Science

Science news

Vitamania

Aug 11, 2016
Rob via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/18Grio7

To many people, the term “vitamin” is shorthand for “health,” and so the more vitamins we consume, the healthier we’ll be. But what exactly do the 13 dietary chemicals we call vitamins actually do for our bodies? And how much of each vitamin do we need? The journalist Catherine Price went looking for answers to these basic questions. What she learned undermines much of what we thought we knew about nutrition. She joins us Thursday to talk about our quest for better health through nutrition perfection. (Rebroadcast)

NPR’s Shankar Vedantam says that in some ways, human behavior is the ultimate frontier of science. After all, there’s a lot we don’t know about why behave the way we do. But if we can get a glimpse at the unconscious patterns that influence us, Vedantam argues we have the potential to make big changes in our lives and our world. Shankar Vedantam is host of the popular podcast Hidden Brain, and Tuesday, he joins us to explain how science and storytelling can improve the human experience.

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.

The Gene

Aug 1, 2016

Monday, the writer and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee is our guest. He’s written a new book that tells the epic tale of our quest to unravel the human genome. It’s the story of a long lineage of scientists—from Mendel, to Darwin, Watson, Crick, and countless others—and their efforts to understand the workings of the very threads of our existence. But how, Mukherjee wonders, can we best apply that knowledge? And what does it mean to be human when we can read and write our own genetic information? (Rebroadcast)

Pierre-Selim via CC/Flickr, http://bit.ly/1GRp27B

For years, science has told us that intelligence originates in the brain and that the body is just a vehicle to be controlled and piloted. But what if we’ve got it wrong? The cognitive scientist Guy Claxton thinks we do. The mind, he says, is more like a chat room, where the body’s systems share information and debate the best actions. So it’s the really the body, not the mind, that constitutes the core of our intelligent life. Claxton joins us to explore the intelligence in our flesh. (Rebroadcast)

Coyote America

Jun 29, 2016
Andy Simonds via CC/Flickr, https://goo.gl/F46KAg

Wednesday 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 Wednesday to explore the coyote’s fascinating story of resilience and adaptability and how it parallels our own version of Manifest Destiny.

Carl Safina

Animals have deeply fascinated the writer Carl Safina since he was a little kid, and he’s always wondered what animals do and why they do it. More than anything, Safina wants to know what it’s like inside other animals’ minds and in their day to day lives. To try to find out, he traveled to Yellowstone to observe wolf packs, visited elephants in Africa, tracked orcas in Vancouver, and just hung out with his dog at home. Safina joins us Wednesday to offer his insight into what animals think and feel. [Rebroadcast]

Noakes Foundation

 

Professor Tim Noakes is one of the most widely respected authorities on exercise and fitness, and he’s built his career by challenging conventional beliefs, including his own. The idea of carb-loading before endurance races: he came up with that. These days he promotes a high-fat low-carb diet, even for athletes. And he’s not a big fan of sports drinks. Noakes joins us Wednesday to talk about eating better, drinking less, and running against the grain to achieve better athletic performance. [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 Tuesday to explore the curious science of humans at war.

The Gene

May 23, 2016

Monday, the writer and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee is our guest. He’s written a new book that tells the epic tale of our quest to unravel the human genome. It’s the story of a long lineage of scientists—from Mendel, to Darwin, Watson, Crick, and countless others—and their efforts to understand the workings of the very threads of our existence. But how, Mukherjee wonders, can we best apply that knowledge? And what does it mean to be human when we can read and write our own genetic information?

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