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.
To GM or not to GM: GMOs in a Changing World
Today we talk to Dr. Sarah Evanega from the Alliance for Science about the safety of GMO crops and how they view GMOs in the developing world.
From Rosie to RoboCop: Gender, Religion, and Robots
From Rosie to RoboCop, robots are reinforcing gender roles within society. Robotic designers and even users see “female” or “male” robots very differently. We talk to Dr. Jennifer Robertson, an expert on robotics and culture, about robots and sexism, religion, family, and culture.
Keep on Moving, Stop Climate Change
Transportation is responsible for 23% of global emissions. If we could make getting from point A to point B cleaner, it would go a long way in combatting climate change. Today, we talk to Dr. Ryan Allard, a transportation specialist from Project Drawdown. Project Drawdown is a no-profit organization focused on using existing technology to slow, and even reverse, climate change.
Ice Cream and Nazis: The Origin of Moral Choices
If someone didn’t like the same ice cream flavor as you, chances are you wouldn’t stop being friends with them. But you might if you found out that they were a Nazi sympathizer. What we see as moral choices are fundamentally different than other preferences. In today’s podcast with Dr. P. Kyle Stanford of UC Irvine, we discuss how they may have been a basis on which modern society was created.
Let There be Light: First Stars and Cosmic Dawn
Billions of years ago, the first star was born, and the Universe would never be the same. But how do we know what these first stars were like? How did the stars change the Universe to what we see today? Today we are joined by Dr. Harish Vedantham to discuss how we can observe these first stars, the radio array LOFAR, and how hard it is to see back in time.
Crowdsensing the Noise
Noise is everywhere in our lives. Today we talk to Julia Buwaya, a mobile crowdsensing researcher, on how she utilizes smartphones to “crowdsense”, essentially having hundreds or thousands of people help her gather data to understand the noise in our lives.
The Geology of Us: The Anthropocene
Humans are affecting the Earth on a global scale, and this change will be remembered in the rocks. I talk to Dr. David Grinspoon on how humans are affecting the planet: from new minerals to a shift in the climate to our presence in space. Humankind may be responsible for the planet entering a new geological time period: the Anthropocene.
Can Science Help Us Live Forever?
Can science help us live forever? Can it provide a way to stop aging in its tracks? Perhaps the fountain of youth will be obtained within our lifetimes. Today we talk to Dr. Aubrey de Grey from the SENS Research Foundation on therapy that can keep us young and what a world without aging would look like.
Subglacial Lakes and Life on Frozen Moons
Subglacial lakes far beneath the Canadian ice are defying all expectations. We are joined by Anja Rutishauser of the University of Alberta, who discovered these lakes. They could be a terrestrial analog to the under-ice oceans of moons like Europa, and could help us to understand any potential life that exists there.
Is there Bias in Machine Learning Algorithms?
Machine learning algorithms can make inferences about our habits. But can these algorithms be biased against certain people or groups of people? Where does this bias come from? And how can we improve these algorithms? We are joined by Dr. Joshua Kroll from the University of California at Berkeley to discuss bias in machine learning algorithms in everything from your grocery store’s frequent buyer card to the Trump administration’s Extreme Vetting Initiative.
Space Junk, Trash on the Moon, and the Earth’s Copper Ring
Is there really a toothbrush orbiting the Earth? And does Earth really have a ring – made of copper? Dr. Lisa Ruth Rand joins us on the podcast today to talk about space junk, the Cold War, trash and the Moon landing, and how debris in space may outlive us all.
The Pope’s Astronomer
Today we talk to Brother Guy Consolmano, the Pope’s Astronomer, on meteorites and why, as humans, we are drawn to do pure science. We discuss science and religion, find out if they really are at odds, and whether or not he would baptize an extraterrestrial.
There’s More to Color than Meets the Eye
Is color just a physical property of objects? If it is, how would we explain why so many people got in arguments about the color of the infamous “dress”? It turns out, color is not just in the world – it’s also in our minds. Today we talk to Dr. Mazviita Chirimuuta about how much our brains are involved in understanding the colorful world around us.
Can AI be Creative?
Can AI be creative? Today we talk with Dr. Maya Ackerman about AI creativity in the form of songwriting, and even listen to a song composed with artificial intelligence!
What Happens Next Will Blow Your Mind! Using Natural Language Processing to Find Fake News, Satire, and Clickbait
Have you ever been deceived by fake news? Couldn’t resist that click-bait? With more and more news sources, it sometimes becomes hard to tell the truth from the lies. Today we are joined by Dr. Victoria Rubin and her group, who discuss using Natural Language Processing to detect various types of deceptive news.
The Philosophy of the Self: From Spirituality to Neuroscience
What is the self? Is the self an entity, or is it a process, continually being created? In today’s podcast, Dr. Evan Thompson joins me to discuss how two very different schools of thought – neuroscience and Eastern spirituality – grapple with the concept of the self.
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.
Lending a Hand – a Prosthetic Hand
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sustainability – The Bigger Picture
Robots That Eat Trash and the Entrepreneurs Who Build Them
CRISPR – With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
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!
The Energy Future of America – from Renewable Energy to Carbon-Negative Technology
Educational Hotspots for Children of the Developing World
The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Monks, and Science
Volcanoes – Making Your Planet Habitable for 4.6 Billion Years
World Upon World, Universe Upon Universe
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.
Create Your Own Brain
Climate Change, Religion, and Ethics – A Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspective
The Star of Bethlehem – A Real Event?
Space: East and West
Dress to OS
Made In Space
Going to space is always a risky business. If you forget something or if something breaks, you may be days, months, or even years away from receiving a spare part. This risk could be life threatening. But all that is about to change. Today, we talk to Brad Kohlenberg from a company called Made In Space. This company is seeking to revolutionize the space industry by moving 3D printing in space, giving astronauts the opportunity to print any part they may need, making space safer, and eventually, accessible to many more. Seriously, this is the future, and it’s awesome. Also, check out the video!
The International Space Station and I: The World from Above
The Future Universe – Teeming with Life?
Hello Jupiter! It’s Juno.
The Dolphin Whisperer
Traveling to the Stars on the Wind of a Laser
An Explosion from Across the Universe
Astronomy… With A Canon!
Dr. Dylan Spaulding, a project scientist at UC Davis in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, talks about how he creates high velocity impacts in the lab, and what this can tell us about planet formation.
Climate Science from the Bottom of the World
Photo by Shasta Marrero, Patriot Hills, Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica (Jan 2014).