Science And Technology
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Gerard Lordahl, the greening director of GrowNYC, offers tips on how to deal with indoor plants and how to help your garden recover from Sandy and survive the winter. New York Times food writers Julia Moskin and Kim Severson discuss their 12-month-long head-to-head kitchen duel. We’ll look at a wrongful conviction case—and the effort to overturn it. Plus, physicist Sean Carroll discusses the search for the Higgs boson.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Futurist Ray Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world’s problems. In How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, he examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating.
Friday, November 09, 2012
On this week’s Please Explain we’ll learn about the microbes, bacteria, and fungi in and around our households, hospitals and other buildings. Rob Dunn, biologist in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University, project director of the Wild Life of Our Homes, and author of The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today, and Jessica Green, Director of the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center at the University of Oregon, explain what these microbes are, where they come from, the ways their presence and absence may directly influence our health and well being, and new research into how to the design and operation of buildings to promote both human health and environmental sustainability.
Friday, November 02, 2012
For Please Explain we’re looking at how experts predict the weather—and storms like Hurricane Sandy—and how improving technology is making the science more precise. Dr. Robert Gall, Development Manager of the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Dr. Adam Sobel, Professor in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Sue Shellenbarger, Senior Writer and "Work & Family" Columnist for the Wall Street Journal, explains what the optimal time is for our daily tasks. In her article “The Peak Time for Everything,” Shellenbarger explains new research that suggests that paying attention to the body’s clock can help determine the different times of day most people perform specific tasks best, from creative thinking to resolving conflicts to working out.
Friday, October 19, 2012
This week’s Please Explain looks at the outbreak of fungal meningitis from contaminated steroid shots. We’ll find out how epidemiologists trace outbreaks like this to their origins and what compounding pharmacies are and how they work. Dr. Emil Hiesiger, clinical associate professor of neurology, NYU School of Medicine, and Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, explain.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
David Quammen discusses the emergence of strange new diseases around the world that originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. In Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, he recounts his adventures in the field—netting bats in China, trapping monkeys in Bangladesh, stalking gorillas in the Congo—with the world’s leading disease scientists to learn how, why, and where these diseases emerge.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Neuroscientist and clinical psychologist Ian Robertson looks at why some people succeed in life and in business while others fail, and why some individuals become powerful while most others remain powerless. In The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success and Failure, he shows how success changes the chemistry of the brain, making you more focused, smarter, more confident, and more aggressive. It also answers the question of why some people attain and then handle success better than others.
Friday, October 05, 2012
From Apple's iCloud to Dropbox, cloud computing is becoming an increasingly important and useful part of digital life. This week's Please Explain is about the physical structures that make cloud computing possible, and their hidden impact on the environment. We're joined by James Glanz from The New York Times, who spent a year investigating the physical structures that make up and support cloud computing, and Dennis Symanski, Senior Project Manager at the Electric Power Research Institute.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Daniel Botkin argues that in a world constantly confronted by global environmental problems, establishing effective environmental plans, policies, and laws is more important than ever. His book The Moon in the Nautilus Shell: Discordant Harmonies Reconsidered challenges us to rethink our current conservation policies and to appreciate the complexities of the natural world.
Friday, September 28, 2012
We may not have flying cars yet, but much of the future world envisioned in the television show "The Jetsons" has in fact come true. For the show's fiftieth anniversary, Janet Waldo, who played Judy Jetson, discusses how the show shaped our ideas of the future.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Alena Grabowski, Assistant Research Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and research scientists at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver, and Mike McLoughlin, Research and Exploratory Development at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory describe the latest prosthetic design and technologies and how they allow amputees to regain mobility.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Friday, September 07, 2012
Monarch butterflies have started to make their long journey south to Mexico. On this week’s Please Explain, we’ll find out about the many different species of butterflies—from their coloring to their attraction to flowers to their cocoons. We’re joined by Bob Robbins, Curator of Lepidoptera, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Cole Gilbert, Associate Professor of Entomology at Cornell University.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
In the past 150 years, improved sanitation, water treatment, and the use of vaccines and antibiotics have saved countless lives, nearly eradicating diseases that had plagued humanity for thousands of years. But growing evidence suggests that the very steps we took to combat infections have also eliminated organisms that kept our bodies in balance. Science journalist Moises Velasquez-Manoff explains the latest research into the prevalence of allergies and autoimmune disorders, explores new treatments, and looks at the link between autism and a dysfunctional immune system. His book is An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author of White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf and professor of politics at Whitman College, explains the colorful history of white bread and tells us what makes it so soft, so white, and have such a long shelf life. He’ll also discuss how the kind of bread you eat has defined social status for centuries.
Monday, August 27, 2012
James Howard Kunstler argues that the visions of future technologies that can solve all our problems have misled us. He presents a much more sober image of the future in Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation and argues that we need pragmatic preparation for the future—and the many environmental problems we’ll likely face.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
David K. Randall talks about his investigation into the strange science of sleep. In Dreamland: Adventures in the Science of Sleep, he explores the research into what goes on when we close our eyes. He takes readers from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms to show that sleep isn't as simple as it seems.
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics at Harvard University, and author of Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World and Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, talks about the new discoveries in field of physics, including new evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson. She’ll explain what it is and why it matters. Her most recent book is the Kindle Single Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space.