Science news

Bird Sense

Apr 16, 2013
<i>Image by <a href="">USFWS Headquarters</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Who hasn’t watched a bird soaring on high, swooping through the sky, and wondered what it would feel like to fly on feathered wings? In his book Bird Sense, the behavioral ecologist Tim Birkhead takes an inside look at the life of birds. He details the extraordinary senses, emotions and abilities of robins, finches, ducks, chickens and other avian friends. Birkhead joins Doug on Thursday to examine what it’s like to be a bird and what it's like to share a planet with such utterly different and yet recognizably similar creatures. (Rebroadcast)

Bad Astronomy

Apr 9, 2013

When the astronomer Phil Plait goes outside on a clear night, he can’t help but look up at the stars. It’s a habit he wishes more people had. He also wishes the cosmos weren’t so misunderstood and the subject of such shaky science. Plait has made it his mission to educate people about the incredibly vast universe surrounding our tiny planet. He’s coming to Salt Lake City later this week, and he’ll join us on Wednesday to help explain the universe, dispel myths swirling around it and to detail the threats it poses to life as we know it.

Chasing Ice

Apr 4, 2013

When photographer James Balog first headed to the Arctic for National Geographic in 2005, he says he was a skeptic about climate change. What he saw there though put his career on a new course. Balog is the founder of the Extreme Ice Survey – a project that captures visually dramatic manifestations of climate change. Friday, Doug talks to Balog and filmmaker Jeff Orlowski about the stunning documentary "Chasing Ice." It follows James Balog as he risks his life to document the impact of warming temperatures on the world's glaciers. (Rebroadcast)


Apr 1, 2013

Everybody eats, and we more or less know what that’s about. What happens after we eat – the transformation of food as it passes through our bodies – that’s more of a mystery, and a gross one at that. In her newest book, the science writer Mary Roach explores the interesting and kind of disgusting science and stories of our digestive tracts. Roach joins us on Tuesday to answer some age old alimentary questions: Why is crunchy food so appealing? How much food can you eat before your stomach bursts? And of course, did constipation kill Elvis?


Mar 26, 2013

Wednesday, Doug’s joined by the science writer David Quammen. Twelve years ago, Quammen began researching the concept of “spillover,” the sudden transfer of disease from one species to another. He traveled around the world, investigating the science, history and human impact of diseases like AIDS, SARS and Ebola. In his newest book, Spillover, Quammen says that what he’s learned makes clear “the old Darwinian truth that humanity is a kind of animal, inextricably linked with other animals: in origin and in descent, in sickness and in health.” (Rebroadcast)

A few years ago, David Finch’s marriage was on the skids. Moments of joy and affection between he and his wife, Kristen, had become rare. One day, Kristen sprung a 150-question quiz on David. It was an informal test for Asperger syndrome, and David aced it. The diagnosis explained David’s long list of quirks and compulsions, and set him on a quest to better understand himself and to become a better husband. His book is called The Journal of Best Practices and he’ll talk with Doug about it on Tuesday. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="">Logan Zawacki</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Friday, we're rebroadcasting our conversation with end-of-life care expert Ira Byock, who says that the one thing worse than having someone we love die is having them die badly. That's why his work has steered clear of the "more-is-always-better" philosophy that results in so many Americans experiencing painful and dehumanizing deaths. We'll talk about practical solutions for reforming our health care system and why Byock is determined to put the "care" back in healthcare. His book is called "The Best Care Possible," and it's out in paperback next week. (Rebroadcast)

The Rx for Technology

Feb 24, 2013
Image by Jeff Meyer via Flickr,

David Strayer has known for a long time that there's a restorative power in nature. The University of Utah psychologist is an avid hiker, but his latest research quantifies the benefits of turning off your technology and getting outdoors. After four days in the wilderness with no cell phones, laptops or gadgets, people were 50% better at creative problem-solving. On Monday, Doug talks to Strayer and Stanford's Clifford Nass about how technology may be rewiring our brains and what we can do about it. (Rebroadcast)

When science writer Florence Williams was breastfeeding, she decided to have her milk tested for environmental contaminants. Her results were average for American women and included chemicals found in flame-retardants and jet-fuel. It's not, she says, what her daughter had in mind for dinner. It set her off on a journey to study the history of breasts: how they evolved and what modern life is doing to them. Friday, we're talking to Williams about what she calls her natural and unnatural history of breasts. (Rebroadcast)

Mummies of the World

Feb 11, 2013
Darryl Moran

Biological anthropologist Heather Gill-Frerking says there's a mummy in the Leonardo's new exhibit that doesn't get much attention. It's a three-year-old that likely died from malnutrition. Visitors are drawn to the mummies that have tattoos or interesting clothes, but when Gill-Frerking sees this mummy, she imagines a family that suffered the tragic loss of a child. "Mummies of the World" opens this weekend, so we're talking about mummies – why they fascinate us and what they have to teach us.