12/5/17 Show feat. Kieran Bhatia on Hurricane Forecasting and Preparedness & Norbert Cruz-Lebron on the current situation in Puerto Rico

Kieran Bhatia models hurricanes to improve forecasting techniques in the program for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences here at Princeton University. In this episode, he tells us how hurricanes are forecasted, why it’s so difficult and common misconceptions about hurricanes. We discuss this year’s hurricane season and what it does (or does not) say about climate change.

In the last segment, Kieran tells us about how we can prepare ourselves better for hurricanes (NOAA site), his organization Canes on Canes in Florida, which aimed to educate on the science of hurricanes and hurricane preparedness.

Early in the episode, Norbert J. Cruz-Lebron, graduate student in neuroscience and member of the Princeton SACNAS Chapter, jumped on the mic to tell us about the current state of affairs in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Additionally, he tells us about his own experience being in the US while the rest of his family was at their home in PR when the hurricane hit, and shares testimonials from friends and family. (Hopefully he’ll be back on the show next year to tell us about his graduate research!)

You can support the Princeton Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science at @PrincetonSACNAS on Venmo.All donations will go to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund managed by the Center for a New Economy (CNE) Group, an independent, non-partisan think-tank that advocates for the development of a new economy for Puerto Rico.


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11/28/17 Show feat. Steven Gubser and Frans Pretorius on Black Holes and their “Little Book” of them

In this installment of These Vibes, Stevie speaks with Princeton University physics professors Steven Gubser and Frans Pretorius on their recently released Little Book of Black Holes (Princeton University Press, 2017). The discussion begins where the book ends, at the Epilogue, where the authors read their “Letter to Einstein.” From there we dive in to the definition and formation of black holes, and where they exist in our universe. Professors Gubser and Pretorius tell us about the experimental verification of these weird astrophysical things and answer listener questions like what would happen if a black hole entered our solar system? would we notice? Listen in and check out the book!

In the very beginning of the show, regular guest and science historian Ingrid Ockert joined us to review the stunning new documentary Jane (trailer), about the life and work of Jane Goodall, featuring much unseen footage from her younger years and research. For further reading she recommends Primates and Me, Jane.


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11/14/17 Show feat. the Prototype G Team on Robotics!

In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie welcomes three members of the Prototype G girls’ robotics team to tell us about their work together on robotics. They get in to the details of how they build their robots and why! This is the Princeton, NJ area team, but there are groups all around the country. If you’re interested in joining them or starting a team in your area, check out their site!


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2017/11/07 Show feat. Sam Wang on Gerrymandering: Past, Present, and What to do About the Future

Featured image from a cartoon mocking the shape of a Massachusetts gerrymandered district.

In this episode of These Vibes, Professor Sam Wang visited the studio. He’s founder of the Princeton Election Consortium blog, co-host of WooCast’s Politics & Polls, and professor of molecular biology and neuroscience. We discuss his expertise in gerrymandering — what it is, how it came to be such an issue, the current state in elections and the Supreme Court, and what is and can be done to remedy our system.

Science news:


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10/24/17 Show feat. Yoni Kahn on particle physics, phenomena, and going beyond our Standard Model

Featured image: Chandra X-ray Observatory Center via Wikimedia Commons

In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie welcomed Dr. Yoni Kahn in to the studio to discuss his work as a phenomenologist and theoretical particle physicist. He’s the kind of theorist that works closely with data, coming up with experiments to test new physical laws. Specifically, his focus is on the Standard Model of particle physics — our current best theory for all the fundamental particles in the universe. But, we know that there’s more to discover! In this interview, Yoni talks us through the history and details of the Standard Model, as well as hints of things beyond, like the search for dark matter.


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10/3/17 Show feat. Dr. Julio Herrera on Droughts in North America and Science Historian Ingrid Ockert on Science TV in the Age of Sputnik

In this episode of These Vibes, Brian subbed in for Stevie (sick and sounded like a screecher monkey) spoke with our resident science historian Ingrid Ockert on her recent article, “Science Television in the Sputnik Age.” Additionally, we welcomed Dr. Julio Herrera-Estrada back on the show to discuss his in-depth research on droughts in North America. All that, and lots of music.


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9/19/17 Show feat. Dave Seal, Mission Planner for Cassini Saturn Space Probe

In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie spoke with Dave Seal, a mission planner on the Cassini space probe which spent many years orbiting Saturn. Cassini operated its final maneuver, called the “Grand Finale,” and ended its observing by plunging in to Saturn just last Friday morning at 8am EST. It took a final image and took it’s last bits of data on Saturn’s atmosphere before being destroyed. Listen in to learn about the mission, its development, goals, and discoveries, and learn more about what it’s like to be a mission planner on a NASA space probe.
All that plus great music, and science news from microplastics in our seasalt to the new research on cancer cells.

Science News:


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9/5/17 Show feat. Edward Felten on Electronic Voting – the Good, the Bad, and the Insecure

In this edition of These Vibes, Professor Edward Felten joined us back in the studio to discuss electronic voting — what that means, what are the alternatives, the pros and cons, and the current state of voting technology in the US. Edward Felten is professor of computer science and public affairs here at Princeton University, and founding director of the Princeton Center for Information Policy. Additionally, he was Chief Technologist for the Federal Trade Commission from 2011-2015 and joined the Obama administration as Deputy US Chief Technology Officer in 2015.

Our discussion gives particular attention to usability issues with the current voting computers used in US elections and their vulnerability to attacks. Professor Felten discusses the role of hacking in the 2016 election, and, to wrap-up, what the ideal voting system would be, using our current technology.

Ed Felten previously joined us at WPRB last May to discuss the intersection of policy and technology — think self-driving cars and trucks, and AI in the criminal justice system. You can listen to that full show here, and the interview has been podcasted – find wherever you get your podcasts!


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8/29/17 Show feat. Christa Baker on what fruit flies hear, and Matt Grobis on doing research

In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie speaks with neuroscientist Christa Baker about fruit fly mating songs and electric fish — and for each, how she is tracking their neural pathways to learn how their brains undergo the complicated process communication.

Additionally, animal behaviorist Matt Grobis comes on the air to talk about the nitty gritty “devil’s chess match” of doing research — the good and the bad.

Science News:


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08/01/2017 Show feat. Prof Chris Tully on Measuring Neutrinos from the Early Universe & Ingrid Ockert on learning with “Mindstorms”

In this episode of These Vibes, Stevie discusses measuring neutrino that were produced just one second after the Big Bang singularity in our early universe with Princeton University professor and high energy physicist, Chris Tully. In the interview, Professor Tully explains what a neutrino is, why they’re so difficult to measure, and why we should have a bath of neutrinos sitting at just a couple of degrees above absolute zero all around us today. Then, he tells us about the early universe when that bath of neutrinos, called the Cosmic Neutrino Background, were produced, and how he plans to measure them with his instrument PTOLEMY (Princeton Tritium Observatory for Light, Early-universe, Massive-neutrino Yield – currently in the prototype stage).

Additionally, Ingrid Ockert tells us about the 1980s book “Mindstorms” by Seymour Papert, which outlines Papert’s ideas on how computers can help unlock people’s ability to learn through play.

Science News:

  • “Mystery of Greek Amphitheater’s Amazing Sound Finally Solved.” An older piece of news that describes research discovering how a 4th century BC theater in Greece  could seat 14,000 people such that even those in the back row of the architectural masterpiece could hear actors and musicians — unamplified.
  • “First Human Embryos Edited in the US.” A piece in MIT Technology Review describes the first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States. It has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University. The procedure involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR.

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