scientific enterprise from living up to its truth-seeking ideals. While the scientific method will always be our best way of knowing about the world, the current system of funding and pub...
2020-Jul-29 • 64 minutes
Solomon Goldstein-Rose, "The 100% Solution: A Plan for Solving Climate Change" (Melville House, 2020)
At age 26, Solomon Goldstein-Rose has already spent more time thinking about climate change than most of us will in our lifetimes. He’s been a climate activist since age 11, studied engineering and public policy to understand what physically has to happen to solve climate change, and served in the Massachusetts state legislature on a climate-focused platform. In 2018 he canceled his campaign for re-election so he could work full-time on climate change at the national and global levels. The 100% Solution fra...
2020-Jul-21 • 59 minutes
Marc Zimmer, "The State of Science" (Prometheus Books, 2020)
New research and innovations in the field of science are leading to life-changing and world-altering discoveries like never before. What does the horizon of science look like? Who are the scientists that are making it happen? And, how are we to introduce these revolutions to a society in which a segment of the population has become more and more skeptical of science? These are the questions which Marc Zimmer, professor of chemistry at Connecticut College, asks in his new book, The State of Science: What the...
2020-Jul-13 • 82 minutes
David Kaiser, "Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World" (U Chicago Press, 2020)
David Kaiser is a truly unique scholar: he is simultaneously a physics researcher and a historian of science whose writing beautifully melds the past and future of science. As a historian, he studies mostly 20th-century physics, and in particular the history of quantum mechanics, Feynman diagrams, physics in the counterculture era, and much more. As a physicist, he studies particle physics and theories of cosmology, focused mostly on the early expansion of the universe. In this New Books Network podcast, I ...
2020-Jul-10 • 67 minutes
Cailin O’Connor, "Games in the Philosophy of Biology" (Cambridge UP, 2020)
The branch of mathematics called game theory – the Prisoners Dilemma is a particularly well-known example of a game – is used by philosophers, social scientists, and others to explore many types of social relations between humans and between nonhuman creatures. In Games in the Philosophy of Biology (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Cailin O’Connor introduces the basics of game theory and its particular branch, evolutionary game theory, and discusses how game theoretic models have helped explain the genesi...
2020-Jun-30 • 60 minutes
Eric Holthaus, "The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming" (HarperOne, 2020)
We sit at the beginning of what could be “both a truly terrifying and a golden era in humanity.” In The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming (HarperOne, 2020), leading climate change advocate and weather-related journalist Eric Holthaus (“the Rebel Nerd of Meteorology”­–Rolling Stone) offers a radical vision of our future, specifically how to reverse the short- and long-term effects of climate change over the next three decades. Anchored by world-class reporting, intervie...
2020-Jun-24 • 31 minutes
Lee McIntyre, "The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience" (MIT Press, 2019)
What can explain the success of science as an endeavor for getting closer to truth? Does science simply represent a successful methodology, or is it something more? In The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience (MIT Press, 2019), Lee McIntyre addresses recent attacks on science in areas such as climate change, vaccination, and even belief that the world is flat by explaining why science is a culture built around a “scientific attitude” that embraces evidence and a willi...
2020-Jun-17 • 55 minutes
Henry M. Cowles, "The Scientific Method: An Evolution of Thinking from Darwin to Dewey" (Harvard UP, 2020)
The idea of a single scientific method, shared across specialties and teachable to ten-year-olds, is just over a hundred years old. For centuries prior, science had meant a kind of knowledge, made from facts gathered through direct observation or deduced from first principles. But during the nineteenth century, science came to mean something else: a way of thinking. The Scientific Method: An Evolution of Thinking from Darwin to Dewey (Harvard University Press, 2020) tells the story of how this approach too...
2020-Jun-03 • 31 minutes
Controlling the Scientific Narrative: Randomized Controlled Trials and The Manipulation of “Control”
Modern science uses the “randomized controlled trial”—whereby people are randomly allocated either the drug or a placebo—as a gold standard to find out whether a newly discovered drug works. In this podcast, Dr. Martin Edwards, a general practitioner and retired clinician affiliated to the University of London, discusses the British Medical Research Council’s exploitation of the term “controlled” to establish “controlled trials” as the gold standard for therapeutic evaluation. His discussion is an extension...
2020-Jun-02 • 121 minutes
Brian Greene, "Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe" (Random House, 2020)
Brian Greene is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he is the Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and co-founder and chair of the World Science Festival. He is well known for his TV mini-series about string theory and the nature of reality, including the Elegant Universe, which tied in with his best-selling 2000 book of the same name. In this episode, we talk about his latest popular book Until the End of Time:...
2020-May-14 • 70 minutes
A. M. Barton and W. S. Keeton, "Ecology and Recovery of Eastern Old-Growth Forests" (Island Press, 2018)
Old-growth forests captivate and inspire us. Walking through them can transport us to a time before human domination of the natural world. This is especially the case with old-growth forests in the eastern part of the United States, a region with a long history of profound human disturbances of ecological regimes. Beyond their role as inspiration, old growth serves important ecological functions regionally and globally. These forests also provide several practical services to humans. How do scientists defin...
2020-Apr-28 • 60 minutes
Leslie M. Harris, "Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies" (U Georgia Press, 2019)
Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia Press, 2019), edited by Leslie M. Harris, James T. Campbell, and Alfred L. Brophy, is the first edited collection of scholarly essays devoted solely to the histories and legacies of this subject on North American campuses and in their Atlantic contexts. Gathering together contributions from scholars, activists, and administrators, the volume combines two broad bodies of work: (1) historically based interdisciplinary research on the pr...
2020-Apr-27 • 55 minutes
Wade Roush, "Extraterrestrials" (MIT Press, 2020)
Everything we know about how planets form and how life arises suggests that human civilization on Earth should not be unique. We ought to see abundant evidence of extraterrestrial activity―but we don't. Where is everybody? In Extraterrestrials (MIT Press, 2020), science and technology writer Wade Roush examines one of the great unsolved problems in science: is there life, intelligent or otherwise, on other planets? This paradox (they're bound to be out there; but where are they?), first formulated by the fa...
2020-Apr-20 • 55 minutes
Jodi Hilty, "Corridor Ecology: Linking Landscapes for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Adaptation" (Island Press, 2019)
In Corridor Ecology: Linking Landscapes for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Adaptation, 2nd Edition (Island Press, 2019), Dr. Jodi Hilty and her co-authors expand on concepts and practices important to maintaining and restoring land connectivity. In the book and during the interview, Dr. Hilty discusses how the field as evolved over the last 15 years. She highlights a newer part of the field, Climate-wise connectivity. Climate-wise connectivity considers the effects of climate change on habitat and of...
2020-Apr-17 • 54 minutes
Wenfei Tong, "Bird Love: The Family Life of Birds" (Princeton UP, 2020)
Wenfei Tong's Bird Love: The Family Life of Birds (Princeton University Press, 2020) looks at the extraordinary range of mating systems in the avian world, exploring all the stages from courtship and nest-building to protecting eggs and raising chicks. It delves into the reasons why some species, such as the wattled jacana, rely on males to do all the childcare, while others, such as cuckoos and honeyguides, dump their eggs in the nests of others to raise. For some birds, reciprocal promiscuity pays off: bo...
2020-Apr-06 • 42 minutes
Ray Dorsey, "Ending Parkinson's Disease: A Prescription for Action" (Public Affairs, 2020)
Brain diseases are now the world's leading source of disability. The fastest growing of these is Parkinson's: the number of impacted patients has doubled to more than six million over the last twenty-five years and is projected to double again by 2040. Harmful pesticides that increase the risk of Parkinson's continue to proliferate, many people remain undiagnosed and untreated, research funding stagnates, and the most effective treatment is now a half century old. In Ending Parkinson's Disease: A Prescripti...
2020-Mar-30 • 54 minutes
Matt Cook, "Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy" (MIT Press, 2020)
Paradox is a sophisticated kind of magic trick. A magician's purpose is to create the appearance of impossibility, to pull a rabbit from an empty hat. Yet paradox doesn't require tangibles, like rabbits or hats. Paradox works in the abstract, with words and concepts and symbols, to create the illusion of contradiction. There are no contradictions in reality, but there can appear to be. In Sleight of Mind: 75 Ingenious Paradoxes in Mathematics, Physics, and Philosophy (MIT Press, 2020), Matt Cook and a few c...
2020-Mar-27 • 55 minutes
Adrian Currie, "Rock, Bone, and Ruin: An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences" (MIT Press, 2018)
The “historical sciences”—geology, paleontology, and archaeology—have made extraordinary progress in advancing our understanding of the deep past. How has this been possible, given that the evidence they have to work with offers mere traces of the past? In Rock, Bone, and Ruin: An Optimist’s Guide to the Historical Sciences (MIT Press, 2018), Adrian Currie explains that these scientists are “methodological omnivores,” with a variety of strategies and techniques at their disposal, and that this gives us ever...
2020-Mar-26 • 41 minutes
Andrew Leigh, "Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Are Changing Our World" (Yale UP, 2018)
From the unending quest to turn metal into gold to the major discoveries that reveal how the universe works, experiments have always been a critical part of the hard sciences. In recent decades social scientists have started to catch up and the results are shifting the way we do nearly everything. Randomized control trials, called RCT’s, have a logic so simple that anyone can understand how they work and even run them themselves. It’s simple. You come up with an idea to get something to happen. You take a g...
2020-Mar-10 • 59 minutes
Kareem Khalifa, "Understanding, Explanation and Scientific Knowledge" (Cambridge UP, 2017)
What is the relation between understanding and knowledge in science? Can we understand a scientific theory if it is false? Do we understand a scientific proposition we can’t elaborate or do anything with? In Understanding, Explanation, and Scientific Knowledge (Cambridge University Press 2017), Kareem Khalifa argues for a revised version of a traditional view whereby understanding is a function of knowledge of an explanation. In his updated version, understanding admits of degrees, starting from minimal und...
2020-Feb-25 • 42 minutes
Phillipa Chong, “Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times” (Princeton UP, 2020)
How does the world of book reviews work? In Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times (Princeton University Press, 2020), Phillipa Chong, assistant professor in sociology at McMaster University, provides a unique sociological analysis of how critics confront the different types of uncertainty associated with their practice. The book explores how reviewers get matched to books, the ethics and etiquette of negative reviews and ‘punching up’, along with professional identities and the futur...
2020-Feb-21 • 31 minutes
Amy Shira Teitel, "Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA" (Bloomsbury, 2016)
Amy Shira Teitel talks about Apollo and the community of people who are deeply attached to space history. Teitel is a spaceflight historian and the creator of the YouTube Channel, Vintage Space. She is also the author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA (Bloomsbury, 2016) and Apollo Pilot: The Memory of Astronaut Don Eisele (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). NASA's history is a familiar story, culminating with the agency successfully landing men on the moon in 1969, bu...
2020-Feb-14 • 36 minutes
Alistair Sponsel, "Darwin’s Evolving Identity: Adventure, Ambition, and the Sin of Speculation" (U Chicago Press, 2018)
Dr. Alistair Sponsel talks about Darwin’s experiences on HMS Beagle and his early career as a naturalist. His close reading of Darwin’s journals and letters reveals insights about the man that would become known as the father of evolution. Sponsel is the author Darwin’s Evolving Identity: Adventure, Ambition, and the Sin of Speculation (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Why—against his mentor’s exhortations to publish—did Charles Darwin take twenty years to reveal his theory of evolution by natural select...
2020-Feb-10 • 66 minutes
Travis Dumsday, "Dispositionalism and the Metaphysics of Science" (Cambridge UP, 2019)
Dispositionalism is the view that there are irreducible causal powers in nature that explain why objects behave as they do. To say salt is soluble in water, for example, is to say that salt has the disposition to dissolve in water, and this disposition is understood as a real causal power of salt. In Dispositionalism and the Metaphysics of Science (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Travis Dumsday articulates a novel version of dispositionalism – nomic dispositionalism – and considers its relation to a cros...
2020-Feb-10 • 66 minutes
Gil Eyal, "The Crisis of Expertise" (Polity, 2019)
In recent political debates there has been a significant change in the valence of the word “experts” from a superlative to a near pejorative, typically accompanied by a recitation of experts’ many failures and misdeeds. In topics as varied as Brexit, climate change, and vaccinations there is a palpable mistrust of experts and a tendency to dismiss their advice. Are we witnessing, therefore, the “death of expertise,” or is the handwringing about an “assault on science” merely the hysterical reaction of threa...
2020-Feb-07 • 39 minutes
Michael F. Robinson, "The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture" (U Chicago Press, 2006)
Radio host Kevin Fox interviews Michael F. Robinson about the history of American Arctic exploration, the subject of his book, The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2006). The disappearance of the Franklin Expedition in 1845 turned the Arctic into an object of fascination. By the end of the century, it had become an ‘Arctic Fever.’ Fox is the host of the radio program Geographical Imaginations for RadioFabrik in Salzburg, which is also available on iTune...
2020-Feb-04 • 113 minutes
David Adger, "Language Unlimited: The Science Behind Our Most Creative Power" (Oxford UP, 2019)
David Adger is Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London, where he is Head of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film. He has served as President of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain since 2015, and has authored a number of monographs on syntactic theory, in addition to the widely used undergraduate textbook Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach (Oxford University Press, 2003). In his book, Language Unlimited: The Science Behind Our Most Creative Power (Oxford University Pres...
2020-Jan-30 • 40 minutes
K. Linder et al., "Going Alt-Ac: A Guide to Alternative Academic Careers" (Stylus Publishing, 2020)
If you’re a grad student facing the ugly reality of finding a tenure-track job, you could easily be forgiven for thinking about a career change. However, if you’ve spent the last several years working on a PhD, or if you’re a faculty member whose career has basically consisted of higher ed, switching isn’t so easy. PhD holders are mostly trained to work as professors, and making easy connections to other careers is no mean feat. Because the people you know were generally trained to do the same sorts of thin...
2020-Jan-28 • 54 minutes
Brian Clegg, "Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge" (Icon Books, 2019)
The book we are discussing is by Brian Clegg, a well-known author of books on math and science -- but this is not exactly a book on math or science, although these subjects play a significant role. His latest book is Conundrum: Crack the Ultimate Cipher Challenge (Icon Books, 2019), which should delight and intrigue not only those who love math and science, but those who love solving puzzles. This book is a literary escape room, with a series of puzzles to be solved, all of which contribute to a final puzzl...
2020-Jan-24 • 34 minutes
Neil Maher, "Apollo in the Age of Aquarius" (Harvard UP, 2017)
Neil Maher talks about the social forces that shaped NASA in the 1960s and 70s, connecting the space race with the radical upheavals of the counterculture. Maher is a professor of history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark. He is the author of Apollo in the Age of Aquarius (Harvard University Press, 2017). The summer of 1969 saw astronauts land on the moon for the first time and hippie hordes descend on Woodstock. This lively and original account of the space race makes...
2020-Jan-17 • 39 minutes
Daniel Kennefick, "No Shadow of Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity" (Princeton UP, 2019)
Daniel Kennefick talks about resistance to relativity theory in the early twentieth century and the huge challenges that faced British astronomers who wanted to test the theory during the solar eclipse of 1919. Kennefick is an associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He’s the author of No Shadow of Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (Princeton University Press, 2019). Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at Hillyer College, Univer...
2020-Jan-16 • 67 minutes
James Schwartz, "The Ethics of Space Exploration" (Springer, 2016)
The Ethics of Space Exploration (Springer, 2016), edited by James S. J. Schwartz and Tony Milligan, aims to contribute significantly to the understanding of issues of value (including the ultimate value of space-related activities) which repeatedly emerge in interdisciplinary discussions on space and society. Although a recurring feature of discussions about space in the humanities, the treatment of value questions has tended to be patchy, of uneven quality and even, on occasion, idiosyncratic rather than d...
2019-Dec-27 • 34 minutes
Angelina Callahan, "NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
Angelina Callahan talks about the Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard Project. While the launch of Vanguard 1 in 1958 was part of the Cold War “Space Race,” it also represented something more: a scientific platform for understanding the space environment as well as a test vehicle that would provide data for satellites of the future. Vanguard 1 is still flying. At 60 years, it is the oldest artificial satellite in space. Callahan is the Naval Research Laboratory Historian. She is also a co-author (with John...
2019-Dec-26 • 63 minutes
Phoebe Moore, "The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts" (Routledge, 2017)
Humans are accustomed to being tool bearers, but what happens when machines become tool bearers, calculating human labour via the use of big data and people analytics by metrics? Phoebe Moore's The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts (Routledge, 2017) highlights how, whether it be in insecure ‘gig’ work or office work, such digitalisation is not an inevitable process – nor is it one that necessarily improves working conditions. Indeed, through unique research and empirical data, M...
2019-Dec-19 • 92 minutes
Steve Fuller, "The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska's The Proactionary Imperative: A Foundation for Transhumanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) debates the concept of transforming human nature, including such thorny topics as humanity's privilege as a species, our capacity to 'play God', the idea that we might treat our genes as a capital investment, eugenics and what it might mean to be 'human' in the context of risky scientific and technological interventions. John Danaher is a lecturer the National University of Ireland, Ga...
2019-Dec-13 • 63 minutes
David Spiegelhalter, "The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data" (Basic, 2019)
Today's guest is distinguished researcher and statistician, Sir David Spiegelhalter. A fellow of the Royal Society, he is currently Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge. He has dedicated his career, in his words to, “improving the way that quantitative evidence is used in society.” This includes (of particular interest to us) biostatistics and medical research. David is an ISI highly cited researcher who has also focused much of his time and energy to...
2019-Dec-10 • 61 minutes
E. Jones-Imhotep and T. Adcock, "Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canadian History" (UBC Press, 2018)
Science and technology have shaped not only economic empires and industrial landscapes, but also the identities, anxieties, and understandings of people living in modern times. The book I’m looking at today, Made Modern: Science and Technology in Canadian History (University of British Columbia Press, 2018) explores the complex interconnections between science, technology, and modernity in Canada. Edited by Edward Jones-Imhotep and Tina Adcock, it draws together leading scholars from a wide range of fields ...
2019-Dec-03 • 58 minutes
Alberto Cairo, "How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter about Visual Information" (Norton, 2019)
We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if we don’t understand what we’re looking at? Social media has made charts, infographics, and diagrams ubiquitous―and easier to share than ever. We associate charts with science and reason; the flashy visuals are both appealing and persuasive. Pie charts, maps, bar and line graphs, and scatter plots (to name a few) can better inform us, revealing patterns and trends hidden behind the numbers we encounter in our lives. In short, good charts m...
2019-Nov-15 • 60 minutes
Julian Havil, "Curves for the Mathematically Curious" (Princeton UP, 2019)
Today I talked to Julian Havil about his latest book Curves for the Mathematically Curious: An Anthology of the Unpredictable, Historical, Beautiful, and Romantic (Princeton University Press, 2019). You don’t have to be mathematically curious to appreciate Julian’s talent for weaving mathematics and history together – but mathematical curiosity and a year or two of calculus will greatly add to your enjoyment of it. This is not your father’s – or grandfather’s – standard collection of conic sections, with pe...
2019-Nov-11 • 41 minutes
Michael E. Mann, "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars : Dispatches from the Front Lines" (2012)
We talk with Michael E. Mann, a Nobel Prize winner and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, about his journey through the climate wars over the past two decades and the role that experts have to play in moving out of the lab and into the spotlight to defend the scientific process. Doing so is more important now than ever, he says, as corporation-funded think tanks continue to churn out information that deliberately sows skepticism among the public about our role in climate change. B...
2019-Nov-05 • 55 minutes
John Gribbin, "Six Impossible Things: The ‘Quanta of Solace’ and the Mysteries of the Subatomic World" (Icon Books, 2019)
Today's podcast is on the book Six Impossible Things: The ‘Quanta of Solace’ and the Mysteries of the Subatomic World (Icon Book, 2019) by the noted author John Gribbin. Although there have been a number of good books on quantum mechanics, this short book is my favorite, and I recommend it highly. The book details the central mystery of quantum mechanics, and outlines several interpretations that have been proposed. I’ve never seen these interpretations so clearly and succinctly stated, and I’d recommend ...
2019-Nov-03 • 40 minutes
Kathryn Conrad on University Press Publishing
As you may know, university presses publish a lot of good books. In fact, they publish thousands of them every year. They are different from most trade books in that most of them are what you might called "fundamental research." Their authors--dedicated researchers one and all--provide the scholarly stuff upon which many non-fiction trade books are based. So when you are reading, say, a popular history, you are often reading UP books at one remove. Of course, some UP books are also bestsellers, and they are...
2019-Oct-24 • 33 minutes
J. Neuhaus, "Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers" (West Virginia UP, 2019)
The things that make people academics -- as deep fascination with some arcane subject, often bordering on obsession, and a comfort with the solitude that developing expertise requires -- do not necessarily make us good teachers. Jessamyn Neuhaus’s Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers (West Virginia University Press, 2019) helps us to identify and embrace that geekiness in us and then offers practical, step-by-step guidelines for how to turn it to...
2019-Oct-18 • 37 minutes
Valerie Olson, "Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth" (U Minnesota Press, 2019)
Valerie Olson talks about why the idea of outer space as a “frontier” is giving way to one that frames it as a cosmic ecosystem. Olson is an associate professor of anthropology at University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Into the Extreme: U.S. Environmental Systems and Politics Beyond Earth (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). What if outer space is not outside the human environment but, rather, defines it? This is the unusual starting point of Valerie Olson’s Into the Extreme, revealing how...
2019-Oct-17 • 46 minutes
Theodore Dalrymple, "False Positive: A Year of Error, Omission, and Political Correctness in the New England Journal of Medicine" (Encounter Books, 2019)
Theodore Dalrymple is a retired physician in Great Britain, who has written an account of his year’s-worth of reading the New England Journal of Medicine. In his new book False Positive: A Year of Error, Omission, and Political Correctness in the New England Journal of Medicine (Encounter Books, 2019), he recounts each week’s new edition of the Journal with an eye toward analytical errors and a culture of political correctness in regard to the handling of medical and public health issues. Dalrymple notes ho...
2019-Oct-17 • 74 minutes
David Lindsay Roberts, "Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019)
The institutional history of mathematics in the United States comprises several entangled traditions—military, civil, academic, industrial—each of which merits its own treatment. David Lindsay Roberts, adjunct professor of mathematics at Prince George's Community College, takes a very different approach. His unique book, Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), anchors 20 biographical chapters to a decadal series of events, whos...
2019-Oct-14 • 62 minutes
Thomas Hager, "Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine" (Abrams Press, 2019)
Behind every landmark drug is a story. It could be a researcher’s genius insight, a catalyzing moment in geopolitical history, a new breakthrough technology, or an unexpected but welcome side effect discovered during clinical trials. In his new book, Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders, and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine (Harry N. Abrams, 2019), Thomas Hager traces the “mini-biographies” of ten drugs and drug treatments that have shaped the course of human history, showing how serendipity and sheer lu...
2019-Oct-14 • 66 minutes
Oren Harman, "Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World" (FSG, 2018)
“There are only two ways to live your life,” said Albert Einstein, “One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as though everything is a miracle.” Oren Harman clearly agrees with Einstein’s sentiments. In Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), Harman takes scientific facts, as we know them today, and weaves them into narratives that have the tone, grace and drama of myth. Harman recognizes that despite the astounding achievements of science we are as hum...
2019-Oct-10 • 69 minutes
Justin Garson, "What Biological Functions are and Why They Matter" (Cambridge UP, 2019)
Why do zebras have stripes? One way to answer that question is ask what function stripes play in the lives of zebras – for example, to deter disease-carrying flies from biting them. This notion of a function plays a central role in biology: biologists frequently refer to the functions of many traits of evolved organisms. But not everything a trait causes is its function – the stripes might disorient some harmless birds, but that isn’t their function. So what determines the function of a trait? And what sort...
2019-Oct-04 • 61 minutes
David Sinclair, "LifeSpan: Why We Age and Why We Don't Have To" (Simon and Schuster, 2019)
Today's guest is David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Paul Glenn Center Biological Mechanisms of Aging. He is widely considered on the world's foremost experts on longevity research. A co-founder of the journal Aging and several biotech companies, he also hold 35 patents. Dr. Sinclair is a recipient of more than 25 awards and honors, including being knighted in the Order of Australia. His work is featured in five books, two documentary movies, “60 Minutes,” ...
2019-Sep-05 • 95 minutes
E. H. Ecklund and D. R. Johnson, "Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really Think of Religion" (Oxford UP, 2019)
It is common to see science and religion portrayed as mutually exclusive and warring ways of viewing the world, but is that how actual scientists see it? For that matter, which cultural factors shape the attitudes of scientists toward religion? Could scientists help show us a way to build collaboration between scientific and religious communities, if such collaborations are even possible? The book we’re looking at today, Secularity and Science: What Scientists Around the World Really Think About Religion (O...
2019-Aug-30 • 35 minutes
Emily Lakdawalla, "The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job" (Springer, 2018)
Emily Lakdawalla talks about the design and construction of Curiosity, formally known as the Mars Science Laboratory, one of the most sophisticated machines ever built. Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012 where it has been conducting research within the ancient Gale Crater. This book describes the most complex machine ever sent to another planet: Curiosity. It is a one-ton robot with two brains, seventeen cameras, six wheels, nuclear power, and a laser beam on its head. No one human understands how all of its ...
2019-Aug-23 • 53 minutes
Michael Kodas, "Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)
In the 1980s, fires burned an average of two million acres per year. Today the average is eight million acres and growing. Scientists believe that we could see years with twenty million acres burned, an area larger than country of Ireland. Today I talked to Michael Kodas about the phenomenon of megafires, forest fires that burn over 100,000 acres, and why the number of these fires is increasing every year. Kodas is the deputy director of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado-...
2019-Aug-13 • 71 minutes
David Philip Miller, "The Life and Legend of James Watt" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2019)
For all of his fame as one of the seminal figures of the Industrial Revolution, James Watt is a person around whom many misconceptions congregate. In The Life and Legend of James Watt: Collaboration, Natural Philosophy, and the Improvement of the Steam Engine (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019), David Philip Miller separates the man from the myth by detailing his numerous accomplishments and showing how the misconceptions formed. The son of a Scottish ships’ chandler, Watt demonstrated interest in both m...
2019-Aug-12 • 55 minutes
Shai Lavi, "Bioethics and Biopolitics in Israel: Socio-legal, Political and Empirical Analysis" (Cambridge UP, 2019)
Once upon a time, or so we’ve been told, medical ethics were confined to the patient-doctor relationship. As long as doctors were true to their Hippocratic oaths, as long as they acted with compassion and wisdom, then all expectations were met. Life is more complicated today, and so is healthcare: an undertaking, like all others, that is influenced by social, political, legal and cultural factors. Nothing is value-free. In Bioethics and Biopolitics in Israel: Socio-legal, Political and Empirical Analysis (C...
2019-Aug-09 • 60 minutes
Samir Okasha, "Agents and Goals in Evolution" (Oxford UP, 2018)
Evolutionary biologists standardly treat organisms as agents: they have goals and purposes and preferences, and their behaviors and adaptive traits contribute to the achievement of their goals. This explanatory practice brings evolutionary biology into conceptual contact with rational choice theory, which provides models of how people make decisions and act on them. In Agents and Goals in Evolution (Oxford University Press, 2018), Samir Okasha explores the fascinating and complex links between evolutionary ...
2019-Jul-31 • 64 minutes
Violet Moller, "The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found" (Doubleday, 2019)
Violet Moller has written a narrative history of the transmission of books from the ancient world to the modern. In The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found (Doubleday, 2019), Moller traces the histories of migration of three ancient authors, Euclid, Ptolemy and Galen, from ancient Alexandria in 500 to Syria and Constantinople, to Baghdad in 800, and then to Renaissance Venice in the 15th century. Moller demonstrates how tenuous were the chances of such ancien...
2019-Jul-26 • 37 minutes
Vanessa Heggie, "Higher and Colder: A History of Extreme Physiology and Exploration" (U Chicago Press, 2019)
Vanessa Heggie talks about the history of biomedical research in extreme environments. Heggie is a Fellow of the Institute for Global Innovation at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of Higher and Colder: A History of Extreme Physiology and Exploration(University of Chicago Press, 2019). During the long twentieth century, explorers went in unprecedented numbers to the hottest, coldest, and highest points on the globe. Taking us from the Himalaya to Antarctica and beyond, Higher and Colder prese...
2019-Jul-26 • 58 minutes
David R. Montgomery, "Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life" (W. W. Norton, 2018)
In Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life (W. W. Norton & Co., 2018), Dr. David R. Montgomery portrays hope amidst the backdrop that for centuries, agricultural practices have eroded the soil that farming depends on, stripping it of the organic matter vital to its productivity. Once a self-proclaimed dark green eco-pessimist, Dr. Montgomery finds this new hope as he travels the world, meeting farmers at the forefront of an agricultural movement to restore soil health. Readers join him driving ...
2019-Jul-19 • 33 minutes
John D. Hawks, "Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story" (National Geographic, 2017)
John D. Hawks talks about new developments in paleoanthropology – the discovery of a new hominid species Homo Naledi in South Africa, the Neanderthal ancestry of many human populations, and the challenge of rethinking anthropological science’s relationship with indigenous peoples and the general public. Hawks is the Vilas-Borghesi Achievement Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author (with Lee Berger) of Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discover...
2019-Jul-18 • 54 minutes
Paul Sutter, "Your Place in the Universe: Understanding Our Big, Messy Existence" (Prometheus, 2018)
In Your Place in the Universe: Understanding Our Big, Messy Existence (Prometheus, 2018), Paul Sutter presents an in-depth yet accessible tour of the universe for lay readers, while conveying the excitement of astronomy.How is a galaxy billions of lightyears away connected to us? Is our home nothing more than a tiny speck of blue in an ocean of night? In this exciting tour of a universe far larger than we can imagine, cosmologist Sutter emphasizes how amazing it is that we are part of such a huge, complex, ...
2019-Jul-04 • 41 minutes
Robin Scheffler, “A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine" (U Chicago Press, 2019)
Could cancer be a contagious disease? Although this possibility might seem surprising to many of us, it has a long history. In fact, efforts to develop a cancer vaccine drew more money than the Human Genome Project. In his first book, MIT historian of science Robin Wolfe Scheffler takes readers through the twists and turns of the American effort to identify human cancer viruses— a search which made fundamental contributions to molecular biology. In this podcast, we discuss how this was an effort which raise...
2019-Jun-28 • 33 minutes
Philip W. Clements, "Science in an Extreme Environment: The American Mount Everest Expedition" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2018)
Historian of Science Philip W. Clements discusses the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition. His book, Science in an Extreme Environment: The American Mount Everest Expedition, is now out with University of Pittsburgh Press (2018). Part I, originally posted in November 2017, focuses on the goals and events of the expedition. Part II offers new material from the interview in which Clements discusses the expedition party’s scientific findings and treatment of local Sherpas. It also discusses the expedition’s...
2019-Jun-24 • 34 minutes
David Munns, "Engineering the Environment: Phytotrons and the Quest for Climate Control in the Cold War" (U Pittsburgh Press, 2017)
“Phytotron” is such a great name for something that is, when you look at it, a high-tech greenhouse. But don’t sell it short! The phytotron was not only at the center of post-war plant science, but also connected to the Cold War, commercial agriculture, and long-duration space flight. Today I speak with David Munns, professor of history at John Jay College, about his new book, Engineering the Environment: Phytotrons and the Quest for Climate Control in the Cold War (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017), bu...
2019-Jun-10 • 61 minutes
Nicholas Shea, "Representation in Cognitive Science" (Oxford UP, 2018)
In order to explain thought in natural physical systems, mainstream cognitive science posits representations, or internal states that carry information about the world and that are used by the system to guide its behavior. Naturalistic theories of representation provide explanations of what information, or content, these internal states carry, and how they come to have the contents that they do. In Representation in Cognitive Science (Oxford University Press, 2018), Nicholas Shea approaches the problem from...
2019-Jun-07 • 29 minutes
Stephan Bullard, "A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the 2013-2016 Ebola Outbreak" (Springer, 2018)
Why did Ebola, a virus so deadly that it killed or immobilized its victims within days, have time to become a full-blown epidemic? That’s what happened in 2013 in when the virus, already well-known to virologists and epidemiologists, broke out in West Africa, infecting twenty-eight thousand people and killing eleven thousand. Stephan Bullard, associate professor of biology at the University of Hartford, discusses the 2013 outbreak which is the subject of his new book, A Day to Day Chronicle of the 2013-16 E...
2019-May-07 • 57 minutes
Jessica Pierce, "Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible" (New World Library, 2019)
No matter how cushy their lives, dogs live on our terms. They compromise their freedom and instinctual pleasure, as well as their innate strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, in exchange for the love, comfort, and care they get from us. But it is possible to let dogs be dogs without wreaking havoc on our lives, as biologist Marc Bekoff and bioethicist Jessica Pierce show in her new book Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible (New World Library, 201...
2019-May-07 • 42 minutes
Eric Topol, "Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again" (Basic Books, 2019)
Medicine has lost its humanity. Doctors no longer have the time to make personal connections with their patients. In his new book Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again (Basic Books, 2019), Eric Topol explores how AI can help to fix many of the issues medicine is facing today. AI has the potential to transform almost everything doctors do, allowing them more time to make the human connection with patients. Jeremy Corr is the co-host of the hit Fixing Healthcare podcast al...
2019-May-02 • 56 minutes
Chris Bernhardt, "Quantum Computing for Everyone" (MIT Press, 2019)
Today I talked with Chris Bernhardt about his book Quantum Computing for Everyone (MIT Press, 2019). This is a book that involves a lot of mathematics, but most of it is accessible to anyone who survived high school algebra. Even a math-phobic can read the book, skip the math, and then more than hold his or her own in any but the highest-level discussion of quantum computing. For those of us who love math, the underlying math is elegantly simple and beautifully presented – and the same can be said of the ...
2019-Apr-19 • 47 minutes
Kate Brown, "Manuel for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future" (Norton, 2019)
We cannot learn from disasters we do not yet understand. That conviction motivated historian Kate Brown to conduct groundbreaking research into nuclear energy’s most infamous chapter and write Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (Norton, 2019). By digging into recently opened regional archives, conducting dozens of interviews, and visiting sites across Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, Brown sought to understand the extent of the damage from the 1986 explosion of Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4. From...
2019-Apr-18 • 50 minutes
Emily Dawson, "Equity, Exclusion and Everyday Science Learning: The Experiences of Minoritised Groups" (Routledge, 2019)
Who is excluded from science? What is the role of museums in this exclusion? In Equity, Exclusion and Everyday Science Learning: The Experiences of Minoritised Groups (Routledge, 2019), Dr Emily Dawson, an Associate Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London, introduces the idea of everyday science learning to critically engage with our understandings of science and the role of institutions in that understanding. The book challenges science centres and museums...
2019-Apr-18 • 53 minutes
Christopher Preston, "The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World" (MIT Press, 2018)
In The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World (MIT Press, 2018), Dr. Christopher Preston argues that what is most startling about the Anthropocene -- our period in time where there are no longer places on Earth untouched by humans -- is not only how much impact humans have had, but how much deliberate shaping humans will do. To help us understand the Synthetic Age, Dr. Preston details the emerging fields of study and accompanying technologies that may allow ...
2019-Mar-19 • 32 minutes
Discussion of Massive Online Peer Review and Open Access Publishing
In the information age, knowledge is power. Hence, facilitating the access to knowledge to wider publics empowers citizens and makes societies more democratic. How can publishers and authors contribute to this process? This podcast addresses this issue. We interview Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, whose book, The Good Drone: How Social Movements Democratize Surveillance (forthcoming with MIT Press) is undergoing a Massive Online Peer-Review (MOPR) process, where everyone can make comments on his manuscri...
2019-Mar-08 • 50 minutes
Rick Van Noy, "Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a Climate-Changed South" (U Georgia Press, 2019)
As climate change politics abound, Dr. Rick Van Noy’s Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a Climate-Changed South (University of Georgia Press, 2019) cuts through it all to get to the core. What matters? People’s experiences with climate forces and how they are managing them now and planning to do so in the future. In his newest book, Van Noy decided not to follow the well-trodden path of trying to prove climate change science, nor did he bark about an irreversible tipping point. Instead, he provides us...
2019-Feb-13 • 54 minutes
Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, "Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body" (Avery, 2017)
Emotional Intelligence involves self awareness, self control, relationship management and social awareness. Being emotionally intelligent can make you a better leader, parent, friend and partner. In this episode, interview, cross-posted from the podcast Psychologists Off The Clock, Dr. Diana Hill interviews Dr. Goleman, a pioneer in the field of positive psychology, about the neuroscience of emotions and why it is important to foster emotional intelligence in kids and leaders. Dr. Goleman also explores how ...
2019-Feb-11 • 63 minutes
Jonathan Birch, "The Philosophy of Social Evolution" (Oxford UP, 2017)
It seems to go against evolutionary theory for an individual to give up its own chances at reproducing in order to increase the fitness of others. Yet social behavior is found throughout nature, from bacteria and social insects to wolves, whales, and of course humans. What makes self-sacrifice to any degree even possible, given that self-interested behavior is the default? In The Philosophy of Social Evolution (Oxford University Press, 2017), Jonathan Birch critically examines the conceptual foundations of ...
2019-Feb-07 • 43 minutes
Peter Hotez, "Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician, and Autism Dad" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2018)
Dr. Peter Hotez is a pediatrician-scientist who develops vaccines for neglected tropical diseases affecting the worlds poor. He is also the father of a daughter who was diagnosed with autism. The alleged link between vaccines and autism has long been disproven, but it is still a belief held onto by the anti-vaccine movement. This puts Dr. Hotez in a particularly powerful position to speak out. As the anti-vaccine movement grows and vaccine-preventable diseases continue to spread due to the misinformation sp...
2019-Jan-28 • 43 minutes
Elliott Sober, "The Design Argument" (Cambridge UP, 2018)
The story goes: you are walking in the woods and see a wrist-watch on the ground; you don’t know how it got there or why it has come to be abandoned here, but you can surmise that someone somewhere designed and made it due to its complexity. This is the basic premise of the argument for intelligent design, mobilized by the religious in their efforts to demonstrate evidence for their belief in a divine creator. So how does this relatively simple story translate into a more fully fleshed out philosophy for un...
2019-Jan-16 • 35 minutes
Benoît Majerus, "From the Middle Ages to Today: Experiences and Representations of Madness in Paris" (Parigramme, 2018)
With Paris as the organizing locus of his new book, Du moyen âge à nos jours, expériences et représentations de la folie à Paris [From the Middle Ages to Today, Experiences and Representations of Madness in Paris], Benoît Majerus uses an impressively wide range of visual sources, from religious images and architectural photographs to neuroleptic advertisements and administrative maps. These images are integrated into the text and function not only as illustrations, but also as images with their own story to...
2019-Jan-15 • 71 minutes
Maria Kronfeldner, "What's Left of Human Nature? A Post-Essentialist, Pluralist, and Interactive Account of a Contested Concept" (MIT Press, 2018)
Much of the debate about the roles of nature vs. nurture in the development of individual people has settled into accepting that it's a bit of both, although what each contributes to a given trait or feature, how much, and they interact are still matters of dispute. In What's Left of Human Nature? A Post-Essentialist, Pluralist, and Interactive Account of a Contested Concept(MIT Press, 2018), Maria Kronfeldner critically examines instead the 'nature' side of this dichotomy: what exactly is a human "nature"?...
2019-Jan-02 • 67 minutes
George E. Mobus and Michael C. Kalton, "Principles of Systems Science" (Springer Verlag, 2015)
Of the many barriers to a more robust presence for systems approaches in the academy, the relative scarcity of sufficient introductory textbooks in the field stands out as a particular irritant. In the decades since the publication of von Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory in 1968, a vast agglomeration of conceptual frameworks and methodological heuristics in the study of systemic phenomena has continued to accrue while the facilitation of entry points to the field combining both accessibility and thorou...
2018-Dec-31 • 29 minutes
William B. Young and Stephen D. Silberstein, "Navigating Life with Migraine and Other Headaches" (Oxford UP, 2018)
Migraine headaches can be absolutely devastating. In the book Navigating Life with Migraine and Other Headaches (Oxford University Press, 2018), William B. Young and Stephen D. Silberstein set out to dispel the myths around migraine headaches. Young and Silberstein define what exactly a migraine headache is and what sets it apart from other headaches. They also dives into the various causes and explanations on how they occur. This book is an excellent resource for people who suffer from migraine headaches ...
2018-Dec-28 • 52 minutes
Paul A. Offit, "Do You Believe in Magic?: Vitamins, Supplements, and All Things Natural" (Harper, 2014)
Is alternative medicine quackery? In the book Do You Believe in Magic? Vitamins, Supplements, and All Things Natural: A Look Behind the Curtain (Harper, 2014) (Harper Paperbacks, 2014),Paul A. Offit explores the legitimacy of the alternative medicine industry. In this book exposes some of the most popular therapies and how ineffective, expensive, and even deadly they are. Dr. Offit investigates why this industry is unregulated and why so many people buy into alternative therapies that have no concrete evide...
2018-Dec-26 • 56 minutes
Steve Stewart-Williams, "The Ape That Understood the Universe: How Mind and Culture Evolve" (Cambridge UP, 2018)
In this episode, cross-posted from from the podcast Psychologists Off The Clock, Dr. Yael Schonbrun takes a dive into evolutionary psychology with professor and author, Dr. Steve Stewart-Williams. Steve’s recent book, The Ape That Understood the Universe: How Mind and Culture Evolve (Cambridge University Press, 2018) offers an opportunity to step away from our held understanding of human nature by taking on the alien perspective. Steve’s vast knowledge and wonderful sense of humor will give you new perspect...
2018-Dec-14 • 62 minutes
Samuel Schindler, "Theoretical Virtues in Science: Discovering Reality Through Theory" (Cambridge UP, 2018)
A fundamental problem in science, and in philosophy of science, is that of theory choice. Scientists propose theories to explain data, but when two scientific theories can both explain the same data, what criteria do scientists use to choose between them? And given that even very popular scientific theories can turn out to be wrong, how are the criteria for theory choice related to truth? Do scientists even aim at true theories, as realists hold, or, as anti-realists hold, do they just care that the theorie...
2018-Dec-06 • 64 minutes
McKenzie Wark, "General Intellects: Twenty-One Thinkers for the Twenty-First Century" (Verso, 2017)
McKenzie Wark’s new book offers 21 focused studies of thinkers working in a wide range of fields who are worth your attention. The chapters of General Intellects: Twenty-One Thinkers for the Twenty-First Century (Verso, 2017) introduce readers to important work in Anglophone cultural studies, psychoanalysis, political theory, media theory, speculative realism, science studies, Italian and French workerist and autonomist thought, two “imaginative readings of Marx,” and two “unique takes on the body politic.”...
2018-Nov-28 • 61 minutes
Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers, "The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Integration, Science, and the Great War" (U Chicago Press, 2018)
The prologue to The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Integration, Science, and the Great War (University of Chicago Press, 2018) begins by provocatively invoking a question American physiologist Walter Cannon first asked in 1926: “Why don’t we die daily?” In the erudite chapters that follow, Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers explore how practitioners and theorists working during and after World War I tried to answer that very thorny problem in light of the challenges of wound shock. This...
2018-Nov-13 • 43 minutes
Geraint F. Lewis and Luke A. Barnes, “A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos” (Cambridge UP, 2016)
If the universe was even slightly different in some of its fundamental physical properties, life could not exist – such is the claim of ‘fine tuning’ of the universe for life. The topic of fine tuning has received attention from physicists, philosophers and the popular press. In A Fortunate Universe:... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Nov-13 • 82 minutes
David P. Barash, “Through a Glass Brightly: Using Science to See Our Species as We Really Are” (Oxford UP, 2018)
Human beings have long seen themselves as the center of the universe, as specially-created creatures who are anointed as above and beyond the natural world. Professor and noted scientist David P. Barash calls this viewpoint a persistent paradigm of our own unique self-importance and argues that it is as dangerous... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Nov-09 • 53 minutes
Andrew C. A. Elliott, “Is That a Big Number?” (Oxford UP, 2018)
Andrew C. A. Elliott‘s Is That a Big Number? (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a book that those of us who feast on numbers will absolutely adore, but will also tease the palates of those for whom numbers have previously been somewhat distasteful. This book helps us not only to realize... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Oct-12 • 31 minutes
Rachel Z. Arndt, “Beyond Measure” (Sarabande Books, 2018)
Our world today is full of algorithms and metrics designed to help us keep up, to keep track, to keep going. New devices, such as the smartwatch, now make it possible to quantify and standardize every conceivable human activity, from keeping track of personal bests at the gym to getting... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Oct-11 • 55 minutes
Theodore M. Porter, “Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity” (Princeton UP, 2018)
In Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity (Princeton University Press, 2018), Theodore Porter uncovers the unfamiliar origins of human genetics in the asylums of Europe and North America. Rather than beginning his story with Gregor Mendel or 1909, the date when Wilhelm Johannsen coined the term “gene,”... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Oct-09 • 41 minutes
Hervé Guillemain, “Schizophrenics in the Twentieth Century: The Side Effects of History” (Alma, 2018)
Schizophrènes au XXe siècle: des effets secondaires de l’histoire [Schizophrenics in the Twentieth Century: The Side Effects of History] is a strong argument in support of the history of psychiatry “from below.” Using vast archival resources and ample patient files, Hervé Guillemain demonstrates convincingly how schizophrenia in France was a... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Oct-04 • 65 minutes
Peter Harries-Jones, “Upside-Down Gods: Gregory Bateson’s World of Difference” (Fordham UP, 2016)
The work of polymath Gregory Bateson has long been the road to cybernetics travelled by those approaching this trans-disciplinary field from the direction of the social sciences and even the humanities. Fortunately for devotees of Bateson’s expansive vision, Peter Harries-Jones has continued the expert analysis that gave us 1995’s A Recursive Vision:... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/sci...
2018-Oct-04 • 73 minutes
Byron Reese, “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity” (Simon & Schuster, 2018)
In his new book, The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity (Simon & Schuster, 2018), futurist, technologist, and CEO of Gigaom, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history: 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Sep-27 • 77 minutes
S. Hayes and D. S. Wilson, “Evolution and Contextual Behavioral Science: An Integrated Framework for Understanding, Predicting, and Influencing Human Behavior” (Context Press, 2018)
Evolution science and behavioral science both have strong theories that can help us understand humans in context, and yet, until now, the two fields have been mostly separate. In this episode, cross-posted from the podcast Psychologists Off The Clock, Dr. Steven Hayes and Dr. David Sloan Wilson share how they... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Sep-17 • 64 minutes
Anjan Chakravartty, “Scientific Ontology: Integrating Naturalized Metaphysics and Voluntarist Epistemology” (Oxford UP, 2017)
A scientific ontology is a view about what a scientific theory says exists. Longstanding philosophical debate on this issue divides into two broad camps: anti-realists, who think scientific theories are committed to the existence only of those things that can be observed, and realists, who hold that these theories are... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Sep-13 • 34 minutes
Andrew J. Hogan, “Life Histories of Genetic Disease: Patterns and Prevention in Postwar Medical Genetics” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2016)
How did clinicians learn to see the human genome? In Life Histories of Genetic Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), Andrew J. Hogan makes the subtle argument that a process described by scholars of biomedicine as “molecularization” took place gradually and unevenly as genetic tools became applied to prenatal diagnosis.... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Sep-05 • 49 minutes
Albert Müller, ed., “The Beginning of Heaven and Earth Has No Name: Seven Days With Second-Order Cybernetics” (Fordham UP, 2014)
Between his retirement from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne in 1975 and his death in 2002, many cyberneticians made the pilgrimage to Pescadero, California to unravel the oft-elusive subtleties of second-order cybernetics with the master himself, Heinz von Foerster. Fortunately, for all of those not blessed to have had... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Aug-09 • 50 minutes
Dorothy H. Crawford, “Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped our History” (Oxford UP, 2018)
The history of mankind is interlinked with microbes. As humans evolved and became more advanced, microbes evolved right along with us. Through infection, disease, and pandemic they have helped shape human culture and civilization. In her book Deadly Companions: How Microbes Shaped our History (Oxford University Press, 2018), Dorothy H. Crawford... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science......
2018-Jul-27 • 42 minutes
Sabina Leonelli, “Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study” (U Chicago Press, 2016)
Commentators have been forecasting the eclipse of hypothesis-driven science and the rise of a new ‘data-driven’ science for some time now. Harkening back to the aspirations of Enlightenment empiricists, who sought to establish for the collection of sense data what astronomers had done for the movements of heavenly bodies, they... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Jul-27 • 16 minutes
Joëlle Gergis, “Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia” (Melbourne UP, 2018)
In her new book, Sunburnt Country: The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia (Melbourne University Press, 2018), Joëlle Gergis, a climate scientist and writer from the University of Melbourne, explores the long history of Australia’s climate, centuries before official weather records began. As the world’s climate continues to change, Australians will... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportin...
2018-Jul-18 • 44 minutes
Randi Hutter Epstein, “Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything” (Norton, 2018)
Metabolism, behavior, sleep, mood swings, the immune system, fighting, fleeing, puberty, and sex: these are just a few of the things our bodies control with hormones. Armed with a healthy dose of wit and curiosity, medical journalist Randi Hutter Epstein takes us on a journey through the unusual history of... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Jul-16 • 68 minutes
Eric Winsberg, “Philosophy and Climate Science” (Cambridge UP, 2018)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that there is a warming trend in the global climate that is attributable to human activity, with an expected increase in global temperature (given current trends) of 1.5- 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7-7.2 degrees Fahrenheit). But how do climate scientists reach these conclusions?... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Jul-10 • 50 minutes
Sam Kean, “The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code” (Back Bay, 2013)
In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code (Bay Back Books, 2013), he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA. There are... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-May-29 • 56 minutes
Jonathan W. Marshall, “Performing Neurology: The Dramaturgy of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot is perhaps most well known today from the images of his “hysterical” female patients featured in Bourneville’s Iconographie Photographique de la Salpêtrière. While not diminishing the epistemological and aesthetic importance of “the image” to Charcot, Jonathan W. Marshall argues in Performing Neurology: The Dramaturgy of Dr.... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportin...
2018-May-11 • 61 minutes
Jörg Matthias Determann, “Space Science and the Arab World: Astronauts, Observatories, and Nationalism in the Middle East” (I. B. Tauris, 2018)
Space Science and the Arab World, Astronauts, Observatories and Nationalism in the Middle East (I. B. Tauris, 2018) a recently published history of Arab exploration of space, offers a fascinating insight into fundamental issues shaping the contemporary Middle East, including efforts to turn Arab societies into twenty first-century knowledge-based economies... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.f...
2018-Apr-26 • 58 minutes
Sam Kean, “The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons” (Little, Brown and Co., 2015)
Early studies of the functions of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike—strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, lobotomies, horrendous accidents-and see how the victim coped. In many cases survival was miraculous, and observers could only marvel at the transformations that took place afterward, altering victims’ personalities.... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.f...
2018-Apr-23 • 60 minutes
Sigrid Schmalzer, et. al., “Science for the People: Documents from America’s Movement of Radical Scientists (UMass Press, 2018)
“What is needed now is not liberal reform or withdrawal, but a radical attack, a strategy of opposition. Scientific workers must develop ways to put their skills at the service of the people and against the oppressors.” (Zimmerman, et al. 1972). Following the 2014 conference, “Science for the People: The... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Apr-17 • 46 minutes
Susan M. Squier, “Epigenetic Landscapes: Drawings as Metaphor” (Duke UP, 2017)
Susan M. Squier’s book, Epigenetic Landscapes: Drawings as Metaphor (Duke University Press, 2017) is about development— biological and ecological. It explores how the media (paintings, films, graphics) that experts have created to understand development and to communicate without verbal language has shaped—and continues to affect—the worlds in which we live. Squier’s... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supp...
2018-Apr-13 • 62 minutes
Karl H. Muller et al., “New Horizons for Second-Order Cybernetics” (World Scientific, 2017)
In their volume, New Horizons for Second-Order Cybernetics (World Scientific, 2017), editors Alexander Riegler, Karl H. Muller and Stuart A. Umpelby have assembled almost 60 articles, including their own analyses, in order to test what they have dubbed the Klein-Martin-Hypothesis that: “As a research program, second-order cybernetics was a) insufficiently... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm...
2018-Apr-11 • 63 minutes
Thomas Morris, “The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations” (Thomas Dunne, 2018)
For thousands of years the human heart remained the deepest of mysteries; both home to the soul and an organ too complex to touch, let alone operate on. Then, in the late nineteenth century, medics began going where no one had dared go before. The following decades saw the mysteries... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Mar-28 • 50 minutes
Molly Ladd-Taylor, “Fixing the Poor: Eugenic Sterilization and Child Welfare in the Twentieth Century” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2017)
Eugenic sterilization is usually associated with Nazi horrors before and during World War II. But, as Dr. Molly Ladd-Taylor reminds us, it was also practiced in the United States. In her new book Fixing the Poor: Eugenic Sterilization and Child Welfare in the Twentieth Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017),... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Mar-15 • 66 minutes
Menachem Fisch, “Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency” (U Chicago Press, 2017 )
Thomas Kuhn upset both scientists and philosophers of science when he argued that transitions from one scientific framework (or “paradigm”) to another were irrational: the change was like a religious conversion experience rather than a reasoned shift from one theory to another based on the best evidence. But even if... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Mar-12 • 63 minutes
Andrew Lees, “Mentored by a Madman: The William Burroughs Experiment” (Notting Hill Editions, 2017)
Mentored by a Madman: The William Burroughs Experiment (Notting Hill Editions, 2017) is a fascinating account by one of the world’s leading and most decorated neurologists of the profound influence of William Burroughs on his medical career. Dr. Andrew Lees relates how Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch and troubled drug... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Mar-07 • 61 minutes
Henry Jay Przybylo, “Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia” (W.W. Norton, 2017)
For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is the source of great fear and fascination. From the famous first demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 to today’s routine procedures that controls anxiety, memory formation, pain relief, and... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Feb-20 • 55 minutes
Michael Shermer, “Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia” (Henry Holt, 2018)
For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, and though no one has ever returned from such a place to report what it is really like—or that it even exists—today science and technology are being used to try to make it happen in our lifetime. In... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Feb-15 • 61 minutes
Dmitry Novikov, “Cybernetics: Past to Future” (Springer Verlag, 2016)
With all of its entailed engagements with epistemology, emergence, and self-organization, cybernetics began (and arguably still is) the science of communication and control in the animal and the machine as it was coined in the subtitle of Norbert Wiener’s field defining book of 1948. While the reflexive turn of second-order... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Feb-14 • 49 minutes
Howard I. Kushner, “On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2017)
In the early twentieth century, Robert Hertz, a French anthropologist, and Cesare Lombroso, the Italian criminologist, debated the causes and consequences of left-handedness. According to Lombroso, left-handed individuals were more likely to be criminals. Hertz disagreed. For him, to restrict left-handedness was to suppress individual expression. In his book, On... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supporting...
2018-Feb-13 • 54 minutes
Ty Tashiro, “Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome” (Harper Collins, 2017)
Some people can’t help but be ‘awkward’ despite their lifelong efforts to blend in. They feel ashamed of their social ineptitude and end up shying away from social situations, yet research offers insights that could help. In his new book, Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2018-Jan-31 • 56 minutes
Erika Dyck and Alex Deighton, “Managing Madness” (U Manitoba Press, 2017)
Embracing a multi-perspectival authorial voice, Managing Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada (University of Manitoba Press, 2017), tells the story of the “last and largest” asylum in the British Commonwealth. From its founding in the 1920s until the age of deinstitutionalization, Weyburn Mental Hospital... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/sc...
2017-Dec-29 • 60 minutes
Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, “Jonas Salk: A Life” (Oxford UP, 2015)
Polio was a scourge that terrified generations of people throughout the United States and the rest of the world until Jonas Salk’s vaccine provided the first effective defense against it. In Jonas Salk: A Life (Oxford University Press, 2015), Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs chronicles the medical researcher whose success in developing... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Dec-08 • 57 minutes
Dan Flores, “Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History” (Basic Books, 2016)
Wile E. Coyote has a family tree with many roots and branches, argues University of Montana A.B. Hammond Professor Emeritus Dan Flores in his recent book, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History (Basic Books, 2016). Coyotes as a species predate humans in North America, and people have been, by... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Nov-25 • 89 minutes
Abby Hafer, “The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not” (Cascade Books, 2015)
Have you ever asked yourself why humans have an appendix that will sometimes explode and kill us? Why do men’s testicles hang outside the body where theyre arguably awkward and vulnerable? And if there is an Intelligent Designer, who does it like better anyway—us or squid? These and other related... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Nov-02 • 33 minutes
Climate Change Skepticism with Lawrence Torcello
How does corporate misinformation and partisan skepticism effect what we know about climate change? Lawrence Torcello is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Philosophy. His research focuses on social and political philosophy, democratic theory, and climate justice. The "Why We Argue" podcast is produced by the Humanities Institute at the University of Connecticut as part of the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.f...
2017-Oct-23 • 56 minutes
Scott Bembenek, “The Cosmic Machine: The Science That Runs Our Universe and the Story Behind It” (Zoari Press, 2017)
Scott Bembenek‘s The Cosmic Machine: The Science That Runs Our Universe and the Story Behind It (Zoari Press, 2017) is a wonderful way to introduce an intellectually curious person to how physics and chemistry have evolved and how they contribute to our understanding of the Universe. This book focuses on... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Oct-04 • 58 minutes
Michael Wintroub, “The Voyage of Thought: Navigating Knowledge Across the Sixteenth-Century World” (Cambridge UP, 2017)
If you are an enthusiast of The Cheese and the Worms (1976), The Great Cat Massacre (1984), or The Return of Martin Guerre (1983), then Michael Wintroub‘s The Voyage of Thought: Navigating Knowledge Across the Sixteenth-Century World (Cambridge University Press, 2017) is a must read. Simply put, this is a... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Sep-19 • 55 minutes
Brian Clegg, “Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives” (Icon Books, 2017)
Big Data: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our Lives (Icon Books, 2017), by Brian Clegg, is a relatively short book about a subject that has emerged only recently, but is rapidly becoming a significant force in the evolution of society. Most of us have heard the term “big data,”... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Sep-15 • 64 minutes
Jan De Winter, “Interests and Epistemic Integrity in Science” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017)
In the 1960’s Thomas Kuhn argued, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that scientists’ choices between competing theories could not be determined by the empirical evidence. Ever since, philosophers of science have debated the role of non-epistemic values and interests in science, generally agreeing that such influences are undesirable even... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Sep-07 • 59 minutes
Iwan Rhys Morus, ed.,”The Oxford Illustrated History of Science” (Oxford UP, 2017)
What is science? A seemingly profound, yet totally ridiculous question to try and answer. Yet, when Oxford University Press reached out to the brilliant scholar of Victorian science, Iwan Rhys Morris, they were tapping the right man for the job on the shoulder. He designed, contributed, and edited The Oxford... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Aug-25 • 57 minutes
Ron Edwards, “The Edge of Evolution: Animality, Inhumanity, and Doctor Moreau” (Oxford UP, 2016)
As I was reading Ron Edward’s fascinating and far-reaching new book, The Edge of Evolution: Animality, Inhumanity, and Doctor Moreau (Oxford University Press, 2016), I had a flashback. I must have been about seven. I was watching a film adaptation of H.G. Well’s classic work of science fiction, The Island... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Aug-25 • 57 minutes
Robert Wright, “Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment” (Simon and Schuster, 2017)
All “true believers” believe their beliefs are true. This is particularly true of true religious believers: for Christians, Christianity is the true religion, for Jews, Judaism is the true religion, for for Muslims, Islam is the true religion. Few true believer, however, would make the claim that their religion is... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Jul-15 • 65 minutes
Gualtiero Piccinini, “Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account” (Oxford UP, 2016)
A popular way of thinking about the mind and its relation to physical stuff is in terms of computation. This general information-processing approach to solving the mind-body problem admits of a number of different, often incompatible, elaborations. In Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account (Oxford University Press, 2016), Gualtiero Piccinini integrates... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast....
2017-Jun-29 • 52 minutes
Brian Clegg, “The Reality Frame: Relativity and Our Place in the Universe” (Icon Books, 2017)
Brian Clegg is one of England’s most prolific and popular writers on science. His latest work, The Reality Frame: Relativity and Our Place in the Universe (Icon Books, 2017), covers Einstein’s Theories of Relativity and a whole lot more. Simply as an exposition of Einstein’s theories, the book is excellent... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Jun-22 • 55 minutes
Kees van Deemter, “Computational Models of Referring: A Study in Cognitive Science” (MIT Press, 2016)
Sometimes we have to depend on philosophy to explain to us why something apparently simple is in fact extremely complicated. The way we use referring expressions – things that pick out the entities we want to talk about, such as “Mary”, or “that guy over there” – falls into this... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Jun-20 • 53 minutes
Neil M. Maher, “Apollo in the Age of Aquarius” (Harvard UP, 2017)
In the summer of 1969, two seminal events of the sixties happened within a few weeks of each other: the first man walked on the moon and the Woodstock music festival was held in upstate New York. At first glance, these two events might appear to have little to do... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-May-30 • 47 minutes
Beau Lotto, “Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently” (Hatchette Books, 2017)
We may think we see the world as it is, but neuroscience proves otherwise. Which is a good thing, according to neuroscientist and author Beau Lotto. In his new book Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently (Hatchette Books, 2017), Lotto explains the mechanisms underlying our difficulty apprehending the world accurately,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-May-13 • 72 minutes
Sophia Roosth, “Synthetic: How Life Got Made” (U Chicago Press, 2017)
Sophia Roosth‘s wonderful new book follows researchers clustered around MIT beginning in 2003 who named themselves synthetic biologists. A historically informed anthropological analysis based on many years of ethnographic work, Synthetic: How Life Got Made (University of Chicago Press, 2017) offers a fascinating account of the changing relationship between making... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportin...
2017-May-11 • 36 minutes
Tara H. Abraham, “Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch’s Transdisciplinary Life in Science” (MIT Press, 2016)
Fueling his bohemian lifestyle and anti-authoritarian attitude with a steady diet of ice cream and whiskey, along with a healthy dose of insomnia, Warren Sturgis McCulloch is best known for his foundational contributions to cybernetics but led a career that spanned psychiatry, philosophy, neurophysiology, and engineering. Tara H. Abraham‘s new... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science... ...
2017-May-04 • 64 minutes
Lisa Messeri, “Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds” (Duke UP, 2016)
What kind of object is a planet? Lisa Messeri‘s new book asks and addressed this question in a fascinating ethnography that explores how scientific practices transform planets into places and helps us understand why that matters not just for how we understand outer space, but also for how we understand... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Apr-29 • 50 minutes
J. C. McKeown, “A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Healing Arts of Greece and Rome” (Oxford UP, 2017)
The back cover of J. C. McKeown‘s new book, A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities (Oxford University Press, 2017), is adorned not with review quotes from contemporary scholars, but rather the discordant voices of the medical writers he excerpts. Speaking of Galen, Photius of Constantinople notes that the author tends... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Apr-25 • 63 minutes
Tania Munz, “The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language” (U of Chicago Press, 2016)
Tania Munz‘s new book is a dual biography: both of Austrian-born experimental physiologist Karl von Frisch, and of the honeybees he worked with as experimental, communicating creatures. The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language (University of Chicago Press, 2016) alternates between chapters that take... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Mar-29 • 63 minutes
Raz Chen-Morris, “Measuring Shadows: Kepler’s Optics of Invisibility” (Penn State UP, 2016)
Raz Chen-Morris‘s new book traces a significant and surprising notion through the work of Johannes Kepler: in order to account for real physical motions, one has to investigate artificially produced shadows and reflections. Measuring Shadows: Kepler’s Optics of Invisibility (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2016) beautifully places Kepler’s optics into... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingca...
2017-Mar-29 • 64 minutes
Colleen Derkatch, “Bounding Biomedicine: Evidence and Rhetoric in the New Science of Alternative Medicine” (U of Chicago Press, 2016)
What makes for new science? What happens to the evidentiary basis of the medical profession when patients demand treatments beyond the range of their conception of human biology? Are the criteria of the sciences amenable to healing practices that are touted for their focus on singularity, rather than uniformity? Colleen... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Mar-21 • 40 minutes
Kathleen McAuliffe, “This is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society” (Mariner Books, 2017)
Kathleen McAuliffe‘s This is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society (Mariner Books, 2017) unveils the world of parasites. From the influence of parasites on the ability to transform rats brains to be easily susceptible to cat predation to altering web formation structures in... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Mar-15 • 66 minutes
Stephanie Ruphy, “Scientific Pluralism Reconsidered: A New Approach to the (Dis)unity of Science (U. Pittsburgh Press, 2017)
The idea that the sciences can’t be unified–that there will never be a single ‘theory of everything’–is the current orthodoxy in philosophy of science and in many sciences as well. But different versions of pluralism present very different views of what exactly they are pluralistic about, why sciences cannot be... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Feb-15 • 69 minutes
Carl Gillett, “Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy” (Cambridge UP, 2016)
Are complex phenomena “nothing but the sum of their parts”, or are they “more than the sum of their parts”? Physicists, chemists, and biologists as well as philosophers have long argued on both sides of this debate between the idea of reduction and that of emergence. At this point, argues... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Feb-13 • 52 minutes
Berit Brogaard, “On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion” (Oxford UP, 2015)
Why is falling in love so exciting and painful at the same time? And what explains our longing for people who are bad for us or no longer love us back? In her book On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion (Oxford University Press, 2015), philosopher and cognitive... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Feb-04 • 63 minutes
Randy Olson, “Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story” (U. Chicago Press, 2015)
Randy Olson, author of Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story (University of Chicago Press, 2015), has an unusual background. He is a Harvard-trained biologist and former tenured professor who resigned from his academic post to earn a degree from the world-renowned University of Southern California film school.... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Jan-16 • 66 minutes
Projit Bihari Mukharji, “Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Science: (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
Projit Bihari Mukharji’s new book explores the power of small, non-spectacular, and everyday technologies as motors or catalysts of change in the history of science and medicine. Focusing on practices of Ayurveda in British Bengal between about 1870-1930, Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Science (University of Chicago Press,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm...
2017-Jan-10 • 35 minutes
Joshua Howe, “Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming” (U. Washington Press, 2016)
The year 2016 was the hottest year on record, and in recent months, drought and searing heat have fanned wildfires in Fort McMurray Alberta and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Arctic has had record high temperatures, leading one climate researcher to warn the region is unraveling. Yet for the most... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2017-Jan-04 • 53 minutes
Brian Clegg, “Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)
Brian Clegg’s Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) is a compact, very readable, and highly entertaining history of the development and use of mathematics to answer the important practical questions involved in advancing civilization. The question “Are Numbers Real?” is... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Dec-29 • 56 minutes
Ian Stewart, “Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe” (Basic Books, 2016)
The book discussed here is Ian Stewart’s Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe (Basic Books, 2016). If you would like to read a book that in my opinion represents the nicest job of presenting astronomy and cosmology in one volume since Isaac Asimov wrote The Universe half a... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Oct-28 • 49 minutes
Pamela S. Turner, “Crow Smarts/Samurai Rising” (HMH/Charlesbridge, 2016)
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Turner discusses two new books, Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the Worlds Smartest Bird (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016), and Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune (Charlesbridge, 2016). In Crow Smarts, Turner introduces scientist Dr. Gavin Hunt and provides a fascinating account... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Oct-15 • 70 minutes
J.D. Trout, “Wondrous Truths: The Improbable Triumph of Modern Science” (Oxford UP, 2016)
The social practice we call science has had spectacular success in explaining the natural world since the 17th century. While advanced mathematics and other precursors of modern science were not unique to Europe, it was there that Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, and others came up with theories that got modern... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Sep-30 • 47 minutes
Asif A. Siddiqi, “The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957” (Cambridge UP, 2013)
In The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Asif Siddiqi approaches the history of the Soviet space program as a combination of engineering and imagination, both necessary to achieve the launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957. Beginning in the late 19th century,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Sep-15 • 66 minutes
Kenneth Schaffner, “Behaving: What’s Genetic, What’s Not, and Why Should We Care?” (Oxford UP, 2016)
In the genes vs. environment debate, it is widely accepted that what we do, who we are, and what mental illnesses we are at risk for result from a complex combination of both factors. Just how complex is revealed in Behaving: What’s Genetic, What’s Not, and Why Should We Care?... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Sep-11 • 56 minutes
Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, “The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line” (Prometheus Books, 2016)
Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line (Prometheus Books, 2016) goes considerably beyond what its modest title would suggest. The circle has played a pivotal role–that’s “role” with an ‘e,’ but its ability to “roll” with an ‘l’–has helped produce our industrial civilization.... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Sep-07 • 70 minutes
Sandra Harding, “Objectivity and Diversity: A New Logic of Scientific Inquiry” (U. of Chicago Press, 2015)
Is the scientific value of objectivity in conflict with the social justice commitment to diversity? In her latest book, Objectivity and Diversity: A New Logic of Scientific Inquiry (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Sandra Harding (Education and Gender Studies, UCLA) argues not only that objectivity and diversity need not be... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Aug-26 • 64 minutes
James Rodger Fleming, “Inventing Atmospheric Science: Bjerknes, Rossby, Wexler, and the Foundations of Modern Meteorology” (MIT Press, 2016)
This is a book about the future – the historical future as three interconnected generations of atmospheric researchers experienced it and envisioned it in the first part of the twentieth century. James Rodger Fleming’s new book is a big picture history of atmospheric science that follows the lives and careers... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Jul-21 • 55 minutes
Peter Harrison, “The Territories of Science and Religion” (U. of Chicago Press, 2014)
Contemporary debates would lead you to believe that science and religion are eternally at odds with each other. In The Territories of Science and Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Peter Harrison,Director, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Queensland, interrogates the modern assumptions behind... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science....
2016-Jul-05 • 43 minutes
Marta Zaraska, “Meathooked: The History and Science of our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat” (Basic Books, 2016)
Here in the U.S. we’ve just celebrated the Fourth of July, with its parades, fireworks, and, of course, cook-outs. If you’re like me, the smell of a grilling burger can make you salivate from across the yard. I feel like Pavlov’s dog whenever it happens, and that includes the seven... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Jun-03 • 71 minutes
Michael F. Robinson, “The Lost White Tribe: Explorers, Scientists, and the Theory that Changed a Continent” (Oxford UP, 2016)
Michael F. Robinson‘s new book is such a pleasure to read, I cant even. It’s not just because you get to say Gambaragara over and over again if you read it aloud. (I recommend doing this, even if just with that one word.) It’s not just because its a beautifully... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-May-23 • 55 minutes
Beineke and Rosenhouse, eds., “The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math” (Princeton UP, 2015)
Jennifer Beineke and Jason Rosenhouse‘s new book The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math (Princeton University Press, 2015) covers a multitude of topics and is in many ways as entertaining as the various subjects it describes. Even though the book can be skimmed simply to expose one... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Apr-18 • 70 minutes
Eben Kirksey, “Emergent Ecologies” (Duke UP, 2015)
Eben Kirksey new book asks and explores a series of timely, important, and fascinating questions: How do certain plants, animals, and fungi move among worlds, navigate shifting circumstances, and find emergent opportunities? When do new species add value to ecological associations, and when do they become irredeemably destructive? When should... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Apr-15 • 67 minutes
Eric Dietrich, “Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World” (Columbia UP, )
Although there are many deep criticisms of a scientific view of humanity and the world, a persistent theme is that the scientific worldview eliminates mystery, and in particular, the wonders and mysteries of the world’s religions. In Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World (Columbia... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Feb-15 • 66 minutes
David J. Stump, “Conceptual Change and the Philosophy of Science: Alternative Interpretations of the A Priori” (Routledge, 2015)
Ever since Kant argued that there was a category of truths, the synthetic a priori, that grounded the possibility of empirical knowledge, philosophers have debated the concept of a priori knowledge in science. Are there kinds of scientific knowledge that are not based in sense experience? What is the status... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2016-Jan-26 • 59 minutes
Ronald Chase, “Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)
In his book, Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), biologist Ronald Chase explores the frequently misunderstood condition through an engaging combination of scientific exploration and personal memoir. In recounting the life of his older brother, Jim, who was a bright young graduate student... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/sci...
2016-Jan-21 • 66 minutes
Dale Jamieson, “Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – and What It Means for Our Future” (Oxford UP, 2014)
How are we to think and live with climate change? In Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – and What It Means for Our Future (Oxford University Press, 2014), Dale Jamieson (Environmental Studies and Philosophy, NYU) grapples with these questions. The book is a... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Dec-30 • 34 minutes
Peter J. Gloviczki, “Journalism and Memorialization in the Age of Social Media” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015)
Humans have coped with tragedy using ritual and memorials since the Neolithic era. Doka called a memorial a space invested with meaning, “set aside to commemorate an event such as a tragedy.” Memorialization is a ritual of bereavement, the creation of a place, permanent or not, that facilitates the persistence... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Dec-21 • 66 minutes
Natasha Myers, “Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter” (Duke UP, 2015)
After reading Natasha Myers’s new book, the world begins to dance in new ways. Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015) is a sensory ethnography of protein crystallographers that is based on five years of fieldwork conducted between 2003-2008 at a research university on the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Dec-07 • 54 minutes
Brian Clegg, “How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book” (Icon Books, 2015)
Brian Clegg, who is arguably the most prolific science writer since Isaac Asimov, and almost certainly the most prolific British one, has written a delightfully tantalizing book entitled How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book (Icon Books, 2015). It’s a delectable collection of science quiz... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Nov-15 • 38 minutes
Eric T. Meyer and Ralph Schroeder, “Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities” (MIT Press, 2015)
By now it is incontrovertible that new technology has had an effect on how regular people get information. Whether in the form of an online newspaper or a Google search, new technology has allowed individuals to access masses of information faster than ever before. What, then, has been the effect... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Nov-04 • 66 minutes
Anita Guerrini, “The Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV’s Paris” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)
Anita Guerrini‘s wonderful new book explores Paris as a site of anatomy, dissection, and science during the reign of Louis XIV between 1643-1715. The journey begins with readers accompanying a dead body to sites of dissection across the city, after which we are introduced to four anatomists – charter members... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Oct-13 • 62 minutes
Eugene Raikhel, Todd Meyers, Emily Yates-Doerr, “Somatosphere.net”
Somatosphere is “a collaborative website covering the intersections of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, cultural psychiatry, psychology and bioethics.” Founded in July 2008, Somatosphere has evolved into an innovative platform for collaborative experiments, interdisciplinary exchange, and intellectual community. As such, it reveals how websites–and the communities of discourse that... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium m...
2015-Sep-26 • 52 minutes
Isabelle Dussauge, Claes-Fredrik Helgesson, and Francis Lee, “Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine” (Oxford UP, 2015)
Valuation is a central question in contemporary social science. Indeed the question of value has a range of academic projects associated with it, whether in terms of specific questions or in terms of emerging fora for academic publications. In Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine (Oxford University Press,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Sep-04 • 74 minutes
Sandra Harding, “Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)
Sandra Harding‘s new book Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research (University of Chicago Press, 2015) raises new questions about two central concepts in STS – objectivity and diversity – and in doing so it allows us to animate them in new kinds of relationships and shows that objectivity... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Aug-19 • 56 minutes
Tom Jackson, “Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again” (Bloomsbury, 2015)
Tom Jackson‘s Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again (Bloomsbury, 2015) is a completely engrossing look into the history and technology of refrigeration. This book reads like an expanded chapter of James Burke’s classic book Connections.Refrigeration is not only one of the most important foundation stones... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Jul-24 • 62 minutes
Raf De Bont, “Stations in the Field: A History of Place-Based Animal Research, 1870-1930” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)
While museums, labs, and botanical gardens have been widely studied by historians of science, field stations have received comparatively little attention.Raf De Bont‘s new book rectifies this oversight, turning our attention to the importance of biological field stations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in generating new scientific... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/sci...
2015-Jul-03 • 67 minutes
James A. Secord, “Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age” (U of Chicago Press, 2014)
James A. Secord‘s new book is both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. Emerging from the 2013 Sandars Lectures in Bibliography at the Cambridge University Library, Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is a fascinating exploration of... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-May-22 • 51 minutes
Tom McLeish, “Faith and Wisdom in Science” (Oxford UP, 2014)
Much of the public debate about the relationship between science and theology has been antagonistic or adversarial. Proponents on both sides argue that their respective claims are contradictory–that the claims of science trump and even discredit the claims of religion or theology. Some have sought to portray the relationship in... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Apr-17 • 54 minutes
Chris Morgan, “The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000” (McFarland, 2015)
While there are many well known cult television shows still revered by fans, MST3K continues to have an incredibly large following with a thriving following 25 years after its final episode. Chris Morgan‘s book The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (McFarland, 2015) looks at the films used by the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Mar-21 • 62 minutes
A. Mark Smith, “From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)
A. Mark Smith‘s new book is a magisterial history of optics over the course of two millennia. From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics (University of Chicago Press, 2015) suggests that the transition from ancient toward modern optics was accompanied by a turn in optical studies... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Mar-16 • 72 minutes
Nick Wilding, "Galileo's Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge" (U Chicago Press, 2014)
Nick Wilding's new book is brilliant, thoughtful, and an absolute pleasure to read. Galileo's Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and The Politics of Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 2014) takes an unusual approach to understanding Galileo and his context by focusing its narrative on his closest friend, student, and patron, the Venetian Gianfrancesco Sagredo. Though most readers might be familiar with Sagredo largely as one of the protagonists of Galileo's 1632 Dialogue upon the Two Main Systems of the World...
2015-Mar-15 • 72 minutes
Nick Wilding, “Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge” (U Chicago Press, 2014)
Nick Wilding‘s new book is brilliant, thoughtful, and an absolute pleasure to read. Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and The Politics of Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 2014) takes an unusual approach to understanding Galileo and his context by focusing its narrative on his closest friend, student, and patron, the Venetian... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Mar-11 • 51 minutes
Edmund Russell, “Evolutionary History: Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth” (
Evolution is among the most powerful ideas in the natural sciences. Indeed, the evolutionary theoristTheodosius Dobzhansky famouslysaid nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Yet despite its central place in the life sciences, relatively few geographers employ evolutionary theory in their work. In his new book... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Mar-09 • 75 minutes
Orit Halpern, “Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945” (Duke UP, 2014)
The second half of the twentieth century saw a radical transformation in approaches to recording and displaying information. Orit Halpern‘s new book traces the emergence of the “communicative objectivity” that resulted from this shift and produced new forms of observation, rationality, and economy. Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Jan-30 • 65 minutes
Nicolas Rasmussen, “Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014)
Nicolas Rasmussen‘s new book maps the intersection of biotechnology and the business world in the last decades of the twentieth century. Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) takes readers into the fascinating world of entrepreneur-biologists as they developed five of the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Jan-16 • 71 minutes
Karen A. Rader and Victoria E. M. Cain, “Life on Display: Revolutionizing U.S. Museums of Science and Natural History in the Twentieth Century” (U of Chicago Press, 2014)
In lucid prose that’s a real pleasure to read, Karen Rader and Victoria Cain‘s new book chronicles a revolution in modern American science education and culture. Life on Display: Revolutionizing U. S. Museums of Science & Natural History in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2014) guides readers through... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2015-Jan-12 • 67 minutes
William Sheehan and Christopher Conselice, “Galactic Encounters” (Springer, 2014)
Galactic Encounters: Our Majestic and Evolving Star-System, From the Big Bang to Time’s End, by William Sheehan and Christopher Conselice, takes readers on a journey through time, unfolding the long history of investigation into the fuzzy objects–nebulae, galaxies, dust clouds–in the night sky. This book will be of interest to... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Dec-28 • 70 minutes
David A. Rothery, “Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World” (Springer, 2014)
Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World (Springer, 2014) by David A. Rothery, introduces the innermost planet in our solar system and brings readers up to speed on recent spacecraft discoveries and the unsolved mysteries of Mercury. From Mariner 10 in the 1970s to NASA’s (Mercury Surface, Space... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Dec-11 • 62 minutes
Vera Kolb, “Astrobiology: An Evolutionary Approach” (CRC Press, 2014)
Astrobiology: An Evolutionary Approach (CRC Press, 2014) is a new volume edited by Dr. Vera Kolb that brings together 37 authors from a variety of different research backgrounds to introduce this rapidly developing interdisciplinary field. Anyone coming to the book with questions about the origin or possible manifestations of life... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Dec-09 • 70 minutes
Daniel Margocsy, “Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age” (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
Daniel Margocsy‘s beautiful new book opens with a trip to Amsterdam by Baron Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach, and closes with a shopping spree by Peter the Great. These two trips bookend a series of fascinating forays into the changing world of entrepreneurial science in the early modern Netherlands. Commercial Visions:... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Dec-04 • 74 minutes
James Giordano, “Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense” (CRC Press, 2014)
Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense: Practical Considerations, Neuroethical Concerns (CRC Press, 2014), edited by Dr. James Giordano, is an impressive collection of essays by authors at the cutting edge of an emerging field which links neuroscience and national security. The book dispels myths that this confluence has solely offensive... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Nov-13 • 69 minutes
William J. Turkel, “Spark from the Deep” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)
“In a sense, all life consists of the colonization of an electric world. But to see that, we have to go back to the very beginning.” William J. Turkel‘s new book traces the emergence and inhabiting of an electric world through the span of human history and beyond. Embracing a... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Nov-05 • 70 minutes
Lawrence Lipking, “What Galileo Saw: Imagining the Scientific Revolution” (Cornell UP, 2014)
Lawrence Lipking‘s new book, What Galileo Saw: Imagining the Scientific Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2014) examines the role of imagination and creativity in the seventeenth century developments that have come to be known as the Scientific Revolution. Whereas some accounts suggest that this period involved the rejection of imaginative thinking,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/s...
2014-Oct-21 • 62 minutes
Roberto Trotta, “The Edge of the Sky: All You Need to Know About the All-There-Is” (Basic Books, 2014)
Roberto Trotta‘s new book, The Edge of the Sky: All You Need to Know About the All-There-Is (Basic Books, 2014) uses only the thousand (or ten-hundred) most common words in the English language to describe our current understanding and the most compelling outstanding mysteries in astrophysics and particle physics. A... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Oct-09 • 62 minutes
Don Lincoln, “The Large Hadron Collider” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014)
Don Lincoln‘s new book, The Large Hadron Collider: The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Stuff That Will Blow Your Mind (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014), presents an insider’s view of the largest physics experiment of our time and the discoveries that have come out of it over the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Sep-29 • 62 minutes
Mary-Jane Rubenstein, “Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse” (Columbia UP, 2014)
Where can the the boundaries of science, philosophy, and religion be drawn? Questioning the nature of the universe is an excellent place to rethink how these categories have been deployed across time. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor Religious Studies at Wesleyan University, offers a genealogy of multiple-world cosmologies that demonstrates these terms... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/sci...
2014-Sep-29 • 62 minutes
Mary-Jane Rubenstein, "Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse" (Columbia UP, 2014)
Where can the the boundaries of science, philosophy, and religion be drawn? Questioning the nature of the universe is an excellent place to rethink how these categories have been deployed across time. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor Religious Studies at Wesleyan University, offers a genealogy of multiple-world cosmologies that demonstrates these terms pliability and the debated relationship between 'Science' and 'Religion.' In Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse (Columbia University Press, ...
2014-Aug-06 • 74 minutes
David N. Livingstone, “Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014)
David N. Livingstone‘s new book traces the processes by which communities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that shared the same Scottish Calvinist heritage engaged with Darwin and Darwinians in different local contexts. Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) locates evolutionary debates... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! ...
2014-Jun-19 • 56 minutes
Thomas McFaul and Al Brunsting, “God is Here to Stay: Science, Evolution, and Belief in God” (Wipf and Stock, 2014)
The book discussed in this interview is God is Here to Stay: Science, Evolution, and Belief in God (Wipf and Stock, 2014) by Thomas McFaul and Al Brunsting, two authors with very different backgrounds. McFaul is a college professor specializing in philosophy and religion, Brunsting a physicist with numerous publications and... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Jun-12 • 74 minutes
Jane Maienschein, “Embryos Under the Microscope: The Diverging Meanings of Life” (Harvard UP, 2014)
Why do we study the history of science? Historians of science don’t just teach us about the past: along with philosophers of science, they also help us to understand the foundations and assumptions of scientific research, and guide us to reliable sources of information on which to base our policies... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Jun-02 • 69 minutes
Omar W. Nasim, “Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
In Omar W. Nasim‘s new book, a series of fascinating characters sketch, paint, and etch their way toward a mapping of the cosmos and the human mind. Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2013) examines the history of observation of celestial nebulae... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-May-15 • 70 minutes
Melinda B. Fagan, “Philosophy of Stem Cell Biology: Knowledge in Flesh and Blood” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
Philosophy of science has come a very long way from its historically rooted focus on theories, explanations, and evidential relations in physics elaborated in terms of a rather mythical “theory T”. But even in philosophy of biology, attention has largely been on the concepts and abstract mathematics of evolutionary biology,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-May-14 • 71 minutes
Richard Yeo, “Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science” (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
During the Great Fire of London in September 1666, Samuel Pepys went out to the garden and dug some holes. There he placed his documents, some wine, and “my parmezan cheese” for safekeeping as the buildings and streets of his city were licked and then consumed by flames. We know... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Apr-17 • 54 minutes
Oscar E. Fernandez, “Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton UP, 2014)
The book discussed in this interview is Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton University Press, 2014) by Oscar E. Fernandez, who teaches mathematics – and calculus in particular – at Wellesley College. While it can be read by someone who wants to obtain a sense of what calculus is and how... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Apr-16 • 73 minutes
Robert Mitchell, “Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)
Robert Mitchell‘s new book is wonderfully situated across several intersections: of history and literature, of the Romantic and contemporary worlds, of Keats’ urn and a laboratory cylinder full of dry ice. In Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), Mitchell argues that we are... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Apr-10 • 72 minutes
Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, “Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa” (University of Chicago Press, 2014)
Abena Dove Osseo-Asare‘s wonderful new book is a thoughtful, provocative, and balanced account of the intersecting histories and practices of drug research in modern Ghana, South Africa, and Madagascar. Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2014) tells the stories of six plants, all... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Apr-02 • 73 minutes
David Kaiser, “How the Hippies Saved Physics” (W.W. Norton, 2012)
David Kaiser‘s recent book is one of the most enjoyable and informative books on the history of science that you’ll read, full-stop. The deservedly award-winning How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival (W.W. Norton, 2012) takes readers into the “hazy, bong-filled excesses of the 1970s New... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Mar-23 • 74 minutes
Matthew C. Hunter, “Wicked Intelligence” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
The pages of Matthew C. Hunter‘s wonderful new book are full of paper fish, comets, sleepy-eyed gazes, drunk ants, and a cast full of fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) members of the experimental community of Restoration London. Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London (University of... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Feb-24 • 22 minutes
John Hibbing et al., “Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences” (Routledge, 2013)
John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford are the authors of Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences (Routledge, 2013). Hibbing is professor of political science and psychology at the University of Nebraska, Smith is professor of political science at the University of Nebraska, and Alford is associate... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Feb-19 • 55 minutes
Michael Pettit, “The Science of Deception: Psychology and Commerce in America” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
Parapsychology. You may have heard of it. You know, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis. Spoon-bending and that sort of thing. If you have heard of it, you probably think of it as a pseudoscience. And indeed it is. But it wasn’t always so. There was a time in the late nineteenth... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Feb-14 • 96 minutes
Chuck Adler, “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” (Princeton UP, 2014)
[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I’ve admitted before that Physics and I have never gotten along. But, science fiction is something I enjoy. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a copy of Physics Professor Chuck Adler‘s new book Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Jan-31 • 77 minutes
Hallam Stevens, “Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
Hallam Stevens‘s new book is a rich and fascinating ethnographic and historical account of the transformations wrought by integrating statistical and computational methods and materials into the biological sciences. Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics (University of Chicago Press, 2013) follows the data through the physical and... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/s...
2014-Jan-16 • 46 minutes
John Waldman, “Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations” (Lyons Press, 2013)
When it comes to understanding why our planet’s biodiversity is declining so precipitously, no phrase has as much explanatory power as “shifting baselines” — as essayist Derrick Jensen put it, “[T]he process of becoming accustomed to, and accepting as normal, worsening conditions.” Every generation regards its own environment as natural... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Jan-15 • 64 minutes
Michael Weisberg, “Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World” (Oxford UP, 2013)
In 1956 and 1957, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to test a plan to dam up the San Francisco Bay in order to protect its water supply: they built a 1.5 acre model of the Bay area in a warehouse, with hydraulic pumps to simulate tides and river... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Jan-14 • 75 minutes
Gabriel Finkelstein, “Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany” (MIT Press, 2013)
“A good wife and a healthy child are better for one’s temper than frogs.” For Gabriel Finkelstein, Emil du Bois-Reymond was “the most important forgotten intellectual of the nineteenth century.” Most famously in a series of experimental works on electricity, but also in a series of public lectures that generated... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2014-Jan-07 • 71 minutes
Angela N. H. Creager, “Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
Angela Creager‘s deeply researched and elegantly written new book is a must-read account of the history of science in twentieth-century America. Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine (University of Chicago Press, 2013) traces a history of radioisotopes as military and civilian objects, for experimentation and therapeutic... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science....
2013-Nov-27 • 60 minutes
Sarah S. Richardson, Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
Men and women are different, there’s no doubt about it. And you might well want to know what the root of that difference is. What makes a man a man and a woman a woman? Before the beginning of the twentieth century, most answers to this question were rather unsatisfying,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Nov-23 • 59 minutes
Kim TallBear, “Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science” (University of Minnesota Press, 2013)
Is genetic testing a new national obsession? From reality TV shows to the wild proliferation of home testing kits, there’s ample evidence it might just be. And among the most popular tests of all is for so-called “Native American DNA.” All of this rests upon some uninterrogated (and potentially destructive)... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Nov-15 • 66 minutes
Muhammed Ali Khalidi, “Natural Categories and Human Kinds: Classification in the Natural and Social Sciences” (Cambridge UP, 2013)
The division between natural kinds – the kinds that ‘cut nature at its joints’ – and those that simply reflect human interests and values has a long history. The natural kinds are often thought to have certain essential characteristics that are fixed by nature, such as a particular atomic number,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Nov-03 • 68 minutes
William J. Clancey, “Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers” (MIT Press, 2012)
How does conducting fieldwork on another planet, using a robot as a mobile laboratory, change what it means to be a scientist? In Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers (MIT Press, 2012), William J. Clancey explores the nature of exploration in the context of the Mars Exploration... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Oct-16 • 42 minutes
Dorothy H. Crawford, “Virus Hunt: The Search for the Origin of HIV” (Oxford UP, 2013)
If you think about it, pretty much everything has a history insofar as everything exists in time. Historians, however, usually limit themselves to the history of humans and the things humans make. Occasionally, of course, they make forays into the history of animals, the environment and even the universe (see... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Sep-27 • 73 minutes
Adam R. Shapiro, “Trying Biology: The Scopes Trial, Textbooks, and the Anti-Evolution Movement in American Schools” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
During the 1924-25 school year, John Scopes was filling in for the regular biology teacher at Rhea County Central High School in Dayton, Tennessee. The final exam was coming up, and he assigned reading from George W. Hunter’s 1914 textbook A Civic Biology to prepare students for the test. What... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Sep-17 • 57 minutes
Tim Maudlin, “Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time” (Princeton UP, 2012)
Tim Maudlin‘s Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton University Press, 2012) is a clear, approachable, and engaging introduction to the philosophy of physics that focuses on fundamental notions of space and time. The book expertly interweaves the history and philosophy of science in the course of its narrative; readers... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Sep-08 • 71 minutes
Michael Ruse, “The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
In The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet (University of Chicago Press, 2013), Michael Ruse offers a fascinating history of the Gaia Hypothesis in the context of the transformations of professional and public engagements with science and technology in the 1960s. Based on an archive that spans texts, oral... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Aug-23 • 69 minutes
Hannah S. Decker, “The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual’s Conquest of American Psychiatry” (Oxford UP, 2013)
Like it or not, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) has an enormous influence in deciding what qualifies as a mental health disorder in the United States and beyond. The each revision of the DSM directly influences people’s lives, guides treatment, and has important legal and economic consequences. In... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science......
2013-Jul-29 • 69 minutes
David Munns, “A Single Sky: How an International Community Forged the Science of Radio Astronomy” (MIT Press, 2012)
How do you measure a star? In the middle of the 20thcentury, an interdisciplinary and international community of scientists began using radio waves to measure heavenly bodies and transformed astronomy as a result. David P. D. Munns‘s new book charts the process through which radio astronomers learned to see the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Jul-05 • 70 minutes
Nathaniel Comfort, “The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine” (Yale UP, 2012)
“This is a history of promises.”So begins Nathaniel Comfort‘s gripping and beautifully written new book on the relationships between and entanglements of medical genetic and eugenics in the history of the twentieth century. Based on a rich documentary and oral history archive, The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Jun-22 • 70 minutes
Maki Fukuoka, “The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in 19th-Century Japan” (Stanford UP, 2012)
Zograscope. Say it with me: zograscope. ZooooOOOOOoooograscope. There are many optical wonders in Maki Fukuoka’s new book The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in 19th-Century Japan (Stanford University Press, 2012), the zograscope not least among them. The book opens with Fukuoka’s account of stumbling upon a manuscript of... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast....
2013-Jun-04 • 53 minutes
Brian Clegg, “Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe” (Icon Books, 2013)
The book discussed in this interview is Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe (Icon Books, 2013), by Brian Clegg, an acclaimed British writer of books on science for the general public. Brian has a knack for taking concepts that seem abstruse and explaining them in ways that... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-May-15 • 64 minutes
Helen Longino, “Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression and Sexuality” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
What explains human behavior? It is standard to consider answers from the perspective of a dichotomy between nature and nurture, with most researchers today in agreement that it is both. For Helen Longino, Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, the “both” answer misses the fact that the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-May-07 • 52 minutes
Victor Stenger, “God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion” (Prometheus, 2012)
Are science and religion compatible, or are they fundamentally different ways of viewing the world? In the book,God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion(Prometheus, 2012), physicist Victor Stenger uses his knowledge of science to argue that the latter option is the case. Though acknowledging that... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Apr-22 • 57 minutes
Marlene Zuk, “Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live” (Norton, 2013)
The Hebrews called it “Eden.” The Greeks and Romans called it the “Golden Age.” The philosophes–or Rousseau at least–called it the “State of Nature.” Marx and Engels called it “Primitive Communism.” The underlying notion, however, is the same: there was a time, long ago, when things were much better than... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Apr-17 • 70 minutes
Kathleen M. Vogel, “Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2012)
Kathleen M. Vogel‘s new book is enlightening and inspiring. Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) uses an approach grounded in deep ethnographic analysis of exemplary case studies to explore the recent and contemporary practices performed by US governmental and... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science......
2013-Apr-15 • 66 minutes
Meir Hemmo and Orly Shenker, “The Road to Maxwell’s Demon: Conceptual Foundations of Statistical Mechanics” (Cambridge UP, 2012)
Among the very many puzzling aspects of the physical world is this: how do we explain the fact that the laws of thermodynamics are time-asymmetric while those of statistical mechanics are time-symmetric? If the fundamental physical laws do not require events to occur in any particular temporal direction, why do... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Feb-13 • 32 minutes
Lawrence M. Krauss, “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing” (Atria, 2012)
In A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing (Atria, 2012), Lawrence M. Krauss presents this big idea: something can–and perhaps must–come from nothing. That something is, well, everything–you, me, and the entire universe. If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will. Of course, as Lawrence explains,... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Jan-22 • 82 minutes
Christopher I. Beckwith, “Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World (Princeton University Press, 2012)
In Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World (Princeton University Press, 2012), Christopher I. Beckwith gives us a rare window into the global movements of medieval science. Science can be characterized not by its content, but instead by its methodology. Starting from this... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Jan-17 • 52 minutes
Alec Foege, “The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great” (Basic Books, 2013)
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2013-Jan-15 • 71 minutes
Michael D. Gordin, “The Pseudo-Science Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe” (University of Chicago Press, 2012)
“No one in the history of the world has ever self-identified as a pseudoscientist.” From the very first sentence, Michael D. Gordin’s new book introduces readers to the characters, plotlines, and crises that have shaped the narratives of fringe science since the early twentieth century. Focusing on Cold War America... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2013-Jan-09 • 62 minutes
Katy Price, “Loving Faster Than Light: Romance and Readers in Einstein’s Universe” (University of Chicago Press, 2012)
You were amused to find you too could fear “The eternal silence of the infinite spaces.” The astronomy love poems of William Empson, from which the preceding quote was taken, were just some of the many media through which people explored the ramifications of Einstein’s ideas about the cosmos in... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Nov-20 • 67 minutes
David Sepkoski, “Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline” (University of Chicago, 2012)
In Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline (University of Chicago Press, 1012), David Sepkoski tells a story that explains the many ways that paleontologists have interpreted the meaning and importance of fossils in the light of evolutionary theory. Starting with Darwin and his dilemma... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Oct-09 • 53 minutes
Chris Cooper, “Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The Science Behind Drugs in Sport” (Oxford University Press, 2012)
This past August, the saga of Lance Armstrong came to its inglorious end. The seven-time champion of the Tour de France and Olympic medalist ended his defense against charges that he had engaged in blood doping during his cycling career. In the judgment of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the end... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Aug-29 • 71 minutes
Robert Westman, “The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order” (University of California Press, 2011)
This is an extraordinary book written by one of the finest historians of science. Ringing in at nearly seven hundred oversized, double columned pages Robert Westman‘s The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and the Celestial Order (University of California Press, 2011) exhaustively examines the science of the stars in order to... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Jul-27 • 68 minutes
Anjan Chakravartty, “A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable” (Cambridge UP, 2007)
Near the opening of his book A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable (Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback 2010), Anjan Chakravartty warns readers: snack before reading! Though the occasional exemplary slice of pumpkin pie and chocolate fudge brownies do sweetly sprinkle the narrative, fear not, intrepid reader: most of... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/scien...
2012-Jul-17 • 82 minutes
P. Kyle Stanford, “Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives” (Oxford UP, 2006)
Should we really believe what our best scientific theories tell us about the world, especially about parts of the world that we can’t see? This question informs a long history of debates over scientific realism and the extent to which we trust what contemporary and future scientific theories tell us... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Jul-09 • 66 minutes
Hanna Rose Shell, “Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance” (Zone Books, 2012)
Imagine a world wherein the people who wrote history books were artists, the books occasionally read like poetry, and the stories in them ranged from Monty Python skits to the natural history of chameleons to the making of classic sniper films. Pick up Hanna Rose Shell‘s new book, and you... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Jun-09 • 62 minutes
Philip Kitcher, “Science in a Democratic Society” (Prometheus Books, 2011)
Philip Kitcher‘s Science in a Democratic Society (Prometheus Books, 2011) is an ambitious work that does many things at the same time. It offers a compelling theory of democracy, public knowledge, and a “well-ordered science” that engages the two. It considers the role of values in science and in a... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-May-15 • 68 minutes
D. Graham Burnett, “The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century” (University of Chicago Press, 2012)
Graham Burnett’s The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2012) s an astounding book. It is an inspiring work, both in the depth of research brought to bear in Burnett’s account of the emergence of twentieth-century whale science, and the sensitivity... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-May-15 • 67 minutes
Paul Thagard, “The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change” (MIT Press, 2012)
We’ve all heard about scientific revolutions, such as the change from the Ptolemaic geocentric universe to the Copernican heliocentric one. Such drastic changes are the meat-and-potatoes of historians of science and philosophers of science. But another perspective on them is from the point of view of cognition. For example, how... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Apr-16 • 62 minutes
Lawrence Busch, “Standards: Recipes for Reality” (MIT Press, 2011)
As Lawrence Busch reminds us, standards are all around us governing seating arrangements, medicine, experimental objects and subjects and even romance novels. In Standards: Recipes for Reality (MIT Press, 2011) Busch provides a wide ranging and accessible analysis of the ways that standards structure the world. More than simply providing... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2012-Apr-02 • 53 minutes
David Edwards, “The Lab: Creativity and Culture” (Harvard University Press, 2010)
To say that David Edwards‘s The Lab: Creativity and Culture (Harvard University Press, 2010) is inspiring would be a profound understatement. In a series of concise, focused chapters that range from “Dreams” to “Translational Change,” Edwards maps out a program for the artscience laboratory as a space that opens up... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2011-Aug-15 • 64 minutes
John Eric Goff, “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2009)
The instructor of my freshman physics course fit the stereotype of a physics professor: unkempt white hair, black glasses case in the breast pocket of his short-sleeved shirt, thick German accent, and a tendency to mumble to himself while mulling over formula on the chalkboard. I was not his most... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2011-Jul-06 • 57 minutes
Mark Stephen Meadows, “We Robot: Skywalker’s Hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact” (Lyons Press, 2011)
If technology is the site of digital culture, then robots are the future platforms of our social projections and interactions. In fact, that future is already here in small but fascinating ways. Mark Stephen Meadows is one of a handful of curious authors who have begun to explore the social... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2011-Apr-01 • 32 minutes
Alex Vilenkin, “Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes” (Hill and Wang, 2006)
[This interview is re-posted with permission from Jenny Attiyeh’s ThoughtCast] Want to know how the world is going to end? Just ask Russian cosmologist Alex Vilenkin. If it’s our own universe you’re talking about, well, it’s called the big crunch, and it’s going to be hot hot hot! But if... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2011-Jan-14 • 65 minutes
Ian Sample, “Massive: The Missing Particle that Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science” (Basic Books, 2010)
You’ve probably read about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It’s the largest (17 miles around!), most expensive (9 billion dollars!) scientific instrument in history. What’s it do? It accelerates beams of tiny particles (protons) to nearly the speed of light and then smashes them into one another. That’s cool, you... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2010-Dec-17 • 62 minutes
Ann Fabian, “The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead” (University of Chicago, 2010)
What should we study? The eighteenth-century luminary and poet Alexander Pope had this to say on the subject: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man ” (An Essay on Man, 1733). He was not alone in this opinion. The philosophers of the... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2010-Oct-20 • 63 minutes
James Fleming, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control” (Columbia UP, 2010)
In the summer of 2008 the Chinese were worried about rain. They were set to host the Summer Olympics that year, and they wanted clear skies. Surely clear skies, they must have thought, would show the world that China had arrived. So they outfitted a small army (50,000 men) with... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...
2008-Feb-27 • 59 minutes
Abigail Foerstner, “James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles” (University of Iowa Press, 2007)
This week we feature an interview with Abigail Foerstner about her new book, James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles (University of Iowa Press, 2007). Dr. Foerstner teaches news writing and science writing at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In addition, Dr. Foerstner served as a staff reporter... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science...