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.

Patreon

SparkDialog Podcasts is now on Patreon!  Patreon is a way for you to show support for the podcast, pledge to help with production costs, and even become a part of the podcast!  As a thank you for the first 20 people who pledge at Tardigrade level and above for at least 3 months, I am sending a special one-time only science gift to them!  So check it out and thanks for your support to help keep the podcast going!

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Jump to:     Season One     Season Two     Season Three     Season Four     Season Five

online privacy

Can Online Privacy Exist Today?

Can online privacy exist today? What kind of ways does our personal data leak out when we are going about our business online, or even in person? I talk to Rob Shavell, co-founder of a privacy company called Abine.

Why We Need Nature

We all know that nature is good for us. We know to take care of the Earth, don’t pollute, be mindful of climate change. But how does being in nature affect us personally? How does it change our bodies and our minds, our biology, and our brains? Today I talk to Dr. Peter Kahn, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. We talk about why nature is so good for us, and how much of nature we have lost – and we don’t even realize it.

why we need nature
environmental racism

Environmental Racism and Climate Change

Environmental racism – it’s the term for the fact that communities of color are often hit harder by climate change or pollution than others. This happens both in our country and around the world. What can we do about it? Today, Dr. Gregory Simpson joins us. Gregory is a minister and has a doctorate in organic chemistry. He talks about the situation from Tuvalu to the US to his home of Jamaica, and how education is key in transforming the world.

The Science of Subjectivity: The World Your Brain Creates

Why do we see the world as subjective? How is the reality that I see different than from what you see? Does our brain lie to us? Dr. Jorge Morales joins us to talk about the science of the subjective, optical illusions, if we need to be conscious to form a subjective opinion of the world, and when our brain gets it wrong.

Optical Illusions
What our ancestors ate

How Paleolithic is the Paleo Diet? What did our Ancestors Eat Anyways?

The appeal of the Paleo diet is to eat like our ancestors ate. But how do we know what they ate anyways? Today I talk to Dr. Briana Pobiner of the Smithsonian about how we know what our ancestors ate, how it influenced their evolution, and what it’s like to be an archaeologist.

The Coronavirus, Social Media, Online Dating and Black Lives Matter

We are living in a pressure cooker. With the coronavirus paired with the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the country, how we deal with life and interact with each other is in flux. Part of this is social media and online community. How is online dating changing because of the coronavirus? How is social media being used in the protests? I talk to Dr. Shantel Buggs, a professor Sociology and African American Studies at Florida State University.

megadrought

The West: On the Cusp of a MegaDrought

Could the western United States be on the cusp of a megadrought – one that could last for decades, even a century? How do scientists know this? And how can giant cities in the west, along with their businesses and population, survive a drought unlike anything the US has seen? I talk to Dr. Kasey Bolles, an interdisciplinary climate scientist, about tree rings, the Dust Bowl, and the potential of the western US entering a megadrought.

The Origins of Language May Go Much Farther Back Than We Thought

When did language originate? How can we figure that out, when brains don’t fossilize? Today I talk to neuroscientists Dr. Chris Petkov and Dr. Ben Wilson about the origins of language, and how they found out the origins of language go back much farther than previously thought.

Origins of Language
Staying connected

Staying Connected During COVID-19 (with Technology!)

How can we stay connected during this era of COVID-19? I talk to Eric Elnes, who was diagnosed positive with COVID-19 at the start of this outbreak. It is partially due to him that we learned that people can be asymptomatic. We discuss how he keeps his church together through technology during this era of social distancing, how technology can help us all during this time, and why we need each other.

Smart Replies Aren’t So Smart

Have you ever been tempted to use one of those pre-generated replies at the bottom of your gmail message? These so-called smart replies may be convenient, but according to our guest Jess Hohenstein, they might be affecting how we interact and how other people think of you.
Smart Replies
Evolution in the south

Evolution in the South

Perhaps the main reason there is a perceived conflict between religion and science is because of the way that evolution is taught in the Southern United States. Students boycott classes if their teachers bring it up. School boards have encouraged teaching so-called “Creation Science” along with evolution. So how can you teach students without alienating them? Today our guest is Dr. Amanda Glaze-Crampes, an Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University and a specialist in evolutionary biology, who also specializes in figuring out how to bridge the gap and teach science to Evangelical Christians in the South.

Yes, It’s Possible To Feed The World

Is it possible to feed the world without over-taxing the planet? I talk to Prof. Dieter Gerten and ask how many people we can feed while staying within the planet’s boundaries.

Feed The World
Meteors

How We Found Out Meteors Are Actually Little Rocks From Space Burning Up In The Atmosphere

People didn’t always know that meteors were from space. How did they figure THAT out? From the moments of terror during historical meteor storms to clever ways that early astronomers figured out what meteors were, I take you on a journey through the history of meteor showers.

From Self-Driving Cars to Autonomous Weapons Systems – Can We Trust AI?

Can we trust machines that are making decisions for us? What if these decisions are life or death? We talk to Dr. David Danks about self-driving cars, autonomous weapons systems, and AI algorithms, and how we can trust machines that think but don’t feel.

trusting AI

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