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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?

University of Utah Marketing & Communications

For biologist David Carrier, the study of human evolution is both a question of science and of philosophy. For centuries, thinkers have debated whether humans are innately good or if their good behavior can be chalked up to good governance. Carrier’s research suggests the latter is true. Evolution, he says, has armed us with tools of extreme violence. It’s also provided us the capacity for profound empathy and cooperation. Carrier joins us Wednesday to discuss his work and its implications.

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  Science writer David Quammen says if there’s any hope to preserve wild landscape while reconciling the needs of humans and nature - that hope lies in Yellowstone. Quammen wrote the May issue of National Geographic, which is dedicated to the world’s first National Park and its greater ecosystem. The story of Yellowstone is a microcosm of the battle for the American West, and Monday, Quammen joins Doug to talk about what wilderness means, how to keep it alive and healthy, and who owns the land.

Nature Needs Half

Apr 22, 2016

For centuries, humans have used technology to alter the planet, with dramatic consequences for the environment. Some think technology can also be used to manage our way out of these problems. It’s an approach that places humans at the center of everything. But conservationist Harvey Locke builds his work around a different idea: we do not control the world; we are part of it. Locke advocates a "wiser" relationship with nature. He joins Doug to talk about his goal to conserve half the world’s land and water. (Rebroadcast)

Friday on RadioWest, a biography of cancer. In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee explores the disease that will kill millions of humans around the world this year. Part of his book is history, but it’s also about human culture and imagination. Mukherjee is coming to Utah next week, so we’re rebroadcasting our conversation with him about what he calls the most elemental and magisterial disease of our species.  His book is called The Emperor of All Maladies.(Rebroadcast)

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 Thursday to offer his insight into what animals think and feel. [Rebroadcast]

Psychologist Frederic Luskin says we live in a culture where holding onto grudges is normal. And he gets it. It was his own struggle with a painful relationship that led him to pioneering studies on forgiveness. What he learned is that there are not just emotional, but also physical benefits to the process of forgiveness like lowering blood pressure and reducing strain on the heart. Luskin is in Utah Monday, and so we're rebroadcasting our conversation with him about forgiveness and its power to heal. (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 Thursday to talk about eating better, drinking less, and running against the grain to achieve better athletic performance.

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Ask yourself this question: Am I conscious now? The answer is probably yes, but what does that really mean? What exactly is consciousness? Where does it come from? Are we always conscious, even when we don’t stop and recognize it? The quandary of consciousness has long puzzled scientists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and others, and numerous ways of explaining it have been proposed. The writer Susan Blackmore joins us to explore some those theories as we probe the nature of consciousness. (Rebroadcast)