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Science news and events started out the show. Brian spoke on new research on concussions and Stevie on the Chinese space station that fell to Earth recently. 45 minutes in, Professor Matt Weinberg came on the mic to speak on his work as a theoretical computer scientist. He researches mechanism design – these are algorithms that take user incentives in to account. He considers human decision making and economics to design algorithms to guide the user to interact with the algorithm in the optimal way. He uses the example of online dating, ad auctions on sites like Facebook and Google, and cryptocurrencies.
This show had tons of great science news and an excellent discussion with Aaron Wolf, doctoral researcher on neanderthal genomes and specifically how neanderthal and modern human genomes mixed (i.e. they reproduced) in ancient times. To begin, Aaron walks us through what we know about neanderthals and our modern misconceptions of them, and how they came about. From there, he discusses how the neanderthal genome was mapped, and why we think that most living humans have about 2% neanderthal DNA — and what that DNA is for.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This episode of These Vibes was all about language.
In the first part, Stevie spoke with Dr. Kate Riestenberg, linguist and postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution and visiting scholar at Truman State University in Missouri, about the varied and far-reaching work of linguists. Then, they took a deep dive in to the topic of endangered languages — how they’re defined, how a language becomes endangered, and why we should care.
In the second portion, Kristin Guest, Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), discussed her work in SLP and working with kids in (primarily New York City) public schools. She described the differences between learning, language, and speech disabilities, as well as how you determine if a student has a disability in one of these three categories. Next Kristin gets in to the linguistically and culturally biased assessment practices in schools, and how they should change.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Ethnobotanical Herbarium Online that Dr. Riestenberg mentioned in her interview can be found at neho.si.edu