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 edition of These Vibes, Professor Edward Felten joined us back in the studio to discuss electronic voting — what that means, what are the alternatives, the pros and cons, and the current state of voting technology in the US. Edward Felten is professor of computer science and public affairs here at Princeton University, and founding director of the Princeton Center for Information Policy. Additionally, he was Chief Technologist for the Federal Trade Commission from 2011-2015 and joined the Obama administration as Deputy US Chief Technology Officer in 2015.
Our discussion gives particular attention to usability issues with the current voting computers used in US elections and their vulnerability to attacks. Professor Felten discusses the role of hacking in the 2016 election, and, to wrap-up, what the ideal voting system would be, using our current technology.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”)