Monday, January 10, 2011
Today, Leonard talked to Professor Mike Brown about his book, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. In the book, Professor Brown recounts how his discovery of a 10th "dwarf" planet in the solar system inadvertently led to uproar in the astronomical community—and the eventual demotion of Pluto as a full-fledged planet. The conversation reminded us of a series of angry letters from Pluto defenders published in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s book, The Pluto Files. (Mr. Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum, appeared on our show to discuss his book in December 2009.) These letters came from an unlikely source: third-graders. One letter writer accused him of being a “Pluto-hater”; another offered a carefully drawn picture of Pluto, just in case the director had had a hard time identifying it. Below, we’ve put scans of our favorites, courtesy of NOVA’s website. Let us know your favorite letter in the comments below!
Friday, January 07, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
On tomorrow’s Please Explain, we’ll be delving deep into the history and the construction of standardized tests. Standardized tests, once used only to test a select group for college readiness, have become ubiquitous in today’s accountability environment, used for everything from merit scholarships to international comparisons to shutting down schools. Tomorrow, CUNY Professors Howard Everson and David Rindskopf—experts in the field of test design and implementation who have worked on everything from the SAT to the New York State proficiency exams, respectively—will explain to us how this came to be and just what tests can and can’t tell us. Before that, though, we want to test you!
Below you’ll find a sampling of SAT questions through the ages—from the 1926 exam to the present. You’ll also find a link to the most recent New York State 8th grade math and ELA exams. Unlike most standardized tests, we’re giving you a full twenty four hours to work on your answers—but make sure to come to class prepared tomorrow. Let us know how you did in the comments!
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Dr. Siddhartha Mukerjee joined Leonard on today's show to talk about his comprehensive history of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. In the book, he makes reference to some of the seminal studies on cancer—from the discovery that drugs could help cure the disease (the birth of chemotherapy), to the way that genome sequencing has revolutionized the field. Amazingly enough, many of the studies that Dr. Mukerjee discusses are free online. Here, we've collected the three most important studies that are highlighted in the book. Just click on the link to take a step back in history—to a time when one drug used on one patient could fundamentally alter the face of cancer research forever.
- Temporary Remissiosn in Acute Leukemia in Children Produced by Folic Acid Antagonist, 4-Aminopteroyl-Glutamic Acid (Aminopterin) - This is Sidney Farber's seminal 1948 study detailing the first use of a chemical agent to treat cancer. Mukerjee writes of the study: "It's language was starched, formal, detached, and scientific. Yet, like all great medical papers, it was a page-turner. And like all good novels, it was timeless: to read it today is to be pitched behind the scenes into the tumultuous life of the Boston clinic, its patients hanging on for life as Farber and his assistants scrambled to find new drugs for a dreadful disease that kept flickering away and returning. It was a plot with a beginning, a middle, and, unfortunately, an end."
- Smoking and Carcinoma of the Lung: A Preliminary Report - When this report was published in the British Medical Journal in 1950 by Richard Doll and Bradford Hill, it was the first case-control study that proved the correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. A group of American researchers, Ernest Wynder and Everts Graham, simultaneously (and independently) published a similar study in the United States, Tobacco smoking as a possible etiologic factor in bronchiogenic carcinoma, that proved that the phenomenon was not just confined to one population.
- Effects of a Selective Inhibitor of the Abl Tyrosine Kinase on the Growth of Bcr-Abl Positive Cells - This paper, published by Brian Druker in 1996, was the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of drugs (in this case, Gleevac) that could target the "oncogene"—or the replication mechanism in a cancer cell. Mukerjee believes that specific gene therapies are part of the future of cancer medicine.
Monday, January 03, 2011
Jerry Brown was sworn in today as Governor of California for a third time, making him the first governor in the Golden State’s history to hold non-consecutive terms. He was last in office from 1975 to 1983 and his official gubernatorial portrait from that period is unconventional to say the least. I grew up outside of Sacramento and I recall always stopping in front of this picture any time my school would take a tour of the Capitol building. So I asked Leonard, a painter in his own right, what his take on this unusual (and somewhat controversial) portrait is. Here’s his response:
I think Jerry Brown can be commended for commissioning Dan Bachardy to paint something out of the norm for his official portrait. Most politicians (including almost every President) have had their portraits done by hack painters…the kinds of artists who make their livings glorifying the CEOs of major corporations. That said, this painting is not all that inspiring either. So, although I used to be a painter, and wouldn’t want to see any artist denied a chance to make some money, I wonder whether politicians wouldn’t be better served being photographed by a fine photographer (someone other than the Karsh types who were the photographic equivalents of the hack portraitists).
What painter would you like to see commissioned to paint political portraits? Leave your answer in the comments section below!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
We asked, you wrote. There were 327 six-word phrases submitted in our Sum Up 2010 challenge. And while we're mostly interested in hearing your perspectives on the year, looked at in total, these phrases give us a good idea of what 2010 meant for many of us. To visually show you the wisdom of the crowd, we've created a word cloud—an image that shows the 75 most repeated words in your submitted phrases, with the size of the word proportional to how frequently it was used. Judging from the image below, it's hard to deny the influence that President Obama continued to exert in 2010—but the relative size of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party shows that this frequency might be due more to political fracturing than political unity. Lady GaGa, the BP oil spill, China, and, of course, the economy, were also well-represented by your phrases. Check out the image below and let us know what you think—does this seem like a good summary of 2010? What do you think was left out? And, of course—tell us your predictions for 2011!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Holiday tipping can be confusing and intimidating, and the list of people we should tip or give a gift to seems to be growing. Last Thursday, two etiquette experts, Peter Post and Jodi R. R. Smith, joined us to explain who to tip during the holidays and how much we should give. We received a lot of calls and comments, especially about how much to give door men and supers. Here are some of the guests’ recommendations:
Friday, December 10, 2010
It's December, and it seems that every media outlet - the New York Times, the Economist, and NPR, to name just three - is publishing their lists of the top books of year. We at the Leonard Lopate Show wanted to get into the end-of-year listing spirit but we're also overachievers, so here are two lists of our favorite books of the year.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Leonard Lopate talks to a lot of authors on his show and like many of our listeners, the staff often ends up reading them too. Here's a list of the books that were published in 2010 that stood out to the staff of the Lopate Show and to other folks at New York Public Radio.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Most "best of" lists look at the books that were published in the last 12 months, but many of the memorable books that you read aren't necessarily new. Here's a list of the best books that the staff of the Leonard Lopate Show read in 2010 that were published earlier. And other folks at WNYC were kind enough to share their picks as well.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Ina Garten was a guest on today’s show. She had this to say about gender differences in the kitchen:
“I think men tend to approach recipes differently than women. I think men tend to just throw things into pots. And I’m speaking for myself, not all women, but I follow a recipe exactly. Until I decide to change it.”
For me, recipes and cookbooks are more about inspiration than anything else. I tend to avoid the narrow confines of a “recipe” and generally follow my Italian great-grandmother's approach to making food: take handfuls of things and throw them into a pan with ample amounts of butter until whatever you’re making “looks right,” or stall until your guests have consumed enough wine that the dish “tastes adequate.” After all, you’re supposed to have fun with cooking. And what could be more entertaining at a dinner party than the occasional oil fire?
Still, I'm just one male cook and I’m not sure if my culinary philosophy proves Ina's theory about gender differences correct. So I surveyed the women who work on the Lopate Show to find out if they view cooking more as an art or a science:
When I’m using recipes, which is most of the time, I follow the recipe at least once; mainly because – theoretically – the recipe has been created and tested by the writer and so it should work. Then, based on what I end up with, I may tweak the recipe or throw it in the “never again” pile.
When I’m making something I’ve made before or that’s similar to a recipe I’m familiar with, I don’t usually follow recipes exactly. Lately I’ve stopped measuring most ingredients because I can eyeball things pretty well, and if I want to add more of one ingredient and less of another, I don’t worry about what the recipe says. But when I’m making something complicated or something I’ve never made before, I usually follow the recipe pretty closely. And with baking, I measure and follow recipes closely—the proportions of things matter more.
If it’s a recipe I’m doing for the first time, I follow it pretty exactly – especially with baking things. But then I’ll experiment. And if I don’t have a particular ingredient, I’ll use what I have around, instead. For instance, when I’d run out of parsley for veal scaloppini, I “made do” with dill – and it was even better. I find I want to see how the recipe was “supposed” to be and get that right, before I make it my own. But, with baking, since it’s more of a science, I tend to follow the steps.
While this survey his hardly a scientific sampling, the Barefoot Contessa appears to be roughly right—at least when it comes to my co-workers. Fortunately, I never bake for these people.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Welcome! This is the inaugural post of The Lodown, The Leonard Lopate Show’s blog. In the weeks and months ahead we’ll post about art, science, politics, culture, food, books, music and the occasional odd story we couldn’t turn into a segment.
We also want to hear your thoughts on the show and anything else that strikes your fancy.