Science for the People

Science for the People


Science for the People is a syndicated radio show and podcast based in Edmonton, Alberta, that broadcasts weekly across North America. We explore the connections between science, popular culture, history, and public policy, to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what's in the news and on the shelves.


#392 Venomous  

This week we're looking at some of the animals, insects, and creatures we fear the most and the venom that makes them so powerful. Biologist and science blogger Christie Wilcox returns to talk about her first book "Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry". And Jim Olson, a physician scientist and Director of Project Violet, tells us about "Tumor Paint", a fluorescent molecule that binds to solid tumors to help guide surgeons during surgeries, which was partially derived from the venom of the deathstalker scorpion.

#391 Effective Altruism (Rebroadcast)  

This week, we're learning how science can boost the effectiveness of philanthropy. We'll talk to philosophy professor William MacAskill about his book "Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and How You Can Make a Difference." And we'll speak to education researcher Brendan Rigby about the ethics and impact of "voluntourism."

#390 Decolonizing Colonization  

This week we're trying to wrap our head around our colonial history and the ideas of decolonization. We speak with Ryan McMahon, creator of the Indian & Cowboy podcast network, about what reconciliation and decolonization mean today and why they are necessary work still in front of us. And in a panel discussion from Skepchickcon at CONvergence 2016, panelists Emily Finke, Celia Yost, and Cassandra Phoenix think about how we can learn lessons from our colonial past so we don't repeat the same mistakes in the far future as we explore the stars and expand our reach. Special thanks to...

#389 The Jazz of Physics  

This week we look at what science, music and art can learn from each other. Theoretical physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander, author of the new book "The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe" talks about how science and art have frequently merged in his work and life. And Pamela Romero, a neuroscience major and Honduran painter at Emory University, talks about her "Elementally Latino" sculpture project and asks you to fill out her survey as part of this project. Listen to Stephon Alexander and Erin Rioux's album "Here Comes Now". Find...

#388 Fish  

This week on Science for the People we have a trio of fishy experts helping us look at how fish are adapted to their — sometimes extreme — environments, and what their behaviour can tell us about their intelligence and experience. We speak to Kristin O'Brien, a zoologist at the University of Alaska, about how fish manage to survive the extreme cold of Arctic waters. We talk with Heidi Golden, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Connecticut, about the Arctic grayling. And we speak with Jonathan Balcombe, director of animal sentience at the Humane Society Institute for Science and...

#387 The Melting World (Rebroadcast)  

This week, we look back at a previous episode about how climate change is altering the face of the planet, and affecting the lives of the people who live here. Desiree Schell speaks to science writer and naturalist Christoper White, about his book "The Melting World: A Journey Across America's Vanishing Glaciers." And she's joined by sociology researcher Stephen Castles, to discuss the factors driving human migration, and how it could be affected by the shifting climate. Download "Foresight: Migration and Global Environmental Change" (2011) Final Project Report from the UK Government Office for Science, London. Download Stephen Castles' "concluding remarks...

#386 Humans Vs Robots  

This week we're airing a recorded panel, moderated by Desiree Schell, from the recent Skepchickcon track at CONvergence 2016 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Human spaceflight captures the imagination like nothing else, but robotic probes have explored the Solar System with relative ease. We'll weigh the costs and benefits of sending humans to other planets versus sending our robotic proxies. Panelists include Amy Shira Teitel, space flight historian and author; blogger and podcaster Jim Tigwell; astronomer Nicole Gugliucci; and Jason Thibeault, I.T. systems engineer and space nerd. Special thanks to Kevin Eldridge and The Flopcast, who helped us record panels when our...

#385 Sociolinguistics  

This week we're learning about the field of sociolinguistics: what it is, why it's important, and what it can tell us about our culture and our society. University of Toronto Professor Sali Tagliamonte helps us better understand the field, how her research is done, and how language changes over time in cultural and regional groups. And Dr. LeAnn Brown talks about how language cues reveal -- or more often fail to reveal -- gender and sexual preference.

#384 Grunt  

This week we're tackling the science of the soldier and how to keep them fighting when difficult conditions -- and our own human bodies and brains -- get in the way. We spend the hour with best selling science author Mary Roach, talking about her latest book "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.

#383 The Atomic Era (Rebroadcast)  

This week, we're looking back at a previous episode and learning about the power and peril of the atom, with two books about women who were instrumental in helping us unlock its secrets. We're joined by Huffington Post editor Shelley Emling, to discuss her book "Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family." And we'll speak to author Denise Kiernan about her book, "The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II."

#382 Risk of Going Nowhere  

This week we're airing a recorded panel, moderated by Desiree Schell, from the recent Skepchickcon track at CONvergence 2016 in Bloomington, Minnesota. As a safety and headline driven culture, how will we explore dangerous, distant places that are inherently unsafe without losing the public will or disrespecting the lives of those who go? Panelists include Abra Staffin-Wiebe, speculative fiction author; blogger and podcaster Jim Tigwell; trivia show host Sarah Prentice; and Rebecca Watson, creator of Skepchick. Special thanks to Kevin Eldridge and The Flopcast, who helped us record panels when our equipment failed! We're looking for Guest Hosts to join...

#381 The Triumph of Seeds  

This week we're exploring the world of seeds: how they've become so successful, how they work, how humans depend on them, and what we still don't understand about them. We spend the hour with Thor Hanson, conservation biologist and award-winning author, about his book "The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History".

#380 Yer A Wizard Harry  

Today we mashup the science of genetics with the world of Harry Potter to get a better handle on how genetics works, and to find out what the odds are when it comes to getting a Hogwarts invite. (We can dream, right?) Dr. Tina Saey, who covers the molecular biology beat at Science News, helps us understand how to make a wizard with a little genetics 101. And Dr. Julian Knight, Professor of genomic medicine at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, talks about his paper that looks to genetics for the origins of...

#379 A Special Hell (Rebroadcast)  

This week we're going back to a previous episode talking about the use - and appalling misuse - of genetics in pursuit of human perfection. We'll speak to Claudia Malacrida, sociology professor and eugenics researcher, about her book "A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic Years." And we'll talk to Hannah Brown, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide, about the ethical issues raised by the creation of a genetically modified human embryo.

#378 Paris Climate Agreement  

This week we're reviewing the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris and trying to better understand what happened at the conference and what the agreement means for the future. We speak to Tamsin Edwards, Lecturer in Environmental Sciences and writer of the "All Models Are Wrong" blog, and to Piers Forster, Director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate and Professor of Physical Climate Change at the University of Leeds, about the climate science and climate models that prompted the Paris Climate Conference, and what the final agreement means with regards to the science. We also speak...

#377 Hearing From The Humanities  

This week we're taking a tentative step into the humanities. We spoke with Jimena Canales, the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in the History of Science at the University of Illinois-UC, about her newest book "The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time" to learn what happened when philosophy was pitted against physics in a historic intellectual battle. And we talked to Hannah McGregor and Marcelle Kosman, the scholarly hosts of the podcast "Witch, Please", about literary analysis and what critical thinking looks like in the world of literature.

#376 Technology, Work and The Future  

This week, we're thinking about how rapidly advancing technology will change our future, our work, and our well-being. We speak to Richard and Daniel Susskind about their book "The Future of Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts" about the impacts technology may have on professional work. And Nicholas Agar comes on to talk about his book "The Sceptical Optimist" and the ways new technologies will affect our perceptions and well-being.

#375 Severed (Rebroadcast)  

This week we're looking back at a previous episodeat our scientific curiosity - and morbid fascination - about the human body and its amazing anatomy. We'll speak to anthropologist and author Frances Larson about her book "Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found." And we'll discuss the experience of learning anatomy through human dissection, with Laboratory Supervisor Haley Linklater, and masters student Noah Mintz, from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Western University.

#374 The Ninth Planet  

This week on we're turning our attention to Pluto – what we used to think of as our ninth planet – and also to the mysterious new Planet 9 that might be orbiting on the outskirts of our solar system. We speak to Jeffery Moore, a research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center, about what we've learned so far about Pluto from the New Horizons Mission. And we speak with Mike Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy at Caltech, about the search for Planet 9, and why we think there's another large planet out there revolving around our sun.

#373 The Confidence Game  

This week we're looking at the science -- and art -- of the con, from huge Ponzi schemes to small-time frauds. We speak to Maria Konnikova about her new book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It... Every Time" on the psychology of the con and why we keep falling for the same old tricks. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.

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