11/21/17 Show feat. Dr. Paul Halpern on his new book, The Quantum Labyrinth


Featured image: John Wheeler gives one of his infamous lectures, full of art and impossible ideas about the universe (some of which turn out to be true). (Courtesy ScienceMag)

Today, we interviewed Paul Halpern, science author and professor of physics at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, to talk about his new book The Quantum Labyrinth. This story starts right here in Princeton in 1939, detailing the meld of minds between famed physicists Richard Feynman and John Wheeler. The two scientists worked together on pioneering quantum electrodynamics; both participated in the Manhattan Project in very different ways; and later collaborated on pushing modern physics toward where we are today. Listen to hear the full story on quantum fluctuations, wormholes, quantum computers, black holes, and how one electron might travel back and forth in time and make up the whole universe (or not).

Also recently in science:

  • The “brazil nut effect” where big objects tend to rise to the surface above smaller ones seems to be helpful in preventing river erosion.
  • Humans learn to see certain colors only when their language gives them the means to do so: for example, very few cultures could see blue until the modern era.
  • The Moon’s origin story just got more complicated, as scientists have new evidence that the early magma-moon was too liquidy for the mineral on its surface to float to the top.

The playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

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10/31/17 Show on Fringe Science: Paranormal TV and Parapsychology in Academia

Featured image: A random number generator at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab, purported to change behavior when you push it with your mind. (courtesy PEAR)

In this Halloween show, we examine a question fundamental to science: what is rigorous enough to be real science? Pseudoscience, or fringe science, is difficult to pin down and sometimes yields revelations in scientific understanding. However, in its worst forms it misleads and distracts from real discovery. Learn from Ingrid Ockert how “In Search Of” became a hit show in the 60s and 70s to Carl Sagan’s chagrin, and how the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory studied the influence of minds over matter on the Princeton campus for 28 years. All this closes with musings adapted from Princeton’s Michael Gordin, and a discussion on how fringe science only exists as a shadow of the scientific enterprise.

In other news:

The full playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

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10/17/17 Show feat. Dr. Jason McSheene on Embryonic Organ Development and Medical Writing

Featured image: Directed fluid flow, caused by waving cilia around proto-organs, acts as a signal that tells the cells what proteins to produce. Voilà: a heart is born! (Courtesy Biologists.org)

This time on These Vibes, we welcome Dr. Jason McSheene, PhD from Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology and professional medical writer. Jason walks us through the insanity that is embryonic development: how does a growing bundle of cells know to grow organs? How does it turn various proto-organs into a spleen, kidneys, a heart? It all has to do with fluid flow and protein growth, a subject Jason mastered during his PhD work at Princeton. After this, we talk about Jason’s communicative side, and how he has transitioned into the medical industry as a disseminator of diabetes information. How do you keep physicians, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies on the same page? It’s all in the episode!

Before Jason comes on: Stevie and Brian share a big primer on gravitational waves and LIGO-Virgo’s newest discovery: a neutron star collision (observed via GRAVITY) accompanied by gamma ray bursts and heavy-element production (observed via LIGHT). Hear why this is worth freaking out about!

Other interesting news that we mentioned but didn’t have time for:

The playlist is available on WPRB.com or below.

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9/26/17 Show on Ice Cores and Former Earths

Featured image: A photo of an ice chunk dug up from a glacier in Alaska; this chunk came from 682 feet below the surface. (courtesy Climate.gov and Mike Waszkiewicz).

In this show, we zoom in on the science of ice core drilling. Scientists have long examined the layers of ice sheets, which are about two miles thick over Greenland; different summer ices and winter snows make yearly trends visible to researchers, so that we can track the climate over the last 100,000 years. How do researchers manage to camp out in the harsh Greenland tundra for months at a time to dig up miles of ice core? What do we learn about the tumultuous climate from this venture? Much of the discussion is based on an excellent book, The Two-Mile Time Machine by Richard B. Alley.

In other news:

The playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

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9/12/17 Show feat. Robert Nazarian on Physical Oceanography and Internal Waves

Featured image: The Luzon Strait serving as a breeding ground for internal waves. Alternating streaks of rough and smooth water are visible traversing the sea floor. (courtesy MIT)

This week, we host Robert Nazarian, graduate student in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, to talk through his research on ocean dynamics and internal waves. How complicated is the motion of the sea, and how can this massive system be modeled? Rob’s research focuses on energy flows through the sea, where waves carry heat from one place to another. How do ocean flows, large-scale motion and small-scale turbulence alike, affect the environment in and out of the water? Further, Rob will talk about his outreach, and how he has used innovative teaching techniques to engage students in learning about oceanography.

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Ocean gyres, driven by cyclic winds. (Creative Commons)

In other news:

The playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

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8/22/17 Show on Zebrafish Avatars, Electrified Paper, and Elderberries

Featured image: A Kodiak bear from southern Alaska enjoys a plant. In a strange twist of fate, they may actually prefer eating some plants to salmon.

Join us for this week’s news roundup: trees benefit megacities to the tune of $500 million a year! Kodiak bears may prefer elderberries to salmon. And, shipwrecks are slowly shifting under the ocean, due to mudslides caused by hurricanes (obviously) and winter (what?).

In other news:

  • In a new medical development, we may be able to replicate human cancers in zebrafish and use these “avatars” to test our cancer drugs. Each fish would have a specific person’s cancer—radical, sadistic, but probably helpful for cancer patients.
  • A team at Purdue University has invented a medical exam that fits on a piece of cardstock, including microfluid channels, a power supply (activated by the pressure of your fingers), and tests for anemia and liver function.=

The full playlist can be found at WPRB.com or below.TVR2C_playlist_082217.png

 

 

 

 

 

8/15/17 Show on Supernovae in Real Time, Hallucinations and Auditory Levitation

Featured image:  An artist’s rendition of a dwarf star, delicately balancing the forces of gravity and electron degeneracy pressure. (courtesy Montgomery College)

This week, we’ll cover a swath of new science stories: What happens when supernova swallow up stars, and what enables us to watch this process evolve in real time? How are Americans’ opinions on gene editing evolving? Is baldness over?

In other news:

The playlist for the show can be found at WPRB.com or below.

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7/18/17 Show feat. Betsy Levy Paluck on Social Norms, Radio and Reducing Conflict

Today’s show features Betsy Levy Paluck, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, expert on the dynamics of social networks and behavioral norms. We discuss how groups normalize behaviors in a variety of contexts, and what we know about intervening to change behaviors. How much do we really know about the effectiveness of diversity training and media campaigns? What is the role of the mass media in creating or reducing prejudice? Listen for all this and a broader discussion on large-scale conflict resolution and how personal relationships feed into cultural trends.

In other news:

  • According to newly analyzed DNA from ancient dogs, humans domesticated wolves just once in history–about 20,000 years ago in Asia.
  • The early solar system may have been swarming not with rocky meteors, but with giant balls of mud, solving a longstanding paradox in understanding old space debris.

The full playlist is available at WPRB’s website or below.

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7/11/17 Show on Melting Rocks, Alzheimer’s and Measuring Coal Impacts in Nature

Featured image: Even in a quartzite countertop, evidence of rock melting and distortion is apparent. How do earthquakes heat up these rocks so much that they liquify?

This week’s episode focuses on some of the newest stories in science. Listen and hear about earthquake physics: what makes rocks melt when tectonic plates rub against each other? Also featured are stories on nuclear analysis of coral, the reflectivity of the Antarctic and why sleep may prevent Alzheimer’s-linked proteins from mucking up your brain.

In other news:

  • Juno has delivered us images of the Great Red Spot from only 9,000 km away–unimaginably close in Jupiter terms. Check out these images from NASA!
  • If anyone in the New York / New Jersey / Philadelphia area knows about a bus or group venture down to the eclipse on August 21st, please let us know! Going alone may be difficult on short notice, so maybe grouping together would make the logistics easier.

The playlist can be found on WPRB’s website or below.

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6/20/17 Show feat. Tamas Prileszky on Engineering Fluids and Food Science

Featured image: The late Professor Mainstone with his famous tar drip experiment, which has produced about a drop a decade since 1930. The idea: everything flows.

In this episode, we’re investigating the intersecting worlds of colloids, fluid properties, and food science with Tamás Prileszky, a University of Delaware graduate student in chemical engineering. What governs the diverse behavior of liquids as different as oil and mayonnaise? How can engineers tweak the concoctions they develop? Tamás will share his expertise in droplets, which float around in liquids and drastically affect their properties, and explain what tools and methods scientists use to develop new chemical technologies. Finally, we’ll connect all this with our diets: how do we engineer food, and why is it that we put so many additives in grocery store products?

In other news:

  • CRISPR, the gene editing technology that’s taking biology by storm, recently made big gains against Huntingdon’s disease in mice.
  • Eclipses (discussed on TVR2C recently) are still a huge opportunity for solar research, as shown by this group from Hawaii studying the temperature of coronal mass ejections.
  • A widely-publicized Tesla crash can be blamed on the driver, not the self-driving car, say new findings by the company.
  • Wild felines became cats and spread all around the ancient world, mostly through two big human-induced migrations. Or at least that’s what scientists can tell from new analyses of ancient cat DNA.
  • Airborne germs survive for a long time after a sneeze or a cough, according to Australian scientists. So long, dreams of cleanliness.

The full playlist of the show is available on WPRB’s website or below.

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