Featured image: Figure of the heavenly bodies. An illustration of the Ptolemaic geocentric system by Portuguese cosmographer and cartographer Bartolomeu Velho, 1568 (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris). [Wikipedia]
This show is full of science news from “hidden hearing loss,” to tracking the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field using ancient pottery, to cognitive dissonance and How to convince someone when facts fail. Plus science events in the area including a These Vibes Are Too Cosmic live show at Taplin Auditorium at Princeton University on Friday, February 24th. It’ll be all about the Science of Memory.
In the primary segment of the show, Stevie spoke with Princeton graduate researcher in classics and host of the podcast Ancient Greece Declassified, Lantern Jack (pseudonym), came on the show to discuss ancient cosmologies. Lantern Jack began with ancient Greece, where the geocentric model reigned and where we have the best, early models of the universe (that we know of).
We discussed geocentric and heliocentric models, how the first calculations of the size and distance to the Moon and the Sun were made, and mused about whether there were or weren’t lenses available.
Then, towards the end of the show Lantern Jack told us a bit about the Antikythera mechanism – believed to be an early analogue computer and actually physical cosmological model, recovered from a shipwreck in 1901.
Featured image: A forest fire burns in the Big Cyprus National Preserve, a disturbance which some trees have been shoring up against for their whole lives. (Courtesy NPS and Christopher Derman)
This week, our show features Kaz Uyehara of Princeton’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. As an expert on plant modeling, Kaz has studied why some forests are especially flammable (like the Pine Barrens near Atlantic City). What evolutionary benefit does a tree gain from being easy to burn? How can we model such a self-destructive trait with game theory?
Kaz also investigates the computerization of plant growth, building trees of all ages into simulations used for long-term climate studies. Are there overarching rules that regulate how plants grow larger and taller, and can we codify them into mathematics that make botanical sense? Writing these into a model would allow us to understand why trees are different shapes and have different behaviors.
The interview starts 45 minutes into the show, but the introduction has science events, English Beat tickets, and more.
Check out these extras below:
As always, the playlist for the show is on WPRB.com or below.
Much of the scientific study of memory has focused on two vital human test subjects: Henry Molaison (“HM”) and Lonnie Sue Johnson. HM had his memory stolen from him in an experimental surgery in the 1950s and Princeton local, Lonni Sue, can no longer form new recollections due to an encephalitis infection that laid waste to her hippocampus. Lonnie Sue and HM have been permanently stuck in the present, but through their loss, the science of how we process, recall, and store memories has flourished.
In this on-stage version of These Vibes Are Too Cosmic, hosts Stevie Bergman and Brian Kraus interview Princeton University professors Sabine Kastner (neuroscience) and Michael Lemonick (opinion editor at Scientific American). Professor Lemonick’s recently released book, The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love, delves in to the rich life of Lonnie Sue Johnson and Professor Kastner’s scientific expertise – memory.
Musical accompaniment, and half the fun, will be provided by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk). For the event they’ve composed a special symphony of neurons that will punctuate the conversation. Expect harmonies rife with PLOrk’s unique sense of discord, drama, and entertainment.
Join us on Friday, February 24th, 2017 at 7:30pm at the beautiful Taplin Auditorium in Fine Hall, right on Princeton University campus. Refreshments, science, and music will all be provided.
Short show due to the new 6-8pm time slot and a sports interruption. We give an update on science events in the area and share some science news, as well as some new music, as always.
- First results from the NASA twin study with astronaut Scott Kelly and his brother (who stayed on Earth), Mark. Right now the analysis of the data is in the early stages, but there are potentially interesting results with telomeres – the ends of the DNA chromosome whose diminishment tends to correlate with aging.
- Brian presented an interesting study about differences in gene behavior between genders and implications for disease susceptibility.
Featured image: A photo from the Atlanta Constitution, showing three National Guardsmen defending six black prisoners, whose tale forms the core of Blood at the Root (Patrick’s research began with this photo).
This week’s show starts with Drew University professor and author Patrick Phillips, taking a deep look at his new book Blood at the Root. The novel covers the expulsion of all black residents from Forsyth County, Georgia, which began in violence in 1912 and lasted up through the 1980s. In his expansive historical research, Patrick talks with the descendants of whites and blacks who participated in the evictions, and his book analyzes the deep societal divide that still hangs over modern America. How did this twisted series of events happen, and what can its still-lingering consequences tell us about race in the USA?
Otherwise, the show features exclusively Islamic music, and shares science news (from Saturn to pond goop in Washington) and local science events as always.
Specially recommended extra content:
The playlist can be found online at WPRB.com or below.