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.
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!
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:
Fingertips sweat a tiny amount when you touch a hard surface, ultimately softening your skin and improving your grip.
Biodiversity is enormous in the rainforest compared to the polar climes, and scientists are just starting to understand why. It may have to do with seasonality and competition within a species.
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.
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.
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.
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?