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.
Featured image: A photo from the Atlanta Constitution, showing three National Guardsmen defending six black prisoners, whose tale forms the core of Blood at the Root (Patrick’s research began with this photo).
This week’s show starts with Drew University professor and author Patrick Phillips, taking a deep look at his new book Blood at the Root. The novel covers the expulsion of all black residents from Forsyth County, Georgia, which began in violence in 1912 and lasted up through the 1980s. In his expansive historical research, Patrick talks with the descendants of whites and blacks who participated in the evictions, and his book analyzes the deep societal divide that still hangs over modern America. How did this twisted series of events happen, and what can its still-lingering consequences tell us about race in the USA?
Otherwise, the show features exclusively Islamic music, and shares science news (from Saturn to pond goop in Washington) and local science events as always.
In today’s show we speak with doctoral researcher Mallika Randeria on her work in the Yazdani lab at Princeton University. As she explains in the interview, her research
explores the quantum behavior of electrons in a magnetic field. In fact, she uses a powerful scanning-tunneling microscope to actually image the electrons! Last year her group became the first to ever accomplished this and they got some astounding and (almost) unexpected results! Tune in to the show if you want to learn about the weird quantum behavior of electrons and what they actually look like up close when they’re exhibiting quantum effects, how a scanning-tunneling microscope works (and about the one here at Princeton), and some of Mallika’s other research imagining the phenomenon of superconductivity.
Featured image: Wind turbines mess with air flow, but the process can only be modeled in sophisticated labs or in computer codes like this Purdue University software.
We welcome Mark Miller, a PhD candidate in Prof. Hultmark’s Gas Dynamics Lab, who knows all about the aerodynamics of wind turbines. Wind energy is a crucial component of the future’s energy landscape, but learning how to optimize their engineering is a work in progress. How should a windmill farm be laid out to maximize each turbine’s output? How can scientists model the air flow around windmills in lab-sized models? And finally, how does wind energy fit into the grid?
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: The Vaalputs nuclear waste site in South Africa, guarded (for the present) with fences and signposts. Can this strategy ward off the next 10,000 years of civilization? (Courtesy Mail & Guardian)
This week features Jacob Schwartz, a PhD candidate in plasma physics here at Princeton, who brings us a deep concern: what should we do with our nuclear waste? Fission plants produce radioactive byproducts over time, and these concoctions will be dangerous to life for millennia. At the WIPP facility in New Mexico, scientists are testing many methods for safe storage of radioactive materials. Even more intriguingly, reports from WIPP contemplate strategies for warding off future civilizations, communicating across the centuries that an area is unhealthy to inhabit. How can we send messages on the timescales of the pyramids? How far do duty or ethics push us to confine our nuclear waste?
Featured image: Famed science advocate Bill Nye debates creationist Ken Ham on evolution in one of the most watched scientific debates in recent memory. (Courtesy NBC)
In this final show of the year, Matt Grobis (a regular guest and graduate student in EEB) comes on to talk through the urgent topic of public outreach by scientists. In a media landscape where evidence doesn’t always count, how can scientists defend their research to taxpayers and the government? Can we accurately gauge public understanding of science, and whether the public is divided over our research? Finally, we contemplate echo chambers in society and the accusation that the scientific community itself is an echo chamber.
Thanks for listening to These Vibes Are Too Cosmic all through 2016! It’s our goal to keep up the quality science news and entertainment through the exciting discoveries of 2017. Never hesitate to contact us with show ideas if you have them!
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.
Featured image: a cargo ship, ferrying a pile of our everyday goods across the Pacific Ocean. Increases in ship traffic attracted the attention of Eric Stone, photographer.
This week, Yann Koby of Princeton’s Department of Economics comes on the air, focusing on the economics of the US manufacturing sector. We examine economic modeling and prediction, especially concerning the flow of jobs in and out of the US due to trade with other countries. How do trade policies between large nations affect the structure of our economy? How does job availability in the US affect politics? Specifically, Yann theorized about the recent election: Trump bet his candidacy on the connection between globalization and jobs. Was he right that increased trade put Americans out of work? What effects on the US and world economy might we expect out of the upcoming administration? Listen in to the interview (starting an hour in to the recording) to find out!
Later in the show, regular guest Ingrid Ockert reviews a lecture series by Naomi Oreskes on scientists as Merchants of Doubt. When have scientists peddled misinformation, and when should we trust them?
Featured image: HeLa cells, all derived from one human, being imaged with fluorescence. Proteins tagged with light-sensitive tails travel through the cell. (courtesy NIH)
This week, I’m happy to have interviewed Lian Zhu, a Princeton PhD candidate in Chemical and Biological Engineering. Her fascinating research on the cell’s nucleolus will bring us through the science of RNA creation and how cell parts can exist without membranes. She’ll explain how light can engineer cellular dynamics, and how she’s used this optogenetics technique to stiffen or loosen various proteins inside the cell nucleus–a feat which mimics the cell’s own formation and dissociation of globs inside the nucleus. Track proteins and affect their motion with light: it’s a hands-on way to look inside the cell! Her interview starts an hour into the track above.
As an added bonus, Lian shared this video of cells inside a worm egg dividing until they form a multicellular animal – and she’s seen this happen under a microscope with her own eyes.
Preceding the main interview (0:40 on the recording), Harrison Blackman covers the rust-red Blood Falls, an Antarctic glacier whose bacteria produced a horror-movie set. Afterwards, we share science news about space telescopes and craters on Earth, and the whole show features music from all over the Middle East for flavor. Enjoy!