4/25/17 Show feat. Julianne Whittaker and Ben Reimold on the Princeton Refugee Project

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)

Today’s show brings you two leaders of the Princeton Refugee Project, Julianne

16402464_10207630986120423_2343707462735401543_o.jpg
Ben Reimold and a welcoming party, from Turkey, 2015.

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.

TVR2C_playlist_042517

4/18/17 Show: City Logic, Jupiter’s Aurora and Ancient Dentists

 

Featured Image: A busy street in Hong Kong, safely watched by hoards of pedestrians at all hours of the day. A richness of primary uses helps the crossroads thrive. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Today, we bring you a scattershot of new science stories. Did you know Jupiter has a second spot, swirling near its north pole under aurora lights? Curious how prehistoric peoples approached dentistry? Have you pondered the logic of cities, and debated strategies for transforming them from inefficient slums to manufacturers of diversity and economy? All this and plenty of new music, right here in this radio recording!

Some extras:

  • 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.

TVR2C_playlist_041817.png

3/28/17 Show feat. Stephen Pacala on measuring the impact of climate change

syria_drought

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.

tvr2c_playlist_032817

3/21/17 Show: Sabine Kastner and Michael Lemonick in The Science of Memory

LonniSue

Featured image: A New Yorker cover from 1987 by Lonni Sue Johnson, artist and pilot who later became the amnesiac inspiration of Mike Lemonick’s The Perpetual Now.

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!

liveEventPhoto.png
Neural event art for The Science of Memory, done expertly by Drew Wallace.

In addition to the recording, we start off the show with science events and:

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

TVR2C_playlist_032117.png

3/14/17 Show feat. Cameron Ellis on Determining Consciousness, Sensory Substitution, and Uploading the Mind

In this show Stevie interviewed Cameron Ellis, cognitive neuroscience researcher at Princeton University. In the first part of the discussion Cameron explained the different theories of what is/isn’t conscious. Are animals conscious? Light switches? The Internet? How do we know that anything is conscious outside of our own selves?

In part 2, they discussed sensory substitution – this is new, fascinating research showing that we can use our current senses to detect new information, like magnetic fields, and our brain will integrate this in to its neural pathways. This research is extremely promising, and seems likely to be of great importance towards goals of, say, helping a blind person “see.”

In the last section, Cameron answers some great listener questions and delves in to the topic of uploading our consciousness in to computers. Is it still us?

This is the third time Cameron has visited These Vibes. The first and second interviews took place last year, and were all about the scientific and philosophical study, as well as history, of consciousness. These shows are not necessary as pre-requisites to the today’s show, but they are excellent additions. Highly recommend.

Other mentions in the show:

 


Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 10.33.41 PM

3/7/17 Show of science news from robotic bees to a new continent

A chill show — just music and science news. Unfortunately we were switched to webstream-only about 40 minutes in (for a lacrosse game), and neglected to record the rest of the show. Still! Here’s the science news we discussed. Enjoy:

We’ll be back on next week with another science interview — Cameron Ellis, cognitive scientist, will be on the show.


Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 10.09.38 PM

2/28/17 Show feat. Jill Knapp on the Prison Teaching Initiative

prisonteaching_sanquentin

Featured image: A 2015 graduating class of inmates from San Quentin, California, thanks to the Prison University Project (which inspired PTI Princeton).

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?

Where there’s time, we fill you in on local science events, exoplanet news, and why light bends around heavy objects. Thanks for listening!

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

tvr2c_playlist_022817

2/21/17 Show feat. Lantern Jack, host of Ancient Greece Declassified, on Ancient Cosmological Models

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.


screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-10-42-00-pm

2/14/17 Show feat. Kaz Uyehara on tree competition and flammability

forestfire

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.

nrs-2010-001The 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.

tvr2c_playlist_021417

**Announcement** The Science of Memory, live radio event on 2/24/17

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.

 

flier_live_event.png