Science and technology are everywhere in our lives. This podcast takes a look not only at the science itself, but its role in society, how it affects our lives, and how it influences how we define ourselves as humans. Episodes also throw in a mix of culture, history, ethics, philosophy, religion, and the future! Hosted by Elizabeth Fernandez, an astronomer and science communicator. Let’s spark some dialog!  How to subscribe to and rate the podcast.

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Getting a Second Chance: Space Ethics, Mining, and Colonization

Do we deserve a second chance on a new planet?  How can we explore the stars, but maintain the integrity of space?  Space ethics is a new field that many are beginning to consider.  Today on the podcast, I am joined with Dr. Tony Milligan, author of Nobody Owns the Moon – the Ethics of Space Exploitation, to discuss everything from space mining to colonization.

Lend a Hand!

Lending a Hand – a Prosthetic Hand

Not too long ago, Edie Steinhoff had a really bad day. In a household accident, she lost all of the fingers on her hand. But her university community rallied around her to engineer her a new hand. The team, led by Dr. David Grow of New Mexico Tech, work with Edie to design a prosthetic that works for her. It’s not often that you can see how your research immediately benefits those around you!

Zombees! A Halloween Episode

This is the story of the day ZomBees were discovered in San Francisco. No, not the type that eat brains. We’re talking about zombees – honeybees that have their bodies hijacked by parasites and are eaten from within. This is a very real threat to honeybees today in North America, and could affect our entire agricultural system. We talk to Dr. John Hafernik about zombees and the citizen science project ZomBee Watch.

Made In Space
Future of Food

From Steak to Insects – The Future of Food

What does the future of food hold in store for us?  Are our current eating practices sustainable, or will a growing population paired with transportation issues force us to rethink how we eat?  Today we talk to Max Elder from the Food Futures Lab about the future of food – everything from the evolution of our protein sources to GMOs to lab-grown meat.

Humanitarian and Privacy Concerns with AI

AI and machine learning have become an increasingly prevalent part of our society.  Companies use them to take snippets of information about you and to learn about your life, and even to make inferences about what you might do and what you believe.  Today we talk to Dr. Rumman Chowdhury about the humanitarian and privacy concerns that result from the use of AI.

Privacy Concerns
Women in Science

Women in Science

What was it like for women in the sciences at the beginning of the 20th century? Today we discuss one woman in particular – Ruby Payne-Scott. Ruby was a brilliant radio astrophysicist who also fought for equal rights for women in the workforce, and her career was shaped by WWII, her marriage, and when she had children. Today we are joined by Dr. Miller Goss, a radio astronomer, who wrote a book about Ruby’s life. We discuss what it was like for women 1oo years ago, and how far we have come.

The Solar Eclipse – Awe, Wonder, and Science

What is it like to see a total solar eclipse? It’s hard to describe, but I hope that this podcast, with the cheers of pure joy from the people who saw it, might give you a little taste.  We also talk about what science was done during the eclipse, from watching the oceans to watching the climate.

total eclipse
Teaching_Science

Teaching Science with Animals and Travel

In this special podcast episode, I am teaming up with Dr. Meenakshi Prabhune.  We interview each other about our work in science and science communication.  In this podcast, I talk to her about how she uses animals and travel to communicate heavier topics in science, like biophysics and genetics.  She then interviews me about this podcast series.  Both of these interviews appear in Signal to Noise Magazine.

Autism Therapy and Zen

Autism has not always been well understood in the medical community. In fact, sometimes it was so poorly understood that people with autism suffered from misdiagnosis. Yet, these brave people fought their way in a world that constantly demanded they be normal. In today’s podcast I talk to Anlor Davin, author of Being Seen, about her journey with autism, autism therapy, and about finding a balance of her own life through Zen meditation.

Made In Space

A Slice of Life

Food in space leaves a lot to be desired. But if we want to have a sustained presence in space, this will have to change. Today I’m joined with Sebastian Marcu and Neil Jaschinski of a company called Bake In Space, seeking not only to make bread safe to eat in space, but to actually bake it there as well! What challenges do they have to overcome? Find out!

The Ethics of Augmented Reality and Our Future

Augmented Reality – It could be games like Pokémon Go.  It could also mean talking to an old friend a world away, but it looks like they are siting in the chair besides you. It’s exciting, but what ethical and privacy issues come along with augmented reality?  Today we talk to Liv Erickson, a software engineer at High Fidelity who works on VR and AR, about the implications of augmented reality.

Augmented Reality

Sustainability – The Bigger Picture

When we think of sustainability, we often think of making a better world for our children. In today's podcast, hopefully you will be encouraged to look at the even bigger picture. We are joined by Dr. Oliver Putz, a member of a sustainability think tank, to discuss how climate change and the ecological crisis are affecting plants, animals, and people a world away from us, and how, by thinking globally, we can find deeper meaning.

Robots That Eat Trash and the Entrepreneurs Who Build Them

What do you do when landfills are full of recyclables and prone to fires? Design a robot of course! Today we talk to the young entrepreneur Jaidev Shah, who designed robots that can go into the landfills of India. These robots search and collect recyclables and can locate landfill fires before they become too large. His robots promise to help those who currently live in and around the landfills have better lives.
Time to take out the trash!
Let's make Uncle Ben proud

CRISPR – With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility. The gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 has tremendous promise, from creating a malaria-proof mosquito to making our crops more pest-resistant. It can even be used on humans. But when we edit the genome, are we playing with fire? Here to talk with us about the ethics (and promise) of CRISPR is Dr. Leila Jamal, a bioethicists who is intimately aware of the ethical conundrums of CRISPR.

Your Body in Space

Your body is a delicate machine, and space is a harsh environment. Today we talk to Dr. Ronke Olabisi, a biomedical engineer, about the challenges that the human body has to withstand in space and ways to overcome them. These advances will make space safer for astronauts, and can make life on Earth healthier as well!

Made In Space

The Energy Future of America – from Renewable Energy to Carbon-Negative Technology

It's time to reimagine the carbon cycle. It's time to rethink where we get our energy from. Renewable energy not only keeps our environment cleaner, but can also be cheaper in the long-run. And new carbon-negative technologies can create energy and generate products, all when removing carbon-dioxide from the atmosphere. Today we talk to Dr. David Babson, a technology manager in the US Department of Energy, about steps to combat the global energy crisis and climate change.

Educational Hotspots for Children of the Developing World

Can children in the developing world, in areas where internet is scarce or nonexistent, have access to educational materials on the web? Today we talk to Dr. Laura Hosman, who has traveled around the world to places like Senegal or Tonga. She is working to bring these children a web-like educational experience through a small ruggedized computer called a SolarSPELL.
Internet browsing has never been this easy
Monks and Einstein, the story of an unique friendship

The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Monks, and Science

Many Tibetan monks are not familiar with modern math and science, despite the Dalai Lama’s love of the subjects. To remedy this, the program Science for Monks was born - a program that helps Tibetan monks learn astronomy, physics, math, and biology. Today, we are joined by one of the teachers of this program - astronomer Dr. Chris Impey. He talks to us about his experience, what he taught the monks, and what they taught him in return.

Volcanoes – Making Your Planet Habitable for 4.6 Billion Years

What does it take to make a planet habitable? Of course, distance to the star is perhaps the most important variable that controls the planet’s temperature and allows liquid water to exist. But what about conditions on the planet itself? Today we talk to Dr. Ramses Ramirez about how things like volcanism and tectonic activity helps a planet develop and maintain an atmosphere to keep it warm, and how the habitable zone might be bigger than we previously thought.

World Upon World, Universe Upon Universe

Is our Universe all that there is? Is it possible that there are actually more universes than there are atoms in the observable Universe? Such an idea - the concept of the multiverse, is hard, if not impossible, to prove, but is supported by scientific theories like inflation and mathematical theories like string theory. Today we are joined with Dr. Jerry Cleaver, who talks about what the multiverse is and the philosophical puzzles that it produces.

The Robotic Moral Code

There are now instances when robots, machines, and artificial intelligence will need an ethical framework. From self-driving cars to autonomous weapons systems to robots in healthcare, machines will be called upon to make ethical decisions. But how do we even begin to describe morality in lines of code and mathematics that a robot can understand? Today we talk to Dr. Don Howard, a philosopher who speculates about a robotic moral code.

Made In Space

Create Your Own Brain

Why are some habits so hard to break? How much control do we have over our own brains? Today we talk to Dr. Alan Weissenbacher, a neuroscientist who drew his inspiration from his work with recovering addicts. By understanding how pathways in the brain form, we have insights into addictions, bad (and good) habits, and how we can build better brains.

Climate Change, Religion, and Ethics – A Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspective

Climate change is often viewed as a political problem. But in reality, it is a scientific issue, and perhaps equally as important, it is a moral and spiritual issue. How are religious communities responding? Today we are talking to three people involved in various religious environmental organizations, each representing a different faith community.