Science for the Public Presents Archive
Archived videos from Science for the Public Presents. Click below to view each video on the Archive.org website. Return to program
Contemporary Science Issues & Innovations: I Wonder Why? Magic, Mystery and Mathematics in the Mundane 01/14/21
I Wonder Why? Magic, Mystery and Mathematics in the Mundane. Dr. Mahadevan shares his extraordinary gift for revealing the underlying structures of objects, systems and processes in Nature. One does not need to be a mathematician to appreciate the extraordinary properties of what seems ordinary when Dr. Mahadevan demonstrates how to look, how to think in a whole new way. Lakshminarayanan “Maha” Mahadevan,Ph.D., Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics; Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology; Professor of Physics, Harvard University
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: How Ocean Acidification Harms Shellfish - Dr. Cameron marine ecologist and carbonate chemist. She studies the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on marine bivalves and their fisheries. In this discussion Dr Cameron explains the cause of ocean acidification, the harm to ocean life, and especially to shellfish. She also describes what can and must be done to address ocean acidification. Louise Cameron, Ph.D., Postdoc Investigator, Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: Living in Space: Artificial Gravity and Bioastronautics
Dr. Diaz Artiles describes how space life in zero gravity affects the human body and how space engineers are taking on the challenge. Her field of bioastronautics develops engineering innovations like artificial gravity, specialized spacesuits, and physical analyses of the effects of space environment on the human body. As we move toward colonization of space, this is the science to watch! Ana Diaz Artiles, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Aerospace Engineering, Texas A&M University Bioastronautics and Human Performance Lab.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: How Ecosystems Work: from the Smallest to the Largest Scales
Dr. O’Dwyer says that “ecological systems are the archetypal complex systems.” He describes how these systems, regardless of scale, and despite their diversity, share underlying signatures and patterns. How the components of ecosystems interact and adapt to their environments is a matter of intense study today when so many species are under threat by environmental and climate changes. James O’Dwyer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Plant Biology, University of Illinois (Urbana); Hrdy Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard) 2020-2021
Neural Disruption and Motor Dysfunctions. Dr. Crittenden describes the complex neural mechanisms that make ordinary movement possible. She explains how neural disruptions cause Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and other dysfunctions. This research uses sophisticated analysis, very advanced technology, and genetic engineering. Jill R. Crittenden, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT.
Matt Fernandes and his team at SEAS look to Nature for examples of quality engineering, And one of their investigations is attracting attention. The skeletal structure of the Venus Flower sea sponge (a.k.a. glass sponge) can bear extraordinary weight. And Fernandes hopes to apply this unique structure to next-generation architecture and engineering design.
Dr. Basu explains the growing concern in medical circles that climate change is introducing unexpected diseases and other health conditions. He describes how medical training is changing to prepare future professionals. Gaurab Basu, MD, MPH, Primary physician and Co-Director, Center for Health Equity Education & Advocacy (CHEEA) Cambridge Health Alliance; and Instructor Affiliate, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine Harvard Medical School.
Director of MIT's Global Engineering & Research Laboratory (GEAR) Amos Winter speaks with Yvonne about his work providing low-cost prosthetic feet to underdeveloped nations as well as his de-salinization projects in India and elsewhere. Dr. Winter discusses the humanitarian commitment of the GEAR Lab, some of the award-winning innovations that have produced real changes for people in developing nations - and even here in the US for Native American reservations. 00:39:16
The typical American diet can be considered a health threat. The combination of processed food, excess red meat, high salt and excess sugar are associated with the high incidence of obesity, diabetes-2, heart disease, certain cancers, and other diseases. But there is a solution. Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Guest Amy Bower, Ph.D., Senior Scientist; Chair Dept of Physical Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Dr. Bower explains the structure and dynamics of deep ocean currents and their vital role in maintaining the Earth’s climate. She discusses the importance of long-range international studies on these very complex currents. Dr Bower focuses especially on one of the major systems, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and the implications of a slowdown in that system. 00:39:32
Most children in the world are not healthy, and many –especially in impoverished nations or communities– suffer very serious illnesses. Dr. Hamer explains why the World Health Organization is the indispensable lifeline for children around the world. 00:25:28
Dr. Cziczo explains the difference between millions of years of natural warming cycles and the more recent anthropogenic warming caused by the production of more CO2. He discusses the implications of atmospheric CO2 buildup and the limitations of geoengineering and sequestration as solutions to this problem. Daniel Cziczo, Professor and Head, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, Purdue University. Recorded at Purdue University. 00:34:24
Dr. Martini explains the relationship between dark energy and the acceleration, and also the sophisticated instruments that measure the universe’s expansion. He is the Instrument Scientist for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). The DESI will produce a five-year survey of over 35 million galaxies and quasars to better understand the nature of cosmic acceleration. Dr. Martini also describes his extensive work on the evolution of galaxies and active galactic nuclei (AGN). 00:46:11
Dr. Madin provides an expert’s understanding of jellyfish –those maligned creatures that are such a nuisance to those who flock to ocean beaches. This summer the stories focus on the lion’s mane jellyfish, the largest known species. Just how large, how dangerous? The attention this species has attracted has also raised interest in the great diversity of jellyfish and other marine invertebrates. Laurence Madin, Ph.D. Marine Biologist, WHOI Senior Science Advisor; and retired Deputy Director/VP for Research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Dr. Zoeller has been a leader among researchers emphasizing the need for much stronger regulation of endocrine disruptors. He discusses the chemistry of prenatal and infant brain development and the ways in which endocrine disruptors –even in very low dosage– impact the hormones involved in development. He also addresses the tension between federal regulators and the scientific community on this issue. Guest: R. Thomas Zoeller, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Biology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Director, Laboratory of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Endocrinology; Visiting Professor at Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
Erika Spanger-Siegfried, climate analyst for Union of Concerned Scientists, provides an update on the growing threat of rising seas to coastal cities and smaller communities. She discusses the need to prepare for coastal communities to prepare for more frequent coastal flooding.
Maria Ivanova and Candace Famiglietti detail the very serious consequences of the international wildlife trade. While there has been much media attention on the health consequences of wildlife food markets, the authors provide a much broader picture. Wildlife for exotic pets, wildlife in high fashion. In their article and in this interview, they discuss the abuse inherent in wildlife trade, and the impact on ecosystems and environment, economies and human health. Maria Ivanova, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Global Governance and Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is also a visiting scholar at the Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT. and Candace Famiglietti, Doctoral Student, Global Governance and Human Security and Research Associate, Center for Governance and Sustainability at John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston.
Physics Beyond the Standard Model at the Large Hadron Collider: The Standard Model is incomplete. The projects at the Large Hadron Collider search for the missing information. Markus Klute’s group played a central role in the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, and continues the search for subatomic particles that can reveal the origin of the universe and the nature of matter. In this update on the LHC Dr. Klute explains how the LHC experiments probe for unknown particles. And he discusses the recent announcement of the future plans of the LHC. Guest: Markus Klute, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Spillover, the transfer of viruses from wild animals to humans, is a by-product of hunting, wild-animal trade, and proximity of humans to wild creatures. Dr. Jonathan Runstadler explains how spillover can cause pandemics in the modern global community, and why control of these viruses requires an understanding of the relationship between humans and these animal disease reservoirs. Guest: Jonathan A. Runstadler, DVM, PhD, Professor of Virology, Immunogenetics, Disease Ecology, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University.
Dr. Sameer Sonkusale’s Nano Lab at Tufts University is a major hub of nano-tech research in medicine and medical engineering. The nano-scale represents a unique space for physical processes and the Tufts Nano Lab has developed many distinctive innovations. Dr. Sonkusale discusses how such innovations provide detailed monitoring of medical problems and the development of precise delivery of medications to affected areas of the body.
In New England, rising temperatures will lead to a smaller winter snowpack and increased frequency of soil freeze/thaw cycles, which may damage trees and decrease the ability of our forests to sequester carbon and serve as habitat for some animals and microbes. Dr. Pamela Templer describes how her lab determines the effects of these changes in climate on the health of northern hardwood forests and the implications for water and air quality.
Probing the Health Molecules of Plants. A visit to the Weng Lab at Whitehead Institute/MIT to see how Professor Jing-Ke Weng and his research team investigate plant molecules for their medical potential.
The Impact of Air Pollution On Health. Dr. Jonathan Levy discusses the increasing and serious health issues associated with air pollution, particularly in urban areas. Health and environmental scientists are particularly concerned about the effects of particulate matter (PM2.5), which enters the bloodstream via the lungs, on human health. The result is seen in rising rates of heart disease, asthma, and cognitive problems.
Our “normal” matter is stuff made of atoms –like stars, planets, creatures –everything in nature. But that’s only a very small amount of the actual matter in the universe. Most matter is invisible “dark matter,” and scientists do not know what it is. The idea of some type of “different” matter emerged in the 1800s –and was ignored-- the early 1900s—ignored again- and finally was confirmed in the 1970s.
Sustainable Urban Development. Modern urban development requires a multi-dimensional design approach to encompass energy-efficient architecture, pedestrian-friendly access to shops, entertainment, work and schools, and vibrant outdoor spaces. Using sophisticated computer-modeling, the Sustainable Design Lab at MIT combines and analyzes many elements for optimal, healthy urban environments. In this presentation, Dr. Reinhart outlines such a model based on a neighborhood proposal in Boston.
The concept of THE ATOM originated in ancient India and Greece in roughly 500 BCE. The concept was dismissed by many leading thinkers through the ages. Finally, the atom concept began to gain acceptance in the Europe in the 1600s, more so in the 1800s, and finally gained full respect in the late 1900s. The concept also evolved over those centuries. Today, of course, no one doubts the existence of the atom.
Cell Architecture: Self-Organization and Scale. Regardless of any cell’s size, its components (organelles) are always proportional. Scientists do not know how size of cells and their organelles are determined. Cells just self-assemble effortlessly. Biophysicist Jane Kondev, Ph.D. discusses this mystery –one of the most challenging in Nature– and how scientists try to unravel the cell’s self-assembly code.
Herbal Medicines Decoded: How Medicinal Plants Soothe and Cure. Professor Jing-Ke Weng’s lab at MIT and the Whitehead Institute focuses on the distinctive chemistry and genetics of medicinal plants. Dr. Weng explains the process, the discoveries, and the challenge of simulating plant chemistry for large-scale medical purposes.
Light From Darkness? Searching For Dark Matter. Dr. Tracy Slatyer explains how dark matter –the mysterious 85 percent of the matter in the universe—continues to elude scientific understanding. She describes how dark matter collisions might create observable signals, and how we can attempt to pick out those signals from telescope observations.
Mathematical Prediction of a Sixth Mass Extinction. Dr. Daniel Rothman explains how mathematical modeling clarifies the intricate dynamics of our planet’s carbon cycles and geophysical components. His model shows the relationship between ancient mass extinctions and the likely sixth extinction of the future.
Nectar, Pollen, and the Health of Bees. Professor Lynn Adler, Ph.D., explains how some bee infections may be transferred via plants that bees visit, and how some types of nectar and pollen may help to reduce certain pathogens.
In an era when science has contributed so much to the progress of humanity, there is a resurgence of anti-reason and rejection of scientific facts. These challenges call for a mental adjustment: the scientific attitude. Dr. Lee McIntyre explains how to adapt that attitude and why it is necessary today.
How Science Fiction Has Inspired Science. David Toomey, Ph.D. examines the relationship between science and science fiction. In particular he explains how science fiction often anticipates discoveries in science.
The Great Potential of Offshore Wind Farms. Dr. Andrew Myers explains why and how offshore wind farms will be a major source of renewable energy. Although a number of European countries have built offshore wind farms, the U.S. has been slow to develop this resource. We learn that the east coast of the US is one of the best areas in the world to locate offshore wind farms, and that that location would in principal supply enough energy for the entire US. Dr. Myers discusses the engineering and logistical aspects of developing wind farms and the exciting future for this area of renewable energy.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: Psychiatric Drugs: Why They Often Fail Us Over Long Term 4/23/19
Psychiatric Drugs: Why They Often Fail Us Over Long Term. More than one in five Americans now takes a psychiatric medication. Yet, as our use of these medications has soared, so too has the burden of mental disorders in our society. Why would this be so? Unfortunately, research has shown that long-term outcomes for medicated patients are poor. As a result, new initiatives are emerging that lessen the use of medications and focus instead on creating supports that help children and adults struggling with mental difficulties get well and stay well.
Mass Extinctions. Dr. Andrew Knoll describes the causes of the previous five extinctions on Earth and the possibility of a sixth. He explains how the specific causes of different mass extinctions tend to impact ecosystems in distinct and unexpected ways. He discusses the threat of a sixth mass extinction. A key issue is how well evolutionary mechanisms can adapt to this type of destruction.
12/11/18 Professor Markus Klute provides an update of the work at the Large Hadron Collider (CERN), where he is a member of of the team involved in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment. He explains the complexity of the LHS - the challenges of both engineering and data collection– and the great importance of the investigation of the most fundamental level of the universe.
11/27/18 Dr. Andrew Rosenberg explains how the present administration impedes environmental and health regulations, rejects facts about climate change, and undermines the work of science-related government agencies. He also explains what the informed public can and must do to diminish resistance to scientific facts and information (and how the UCS helps in that effort).
11/15/18 Dark Matter and Other Cosmic Mysteries - Dr. Julian Munoz discusses the decades-old problem of identifying the nature of dark matter in the universe. He has led a collaboration that is exploring the possibility that charged dark matter particles interact with normal matter by electromagnetic force. He explains a related collaboration, called EDGES; together, these very new investigations are offering a real possibility of solving the dark matter mystery.
11/13/18 00:34:02 The Geometric Basis of Structure and Motion - Geometry determines the limits of structures and motion. Knowing how those constraints work is very important for modern biology, physics and chemistry, engineering and materials science. Dr. Streinu and Dr. Borcea discuss that relationship between geometry and science, and their forthcoming book on the subject.
How does the brain acquire and process language? How about multiple languages? And how about a whole lot of languages? Dr. Fedorenko describes what cognitive science knows and what is still to be learned. She and her associates focus on how the brains of multilingual people (polyglots) process very different types of languages. They also investigate those rare individuals who learn dozens of languages (hyperpolyglots).
Dr. Philippe Grandjean, a prominent endocrinologist discusses the health and environmental impact of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS, PFOS), chemical compounds used in many products -from popcorn bags to fire-fighting foam to upholstery materials. These compounds are now found globally -- in people, animals, and environment. They affect, among other things, the brain, kidneys and the immune system, and are associated with a number of diseases. The producers of PFOAs were aware of the toxicity of these chemicals even in the late 1970s, but only recently have scientists been able to obtain that data. Because PFAS remain in the body over the lifespan, the withholding of data for decades has undermined medical research.
We visit the Jasanoff Lab at MIT to learn about advances in imaging the brain. Dr. Jasanoff and several research associates in his lab explain the importance of this research and several innovative approaches used in this lab to improve brain imaging.
Susan Heideman and Michelle Lougee, currently in a joint exhibit at the Maud Morgan Arts Chandler Gallery in Cambridge, discuss their respective artworks and artistic approaches to Nature’s variety. They also describe some similarities in the way that artists and scientists look at Nature. 08/30/18
Wendy Jacobs, Emmett Clinical Professor of Environmental Law, and Director of the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School discusses how citizens can utilize the law to restore protective regulations for our environment. This video includes a link to the Clinic’s excellent online manual that contains all the information concerned citizens need to guide environmental action.
Science For The Public: Lecture Series - Nanotechnology Advances for Healthcare and Environment 05/08/18
This is the fifth and final presentation in our Science Literacy series at MIT. Dr. Sonkusale describes the advantages of nano-scale science and the remarkable nano-innovations in sensory devices for environment and medicine that his lab has produced. He also discusses how the Tufts Nano Lab creates devices that can be used around the world –a democratizing of nanotechnology.
Professor Daniel Cziczo provides an overview of the climate change issue and then a critique of geoengineering. He explains the options, and --more importantly—the misinformation that seems to accompany the solar radiation management option in particular. He lists the kinds of questions the public needs to ask in the effort to determine a policy for reducing the CO2 in the atmosphere that is rapidly warning the planet.
Science For The Public: Lecture Series - Infinitely Small to Infinitely Great: The Search for Microbial Life on Other Worlds
Very little is known about most of the deep-sea organisms on this planet. Since these organisms represent “extreme life,” they provide potential insights about how life might emerge on other worlds. Dr. Peter Girguis describes innovative studies of some deep-sea organisms, the technological advances that are making these investigations possible, and the exciting collaboration between marine biologists and astrophysicists.
Dr. Alan Jasanoff discusses his book, "The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are". In his new book and in this discussion, Dr. Jasanoff explains why the brain must be considered within its biological, natural and social environment. The tendency to see the mind as completely autonomous, a view he calls the “cerebral mystique” doesn't hold up. Jasanoff’s discussion includes brain dysfunctions as well as recent trends such as brain hacking –and the transhumanist aspiration that our brains can someday be preserved and then revived much later.
Dr. Mara Prentiss, explains the vital need to switch to renewable energy and she describes here –and in her book Energy Revolution- just how that change can be implemented. Mara Prentiss, Ph.D., is Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University, and author of Energy Revolution: The Physics and Promise of Efficient Energy.
Dr. Julie Guthman discusses the important role of California’s massive strawberry crop, the toxins used to protect the crop from pests and fungi, and the effect of toxins on the environment and health.
Science For The Public: Lecture Series - Ecological and Psychological Perspectives on Climate Change
Dr. Helmuth and Dr. Coley combine their expertise to discuss how we respond to uncomfortable facts of climate change.
This is the first presentation in the Citizens Literacy program, a joint project between Science for the Public, Belmont Library and Belmont Media Center. The Citizens Literacy program will present speakers on science issues, civic issues and media issues in an effort to promote public awareness and response to important concerns of our time. Dr. Cziczo explains climate change, plus how we can help shape policy.
Science for the Public Science Literacy Series: What Should We Talk about When We Talk about Health?
Dr. Sandro Galea discusses the numerous socio-economic factors that impact health. He also provides some comparisons between the cost of health and the state of health between the U.S. and other wealthy nations.
Dr. Andrew Kemp explains the cycles of ocean rise and fall over the past 2000 years. For most of that time these changes were due to natural forces; but the present sea level rise is due to human-produced climate change.
Astrobiologist Dr. Sukrit Ranjan discusses the potential importance of UV radiation as a trigger for the emergence of life, and whether red dwarf stars might provide the necessary UV spark to generate life on optimal exoplanets.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: What Mathematicians Reveal about Gerrymandering 10/25/17
Dr. Justin Solomon discusses how the gerrymander distorts the voting population to favor one group of voters over others. Today, mathematicians have the tools to analyze the gerrymander and recommend more equitable structuring of voting districts. This effort is an outstanding demonstration of mathematicians representing the public interest. Dr. Solomon's discussion is of great importance at this time and we will likely hear much more about this group (MGGG) in the future.
Mycologist David Hibbett introduces us to the fascinating world of mushrooms and fungi, their role in Nature and in evolution. Mushrooms do not get much media attention, but they serve an important function in many ecological systems, and Dr. Hibbett is committed to raising awareness of their role.
Dr. Galea discusses his new book Healthier: Fifty Thoughts on the Foundation of Population Health and his distinctive work in public health, which emphasizes complexity. He is especially renowned for his emphasis on the connections between social environment and population health.
The Sonkusale Nanolab at Tufts University is currently engaged in cutting-edge research in several interdisciplinary areas, including nano-devices that benefit medicine and the life sciences. A major interest is the development of flexible, embedded sensors for diagnostics. Dr. Sonkusale and his team also work on zero-cost "do-it-yourself" diagnostics for the developing world. BIO INFO: Sameer Sonkusale, Ph,D, is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tufts University; Principal Investigator, Nanoscale Integrated Sensors and Circuits Laboratory (NanoLab).
In June 2017, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, an accord that represents the commitment of almost all nations to address global warming. The U.S., which, under the Obama administration, was a major force in creating the 2015 Paris accord, is now almost alone among nations in rejecting this commitment. Professor Selin describes the long struggle to commit the international community to prepare for the worldwide climate crisis and he explains why tackling the crisis requires global action.
Atmospheric scientist Dr. Alexandria Johnson describes how scientists in her field apply their expertise to the young field of exoplanet atmospheres.
Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University is a member of an interdepartmental Harvard team or researchers developing "green" batteries. Such batteries are made from organic molecules (or synthesis) and are environmentally friendly. Dr. Aspuru-Guzik explains how candidate plant molecules are selected (his role in this project) and how such batteries work and store energy.
Professor Jack Ridge explains how the analysis of glacial varves (sediment deposits over centuries) provide crucial information about climate changes over thousands of years.
Dr. Daniel Cziczo explains what atmosphere is, what it does, how it changes, why it needs our care on Earth. He also explains terraforming, geoengineering, and the search for atmospheres on certain moons and even exoplanets.
Dr. Helmuth discusses how climate change is experienced by different species on very local level. Organisms such as mussels and fish in the same environment can be impacted by local ocean temperature and acidity very differently. Understanding these differences in this time of rapid climate changes can help us understand the variability of different species to adapt –or not. Dr. Helmuth also describes some of the innovative and international projects from his lab that engage young people in addressing the climate change challenge.
Professor Sonkusale’s Nano Lab at Tufts University is a leader in medical applications for nanotechnology. In this tour of the Nano Lab, he shows how nano-devices such as magnetic nanorobots, smart threads, and an electronic nose are improving modern medicine.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: Plankton - The Humble Base of Ocean Ecosystems 02/14/17
Plankton represent the foundation of the marine food chain. As such, their vitality determines the health of the ocean ecosystems in general. For this reason, there is much concern and interest in the impact of climate change and environmental pollution on the global ocean. Dr Chris Bowler studies the genetic effects of environmental changes on ancient diatoms in an effort to predict the ability of today's plankton to adapt to anticipated stress caused by climate change. To analyze the evolutionary record he gathers plankton fossils from deep ocean deposits around the world.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: Microbes Matter! From Healthy Soil to Your Healthy Gut 02/08/17
Authors David Montgomery and Anne Bikle discuss their book "The Hidden Half of Nature" on how the microbial world sustains the planet and its life.
Dr. Robert Simcoe explains how the universe became transparent, how the first stars probably formed and how subsequent generations evolved. We learn how today's sophisticated optical telescopes penetrate billions of light years to the early universe and how astronomers distinguish "early" from "recent" stars and galaxies.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: The Vital Role of Seagrasses in Marine Ecosystems 01/10/17
Seagrasses are fundamental to the health of marine ecosystems, providing food and shelter to many organisms. Because of the dual impact of climate change and ocean pollution, many seagrass varieties are dying off. Dr. Barnabas Daru explains the vital role of seagrasses in maintaining marine life, and how different seagrass varieties vary in the ability to adapt to changing ocean environments around the world. This area of research is very important in the urgent effort today to save marine biodiversity.
Professor David Toomey explains why time travel is so alluring, not just for science fiction, and he’ll tell us about the major contributions to the development of the idea. He also discusses the significance of science fiction in the evolution of time travel.
Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan discusses fundamental knowns and unknowns of astrophysics --and what is most important for the public to understand. She discusses the need for both science literacy and civic literacy in this era of an emerging global culture, when everyone needs to be an active citizen.
Tulika Bose, PhD, describes the findings so far in this year's testing --at the highest energy ever-- at the LHC, and also the search for new physics. She recently completed a two-year term as CMS trigger coordinator for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (the trigger sets the data selection process). She now heads a CMS physics group that searches for new physics.
In recent years a combination of climate change, massive depletion of fish stocks by commercial fishing fleets, and exploitative trade policies are together creating nutritional crises in many poor nations. Christopher Golden explains the impact of these conditions on the health of millions of people. He also provides important facts about the nutritional differences between wild and farmed fish.
Microbes are virtually everywhere on the planet and all life depends on this microbial foundation. However, 99 percent of these microbes the dark matter have not been identified. Dr. Epstein explains why it is so difficult to isolate and identify microbes in general, and why there is an urgent search for bacteria for developing antibiotics.
Dr. William Moomaw explains how industrial agriculture, especially through synthetic fertilizers, has produced unprecedented damage to our soil, water, and atmosphere. The only viable option for recovering the health of these systems is restorative development, which emphasizes more natural approaches to farming that will revive the health of our soil, water and air. Restorative development addresses some of the gravest of climate risks, such as increased droughts, floods and atmospheric pollution. Recorded on 9/13/16
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: Enigmas of Life: Getting It Started and Becoming Complex 08/09/16
Scientists are still uncertain how the components of life on Earth combined to produce the simplest cells, and how complex cells eventually developed. Dr. Zachary Adam investigates both of these major questions and some associated assumptions, including whether the origin of life must have required water. The latter question is of great interest to astrobiologists engaged in the search for life elsewhere.
Dr. Nick Patterson explains how the ancient populations of Europe are now being traced through DNA analysis of fossil remains, and why mathematical modeling is essential in developing this reconstruction.
Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan discusses her new book , Mapping the Heavens, which describes the initial resistance to most of the major concepts of modern astronomy. In some cases, it was decades before radical ideas about the universe, such as black holes, dark matter, gravitational lensing became standard knowledge. She also discusses her own cutting-edge research in these particular areas.
Dr. Kamal Bawa is a world leader in ecology research and conservation and the impact of climate change on the Himalayan and Western Ghats regions. The impact of rapid warming on the rich but delicate ecology of the Himalaya region is coupled with environmental damage from development. In this discussion, Dr. Bawa explains what organizations like ATREE are doing to save the Himalayan environment and its native populations.
Philip Warburg is an author, lawyer and former director of the Conservation Law Foundation, New England's oldest and largest environmental watchdog group. He is the author of two respected books on renewable energy, Harvest the Wind: America's Journey to Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Stability (Beacon Press 2012, 2013) and Harness the Sun: America's Quest for a Solar-Powered Future (Beacon Press, 2015).
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: What Arctic Caves Reveal about Ancient Climate Cycles 06/14/16
Dr. Jeremy Shakun discusses how information about ancient climate cycles is preserved in stalactites and stalagmites (speleothems) in Arctic caves, and how scientists gather and analyze that very precise archive. He also explains other types of climate data, such as marine cores, Antarctic ice cores, glacial boulders and tree rings.
Scientists are now able to study in detail the dynamic volcanic activity of the deep ocean ridges. Dr. Daniel Fornari describes what scientists are learning and how this activity affects the planet.
What to do about the excess CO2 in our atmosphere that will remain for hundreds of years --even as we transition to renewable energy? To reduce the inevitable climate damage, we have to find a way to deal with that long-term CO2. Various "solutions," commonly known as types of geoengineering, have been proposed. Here, Professor Cziczo explains the CO2 problem and the three major types of geoengineering. We learn why the only viable approach is CO2 sequestration --pulling the CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Dr. John Ebel explains the geological forces that cause earthquakes and the areas on the planet most vulnerable to tsunamis. We learn how seismologists track earthquake-prone areas of the planet and how they predict the possibility of tsunamis.
Dr. Henrik Selin explains the urgent need for a serious international commitment to deal with climate change and its impact on all nations. He assesses the recent Paris agreement and he explains why public engagement and pressure will be essential to establishing a viable climate policy.
Dr. Andrew Knoll explains the relationship between the evolution of life and environment and his very significant contributions to the methods of identifying the chemical traces of life in ancient rocks. He also describes his work on the NASA Mars Exploration Rover mission, which has been concerned with analyzing the geological history of that planet.
Dr. Betul Kacar discusses the young field of paleogenomics, and how researchers are able to unravel the genetic evolution of modern organisms. The value of this work is important not only for establishing an accurate biography of Earth's organisms; paleogenomics is of interest in the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
David Mindell, Ph.D. examines our relationship with robots. How truly independent are they presently, and how autonomous can they be in the future? In the robots we use for space exploration, deep-sea research, and many other tasks. The real "brain" seems to be human, not robotic. His recent book, which he discusses, explains both the value of robots and the actual limits of robotic autonomy at a time when there is increasing controversy about the capabilities of robots.
Dr. Raul Jimenez describes one of the most fascinating enigmas in science: gamma ray bursts (GRBs), the most powerful explosions in the universe. He explains the relationship between GRBs and life: areas of the universe where planets might be relatively safe --or not-- from the destructive force of GRB radiation. Earth, we learn, has been relatively fortunate, but at least one of the ancient mass extinctions on our planet may have been due to the radiation from a GRB.
Dr. Licia Verde explains what the large-scale universe consists of. Included in the discussion are dark matter and dark energy, the expansion of the universe and the acceleration of the expansion. Dr. Verde explains how astrophysicists are investigating these mysteries and how they do these investigations.
The great Himalaya mountain range, known as the "roof of the world," plays a critical role in the Earth's climate. Dr. Maharaj Pandit, an internationally recognized expert on the complex ecology of the Himalayas, discusses the impact of climate change, increasing settlement and development on this region. He explains the urgent need for conservation in the Himalayas.
Professor David Toomey explains how scientists have had to revise the concept of life since the discovery of organisms in very extreme environments on our planet, and how that discovery is shaping astrobiology--the search for life on moons and exoplanets. Dr. Toomey's discussion is based on his book, "Weird Life: the search for life that is very, very different from our own."
Dr. Seth Lloyd, Ph.D., explains the progress of quantum computing and his pioneering role in the field, his concept of the universe as a quantum computer, and the increasing interest in quantum mechanisms in biological systems such as photosynthesis. He also talks about his book for general readers, Programming the Universe.
Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations: How the Brain Produces Language and What Can Go Wrong 11/17/15
Dr. Frank Guenther, Ph.D. explains some basics about the complexity of both normal speech and speech disorders such as stuttering. He discusses also his work on a brain-computer-interface system that aims to make communication possible for patients with locked-in syndrome, and his work on the leading computational model (DIVA) for speech production.
Jeff Deyette from the Union of Concerned Scientists gives an update on the rapid transition to renewable energy across the US, which progresses despite the well-financed resistance of the fossil fuel industry.
In this presentation Dr. Bose explains how the collider works and what the collisions produce. The 2010-2012 run brought confirmation of the long-sought Higgs boson. This time, with nearly double the collision energy (13 TeV) scientists anticipate some entirely new discoveries.
Dr. Andrew Kurtz explains how soils evolve, diversify and enable plant and animal life. And why there is increasing concern today about threats to soil, the â€œskinâ€ of the Earth.
Dudley Foster, the Woods Hole engineer closely associated with the Alvin's history, describes explorations of the deep-sea submersible.