Each week Inquiring Minds brings you a new, in-depth exploration of the place where science, politics, and society collide. We’re committed to the idea that making an effort to understand the world around you though science and critical thinking can benefit everyone—and lead to better decisions. We endeavor to find out what’s true, what’s left to discover, and why it all matters with weekly coverage of the latest headlines and probing discussions with leading scientists and thinkers. ...more
Indre wrote a book! It’s called How Music Can Make You Better and this week we hear all about it.
A careful look into research on whether or not we can generate new neurons as adults; new research into using machine learning to predict premature death; and a new technique to reshape cartilage by heating it.
We talk to Jeremy Lent about his book The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning.
We talk to Christie Aschwanden about her new book Good To Go: What the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery.
We talk to Matt Richtel about his new book An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System: A Tale in Four Lives.
A study taking a deep look into insect populations and their decline; bad news about global warming four generations from now, new research showing why older mice benefit from receiving younger blood; and a new study on microwaving grapes.
We talk to Jennifer Ouellette, science writer and former director of The Science & Entertainment Exchange, about last year’s best and the worst science movies and tv.
We talk to Blake J. Harris about his new book The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality.
The science behind the polar vortex, a new study attempting to directly translate brain signals into speech, and an update on the incredible work of neuroscientist Ed Boyden.
We talk to New York Times best-selling science writer Maria Konnikova about her book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time.
We talk to psychologist Ellen Winner about her new book How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration.
We talk to bestselling author Daniel Pink about his latest book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.
This week: The New Horizons spacecraft took pictures of an object in the Kuiper belt; a study that brings up questions about how to define death; there’s a major upcoming scientific study that the US conducts every 10 years: the US census; and a look into the pricing and access to scientific journals.
We talk to David Amodia, a social neuroscientist and psychology professor at NYU and the University of Amsterdam, about the science of prejudice.
This week: Kishore looks back through 2018 and lays out his favorite science stories of the year.
We talk to Dave Williams, a Canadian astronaut, neuroscientist, physician, and author of the new book Defying Limits: Lessons from the Edge of the Universe.
This week: A study looking into how male hummingbirds divebomb fast enough that their tail feathers make high-pitched squeaks; and new evidence explaining why sea levels were 6-9 meters higher about 150,000 years ago (even though the climate was just about as warm as it is today), and why that’s especially relevant now.
We talk to author Robert Greene, most known for the bestselling The 48 Laws of Power, about his new book The Laws of Human Nature.
This week: A look into quorum sensing, a field of research looking into if bacteria, particularly bacteria that are trying to invade another host, can communicate with each other—and new research suggesting viruses can exhibit the same behavior; new research into using alpha waves to stimulate creativity; and Indre and Kishore’s 2018 science gift recommendations.
Carl Zimmer is a New York Times columnist and author of 13 books about science. We talked to him about his latest book, She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity, which was recently named The Guardian’s Best Science Book of 2018.
This week: The UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Heath released a new report that busts some common migration myths; and a scientist at Oxford University has come up with an alteration to Einstein's general theory of relativity that could have some interesting effects on our understanding of our universe: negative mass.
Dr. Concetta Tomaino is a pioneer in the field of music therapy and the executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. On the show this week we talk to Dr. Tomaino about her work treating individuals suffering the effects of brain trauma or neurological diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
This week: A study that tracked ants using little backpacks and a look at a new study suggesting a connection between differences in the DNA of our neurons and Alzheimer's.
We follow up last week’s dino-episode by talking to paleontologist at University of Edinburgh Steve Brusatte about his new book The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World.
We talk to science writer David Quammen about his new book The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life.
Up To Date: 10/19/2018
We talk to paleontologist, professor, expeditioner, and science communicator Ken Lacovara about his book Why Dinosaurs Matter. Ken has unearthed some of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk our planet, including the super-massive Dreadnoughtus, which at 65 tons weighs more than seven T. rex.
This week: Stingrays are especially affected by oil spills because they’re so good at smelling; and research into using a spicy cactus to treat pain.
We talk to evolutionary biologist and managing editor at New Scientist Rowan Hooper about his new book Superhuman: Life at the Extremes of Our Capacity.
This week: A look into what the midterm election results mean for science; moths developed a ‘stealth shield’ to hide from bats; and the kilogram is retiring.
We talk to journalist, geologist, and author Betsy Mason about her latest book, co-authored with Greg Miller, All Over the Map: A Cartographic Odyssey.
This week Kishore catches up with previous guests Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti to talk about their new book True or Poo?: The Definitive Field Guide to Filthy Animal Facts and Falsehoods.
We talk to science writer at Wired magazine Matt Simon about his new book Plight of the Living Dead: What Real-Life Zombies Reveal About Our World—and Ourselves.
This week: A new study attempts to extend the life of worms and what it might mean for us; and a detailed look into the recent failed Soyuz rocket launch.
We talk to Arnold Van de Laar, a surgeon in the Slotervaart Hospital in Amsterdam, about his new book Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations.
This week: We recap the 2018 Nobel Prizes and look at a study exploring a new way to use electrical stimulation to regenerate nerves.
We talk to mathematician and science writer Hannah Fry about her latest book Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms.
We talk to artificial intelligence expert and former president of Google China Kai-Fu Lee about his recent book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order.
We talk with cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker about his recent book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.
We talk to writer and historian Dan Flores about his book Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History.
This week: Kishore takes a closer look at some of the health claims made during the recent Apple Keynote.
We talk to celebrated science journalist Richard Harris about the “reproducibility crisis” in science and his new book Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions.
We talk to political scientist Eric Oliver about the surprisingly high percentage of people who believe in conspiracy theories and the reasons behind those beliefs. His forthcoming book is Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide Our Politics.
This week: A new study shows we only focus on something a few milliseconds at a time, but we don’t notice because we’re pulsing that focus; and research on how ants avoid traffic jams so perfectly. Thanks to guest co-host Trace Dominguez!
We talk to author Andrea J. Buchanan about her experience with a brain injury and how she used playing the piano to recover. Buchanan’s new book is The Beginning of Everything: The Year I Lost My Mind and Found Myself.
This week: A jury decided that Monsanto’s Roundup caused a man’s cancer but the science is murky and a new study shows that children are susceptible to peer pressure by robots.Links:https://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-cancer-lawsuit/monsanto-ordered-to-pay-289-million-in-worlds-first-roundup-cancer-trial-idUSKBN1KV2HBhttp://robotics.sciencemag.org/content/3/21/eaat7111
We talk to chemist Joseph Meany about his book Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World.
This week: A Standford study used Google Glass to help kids with autism understand others people’s emotions; and breaking news regarding the way dogs pee. Links:http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2018/08/google-glass-helps-kids-with-autism-read-facial-expressions.htmlhttps://blogs.scientificamerican.com/dog-spies/small-dogs-aim-high-when-they-pee/
This week: A new study from the University of Bristol showing the way plants accumulate sugar helps them tell what time it is; scientists have successfully transplanted lab-grown lungs into pigs; and Caucher Birkar was awarded the Fields Medal—and then it was immediately stolen. Links:https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/uob-pct073118.phphttps://www.sciencenews.org/article/scientists-transplant-lab-grown-bioengineered-lungs-pigshttps://www.npr.org/2018/08/02/634889308/prestigious...more
Ben Goldfarb is a writer covering wildlife conservation and fisheries management. We talk to him about his new book Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter.
This week: Italian scientists found a body of liquid water on mars using radar; a new study suggests that while dogs do feel empathy for us, training them to be therapy dogs doesn’t make them care more, it makes them more obedient; and research shows that military training can result in traumatic brain injuries even outside of combat. Links:http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/liquid-water-spied-deep-below-polar-ice-cap-marshttps://hub.jhu.edu/2018/07/24/dogs-comfort-owners-canine-psychol...more
We talk to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who first proved that Flint’s kids were exposed to lead about her new book What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City.Links: https://inquiring.show/episodes/2018/4/1/171-siddhartha-roy-the-science-behind-the-flint-water-crisis
This week: New research suggests labeling can increase GMO acceptance; Elle Macpherson’s terrible new boyfriend (it’s relevant, I swear); and research looking into the personality of caught fish.Links mentioned: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/6/eaaq1413.fullhttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180716114546.htm
We talk to sports and business journalist Zach Schonbrun about his new book The Performance Cortex: How Neuroscience Is Redefining Athletic Genius.
This week: New research into using CRISPR to destroy cancer cells with other cancer cells and a study suggesting rodents aren’t immune to the sunk cost fallacy. Links: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cancer-cells-engineered-crispr-slay-their-own-kinhttp://science.sciencemag.org/content/361/6398/178
We talk to author Richard Munson about his new Nikola Tesla biography Tesla: Inventor of the Modern.
This week: New research exploring the link between air pollution and diabetes; the huge potential of doing large scale microbiome studies; and a look into why driving makes babies (and the rest of us) sleepy.Links mentioned: https://www.npr.org/2018/07/05/594078923/scott-pruitt-out-at-epahttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-pollution-diabetes/air-pollution-may-account-for-1-in-7-new-diabetes-cases-idUSKBN1JV25Whttps://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05522-1https://www.tandfonline.co...more
We talk to Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D, lecturer at Yale university, writer in residence at Yale Medical School, and author of the new book Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything.
This week: New research shows mortality rates level off if you can reach a certain age; the problem of methane gas leaking from power plants; and a new likely candidate for where California’s next big earthquake will take place.Links mentioned:http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6396/1459https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180619164153.htmhttp://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2018/06/20/science.aar7204
We talk to biologist and science writer Carin Bondar about her latest book Wild Moms: Motherhood in the Animal Kingdom.
This week: New research into controlling robot arms with your brain, a surprising link between a common virus and Alzheimer's Disease, and remembering Koko the gorilla.
How do we create artificial intelligence that isn't bigoted? Can we teach machines to work exactly like our brains work? “You don’t program a machine to be smart,” says our guest this week, “you program the machine to get smarter using data.”We talk to James Scott, statistician, data scientist, and co-author (with Nick Polson) of the new book AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together.
We talk to Peter Rubin, editor at Wired and author of Future Presence: How Virtual Reality Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life.
This week: New research shows a 6-month treatment for breast cancer is nearly as successful as the previously-standard 12-month course; the surprising effects that clay can have on your body; and a look into new studies that give new reasons why dark chocolate is good for you.Huge thanks to guest co-host Adam Bristol!Links mentioned:https://www.jwatch.org/fw114187/2018/05/18/herceptin-study-suggests-shorter-6-month-course-breasthttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-26958-5
We talk to Carl Zimmer, New York Times columnist and author of 13 books about science about his latest book She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.
In this mini-episode, Kishore talks to neuroscientist and author Dean Burnett about his new book Happy Brain: Where Happiness Comes From, and Why.
We talk to Adam Alter, author and marketing and psychology professor at NYU's Stern School of Business about his book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
We talk to planetary scientist and New Horizons’ mission leader Alan Stern and astrobiologist David Grinspoon about their new book Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto.
This week: There are reports that scientists have ‘transferred a memory' in snails—what does the research actually say?; we examine a study that suggests people can form a “sphere a sensitivity” around their heads; and we look at new research on using Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from the cannabis plant as treatment for a severe form of epilepsy.Links mentioned:https://www.inquisitr.com/4898738/we-have-eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head-study-shows/http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-...more
We talk to Danna Staaf, a science writer with a PhD in invertebrate biology from Stanford University, about her new book Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods.
This week: A study looking at how much actionable information pre-pregnancy genome sequencing can actually give you; the benefits and consequences of mass mass prescribing antibiotics; and a new study looking at the trolley problem and how peoples’ hypothetical judgment compares to their real-life behavior.Links mentioned:https://www.wired.com/story/the-catch-22-of-mass-prescribing-antibiotics/https://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(18)30136-8http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/09...more
We talk to science writer and neurobiologist Lone Frank about her latest book The Pleasure Shock: The Rise of Deep Brain Stimulation and Its Forgotten Inventor.
University of Copenhagen scientists managed to genetically delete an enzyme in mice that made it impossible for them to get fat, even on a very fatty diet; Alan Turing wrote a paper in 1952 that is still having impacts on science today in ways you may not expect; and NASA sends the InSight Lander to Mars.
We talk to astrophysicist Brian Keating about new his book Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor.
This week: Scott Pruitt’s fight against anonymous study subjects, a debate on should be regulating genetically engineered livestock, and new research that shows asteroids could have delivered water to the early Earth.
We talk to biologist Kenneth R. Miller about his new book The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will.
This week: new research shows being a night owl might mean you’re at a greater risk of dying early, multiple interesting space launches are happening, and there’s new research into using phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors like Viagra and Cialis to help other drugs do their job better.
We talk to the founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson. Bailenson’s lab studies how virtual reality can affect empathy—how it makes you feel to virtually embody someone else. VR offers the ability to be in someone else’s shoes in a way that you can’t recreate in real life—and those immersive experiences, whether it be facing a day in the life of a person experiencing homelessness, or diving to the corals that are right now being bleached by clim...more
Kishore talks to Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti, authors of Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence.
We talk to astrophysicist Adam Becker about his new book What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics.
We're introducing a new, additional weekly episode! Every Friday, listen to Indre and Kishore do a quick recap of some of the week's most interesting science news.Today, we talk about why shrimp and lobster fishing might be worse for the environment than you think, the ongoing troubles with the James Webb Space Telescope, and a study that sort of shows monkeys who go to the spa are more relaxed.
We have a big announcement! After 220 episodes, we are striking out on our own. Thanks to Mother Jones for being our home for the past 5 years. Look for new segments and episodes as we expand creatively, while still bringing you in depth conversations with scientists.This week, we talk to neuroscientist Daniel Krawczyk about his book Reasoning: The Neuroscience of How We Think.Dan also studies traumatic brain injury in veterans, using virtual reality as a part of cognitive behavioral therapy.&nb...more
We talk to ocean scientist and science writer Juli Berwald about her new book Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone.
We talk to Rhett Butler, editor-in-chief and CEO of Mongabay, a nonprofit organization which seeks to raise interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife, while examining the impact of emerging trends in climate, technology, economics, and finance on conservation and development.
We talk to Stanford law professor and economist John Donohue who for the better part of the last 20 years has been doing research into understanding gun violence.
We talk to Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering Mark Jacobson about his research that shows it’s possible for the world to be using 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.
We talk to journalist and science writer Hamilton Morris about his Viceland docuseries “Hamilton's Pharmacopeia” and the history and science of psychoactive drugs.
We talk to Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.
We talk to marine biologist, policy expert, and conservation strategist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson about why we need to rethink ocean conservation.
We talk to science journalist and author Angela Saini about her latest book Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story.
We talk to Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist, geologist, and 2018 Democratic candidate seeking election to California's 25th Congressional District.
We talk to neuroscientist Lucina Uddin about her work mapping human brains.
Happy new year! It’s a bonus podcast: episode one of the second season of Indre’s other podcast, Cadence. Subscribe to Cadence here:iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cadence/id1207136496 RSS: http://feeds.feedburner.com/cadence-podcastThis season, we’re going to focus on music as medicine—telling the stories of people whose lives have been immeasurably improved with music. In this episode, we talk about William’s Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes heart problems, intel...more
We talk to professor of psychology & neuroscience Abigail Marsh about her new book The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between.
We talk to Ken Holmes, who worked in the Marin County Coroner’s Office for thirty-six years, starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. A new book, The Education of a Coroner: Lessons in Investigating Death, chronicles his life spent studying death.
We talk to celebrated Stanford economist Raj Chetty about his work focusing on using empirical evidence—often big data—to inform the design of more effective governmental policies.
We talk to Sheril Kirshenbaum, executive director of Science Debate (sciencedebate.org), a nonpartisan organization that asks candidates, elected officials, the public and the media to focus more on science policy issues of vital importance to modern life.
We talk to theoretical astrophysicist Janna Levin about her book Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.
We talk to paleontologist, professor, expeditioner, and science communicator Ken Lacovara about his recent book Why Dinosaurs Matter.
We talk to pediatric neuroscientist Moriah Thomason about her research into what we can learn by imaging the brains of fetuses before they're born.
We talk to sports writer Erik Malinowski about his new book Betaball: How Silicon Valley and Science Built One of the Greatest Basketball Teams in History.
In a joint production with Stevie Lepp and the Reckonings podcast we hear from Jerry Taylor, a former professional climate change skeptic who switched sides entirely.
We talk to cartoonist and author Zach Weinersmith about his latest book, Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything, co-written with his wife, parasitologist Kelly Weinersmith.
We talk to renowned psychiatrist Allen Frances about his latest book Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump.
We talk to science writer Sam Kean about his latest book Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us.
We talk to Oliver Uberti and James Cheshire, authors of the new book Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics.
We talk to journalist, scholar, and prize-winning author Robert Wright about his latest book Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.
We talk to clinical psychologist Ali Mattu about the psychology of dehumanization and hate.
We talk to award winning writer and director Jonathan Lynn about his latest novel, Samaritans, which is a satirical look at the US healthcare system. His films as director include Clue, Nuns on the Run (both of which he wrote), My Cousin Vinny, The Distinguished Gentleman and The Whole Nine Yards.
We talk to astronomer Andrew Fraknoi about the upcoming total solar eclipse—the first total solar eclipse over North America in decades—on August 21st, 2017, and how you can best enjoy it.
We talk to English comedian and writer Helen Keen about her new book The Science of Game of Thrones: A myth-busting, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping and fun-filled expedition through the world of Game of Thrones.
We talk to acclaimed astrophysicist Mario Livio about his new book Why?: What Makes Us Curious.
We talk to entomologist Brian Fisher about his his research on ants in Mozambique and his new initiative to get entomologists more directly involved in conservation—a big part of which involves edible insects.
We talk to Jason Silva, host of National Geographic Channel’s new show Origins: The Journey of Humankind.
We talk to journalist Jennifer Latson about Williams syndrome and her new book The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness.
We talk to Zeynep Tufekci, writer and associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, about her book Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest.
We talk to neuroscientist Dean Buonomano about his new book “Your Brain Is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time.”
We talk to psychologist Ty Tashiro about his new book “Awkward: The Science of Why We're Socially Awkward & Why That's Awesome.”
We talk to Mike Drucker, co-head writer for Bill Nye Saves the World, writer for Adam Ruins Everything, the Tonight Show, and much more about incorporating science into comedy writing.
In this second and final special collaborative episode with the Cited podcast, Indre and guest host Alexander B. Kim focus on women in engineering and the obstacles they face throughout their careers.
In this special collaborative episode with the Cited podcast, Indre and guest host Alexander B. Kim look into the “leaky pipeline” of women in science. There are many stages you go through from early school to a career in science and there are points along the way at which women seem to disproportionately slip out of that pipeline. This week we talk to researchers trying to learn more about why that happens and what we can do about it.
We talk to associate professor of surgery at Indiana University Teresa Zimmers about her work on whether or not lethal injection drugs actually provide a humane, painless death as promised.
We talk to Bill Nye about his approach to communicating climate change and what he hopes will change in the future.
We talk to Paul Doherty, senior staff scientist at San Francisco’s famed Exploratorium Museum about his new book “And Then You're Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling over Niagara.”
We talk to science writer Sharon Begley about her new book “Can't Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions.”
We talk to James Beacham, particle physicist with the ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN about what it’s like to hunt for strange new subatomic particles.
It's the first episode of Indre's new podcast, Cadence! (Don’t worry, she’s not leaving Inquiring Minds.) Cadence is a podcast about music and how it affects your mind. What is music? How would you define it? Does it defy definition? In this episode we try to get answers to those questions from from a pioneer in music cognition research, a musicologist, and an otolaryngologist who surgically restores hearing and studies the brain basis of musical improvisation. If you like this first episode a...more
We talk to science writer Mary Roach about the science of your guts and her book “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.”
We talk to Dan Ariely, the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University about what actually motivates us to get things done—to finish that novel, to stick to a diet, or even to want to get up and go to work every day.
We talk to Siddhartha Roy, a PhD student and graduate researcher in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Roy is a founding member of the Virginia Tech Flint Water Study and has worked on the ground in Flint applying his research on corrosion and plumbing to the crisis.
We talk to Dr. Steven Hatch, a specialist in infectious diseases and immunology about his latest book “Inferno: A Doctor's Ebola Story,” an account of his time in Liberia during the height of the ebola epidemic in 2014.
We talk to neuroscientist, music producer, and best-selling author Daniel Levitin about his recent research into how playing music in the home affects us.
We talk to researcher in Animal Genomics and Biotechnology at UC Davis Alison Van Eenennaam about the science of gene editing livestock.
We talk to physician, writer, and clinical researcher Haider Warraich about his most recent book "Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life."
We talk to Alan Burdick, staff writer and former senior editor for The New Yorker, about his most recent book "Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation.”
We talk to Nate Allen, chemist and head moderator of one of the internet’s largest science communities: Reddit’s r/science subreddit.
We talk to author and Wall Street Journal reporter Alexandra Wolfe about her new book Valley of the Gods: A Silicon Valley Story.
This week, as we near the inauguration of Donald Trump, we revisit a conversation with science journalist Dave Levitan about his book Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science.
We welcome back cognitive scientist Paul Bloom to talk about his new book Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion.
We talk to American chess Grandmaster Patrick Wolff.
We talk to physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski about her new book Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life.
We talk to astrobiologist David Grinspoon about his latest book Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future.
We talk to investigative journalist Lee van der Voo about her new book The Fish Market: Inside the Big-Money Battle for the Ocean and Your Dinner Plate.
We talk to science writer Erik Vance about his new book Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain's Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal.
We talk to marine biologist and marine mammal specialist Heather Hill about her work on marine mammal training and why it might disagree with much of what we covered in episode #146 with John Hargrove.
We talk to Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield and his son Evan Hadfield about their recent exploration into the Arctic and Greenland on the legendary icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov.
We team up with Stephanie Lepp from the Reckonings podcast and talk to sociologist Arlie Hochschild about whether or not this election is causing more people than usual to change their minds about politics. We then hear from two voters who did in fact make some kind of transformation during this election season—one young voter who was voting in his second presidential election and one long-time voter and political insider who has been voting for 40 years.
We talk to ecologist, conservationist and wildlife photographer Merlin Tuttle about his book The Secret Lives of Bats: My Adventures with the World's Most Misunderstood Mammals.
We talk to science writer Abigail Tucker about her new book The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World.
We talk to Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Professor at the University of California Davis MIND Institute, Director of the NIH-funded UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center, and co-founder of Project TENDR, a collaborative effort of scientists, clinicians, policy-makers and advocates that aims to decrease the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders by reducing neurotoxicant exposures that contribute to them.
We talk to Stuart Firestein, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University, about his latest book Failure: Why Science Is So Successful.
We talk to exoplanetary astronomer Sarah Ballard and congresswoman Jackie Speier about sexual harassment within the scientific community.
We talk to science journalist Judith Schwartz about her new book Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World.
We talk to science journalist Dave Levitan about his new book Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science.
We talk to former Senior killer-whale trainer for SeaWorld and supervisor of Killer Whale Training for Marineland in the South of France about his book Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish.
We talk to biologist Carin Bondar about her new book Wild Sex: The Science Behind Mating in the Animal Kingdom.
We talk to award-winning British science writer Ed Yong about his recent book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.
We talk about the significance of collection museums with Emily Grasile, Chief Curiosity Correspondent at the Field Museum; Shannon Bennett, Chief of Science at the California Academy of Sciences; and Jack Dumbacher, chairman and curator of the California Academy of Science’s Department of Ornithology and Mammalogy.
We talk to Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University’s School of Medicine about his new book The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction.
We talk to Marek Glezerman, professor emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology and currently chairman of the Ethics Committee at the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University about his book Gender Medicine: The Groundbreaking New Science of Gender- and Sex-Based Diagnosis and Treatment.
We talk to Janna Levin, professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College and author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.
We talk to Peter Willcox, Captain for Greenpeace for over 30 years and author of Greenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet.
We welcome best-selling science writer Mary Roach back on the show to talk about her latest book Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.
We talk to professor of marketing and New York Times bestselling author Jonah Berger about his latest book Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior.
We talk to cancer physician and researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee about his latest book The Gene: An Intimate History.
We talk to theoretical physicist Sean Carroll about his latest book The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself.
Does it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at something? Probably not, says our guest this week—who happens to be the author of the paper which was the basis for Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule in the first place. We talk to psychologist Anders Ericsson about his new book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.
We talk to Ben Beard, associate director for climate change and chief of the bacterial diseases branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This week we talk to geobiologist Hope Jahren about her recent book Lab Girl.
Evidence is mounting that Greenland is melting at a faster and faster rate. We talked to Josh Willis—senior scientist at NASA JPL’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project—about how changing water temperatures in our oceans are affecting the Greenland ice sheet.
We talk to Bill Nye about climate change denial and what we can do to fight it.
We talk to Dr. Greg Marcus, the Director of Clinical Research for the UCSF Division of Cardiology about heart disease and how things like smart watches might help us learn more about it.
We talk to naturalist and author Sy Montgomery about her latest book The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness.
We talk to science writer and New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer about viruses. Viral fragments make up 8% of our entire genome—how much do we actually know about them?
We talk to Maria Konnikova about her new book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time.
We talk to Anthony James, distinguished professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at UC Irvine about the most deadly animal to human beings: the mosquito.
We talk to Joanne Ruthsatz and Kimberly Stephens, authors of The Prodigy's Cousin: The Family Link Between Autism and Extraordinary Talent.
On the show this week we talk to Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary director of Serious Eats and author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.
On the show this week we talk to social epidemiologist Nancy Krieger about her research that suggests we should start tracking law enforcement involved deaths as public health data.
On this special Valentine’s Day episode we talk to marine biologist Marah Hardt about 8-foot long whale penises, shark ejaculation systems, vagina mazes, fish orgies, and all the other crazy sex-stuff happening in our oceans. She’s the author of Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep.
On the show this week we talk to bestselling author Eric Weiner about his latest book The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley.
On the show this week we talk to science reporter Kara Platoni about her new book We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception, One Sense at a Time.
On the show this week we talk to climate scientist Kim Cobb about the science of El Niño and climate change—and how studying coral can help us understand both.
On the show this week we talk to neurobiologist Douglas Fields about his new book Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain.
On the show this week Indre and Kishore share their predictions for what some of the big science stories of 2016 will be. http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
On the show this week we return to the topic of violence in video games. We spoke to psychologist Chris Ferguson who offers a contrasting view on the subject. For more discussion, check out episodes 106 & 107. http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
On the show this week we talk to Mark Schatzker, author of The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, “a lively and important argument from an award-winning journalist proving that the key to reversing America’s health crisis lies in the overlooked link between nutrition and flavor.” http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
Robert Sapolsky is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. We talked to Sapolsky about what it means to be human, what we humans can learn from other species, and why he—despite being a self-described pessimist—feels optimistic about our prospects as a species. This week’s episode was recorded live in San Francisco for the 2015 Bay Area Science Fe...more
Ed Lu is a former astronaut and current CEO of the B612 Foundation. On the show this week we talked to him about the threat of asteroids hitting our planet—and what we can do about it. http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
On the show this week we talk to UC Berkeley astronomy researcher Steve Croft about the science of supermassive black holes. http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
On the show this week we talk to astronaut Dr. Cady Coleman about the human side of space exploration. “Leaving the planet is just something people are going to do because we live off the planet as well as on—we live in the universe.” http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
Dava Newman is the Deputy Administrator of NASA. On the show this week we talked to her about the future of space exploration. http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
On the show this week we talk to Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer about the research behind their new book Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both. “A lot of what we call gender differences are really just power differences in disguise. The big irony is that women and men get affected by power in very similar ways yet because women have less power in society, there’s a constraint on their ability to act with that power.” http://patreon.com/inquiringmin...more
Ariel Waldman makes “massively multiplayer science”, instigating unusual collaborations that spark clever creations for science and space exploration. On the show this week we talk to her about Science Hack Day, Spacehack.org, how she ended up working for NASA, and much more. This episode also features a follow-up interview with last week’s guest Brad Bushman on video games and violence. http://patreon.com/inquiringminds
On the show this week we talk to psychologist Brad Bushman about the science of gun violence. Brad Bushman is a professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University and a professor of communication science at the VU University Amsterdam. For over 25 years he has studied the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of human aggression and violence. He is a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on the topic o...more
The website for neuroscientist Brad Voytek’s lab begins like this: “Do not buy into the false belief that neuroscientists actually know what the brain is doing.” On the show this week we talked to Voytek to find out what he actually means by that. Brad Voytek is an Assistant Professor of Computational Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at UC San Diego.
In 2014 there were 585 magnitude three or above earthquakes in Oklahoma. In 2013 that number was only 109. And it turns out we’re to blame for the increase. On the show this week we talk to Research Geophysicist and Deputy Chief of the USGS Induced Seismicity Project Justin Rubinstein to find out more about induced earthquakes—and why they’re happening in places you might not expect.
On the show this week we talk to M. R. O'Connor about her book Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-Extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things.
How do you clone a mammoth? We asked Beth Shapiro. Shapiro is associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the author of How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction.
This week we have an extra special episode: It was recorded live on stage in Atlanta for this year’s Dragon Con. We talk about the science of Archer—the hit FX series TV series created by Adam Reed. To do that, we welcome to the show Dr. Krieger himself, Lucky Yates, as well as forensic chemist and former Inquiring Minds guest Raychelle Burks—a.k.a. Dr. Rubidium. Check out behind the scenes photos and video of the entire show at patreon.com/inquiringminds. Note: We swear more than usual on thi...more
This week, on our 100th episode, we remember Oliver Sacks, neurologist, author, and mentor to Indre. We talk to Steve Silberman—who was also close with Sacks, about his legacy and influence on, among many other things, Silberman's latest book, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.
Marc Lewis is a neuroscientist, professor of developmental psychology, and author of the new book The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease. On the show this week we talk to Lewis about the biology of addiction—and what it does to our brains.
The science behind genetically modified food is a very divisive issue for a lot of people. We’ve already talked about it a few times on the show, but this week we sought out a new perspective and talked to Fred Perlak, a Monsanto Distinguished Science Fellow. He’s been with Monsanto since 1981 and his work has focused on Bt genes, insect control, and plant gene expression. In this episode, he talks about his research and responds to concerns about GM health safety, risks to our eco-system, and t...more
Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis was trained as a concert pianist and is now the director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. On the show this week we talk to Margulis about her latest book On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind.
On the show this week we talk to David Casarett, M.D. about his latest book Stoned: A Doctor's Case for Medical Marijuana. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr.com
On the show this week we talk to journalist and educator Wade Roush about how disasters can affect our appreciation of the science behind them—and what we can do to be sure the right story gets out. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr.com
On the show this week we talk to Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Michael Hiltzik about his new book Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr.com
On the show this week we talk to Nobel Memorial Prize winning economist Alvin Roth about his latest book Who Gets What—and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr.com
On the show this week we explore the future of 3D Printing. To do so, Indre goes to SolidCon—a conference about “Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things”—and talks to people from two companies in attendance: Will Walker, a sculptor, designer, and educator from Formlabs and Kevin Czinger, the founder and CEO of Divergent Microfactories, Inc. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds ...more
Rachel Kalmar is a neuroscientist, data scientist, and world record holder for number of wearable sensors worn daily. On the show this week we talk to Kalmar about the power of collecting data from yourself by wearing sensors directly on your body. We explore the limits and possibilities of wearable technology—and some of the amazing things we might eventually be able to accomplish with it. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds ...more
On the show this week we talk all things virtual reality with Will Smith and Norman Chan from Tested.com. Did VR fail in the 90s?How many times does it have to fail to succeed? What’s it useful for besides video games and Lawnmower Men? If you’re confused by the recent VR comeback, Will and Norm have answers. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr....more
Eric Cheng is an award-winning photographer and publisher, and is the Director of Aerial Imaging and General Manager of the San Francisco office at DJI, the makers of the popular Phantom aerial-imaging quadcopter. On the show this week we talk to Cheng (from atop a mountain in the middle of San Francisco) about the science behind drones; why some people are afraid of them, how they work, and why they’re so useful for so many people—especially scientists. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inqui...more
Alan Levinovitz is an assistant professor of Chinese philosophy and religion at James Madison University and author of The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat. On the show this week we talk to Levinovitz about gluten and gluten-free diets. Should everyone go gluten-free? What does the actual science about it say? Why is a professor of religion is writing about diets in the first place? Listen and find out. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feed...more
On the show this week we talk to Stephen Dubner, award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He is best-known for writing, along with the economist Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, which have sold more than 5 million copies in 35 languages. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr.com
Adam Rogers is an editor at Wired and the author of Proof: The Science of Booze. On the show this week we talk to Rogers about alcohol and the science behind it—from yeast, to bourbon, to Star Trek’s synthehol.
James Krupa is a professor of biology at the University of Kentucky. On the show this week we talk to Krupa about a recent article he wrote for Orion magazine called Defending Darwin, in which he explains what it’s really like to teach evolution to students in Kentucky. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: inquiringshow.tumblr.com
Ivan Oransky is vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today and co-founder of Retraction Watch. On the show this week we talk to Oransky about retractions and the gospel of the scientific paper. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: http://inquiringshow.tumblr.com
On the show this week we talk to Traci Mann, professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota and author of the new book Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: inquiringshow.tumblr.com
Alex Garland is the writer and director of Ex Machina, a recently released film about what happens when someone is asked to interact with what might be the world's first true artificial intelligence (as well as the writer of Dredd, Sunshine, and 28 Days Later). On the show this week guest host Rebecca Watson talks to Garland about the science behind the film, and what he learned in the process of making it. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com...more
On the show this week we talk to Sanjoy Mahajan, Associate Professor of Applied Science and Engineering at Olin College of Engineering, Visiting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and author of Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds Tumblr: inquiringsho...more
Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet. He is on faculty at the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry, and Research Faculty at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, in New York. On the show this week we talk to Doidge about neuroplasticity—once you reach adulthood, is your brain in a kind of fixed state, or does it keep changing? And can you do things to make it change? iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/...more
On the show this week we talk to Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist working for the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. He investigates issues related to climate, carbon, and energy systems. In the interview, we focus on geoengineering—the process of making big changes to the Earth’s climatic system in an attempt to solve issues related to climate change. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/in...more
On the show this week we talk to Bill Gifford, author of the new book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying). iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week, we talk to Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Professor of Medicine and Director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital. She’s part of a new project called Sugar Science, which focuses on evidence-based information on added sugar to your diet. The team reviewed 8,000 articles and underscored the scientific consensus: there is a causal link between increased consumption of added sugar and increased risk of chronic disease like type 2 diabetes,...more
On the show this week we talk to evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen, who studies the evolution and ecology of microbes and genomes. We delve into the tiny world of the microbiome—the thousands of microorganisms that live inside all of us. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week we talk to Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine and former editor of the incredibly influential Whole Earth Catalog. We talk about the agenda and biases of technology, why the internet really wants to track you, and why he thinks, in the end, technology is a force for good. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week we talk to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC runs FactCheck.org, which now includes SciCheck, a program that “focuses exclusively on false and misleading scientific claims that are made by partisans to influence public policy.” iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week we talk to David J Morris, former Marine infantry officer, war correspondent, and author of The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We explore the history of PTSD and the science that surrounds it. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week we talk to author Andy Weir about The Martian, his hit science fiction novel about a man stranded on Mars—which is now being made into a film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. The Martian is not only packed full of science, it's packed full of science that makes sense. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
Ed Boyden is the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Synthetic Neurobiology research group and he wants blow up the brain. Sort of. He and his team have discovered a way to examine brain tissue by physically expanding it—a process that lets them look at tissue which would normally be extremely difficult to see even under a microscope. Boyden explains how it all works—and a lot more—on this week’s episode. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring...more
Brian Fisher is really into ants. And after listening to him talk about them on this week’s show, I suspect he might convince you to appreciate them more than you probably do right now. Fisher is an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences and we talk to him about all things ants—from how many “words” they can use, to how we can use them to figure out what parts of forests are most important to protect. We also have a huge announcement this week: Our new permanent co-host is Kishore Ha...more
Dark matter: it makes up 80 to 85 percent of the matter in the universe, it’s invisible, you can’t touch it, and according to this week’s guest astrophysicist Katie Mack, it’s probably passing through you right now. Dark matter is weird. On the show this week Indre talks to Mack about dark matter, dark energy, and the big bang. This episode also features guest host Rebecca Watson of Skepchick.org, who you can follow at patreon.com/rebecca. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id71...more
On the show this week we talk to Matt Walker, Principal Investigator at UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab. Walker opens our eyes to exactly how important (and bizarre) sleep is—from the insane effects not sleeping enough can have on you both physically and cognitively, to the fact that, after having fought through ages of natural selection, it’s amazing our brains still need it at all. Once again we welcome back guest host Kishore Hari, Director of the Bay Area Science Festival. You can f...more
On the show this week we talk to Professor of Psychology Gabriele Oettingen about her new book Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation. Oettingen has over twenty years of research on the science of motivation under her belt and in this book she outlines her main findings—and turns the conventional wisdom that focusing on fulfilling our goals will help us realize them on its head. We also welcome back guest host Kishore Hari, who is Director of the Bay Area Science Fest...more
On the show this week we talk to Mythbusters host and friend of the show Adam Savage. We caught up with Savage shortly after our live show with him (episode 58) at his workshop in San Francisco. Indre talks to Savage about the future of Mythbusters, Hollywood, exploding turkeys, the joy of being a maker, #Gamergate, and what it's like to be a rock-star science communicator. You can also watch this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNHbJ1fBrpA iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquirin...more
On the show this week Indre talks to mathematician and comedian Matt Parker about how math is way more fascinating that you probably think—and how it's connected to everything from credit card numbers to autocorrect. They talk about his new book, Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension: A Mathematician's Journey Through Narcissistic Numbers, Optimal Dating Algorithms, at Least Two Kinds of Infinity, and More. We also welcome back guest host Kishore Hari, director of the Bay Area Science Fe...more
On the show this week we talk to nature and science writer Sharman Apt Russell about citizen science—real scientific research done by people who are not professional scientists. We talk about her latest book, Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World. Today’s co-host is microbiological assay development and validation scientist Charles Rzadkowolski. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieRzadko. http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/ar...more
On the show this week guest host Cynthia Graber talks to paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, most well known for discovering the fossil of a female hominid australopithecine, or "Lucy.” iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week we talk to journalist and science writer Christine Kenneally about her latest book, The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures. And we’re joined again by guest host Cynthia Graber, science reporter and co-host of Gastropod. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
On the show this week guest host Cynthia Graber talks to George Church—a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and the author of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves. Church explains how, using cutting-edge genetic manipulation techniques, we may be able to help eradicate some of the world's worst diseases. Cynthia and Church also talk about everything from HIV/AIDS research to efforts to engineer an animal that will closely resemble the long-extinct wool...more
On the show this week we talk to cognitive scientist Paul Bloom about the morality of babies. Most of us think of babies as selfish, impulsive, and for the most part out of control. We tend to think of their morality as shaped by experience—by society, by their parents, by early childhood events. But Bloom and his collaborators at Yale have some pretty compelling evidence that at least some parts of our moral compass are innate—that is that babies are born with the capacity to tell good from ba...more
On the show this week we welcome guest host David Corn, political journalist and Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones. Corn interviews astrobiologist David Grinspoon about the science behind Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Interstellar—what it gets right, and what it gets wrong. Corn also talks to Indre about what the recent elections mean for those of us who value science. Spoiler: it’s not looking great. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.c...more
On the show this week Indre talks to Adam Savage about the future of science communication (and why it’s terrifying TV networks), why he’s worried Elon Musk might become a Marvel supervillain, and why it’s so important to him that women be better represented in his field. Indre also talks to host of The Story Collider, Ben Lillie, about the Antares Rocket explosion, flavonols, and Ben explains why he's fascinated by institutional review boards. This episode was recorded live on stage in San Fran...more
On the show this week we talk to author William Gibson about time travel, cronuts, and his new 22nd century novel. We also talk to infectious disease doctor and co-founder of Wellbody Alliance, Dan Kelly, who is currently in Sierra Leone fighting the Ebola outbreak. Kelly explains what the situation looks like from the ground, what work he’s doing there, and what we can do to help. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher:...more
On the show this week we talk to Steven Johnson, author of the new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World. In it, Johnson argues that seemingly mundane scientific breakthroughs have changed our world in profound ways—impacting everything from life expectancy to women's fashion. We also welcome guest host Cynthia Graber who talks about a recent article she wrote for Nova on the “Diseaseome”; and Indre wonders if you are, in fact, smarter than a kindergartner. iTunes: i...more
On the show this week we talk to cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, musician, and writer Daniel Levitin about his new book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. We also talk to microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles about the Ebola virus—what the risks really are, and why many people might be overreacting. Also, Chris has a huge announcement. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitche...more
San Francisco! Come see us interview Adam Savage live on Oct. 28! http://www.bayareascience.org/event/im-story-collider/ On the show this week we talk to celebrated Harvard cognitive scientist and psycholinguist Steven Pinker about his new book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Pinker explains how to write in clear, "classic" prose that shares valuable information with clarity (but never condescension). He also tells us why so many of the tut-tutting...more
Come see us interview Adam Savage live in San Francisco on Oct. 28! http://www.bayareascience.org/event/im-story-collider/ On the show this week we talk to author and social activist Naomi Klein about her new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. In it, Klein argues that we are past the time when incremental change can get us to where we need to be to properly address the challenge of climate change—we’re in a situation, she says, where no non-radical choices are left. This e...more
On the show this week we talk to former Vice President Al Gore. He shares his thoughts on President Obama's global warming record, the upcoming United Nations climate meeting, the impact of fracking, and China's plans for a massive carbon market. This episode also features a discussion inspired by an article written by Cailin O’Connor at Slate on the often overlooked influence of random noise on our cells—and its influence on genetics. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/201...more
On the show this week we talk to Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan, who has focused much of his research on employing the tools of social science to study fact-checking—why it so often fails, and what can be done to make it work better. The cynical view on fact-checking is "too negative," argues Nyhan. "I think you have to think about what politics might look like without those fact-checkers, and I think it would look worse." This episode is guest co-hosted by Rebecca Watson of skepchi...more
On the show this week we talk about randomness with science writer William Poundstone, author of the new book Rock Breaks Scissors. Poundstone explains why we’re so terrible at trying to come up with random sequences ourselves—and how understanding these pitfalls can actually help you predict, with accuracy above chance, what someone else is going to do even when he or she is trying, purposefully, to act randomly. These predictions are at the core of Poundstone's book, which offers a practical g...more
"Its Islam over everything." So read the Twitter bio of Douglas McAuthur McCain—or, as he reportedly called himself, "Duale Khalid"—the San Diego man who is apparently the first American to be killed while fighting for ISIS. According to NBC News, McCain grew up in Minnesota, was a basketball player, and wanted to be a rapper. Friends describe him as a high school "goofball" and "a really nice guy." So what could have made him want to join the ranks of other Americans drawn towards militant Isla...more
One of the most difficult parts of getting a Ph.D. is finishing your dissertation. Beyond the mountain of work a dissertation requires, graduate students also have to face feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and anxiety about the looming job search. Sometimes, they need a gentle, supportive push to quit stressing about every last comma and—after years of blood, sweat, and tears— finally turn it in. So when Kate Clancy, an anthropologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, chid...more
On the political right, it's pretty popular these days to claim that the left exaggerates scientific worries about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." In a recent National Review article, for instance, a Hoover Institution researcher complains that 53 percent of Democrats in California support a fracking ban "despite the existence of little if any credible scientific evidence of fracking's feared harms and overwhelming scientific evidence of its environmental benefits, including substantial red...more
On the show this week we talk to University of Pennsylvania professor of medicine David Casarett about his book Shocked: Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead. Casarett explains the science of resuscitation—and what exactly it means to be “dead.” We talk about cryonics, the idea that you might be able to preserve your brain—or your whole body—by freezing it immediately after you die, and then bring it back to life in the future once science figures out how to do that. We also talk to Cas...more
Charles Dickens, perhaps the greatest of the Victorian novelists, was a man of strict routine. Every day, notes his biographer Claire Tomalin, Dickens would write from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. After that, he would put his work away and go out for a long walk. Sometimes he walked as far as 30 miles; sometimes, he walked into the night. "If I couldn't walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish," Dickens wrote. According to engineering professor Barbara Oakley, author of the new book A Mind for...more
What makes a great athlete? Talent? Training? Or is mostly genetic? On the show this week we get some answers from sports writer David Epstein while discussing his new book The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance. Epstein explains a lot—from why growing up in a small town increases your likelihood of becoming a professional athlete to how softball pitcher Jennie Finch made striking out so many Major League Baseball batters during the 2004 Pepsi All-Star Softball...more
You don't know it yet. There's no way that you could. But 400 years from now, a historian will write that the time in which you're now living is the "Penumbral Age" of human history—meaning, the period when a dark shadow began to fall over us all. You're living at the start of a new dark age, a new counter-Enlightenment. Why? Because too many of us living today, in the years just after the turn of the millennium, deny the science of climate change. Such is the premise of a thought-provoking new ...more
On the show this week we welcome Arthur I. Miller—physics Ph.D., science historian, philosopher—and an art aficionado to boot. We talked to Miller about his new book, Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art, in which he makes the case for the existence of a "third culture" that, today, is mashing together art, science, and technology into one big domain. "There are still people who think science is science, and art is art," says Miller. "But that is very far fro...more
It's the 4th of July, and you love your country. Your likely next step: Fire off some small scale explosives, and drink a lot of beer. But that last word ought to trouble you a little. Beer? Is that really the best you can do? Isn't it a little, er, uncreative? Amy Stewart, our guest this week, has some better ideas for you. Author of the New York Times bestselling book The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks, she's a master of the wild diversity of ways in which, s...more
There's nothing quite as satisfying as a really good joke. Someone has made a clever new connection between two mundane things that we've all encountered—and suddenly we have a lovely "aha" moment. We find it funny. That sense of revelation accompanying a good joke or comic is very similar to what many scientists experience when they finally figure out a great explanation for some kind of previously unknown phenomenon. But don't take it from us. Take it from the scientifically-trained author and...more
Chances are that when you think about math—which, for most of us, happens pretty infrequently—you don't think of it in anything like the way that Jordan Ellenberg does. Ellenberg is a rare scholar who is both a math professor (at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) and a novelist. And in his fascinating new book, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, he deploys analyses of poetry, politics, and even religion in a bold recasting of what math is in the first place. For Ellenber...more
We've all been mesmerized by them—those beautiful brain scan images that make us feel like we're on the cutting edge of scientifically decoding how we think. But as soon as one neuroscience study purports to show which brain region lights up when we are enjoying Coca-Cola, or looking at cute puppies, or thinking we have souls, some other expert claims "it's just a correlation," and you wonder whether researchers will ever get it right. But there's another approach to understanding how our minds ...more
Remember those stick-figures of chemical compounds you were forced to memorize in high school? Remember how useless it seemed at the time? Can you still articulate the difference between a covalent bond and an ionic one (without checking Wikipedia)? If not, pay attention: You might be caught flat-footed during the zombie apocalypse. The CDC suggests (half-seriously) having a zombie-preparedness kit (after all, it would also be useful in case of pandemics and hurricanes). But chemist and blogger ...more
Remember "Climategate"? It was the 2009 non-scandal scandal in which a trove of climate scientists' emails, pilfered from the University of East Anglia in the UK, were used to call all of modern climate research into question. Why? Largely because a cursory reading of those emails—showing climate scientists frankly discussing how to respond to burdensome data requests and attacks on their work, among other content—showed a side of researchers that most people aren't really used to seeing. Sudden...more
If you want to truly grasp the scale of the Earth's polar ice sheets, you need some help from Isaac Newton. Newton taught us the universal law of gravitation, which states that all objects are attracted to one another in proportion to their masses (and the distance between them). The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland are incredibly massive—Antarctica's ice is more than two miles thick in places and 5.4 million square miles in extent. These ice sheets are so large, in fact, that gravit...more
In late April, former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver kicked off his HBO news-satire program, Last Week Tonight. Oliver, who spent nearly eight years at The Daily Show and has a solid background in political satire, is off to a good start. His weekly series—which offers biting commentary on the past week's biggest news stories, both national and international—is barely into its inaugural season, and it seems to be hitting the right notes. The premiere episode, for example, featured an exclu...more
When the audio of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend not to "bring black people" to his team's games hit the Internet, the condemnations were immediate. It was clear to all that Sterling was a racist, and the punishment was swift: the NBA banned him for life. It was, you might say, a pretty straightforward case. When you take a look at the emerging science of what motivates people to behave in a racist or prejudiced way, though, matters quickly grow complicated. In fact, if...more
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, has had quite the run lately. A few weeks back, she was featured in the first episode of the Showtime series The Years of Living Dangerously, meeting with actor Don Cheadle in her home state of Texas to explain to him why faith and a warming planet aren't in conflict. Then, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2014; Cheadle wrote the entry. Why is Hayhoe in the spotlight? Simply put, 25 to 30 percent of Am...more
Mary Roach has been called "America's funniest science writer." Master of the monosyllabically titled bestseller, she has explored sex in Bonk, corpses in Stiff, and the afterlife in Spook. Her latest book, now out in paperback, is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. It's, you know, completely gross. But in a way that you can't put down. What kind of things might you learn in a Mary Roach book about the alimentary canal, that convoluted pipeline that runs from where you food goes in all th...more
Jared Diamond, author of a suite of massive, bestselling books about the precarious state of our civilization (including the Pulitzer-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel), calls himself "cautiously optimistic" about the future of humanity. What does that mean? "My estimate of our chances that we will master our problems and have a happy future, I would say the chances are 51 percent," Diamond explains on this week’s episode. "And the chances of a bad ending are only 49 percent," he adds. Diamond didn...more
We all know the Darwin fish, the clever car-bumper parody of the Christian "ichthys" symbol, or Jesus fish. Unlike the Christian symbol, the Darwin fish has, you know, legs. Har har. But the Darwin fish isn't merely a clever joke; in effect, it contains a testable scientific prediction. If evolution is true, and if life on Earth originated in the oceans, then there must have once been fish species possessing primitive limbs, which enabled them to spend some part of their lives on land. And these...more
Thomas Jefferson was a smart dude. And in one of his letters to John Adams, dated June 27, 1813, Jefferson made an observation about the nature of politics that science is only now, two centuries later, beginning to confirm. "The same political parties which now agitate the United States, have existed through all time," wrote Jefferson. "The terms of Whig and Tory belong to natural, as well as to civil history," he later added. "They denote the temper and constitution of mind of different indivi...more
How do you become a scientist? Ask anyone in the profession and you'll probably hear some version of the following: get a Bachelor's of Science degree, work in a lab, get into a PhD program, publish some papers, get a good post-doctoral position, publish some more papers and then apply for a tenure-track job at a large university. It's a long road—and you get to spend those 10 to 15 years as a poor graduate student or underpaid postdoc, while you watch your peers launch careers, start families, ...more
We all heard the cosmos-stretching news this week. On Monday, a team of researchers working with a special telescope at the South Pole confirmed that they had observed evidence of "inflation," the sudden and rapid expansion of the universe that occurred in an unimaginably small slice of time just after the Big Bang, the beginning of space and time some 13.8 billion years ago. The researchers achieved this feat by examining what is known as the cosmic microwave background or CMB, which has been c...more
Last week, Fox's and National Geographic's new Cosmos series set a new milestone in television history. According to National Geographic, it was the largest global rollout of a TV series ever, appearing on 220 channels in 181 countries, and 45 languages. And, yes, this is a science show we're talking about. You will have to actively resist the force of gravity in order to lift up your dropped jaw, and restore a sense of calm to your stunned face. At the center of the show is the "heir apparent" ...more
Who are you? The question may seem effortless to answer: You are the citizen of a country, the resident of a city, the child of particular parents, the sibling (or not) of brothers and sisters, the parent (or not) of children, and so on. And you might further answer the question by invoking a personality, an identity: You're outgoing. You're politically liberal. You're Catholic. Going further still, you might invoke your history, your memories: You came from a place, where events happened to you...more
As Edward Frenkel sees it, the way we teach math in schools today is about as exciting as watching paint dry. So it's not surprising that when he brings up the fact that he's a mathematician at dinner parties, the eyes quickly glaze over. "Most people, unfortunately, have a very bad experience with mathematics," Frenkel says. And no wonder: the math we learn in school is as far from what Frenkel believes is the soul of mathematics as a painted fence is from The Starry Night by Van Gogh, Frenkel'...more
Just when weather weary Americans thought they'd found a reprieve, the latest forecasts suggest that the polar vortex will, again, descent into the heart of the country next week, bringing with it staggering cold. If so, it will be just the latest weather extreme in a winter that has seen so many of them. California has been extremely dry, while the flood-afflicted UK has been extremely wet. Alaska has been extremely hot (as has Sochi), while the snow-pummeled US East Coast has been extremely co...more
With historic drought battering California's produce and climate change expected to jeopardize the global food supply, there are few questions more important than what our agriculture system should look like in the future. And few agricultural issues are more politically charged than the debate over genetically modified organisms. Even as companies like Monsanto are genetically engineering plants to use less water and resist crop-destroying pests, activists are challenging the safety and sustain...more
You're a busy person. Keeping up with your job, plus your life, is the very definition of multitasking. It doesn't help that when working, you're distracted not only by your mobile devices, but also by your computer. You average 10 tabs open in your browser at any one time, which you compulsively click amongst. One's your email, which never stops flowing in. At the end of the day, you sleep less than you know you probably should, but as you tell yourself, there's just never enough time. If this ...more
Most expecting women ask their doctors whether it's okay to eat blue cheese, or have the odd glass of wine, while they're pregnant. Or maybe whether to stay away from fish, because of the mercury. When she was pregnant with her daughter several years ago, though, MythBusters' Kari Byron took her maternal Q & A to a whole different level. "I'd be going to my doctor saying, 'All right, so, when do I have to stop shooting guns because she has ears?'" recalls Byron on this week’s episode. "And the d...more
In recent decades, there have been countless infringements, and attempted infringements, upon accurate science education across the country. The "war on science" in national politics has nothing on the war playing out every day in public schools, even if the latter is usually less visible. The attacks are diverse and ever-changing, showing an array of tactics and strategies that almost rivals biological life itself. "If nothing else evolves," explains evolution defender Eugenie Scott on this wee...more
The Paleo diet is hot. Those who follow it are attempting, they say, to mimic our ancient ancestors—minus the animal-skin fashions and the total lack of technology, of course. The adherents eschew what they believe comes from modern agriculture (wheat, dairy, legumes, for instance) and rely instead on meals full of meat, nuts, and vegetables—foods they claim are closer to what hunter-gatherers ate. The trouble with that view, however, is that what they’re eating is probably nothing like the diet...more
As a writer, Deborah Blum says she has a "love of evil chemistry." It seems that audiences do too: Her latest book, The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, was not only a bestseller, but was just turned into a film by PBS. The book tells the story of Charles Norris, New York City's first medical examiner, and Alexander Gettler, his toxicologist and forensic chemist. They were a scientific and medical duo who brought real evidence and reliable fore...more
For Mark Ruffalo, environmental activism started out with something to oppose, to be against: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It all began when the actor, perhaps best known for his role as Bruce Banner (The Hulk) in Marvel's The Avengers, was raising three small children in the town of Callicoon, in upstate New York. At that time the Marcellus shale fracking boom was coming on strong, even as the area also saw a series of staggering floods, each one seemingly more unprecedented than the last...more
On Valentine's Day 1990, from more than four billion miles away, the Voyager 1 spacecraft snapped our photo. From that distance, there wasn't much to see; the resulting shot simply showed several light beams with a tiny speck in one of them. Earth. But that didn't stop the late celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan from writing rapturously about the meaning of this image, which he famously dubbed the "Pale Blue Dot." "To me," Sagan wrote of the picture, "it underscores our responsibility to deal more ...more
Americans don't like atheists much. It's something we get reminded of every December, as Fox News commentators decry a secularist "war on Christmas." But the distrust spans seasons: Barely half of Americans say they would vote for an atheist for president; forty eight percent, meanwhile, would disapprove of their child marrying one. Still, atheist America is growing: One fifth of the public is now religiously unaffiliated. So how do you build an atheist? Or a whole country of them like the Czech...more
It's an old distinction: Science tells us what the world is like, but it can never tell us how we ought to behave in such a world. That's the realm of morality, and here we consult ethicists or perhaps priests—but something other than just data. It's pretty tough to keep science hemmed in, though; and in the past decade a group of researchers have begun to transform how we think about morality. They've put our sense of right and wrong in lab, and even in the fMRI machine. And while their finding...more
It's flu season. And we're all about to crisscross the country to exchange hugs, kisses and germs. We're going to get sick. And when we do, many of us will run to our doctors and, hoping to get better, demand antibiotics. And that's the problem: Antibiotics don't cure the flu (which is viral, not bacterial), but the over-prescription of antibiotics imperils us all by driving antibiotic resistance. This threat is growing, so much so that in a recent widely read Medium article, Wired science blogg...more
Simon Singh isn't exactly your average fan of Fox's The Simpsons. He has a Ph.D. in particle physics from Cambridge, and made an award-winning documentary about Fermat's Last Theorem. Let's be frank: He's a math geek. But then, so are a surprisingly large number of the show's writers. You may not have realized it, but as Singh shows in his new book, The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets, a seemingly endless supply of mathematical jokes and references are crammed into each Simpsons episode....more
On the show this week we talk to climate researcher Michael Mann about how he, as a self-described math and computer nerd working in an esoteric field known as paleoclimatology, wound up front and center in a nationally watched political campaign. His situation traces back to the world famous "hockey stick" graph, originally published by Mann and his colleagues in a 1998 scientific paper, and then prominently displayed by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2001 ...more
This week we feature a conversation with psychologist Alison Gopnik, recorded live at the 2013 Bay Area Science Festival. Gopnik talks about her latest book, The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life. She explains that babies are natural explorers, and way smarter than we used to think. But along the way, we lose that cognitive flexibility and openness—some of us more than others. This episode also features a discussion about a recent study ...more
This week, we speak with veteran science journalist George Johnson, whose new book The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery helps turn much traditional thinking about cancer on its head. It's a provocative and also a personal exploration of the myths and misunderstandings that surround this most formidable enemy to our health and well being. This episode also features a discussion of the science of hangovers (timed just for Halloween weekend, we know) and new findings about th...more
Why is America so polarized? Why are our politicians so dysfunctional? Why do they sometimes even seem to downright hate each other? In this episode of Inquiring Minds, moral psychologist and bestselling The Righteous Mind author Jonathan Haidt explains that our differences are, at root, the result of sharply contrasting moral systems and the emotions that underlie them. These emotions differ from left to right. And in politics, we feel first and think later. As a result, even though political p...more
As two top researchers studying the science of science communication—a hot new field that combines psychology with public opinion research—Dan Kahan and Stephan Lewandowsky agree about most things. There's just one problem. The little thing that they disagree on—whether it actually works to tell people, and especially political conservatives, that there's a "scientific consensus" on climate change—has huge practical significance. In this episode, Kahan and Lewandowsky debate the issue. It also f...more
This week we talk to Randy Schekman, the University of California-Berkeley cell biologist who was just awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine for his work on how cells regulate the protein “traffic” that is at the core of their communication with other cells. In the interview with co-host Indre Viskontas, Schekman not only explains his scientific breakthroughs—he also tells us why he wants to take a stand about the steeply rising cost of public higher education, which is driving huge student d...more
This week we talk to scientist and explorer Sylvia Earle, a woman who has spent almost a year of her life under water. She explains why the oceans are "not too big to fail." But she also says that just maybe, we're growing wise enough to save them. Earle is the National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence, and former chief scientist at NOAA—plus she's a TED Prize winner who used that award to form Mission Blue, an ocean conservation initiative. Her unofficial titles go further: Time called ...more
This week, Chris Mooney talks to environmental journalist Alan Weisman, who explains why, following on his 2007 New York Times bestseller The World Without Us, he decided to centrally take on the issue of human population. For his just-published book Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?, Weisman traveled to 21 countries—from Israel to Mexico, and from Pakistan to Niger—to report on how different cultures are responding to booming populations and the strain this is putting on the...more
There aren't many people on Earth who have spent more of their life in space than Marsha Ivins. A veteran of five space shuttle missions, Ivins has spent a total of 55 days in orbit, on missions devoted to such diverse tasks as deploying satellites, conducting scientific research, and docking with Mir and the International Space Station. This episode features an interview with Ivins, where she relates some of her in-orbit experiences—such as how your body and brain slowly adapt to the fact that ...more