Science

Science news

The Sports Gene

Aug 21, 2013

Every high school has its star athletes who are so good it seems like they were born to throw a football, run the 100-meter dash or swing a baseball bat. The sports writer David Epstein has spent a lot of time around exceptional athletes, and he started to wonder if their skills were the result of freak genetic programming or just lots and lots of practice. Epstein has written a new book that examines the science of extraordinary athletic performance and he joins us Thursday to talk about it.

The Truth About Sugar

Aug 12, 2013

Sugar may be sweet, but it’s gained a bad reputation lately, and its rap sheet seems to just keep growing. Studies link its consumption to afflictions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer.  A new University of Utah study suggests that sugar isn’t even healthy at supposedly “safe” doses. It could reduce reproduction rates and lead to an early grave. Tuesday we’re putting sugar under the microscope. We’ll take a peek at its cultural history, and we’ll also inspect the growing case for labeling sugar a toxic ingredient.

The science writer Brian Switek knows adults aren’t supposed to like dinosaurs. And yet, they’re why he chose to move to Utah from New Jersey. In the decades since Switek’s dino-crazy childhood, dinosaurs have undergone incredible change. Once thought to be scaly reptilian ancestors, scientists now suspect they were warm-blooded avian relatives covered with fuzz. In his latest book, Switek attempts to explain that change to casual dinosaur fans and to rectify the animals scientists study with their pop-cultural image. Switek joins us on Friday. (Rebroadcast)

When it comes to fitness and exercise, there’s no shortage of advice out there. Luckily, there’s Gretchen Reynolds, the Phys Ed columnist for the New York Times. Her job is to cut through the chaff and find out what exercises, regimens and diets actually work, and which are simply hokum. She also wants to show just how little exercise you can do to get lots of health benefits. Reynolds joins us Thursday to bust popular health myths and tell us what it takes to exercise better, train smarter and live longer.

The End of Night

Jul 15, 2013
Image by <a href="http://bit.ly/12F7ciX">Jose Angel</a>/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/"target="_blank">Creative Commons</a>via flickr</i>

Tuesday, we're talking about the night sky and what it means when the stars are obscured by light pollution. It's not just poetry and the wonder of the cosmos that's lost. Artificial light devours energy, disrupts our sleep patterns, and has even been linked to cancer. Yet eight in ten Americans born today won't ever live where they can see the Milky Way. Our guest is the writer Paul Bogard, whose new book is called "The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light."

The God Species

Jul 3, 2013

Environmentalist Mark Lynas believes that nature no longer runs the Earth. We do. Managing an entire planet isn’t easy, but in his book, Lynas aims to show how humans can tackle this monumental task. In doing so, he disposes with the environmentalist playbook, arguing that to save Earth from ourselves, humans can, should and indeed must play God at a planetary level. He’ll join Doug to make his case for “jettisoning sacred cows” to solve the world’s gravest ecological problems. (Rebroadcast)

Bad Astronomy

Jun 27, 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’ll join us to help explain the universe, dispel myths swirling around it and to detail the threats it poses to life as we know it. (Rebroadcast)

Aging and Exercise

Jun 24, 2013
Paul Holbrook

Somewhere around our late 30s or early 40s, our bodies begin to breakdown. We lose muscle mass, flexibility, strength and power. We typically chalk it all up to just getting old, but a growing body of research shows that inactivity is largely to blame. Researchers are also finding that the effects of aging can be drastically reduced by training a lot like an athlete would. Tuesday we’re talking about aging and exercise. We’ll be joined by a physical trainer and a researcher who argue that to age gracefully we should age actively.

Gulp

Jun 13, 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 latest book, the science writer Mary Roach explores the interesting and kind of disgusting science and stories of our digestive tracts. Roach joins us Friday 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? (Rebroadcast)

The science writer Brian Switek knows adults aren’t supposed to like dinosaurs. And yet, they’re why he chose to move to Utah from New Jersey. In the decades since Switek’s dino-crazy childhood, dinosaurs have undergone incredible change. Once thought to be scaly reptilian ancestors, scientists now suspect they were warm-blooded avian relatives covered with fuzz. In his new book, Switek attempts to explain that change to casual dinosaur fans and to rectify the animals scientists study with their pop-cultural image. Switek joins us on Monday.

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