• New Water Worlds

    The seas are rising.   It’s no longer a rarity to see kayakers paddling through downtown Miami.  By century’s end, the oceans could be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet higher, threatening millions of people and property.  But humans once knew how to adapt to rising waters.  As high water threatens to drown our cities, can we learn do it again.

    Hear stories of threatened land: submerged Florida suburbs, the original sunken city (Venice), and the U.S. East Coast, where anthropologists rush to catalogue thousands of low-lying historical and cultural sites in harm’s way, including Jamestown, Virginia and ancient Native American sites.

    But also, stories of ancient adaptability: from the First American tribes of the Colusa in South Florida to the ice age inhabitants of Doggerland.  And, modern approaches to staying dry: stilt houses, seawalls, and floating cities.

    Guests:

  • Skeptic Check: Brain Gain

    Looking to boost your brainpower?  Luckily, there are products promising to help.  Smart drugs, neurofeedback exercises, and brain-training video games all promise to improve your gray matter’s performance.  But it’s uncertain whether these products really work.  Regulatory agencies have come down hard on some popular brain training companies for false advertising. But other brain games have shown benefits in clinical trials.  And could we skip the brain workout altogether and pop a genius pill instead?

    In our monthly look at critical thinking, we separate the pseudo from the science of commercial cognitive enhancement techniques.

    Guests:

  • Living Dangerously

    The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan remind us just how dangerous our planet can be. In this podcast, Dr. David Grinspoon, astrobiology curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, discusses our violent Earth, explaining why earthquakes, severe weather, and other aspects of the dynamic environment may be necessary for life to exist. What can other worlds in our solar system — such as Mars, Venus, and Saturn´s moon Titan — teach us about the conditions necessary for life as we know it?

  • Written in Code

    ENCORE Genes –“ what are they good for? Absolutely… something. But not everything. Your “genius” genes need to be turned on –“ and your environment determines that. Find out how to unleash your inner-Einstein, and what scientists learned from studying the famous physicist’s brain.

    Also, the bizarre notion that your children inherit not just your genes, but also the consequences of your habits –“ smoking, stress, diet, and other behaviors that turn the genes on.

    Plus Francis Collins on affordable personal genomes, and a man who decoded his own DNA in under a week.

  • Alien Invasion

    They´re heeeere! Yes, aliens are wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the land. But these aliens are Arizona beetles, and the land is in California, where the invasive insects are a serious problem.

    And what of space-faring aliens? We have those too: how to find them, and how to protect our planet –“ and theirs.

    From Hollywood to SETI´s hi-tech search for extraterrestrials, aliens are invading Are We Alone?

  • Swarm in Here… or Is It Just Me?

    An ant … can´t … move a rubber tree plant… but the colony can. As a group, ants are an efficient, organized, can-do bunch. And a model for humans trying to manage complex systems.

    Find out about the eerie collective intelligence of animals, and how an MIT researcher is hoping to put humans to work collaboratively to solve problems like climate change.

    Also … hear how research into flocking behavior helps Hollywood film a herd of stampeding dinosaurs.

  • Written in Code

    Genes –“ what are they good for? Absolutely… something. But not everything. Your "genius" genes need to be turned on –“ and your environment determines that. Find out how to unleash your inner-Einstein, and what scientists learned from studying the famous physicist´s brain. Also, the bizarre notion that your children inherit not just your genes, but also the consequences of your habits –“ smoking, stress, diet, and other behaviors that turn the genes on. Plus Francis Collins on affordable personal genomes, and a man who decoded his own DNA in under a week.

  • Seth’s Garage

    ENCORE It´s always a surprise to go digging in Seth´s garage –“ who knows what we´ll find! In this impressive heap of paraphernalia, tucked between boxes of old radio tubes and hydraulic jacks, we stumble upon the secrets to our galaxy´s central black hole… witness the dance of the PhD theses… uncover the genome of milk (while moo-ving boxes) and … hey? Who´s that crunching numbers in the corner? It´s astrophysicist Mario Livio addressing the mathematical mysteries of universe.

  • Cell! Cell!

    Live forever? Both cancer cells and stem cells can make a claim to immortality. Left unchecked, tumors will grow indefinitely. And stem cells offer the promise of non-stop rejuvenation.

    We´ll find out whether the surprising discovery of stem cells in the brain really can keep our thinking organ young. And we´ll hear the remarkable story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman who unwittingly donated tissue to science in 1951, and whose cancer cells are still grown in laboratories around the world today.

  • Life of Brain

    ENCORE We should award frequent travel miles to your brain. After all, it´s evolved a long way from the days of guiding brachiation from tree-to-tree to become the three pounds of web-surfing, Sudoku-playing powerhouse it is today. But a suite of technologies may expand human brains further still.

    From smart pills to nano-wires: discover the potential –“ and peril –“ of neuro-engineering to repair and enhance our cognitive function.

    Also, how our brains got so big in the first place: a defense of the modern diet.