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:

 


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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.


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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.


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2/7/17 Show. Short and full of news and tunes

Short show due to the new 6-8pm time slot and a sports interruption. We give an update on science events in the area and share some science news, as well as some new music, as always.

Science news:

  • First results from the NASA twin study with astronaut Scott Kelly and his brother (who stayed on Earth), Mark. Right now the analysis of the data is in the early stages, but there are potentially interesting results with telomeres – the ends of the DNA chromosome whose diminishment tends to correlate with aging.
  • Brian presented an interesting study about differences in gene behavior between genders and implications for disease susceptibility.

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1/10/17 Show feat. Tamara Patton on Virtual Reality in Nuclear Arms Control and Ingrid Ockert on Arming Mother Nature

Featured image: Dinosaur feather trapped in amber. Ryan McKellar, Royal Saskatchewan Museum
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Tamara Patton, Nuclear Futures Lab

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.

For more background on the topic of nuclear weapons, listen to our past shows with Sébastien Phillipe on verification technologies and Julien de Lanversin on nuclear archaeology. In the show, Tamara recommends checking out the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists if you’d like to stay up to speed on this topic.

Science historian Ingrid Ockert begins by mentioning a relevant piece by Alex Wellerstein in the Washington Post describing the very few obstacles to President Donald Trump utilizing the US’s store of nuclear weapons, should he want to. It’s a good read.

Next, Ingrid discussed the book Arming Mother Nature: The Birth of Catastrophic Environmentalism, by Jacob Darwin Hamblin. Ingrid describes how the discovery of climate change and global warming has its root in military weaponization of nature.

Additionally, Ingrid informed us that an award-winning film about nuclear futures, Containment, can currently be found on the PBS website.

 

As usual, at the start of the show we told tale of some science events in the NJ area and science news:

Thank you for listening!


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12/13/16 Show feat. Thomas Macrina on Connectomes and Kasey Wagoner on the Equivalence Principle

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.


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11/1/16 Show feat. Sébastien Phillipe on nuclear arms verification and disarmament, plus the physics of baseball and how the Columbia peace deal is affecting ecologists

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

¡¡Currently having trouble embedding the Mixcloud stream. In the mean time you can listen here.!!

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.

Pt 2 (at 1 hour in): Interview with Sébastien Phillipe, graduate researcher in applied physics and member of the Nuclear Futures Laboratory at Princeton University. Sébastien

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Sébastien Phillipe

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.”)

Trust, but verify.


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10/18/16 WPRB Pledge Drive Show feat. Julien de Lanversin on nuclear energy and science + Ingrid Ockert on Marie Curie and the discovery of radioactivity

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.

Part 2 (40 minutes in): Interview with Julien de Lanversin, researcher with the Nuclear

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Julien de Lanversin

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!

 


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10/4/16 Show feat. Bridgett vonHoldt on Epigenetics, Molecular Ecology, and Canine Domestication

Image of a Yellowstone wolf from the Grizzly Wolf and Discovery Center.

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.

In the last half hour, Ingrid Ockert tells us about Science in Wonder Land: The scientific fairy tales of Victorian Britain, by Melanie Keene.

Science news:

And local science outreach events!


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9/20/16 Show feat. Joseph Amon on Health and Human Rights + Science at the ISS and Dispatches from Syria

In this installment of These Vibes, we welcomed Joseph Amon, visiting lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School here at Princeton and Vice President for neglected tropical diseases at Helen Keller International, on human rights, the rights to health and education and their interdependence, and neglected tropical diseases. Later in the interview he describes his path, which takes us in to a discussion on the different approaches to addressing human rights deficiencies.

Show schedule:

  • First hour: Science news and a survey of the science research being done by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Second hour (56 minutes in): Interview with Joseph Amon. Interview-only recording below.
  • Last hour: Brian reviews the book, The Morning They Came For Us: Dispatches from Syria, by Janine di Giovanni.

Mentioned science news:

Science at the ISS:


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