Science

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Vszybala via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/2fCvqsa

Lions were once feared as the king of jungle. But their influence on the world and in nature now pales in comparison to the diminutive, purring, and demanding house cat. In her book, the journalist Abigail Tucker, investigates the natural and cultural history of house cats. Despite their ubiquity in modern life, she says, we know very little about what cats are, how they came to live among us, and why we love these furry freeloaders. Tucker joins us Friday to talk about the lions in our living rooms. (Rebroadcast)

The Nature Fix

Feb 13, 2017
Mark Stevens via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0/Flickr http://bit.ly/1hYHpKw

Monday, we’re talking about the restorative power of nature. For centuries, great minds like Beethoven, Tesla, and Einstein have extolled the benefits of the outdoors. But these days, our lives are increasingly lived indoors and onscreen. Wondering if we could all use some more exposure to the natural world, the writer Florence Williams set out to explore the science of “our deep, cranial connection to natural landscapes.” She’ll join us to discuss how nature can make us healthier, happier, and more creative.

The Sting of the Wild

Feb 10, 2017
Sarah Zuckoff (resized) via Flickr/CC, https://goo.gl/d5NiVm, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt is on a mission. Some say it’s a brave exploration, others shake their heads in disbelief. His goal: to catalogue the painful effects of stinging insects on humans, mainly using himself as the gauge. Most people regard stinging insects as horrible pests, but by investigating their lifestyles and adaptations, Schmidt hopes to spread his passion for the inherently interesting story every animal on earth has to tell. Schmidt joins us to explore the world of stinging insects. (Rebroadcast)

John Sargent (changes made; some rights reserved; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) via Flickr (http://bit.ly/2kVJsrN) CC (http://bit.ly/1hYHpKw)

In America today, nearly 10% of the population has diabetes; more than two-thirds of us are overweight or obese; and one out of 10 kids are thought to have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The journalist Gary Taubes blames all of these afflictions on one culprit: sugar. In a new book, Taubes argues that sugar is the “principal cause of the chronic diseases most likely to kill us…in the 21st century.” Taubes joins us to make the case against sugar and why we’d be healthier without it.

 

Nowadays, there are all kinds of devices to help us find our way through the world. But before all that stuff, before even cartography, humankind was navigating with nature as the guide. The adventurer Tristan Gooley is committed to recovering and teaching the lost arts natural navigation. Rocks, trees, grass, ducks, puddles, clouds, and the wind are all compass hands to him. Gooley joins us to share what he’s learned about natural navigation and the joys of learning nature’s subtle signs. [Rebroadcast]

The Science of Fat

Jan 4, 2017
Laura Lewis via Flickr/CC, http://bit.ly/2ix26sf

Body fat is a source of shame for many people, something to be hidden, fought, and burned away. But fat, says the biochemist Sylvia Tara, isn’t just unsightly blubber, it’s an essential and deeply misunderstood organ that’s vital to our existence. It enables our reproductive organs, strengthens our immune system, protects us from disease, and may even help us live longer. In a new book, Tara explores the science behind our least appreciated organ, and she joins us Wednesday to talk about it.

Pinpoint

Jan 2, 2017

Even if you didn’t use GPS to find your way around town today, there’s every chance it touched your life. The Global Positioning System is now integrated into almost every part of modern existence. It helps land planes, route cell phone calls, predict the weather, grow food, and regulate global finance. Our guest, Greg Milner, has written a book that traces the history of GPS. He also examines the frightening costs of our growing dependence on it. (Rebroadcast)

Public domain

When you think about military science, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Bombs and guns, right? Well, that’s not what interests the writer Mary Roach, who has a habit of seeking out eccentric scientific corners. She’s not so much curious about the killing as she is about the keeping alive. That curiosity led her to research into the battlefield’s more obscure threats: exhaustion, shock, bacteria, panic, even turkey vultures. Roach joins us to explore the curious science of humans at war. (Rebroadcast)

Coyote America

Dec 26, 2016
Andy Simonds via CC/Flickr, https://goo.gl/F46KAg

Monday, we’re talking about a homegrown American success: coyotes. The country has been at war with the iconic species since white settlers first reached the heartland plains. But coyotes, according to biologist Dan Flores, not only survived our assault on them, they simultaneously expanded their range across the continent and into our cities. Flores joins us to explore the coyote’s fascinating story of resilience and adaptability and how it parallels our own version of Manifest Destiny. (Rebroadcast)

Being a Beast

Dec 16, 2016
Henry Holt & Co.

Charles Foster wanted to know what it was like to be a beast. What it was really like. So he tried it out. He slept in a dirt hole and ate earthworms like a badger. He chased shrimp like an otter. He spent hours rooting in trash cans like an urban fox. A passionate naturalist, Foster came to realize that every creature creates a different world in its brain and lives in that world. He joins us to talk about his experiment and the values of wildness, both outside us and within us. (Rebroadcast)

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