Science

Science news

Phenomena

Jul 20, 2017
Photo by Tim Wang, CC via Flickr, http://bit.ly/2q4xD8L

 

If you’re a skeptic, you’re going to be outraged by the “scientific projects” conducted by the U.S. government into mind reading and other paranormal phenomena. For more than 40 years the government hired magicians and hypnotists to try to figure out what the enemy was up to. Investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen’s latest book tells the story of this top secret program, and Thursday, she joins us to explain what would make people spend so much time, energy, and money on such strange ideas. (Rebroadcast)

Where the Water Goes

Jul 12, 2017

36 million people rely on the Colorado River for water, but how often do they think about what happens downstream? Journalist and New Yorker staff writer David Owen wanted to understand the ecosystem, culture, and politics that surround the crucial waterway, so he trekked from the headwaters to the once-lush, now desert terminus. The result is his latest book, and Wednesday, Owen joins Doug to explain “Where the Water Goes.”

You may have said this before … a lot of us do … “I’m completely OCD.” Though doubling back to make sure you locked the doors and turned off the coffee maker or constantly reaching for your phone to check for text and other alerts may not be signs of clinical Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, science writer Sharon Begley says that compulsion is a way of coping with our daily anxieties. Begley joins Doug to talk about the neuroscience of compulsion, and why we “Can’t Just Stop.”

The Science of Fat

Jul 3, 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 her book, Tara explores the science behind our least appreciated organ, and she joins us Monday to talk about it. (Rebroadcast)

Cannibalism

Jun 30, 2017

Scientists have long regarded cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. In Western culture, it’s regarded as the ultimate taboo, the subject of horror movies or sensational tales of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism, says zoologist Bill Schutt, is even more intriguing, and more normal, than the misconceptions we often accept as fact. Schutt has written about the natural and cultural history of cannibalism, and he joins us Friday to talk about it. [Rebroadcast]

The Seeds of Life

Jun 23, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

It’s a timeless question, asked by every kid that’s ever lived: where do babies come from? It turns out even the great scientific minds of the Enlightenment didn’t really have an answer. While navigators and cartographers seemed to have mastered the heavens and the Earth, other scientists were conducting bizarre experiments to put their finger on how exactly humans create life. Science writer Edward Dolnick joins us to tell the story of 250 years of searching and the meandering ways of scientific discovery.

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 is coming to Utah, so we're rebroadcasting our conversation with her about the science of humans at war. (Rebroadcast)

Land on Fire

Jun 14, 2017
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Public Domain

Nature writer Gary Ferguson says we are facing a “perfect storm” when it comes to wildfires. Climate change has led to less snow, longer droughts, and more wind and there’s a lot of fuel on the forest floors. The result is ten more weeks of fire season than we saw in the early 70s, and those fires are hotter and often beyond control. Ferguson joins us Wednesday to talk about the role fire should play in a healthy ecosystem and the new reality of wildfire in the West.

The Nature Fix

Jun 6, 2017
Mark Stevens via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0/Flickr http://bit.ly/1hYHpKw

 

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. [Rebroadcast]

Pinpoint

Jun 1, 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)

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