The 1980s were an era of heavy rock and hard drugs. The drug of choice? Cocaine. At the time, public health experts predicted a coming generation of "crack babies" — a wave of children who were mentally and physically disabled after having been exposed to crack in the womb. But scientists are finding that despite the rampant drug use, the predicted generation of children never appeared. We are joined by Susan Okie, a New York Times reporter, who has been reporting on this story.
Scientists have teleported information between two atoms. All it took was zapping them for a few picseconds with laser pulses while they were trapped in a vacuum that was surrounded by metal electrodes and an invisible cage of electromagnetic fields. Sound wacky? Well, it is quantum mechanics. Before you start singing, "Beam me up, Scotty," listen to The Takeaway's favorite physicist Brian Greene talk teleportation.
Scandals like Avandia in 2007 and the recent recall of generic drugs from India have some people wondering if the Food and Drug Administration has been sampling too many free pharmaceuticals. This week in the journal Nature, Dr. Steven Nissen writes about the problems with the FDA, most notably, its "culture of secrecy." He joins us to discuss how the new Obama administration might shake things up a little.
When the Mars rovers were deployed to the red planet in 2003, they were only expected to last three months. But here we are, five years later celebrating Spirit and Opportunity's anniversary. During their adventure, what have the Rovers discovered? How much longer can we expect Spirit and Opportunity to be with us? Ray Arvidson, Deputy Principal Investigator on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, joins us as we look back at the last five years and forward into the next.
If you know anything about Macintosh computers, you know that the annual Macworld trade show that kicks off today in San Francisco is one of the biggest events for the Apple community. But in December, Apple stunned its followers when it announced that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would not giving his traditional keynote speech. Not only that, Apple announced that after 2009, they will no longer be part of the expo. Questions abound: Why is Apple going AWOL? And is Jobs sick, again? WIRED magazine journalist Steven Levy joins The Takeaway from Macworld to discuss.
Gained five pounds when you wanted to lose ten? Started smoking again after swearing you wouldn't? Not eat vegetables at every meal? Forget to not watch television? Who hasn’t had a New Year's resolution fail? The Takeaway’s science contributor Jonah Lehrer joins the show to tell us why our brain actually prevents us from changing everything at once.
In 2003, the Columbia space shuttle disintegrated in the skies above Texas. All seven astronauts were lost. A 400-page NASA report released yesterday investigates the equipment failures during the final moments aboard the shuttle. New York Times science journalist John Schwartz joins The Takeaway to discuss.
Most pharmaceutical drugs only work for about half the people who take them. Why? Because our DNA can inhibit them from functioning in our bodies. But personalized medicine -- in which each person's individual genes are matched with appropriate pharmaceuticals -- might offer a solution. Joining The Takeaway to explain more is Andrew Pollack, a reporter for the New York Times and author of today's front page story on the topic.
Feeling a little sheepish because you got your sister socks, and she got you a new purple iPod? Evolution can be blamed for the guilt — if not your poor taste in gifts. Jonah Lehrer, author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist," gives us the dirt on why we feel the need to give as much as we receive.
Psychiatry's number one diagnostic manual is being re-written -- and it's making everyone crazy. Gender identification disorder may be in, while sleepwalking disorder is on the outs. By 2012, the American Psychiatric Association hopes to have published a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) -- the diagnostic manual used to determine if a patient has a mental disorder. Proposed changes are already being challenged by patients, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical industry. The New York Times science journalist Benedict Carey explains.
It has long been rumored that colonoscopy screening tests are 90 percent effective at locating cancer in your colon. Yet a new study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that the screening method is not as effective as doctors thought, often missing cancers located on a person's right side. New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata explains the study and how it might affect your next doctor's visit.
To find out more, read Gina Kolata's article, "Colonoscopies Miss Many Cancers, Study Finds," at the New York Times.
Now that it's possible to program unmanned combat vehicles to make decisions about where (and who) to strike in war situations, new questions of ethics have risen: In which situations can we allow robots to make their own decisions? Can we program robots to follow the Geneva Conventions? There is a more basic question, too: Do we even want robot soldiers?
"The question of under what circumstances is it ethical to fire a lethal weapon — whether it's possible to build that capacity into a robot."
— Cornelia Dean on the ethics of programming robots for war
WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York's flagship public radio
stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR and Public Radio
International, as well as a wide range of award-winning local
programming. WNYC is a division of
New York Public Radio.