Featured image: Adlinger Center at Princeton University.
In this installment of These Vibes, graduate researcher in the Computation and Energy track in Princeton University’s School of Architecture, Dorit Aviv, joined us on the mic to discuss her work designing and optimizing buildings. In the image next to the stream you can see Dorit Aviv with her Cool Oculus, discussed in the show.
At the start of the show, Tamara Patton and Sébastien Philippe*, doctoral researchers in mechanical engineering and Science & Global Security, explained the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty, currently in negotiations at the UN as well as the upcoming Women’s March to Ban the Bomb.
In this installment of These Vibes, Professor Edward Felten, director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) and blogger at Freedom to Tinker. Throughout the show we discussed various interactions between policy and technology. Specifically, we dove in to the current state of the technology behind self-driving cars and their prospective impact on several aspects of our society, but specifically jobs. Next, Professor Felten described the use of a form of AI, predictive analytics, in the criminal justice system. Judges in some states use predictive analytics to determine, for example, bail. There is a potential Supreme Court case (it is being considered) on this topic coming up in the next term. And in the last part, Professor Felton gave us a primer on net neutrality and updated us as to the current state of the debate on the topic.
In this installment of TheseVibes, Krupa Jani, MD/PhD researcher in biochemistry, joined us in the studio to share her research in the lab and in the health policy arena. In the first part of the interview, Krupa summed up the American Health Care Act that was recently passed through the House and is currently being considered in the Senate. In parts 2 and 3 we discuss her research in epigenetics and how this is related to cancer.
Epigenetics is the study of gene expression. Every cell in your body contains the same DNA sequence, however which genes are turned on (and thus transcribed in to proteins — or “expressed”) and which are turned off will be different between different types of cells. e.g. your blood cells expresses different genes than your skin cells. In this interview Krupa dives in to what’s happening at the molecular level in this process of gene expression, and how this can go haywire to produce runaway cell replication, which would lead to cancer.
In a past show, Stevie interviewed Professor Bridgett vonHoldt on epigenetics and canine evolution. See the show link for the streaming link and more information.
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.
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]
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.
In this week’s installment of These Vibes, we spoke with Tamara Patton, doctoral researcher at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and in the Nuclear Futures Lab, on her work using emergent technologies, specifically virtual reality, in nuclear arms control. She also delves in to the prospect of nuclear proliferation and arms control under the Trump presidency and the upcoming nuclear weapon ban treaty taking place this March at the UN.
Featured image is from Eyewire the connectome project run by Sebastian Seung at Princeton University.
Image in the Mixcloud embed above is from the Human Connectome Project at the University of Southern California.
This show is a little different. The plan was to have author and professor Patrick Phillips on for the first hour, alas there had to be a rescheduling at the last minute. Instead we will be interviewing Patrick Phillips on his book Blood at the Root at the end of next month (January 2017), so stay tuned.
Hour 1: Lots of music and some science news, including self-driving cars. Hour 2:Thomas Macrina on machine learning, neuroscience, and mapping our brain – our connectome. Hour 3: Kasey Wagoner, lecturer in physics at Princeton, on the bedrock scientific principle called the Equivalence Principle. In this discussion, Kasey tells us about the history, the principle’s importance, and current tests.
Zero-knowledge object-comparison set-up. In our discussion with Sébastien Phillipe, these are the “detectors” filled with flourocarbon droplets floating in gel. (What bubbles when hit by neutrons.) Image Credit: (c) Nuclear Futures Laboratory
Pt 1: Introduction to the show and the physics of baseball with Kasey Wagoner, lecturer in physics at Princeton University and member of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope collaboration. Kasey described the physics behind the curve in the curveball, and why knuckleballs are so hard to hit (and catch). Additionally, there’s a physical explanation for what baseball players call the “sweet spot” on a bat.
is an expert in the topics of nuclear weapons non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. We discussed his dissertation research on an experimental setup to make use of something called the “zero knowledge proof” to solve an acute problem in nuclear disarmament — verification. Listen in to learn more.*
This interview was a kind of part 2 to our earlier interview with Julien de Lanversin on nuclear energy, arms, and policy. That show would provide good background on this interview with Sébastien, but it’s necessary. I highly recommend giving it a listen.
For further reading, in the show we mention a New Yorker article featuring Sébastien Phillipe and his graduate adviser, Professor Alex Glaser. Though we had trouble with the analogy for the zero knowledge proof that was used in the piece, it’s a great article.
Additionally, Stevie mentions a recent NPR piece on the current state of US-Russia relations which is relevant to these discussions on nuclear arms and verification.
Pt 3 (2.5 hours in): Brief interview with Lizzie Wade, Latin America correspondent for Science magazine, discussing her recent piece on how the Colombia peace deal affects ecologists and biologist who wish to study the nation’s biodiverse countryside. (Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, but if you happen to be a subscriber, you should be able to find it by looking for “Colombia peace deal blow dismays ecologists.”)
This was These Vibes Are Too Cosmic’s radioactive WPRB pledge drive show! Once a year, WPRB takes a week to raise money for the station – and make our entire operating budget for the year. (WPRB lives at Princeton University, but is an independent station – Princeton only donates the space.) If you’re seeing this, you (probably) can still donate! Just go to pledge.wprb.com.
Here’s the show:
Part 1: Introduction, Brian & Stevie provide a kind of primer on the science of radioactivity and announce some science events in the area.
Futures Laboratory at Princeton University. Our discussion centered around nuclear energy, disarmament, and nuclear archaeology. We discuss both the science involved, and the global security policy. Towards the end of the segment, Julien explains how a nuclear power plant converts Uranium-235 fuel to energy, and the key points of the Iran nuclear deal.
Part 3 (2 hours in): Brian and Ingrid Ockert discuss the life of Marie Curie and the history of the discovery of radioactivity!
In this installment of These Vibes we covered much ground. Our long form interview (one hour in to the recording) was with molecular ecologist and population biologist Bridgett vonHoldt, assistant professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Professor vonHoldt’s research centers around using the concept of epigenetics to understand evolutionary change. Epigenetics, as Professor vonHoldt explains, is the study of changes in an organism that come about due to gene expression rather than the genes themselves. Specifically, she researches the epigenetics of canids — these are canines like our beloved dogs and the Yellowstone wolf — and the evolutionary biology of the domestication of dogs.
New Nobel Prize in physics announcement (the winners include Princeton’s own, Professor Duncan Haldane) for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” We discuss a little of what this means.
Nature as Muse – Friends of Princeton Open Space has invited four creative professionals to lead workshops in the Mountain Lakes Preserve that inform how nature influences fragrances (perfumer), cuisine (chef), poetry (writer), and branding and design (graphic designer). 4 Sundays in October, beginning October 9th. (Click link for more information.)