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?
Featured image: Workers in the bracero program in the 1950s. Seasonal migrants like these men circulated from Mexico to the US and back yearly until the border became too dangerous to do so. (courtesy Emory University)
This episode, listen to hear Professor of Sociology Doug Massey in an intensely topical conversation: what happens when borders are militarized? What are the impacts of US immigration policy, and how might a border wall affect our country’s population of immigrants? In this interview, we dig into the xenophobia of our politics and media, and see how sociologists view macroscopic trends in migration in the light of baseless misinformation propagated by our news and in our culture.
Featured image: The corona around the sun, only possible to see from the ground during the several minutes of a solar eclipse. (Courtesy National Optical Astronomy Observatories)
For this show, we brought in former NPR correspondent David Baron to talk about his new book, American Eclipse. You may be looking forward to this year’s total solar eclipse on August 21, but David focuses on a similar event that propelled American science to its furthest frontiers back in 1878. Listen to the show to hear how hoards of Gilded Age astronomers headed to the Wild West of Colorado and Wyoming, spending months preparing for three minutes of scientific opportunity. The epic tale touches on the beginnings of meteorology, the mythic Thomas Edison, gender equality, and several heinous examples of scientific pomposity. Listen to hear how it all fits together!
Fluorescent proteins can now create artwork, as scientists learn how to re-create the whole color spectrum by tagging bacteria. This is just fun and games for now, but biology can attack many problems by using these well-developed techniques.
Featured image: Neuroscience is enabling better education and more access for everyone to the world around us, as depicted here in a brain-machine interfaces article in Frontiers for Young Minds.
Today, we are incredibly fortunate to re-feature Sabine Kastner of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Sabine helped us understand memory and learning in our live performance back in February, but she visits now to focus on her newest project: how can we better understand the development of young brains? Sabine brings children into the research lab for MRI scans and psychological tests, searching for the differences between normally functioning brains and those with developmental disorders. How can neuroscientists apply these results to our educational system, which often struggles to build effective special education programs? Further, Sabine speaks about her ground-breaking work including children in the scientific process with Frontiers for Young Minds.
Before that, regular guest Ingrid Ockert comes on on to talk about the celebrity of science popularizers like Bill Nye. How can champions for science be most compelling?
Sabine has personal experience fighting the bureaucratic nightmare that an inflexible school can be, even concerning relatively common disorders. See this eloquently frustrating article by her husband Michael Graziano.
Ingrid brought up Declan Fahy’s 2015 book, The New Celebrity Scientists, as an example of a search for the perfect figurehead for science advocacy.
For an accessible insight into Princeton’s research community, check out Princeton Research Day, which happens once a year including this Thursday at Frist Campus Center!
The playlist for the show is on WPRB.com or below.
Featured image: A mural on a wall of a refugee camp in Jordan. Once they enter the camp, migrants usually can’t leave without special paperwork, magnifying the stress of acclimating to a new country. (Courtesy Amal Foundation)
Whittaker and Ben Reimold. As a student of policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, Julianne co-founded the Amal Foundation for investing in the education of Syrian students. Through this effort and others, Julianne and Ben have learned to funnel Princeton student efforts into aiding those stuck in refugee camps. What geopolitical movements have led to the current refugee crisis? How do the displaced function in their new communities? Hear how Ben and Julianne encountered the refugee crisis in the Middle East, and what they are doing now to connect uprooted students with new education opportunities. If you’re curious how students here are fighting for refugee rights both domestically and abroad, then listen in to this interview!
This show’s short playlist is available either on WPRB.com or below.
The last twenty minutes of the show is my own glorification of a field-defining book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. It’s a pleasure and an obligation to read if you’re curious about the structure of cities, architected from the ground up.
The moons of Jupiter are a solar system in miniature, rocked with energy from Jupiter’s own enormous mass. All 67 objects in orbit (that we know of!) have unique features: some are volcanic, some frozen over, and some could support life given some terraforming.
As usual, the playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.
Featured image: A recent drought in Syria is one of the factors that prompted mass migration to cities and eventual civil war–and researchers are implicating man-made climate change as causing it. (Courtesy NPR)
Very unfortunately, the show tonight was not recorded due to technical difficulties at WPRB. Sorry about that!
Today we hone in on climate change by talking with Dr. Stephen Pacala of Princeton’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Pacala’s new class on the Environmental Nexus investigates the worldwide interplay between agriculture, biodiversity, and climate, so we’ll speak about how these systems feed into each other. What do our coupled studies of the market and worldwide climate tell us about enacting environmental policies today? As Dr. Pacala informs us, we have the technology today to avoid many of the worst consequences of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere–it’s only a matter of doing the hard work of applying this technology to our agriculture, electricity grid, and so on. As he claims, humanity is trending towards solving these problems, present politics in the US aside.
Further, we spoke at length about how scientists quantify the impact of climate change. How can we know whether fossil fuel emissions are really at fault for causing the death of the Great Barrier Reef, or for the recent flooding of Louisiana? Scientists can now pinpoint the change in risk of extreme weather due to human-introduced pollution, and the results are startling. Even more, we can now say that humans have caused instances of climate change in Africa, which in turn have made conflicts more likely. Studies like this rely on statistical methods, which they use to show impressively disastrous links between pollution and human life.
Before Dr. Pacala joined us, I brought on former guest Dr. Paul Gauthier to talk about the interplay between plants and our atmosphere. Can more carbon dioxide help plants grow? Is faster food always better? And above all, how do we manage a growing population with a food supply in danger?
The full playlist is available on WPRB.com or below.
Tonight, we’re finally airing the entirety of The Science of Memory, the live show that we put on with the Council of Science and Technology in February. We brought Mike Lemonick (Scientific American editor) and Sabine Kastner (Princeton neuroscientist) on stage to discuss the science of memory, amnesia, and how our brains learn. You’ll hear how Lonni Sue Johnson, a Princeton artist and airplane pilot, lost her ability to form new memories, and how her personality is intact despite being lost in the present. Alongside the science, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra played three original pieces, from an extended version of our theme song to one that translates neuron signals into noise. We had so much fun putting this show together for a live studio audience, so we hope you’ll enjoy the full performance broadcast!
In addition to the recording, we start off the show with science events and:
In today’s packed show, we start off fifteen minutes in with regular guest and History of Science expert Ingrid Ockert. Her review of Peter Kuznick’s Beyond the Laboratory covered scientists-turned-activists from the 1930s, who rose to protest the corporate causes of the Great Depression and the growth of Nazi Germany.
Next, 45 minutes in, we welcome Jill Knapp, Professor of Astrophysics and co-founder of the Princeton Teaching Initiative. Jill tells her story as an advocate for New Jersey inmates, and how she leads a cohort of volunteers that design curricula and teach college courses in local prisons. Eventually, we turn to the overarching issues: how can education help break the cycle of mass incarceration in America?
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:
Carnivorous plants have a curious evolutionary history: they get nitrogen and phosphorus from the insects they eat, a trait which evolved separately many times.
In Nepal, farmers knew that snow leopards and Himalayan wolves were eating livestock, but no one knew it made up a quarter of their diets. Until now.
February 11th was the International Day for Women and Girls in Science; incidentally, Maryam Mirzakhani recently won the first Fields Medal to go to a woman for her work on Riemann surfaces.