2/13/18 Show feat. Isabela Morales on Princeton and Slavery, Intertwined Institutions

Featured image: James Collins Johnson, a janitor of Nassau Hall and active participant in campus life, was almost returned to his former enslavement by the Fugitive Slave Act. (Courtesy Princeton Alumni Weekly)

Graduate researcher Isabela Morales of Princeton’s Department of History comes on this episode to introduce a valiant project: a full historical exploration of Princeton’s connections to slavery. Oddly, such ties had never been documented before the project began in 2013, but they appear in droves: the first nine presidents of Princeton owned slaves at some point of their lives, often as they presided over the Ivy League campus. After New Jersey formally banned new slaves in 1804 (though some remained enslaved here until 1865), Princeton remained a friendly haven for Southerners with “traditional” views. One famous researcher even recruited a free black servant to help with laboratory work, sharing none of the scientific credit.

For more on the project, visit their website, play with their data visualizers, and read the many excellent articles available: The Princeton & Slavery Project

In other news:

Thanks for listening! The playlist can be found below and at WPRB.com.

Screenshot from 2018-02-17 18-12-27.png

Advertisements

1/30/18 Show feat. Dr. Emily Kern on the Many Historical Theories of Human Evolution

Featured image: An aerial view of the Jebel Irhoud excavation in Morocco, worksite of anthropologists hunting for hominid fossils. Scientists have used these digs as excuses to travel the world for well over a century. (Courtesy Pulse Headlines and Shannon McPherron)

Dr. Emily Kern is a recent graduate of Princeton’s Department of History, and she visits us this week to show us the twists and turns of paleoanthropology over time. That is, how have scientists understood humanity’s evolution as we learned more and more about the world? Hear how, until very recently, most everyone thought humans evolved out of Asia–an idea borne by tracing Indoeuropean languages to their roots and assuming humans came from the same place as language does. The international endeavor to trace our evolution back to Africa has taken both explorers (the avid and the methodical) and better methods for dating fossils to 100,000 – 1 million years. Like many fields of science, paleoanthropology has become increasingly complicated the more we discover.

Earlier in the show, news and an explanation of a process you thought you understood:

As for the music, our playlist can be found on WPRB.com or below.

Screenshot from 2018-01-31 19-31-03.png

 

1/16/18 Show feat. Florencia Pierri on Exotic Animals in the New World

Featured image: A New World inhabitant riding an armadillo, one of the most unbelievable animals Europeans found when they sailed to the Americas. (Courtesy Canadian Library and Archives)

This episode, we interview Florencia Pierri, graduate student in Princeton’s Department of History and historian of science, to learn about reconciling the taxonomy of the Old World with the new discoveries of European explorers. How did mythical creatures–unicorns, dragons, mermaids–come into popular consciousness? How did sailors and merchants comprehend the new creatures they met in the Americas and on the seas? Turns out the absorption of a whole new evolutionary tree is a difficult undertaking for a culture that thought it already knew every animal! Join us to learn why armadillos and hummingbirds were so prized by Europeans, how the Jesuits felt about skunks, and how unicorns gradually receded from maps of the world.

In other 🐢 news:

The playlist is available on WPRB.com or below.

Screenshot from 2018-01-16 22-46-10.png

1/9/18 Show feat. Eve Vavagiakis, Cosmologist on Observing the Universe

Featured image is of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile.

If embed isn’t working, go here instead!

https://www.mixcloud.com/TheseVibes/1918-show-feat-eve-vavagiakis-cosmologist-on-observing-the-universe/

This week on These Vibes, Stevie discussed research with fellow observational cosmologist, Eve Vavagiakis. Eve is a researcher on the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, aka ACT, located in the Atacama desert in Chile. She discusses cosmology and astrophysics, her research and how she makes her measurements, and answers excellent listener questions.

Science news:

juno_pia21972
Jupiter blues, Juno Spacecraft image. Photo credit: NASA

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 6.28.53 AM

 

1/2/18 Show feat. Dr. Michael Gordin on Fringe Science: Demarking the Boundaries of Mainstream

Featured image: Carl Sagan, science populist and advocate of education against pseudoscience, in conversation with Immanuel Velikovsky, author of Worlds in Collision. (Courtesy Everything’s Electric)

Today we hosted Dr. Michael Gordin, Princeton science historian and expert on fringe scientific theories. Central tenets of science are widely regarded as mainstream, but newer or more radical theories sit further away from consensus. These fringe topics supply science with new ideas, but they also spawn even further removed theories—everything from Bigfoot to UFOs to self-help quantum mechanics. In this undefined range between established and untested research, scientists need to establish what sets the bar for “real” science. In a remarkable perspective, Dr. Gordin connects Scientology with a cataclysmic Venus encounter that supposedly occurred in 1500 BCE, and shows us how appreciation for science drives the many kooky theories that bother scientists.

In other news:

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

TVR2C_playlist_010218

12/19/17 Show feat. Charles Swanson on Lasers and Plasma Processing

Featured image: A plasma etching device, meant for digging trenches in computer chips. (Courtesy Novelion Systems)

For our episode this week, Charles Swanson, resident plasma physicist and avid science hobbyist, gives us an overview of two hugely influential modern technologies: lasers and semiconductor processing. First, lasers come in many varieties, from laser pointers to atmosphere-mapping lens systems, but all of them stay in a directed beam—how? Second, all our computer chips are made with plasma etching, basically the only way to dig the microscopic features we need in our digital world.

That, plus music from many locales and an overview of animal migration. For more, the book of maps Where the Animals Go by James Chesire and Oliver Uberti is incredible and very much worth perusing.

Thanks for listening! The playlist is available on WPRB.com or below.

TVR2C_playlist_121917.png

12/12/17 Show on Whale Ears, the Color Blue, and France’s New Climate Scientists

Featured image: A “wine-dark sea?” What color did Homer think the ocean was? (Courtesy QueenMobs)

This week’s These Vibes episode is short and sweet! Listen for quick highlights on:

The playlist can be found online at WPRB.com or below.

TVR2C_playlist_121217.png

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.


Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 6.40.57 PM

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.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 8.33.53 PM

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.

TVR2C_playlist_112117.png