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#473 Colour Me... Structurally?

From Science for the People - This week on Science for the People, we're looking at a different way of producing colour than you might be used to. Structural colour relies on nano-scale structures to reflect particular wavelengths of light. To start things off, we'll be discussing some of the science behind naturally occurring colours, and the engineering to produce manufactured ones with PhD student Victoria Hwang. After that, Dr. Maria McNamara joins us to discuss how colour information is preserved in the fossil record and where the research is going. And we couldn’t give you an episode on colour without some pictures! Photos of structural...


Science for the People
Science for the People is a weekly syndicated long-format interview radio show and podcast which explores the connections between science, popular culture, history, and public policy, to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what is in the news and on the shelves. Every week, our hosts sit down with science researchers, writers, authors, journalists, and experts to discuss science from the past, the science that affects our lives today, and how science might change our future.

#473 Colour Me... Structurally?
2018-05-10 21:00:00
This week on Science for the People, we're looking at a different way of producing colour than you might be used to. Structural colour relies on nano-scale structures to reflect particular wavelengths of light. To start things off, we'll be discussing some of the science behind naturally occurring colours, and the engineering to produce manufactured ones with PhD student Victoria Hwang. After that, Dr. Maria McNamara joins us to discuss how colour information is preserved in the fossil record and where the research is going. And we couldn’t give you an episode on colour without some pictures! Photos of structural...
1 hour


#509 Anisogamy: The Beginning of Male and Female
2019-01-17 20:00:00
This week we discuss how the sperm and egg came to be, and how a difference of reproductive interest has led to sexual conflict in bed bugs. We'll be speaking with Dr. Geoff Parker, an evolutionary biologist credited with developing a theory to explain the evolution of two sexes, about anisogamy, sexual reproduction through the fusion of two different gametes: the egg and the sperm. Then we'll speak with Dr. Roberto Pereira, research scientist in urban entomology at the University of Florida, about traumatic insemination in bed bugs.


#508 Freedom's Laboratory
2019-01-10 20:00:00
This week we're looking back at where some of our modern ideas about science being objective, independent, and apolitical come from. We journey back to the Cold War with historian and writer Audra Wolfe, talking about her newest book "Freedom's Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science".


#507 Poaching, and We Don't Mean Eggs
2019-01-03 20:00:00
We all know poaching elephants for their ivory and pangolins for their scales is wrong, right? Then why do people keep doing it? We speak with Rachel Nuwer, author of the book "Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking", to find out, and figure out what can be done to stop it. And we'll talk with Vincent Nijman about why, when scientists find a new or rare species, they might want to keep that exciting information to themselves. Related links: Secrecy considerations for conserving Lazarus species Keeping an ear to the ground: monitoring the trade in earless monitor lizards...


#506 Everybody Poops (Rebroadcast)
2018-12-27 20:00:00
This week on Science for the People, everybody poops! And everybody pees. But we probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about exactly how that works. Well, put down your lunch and listen up. We're talking with David Chu, a pediatric urological surgeon about urine. Then we'll hear from his brother, Daniel Chu, who's a colorectal surgeon, about poop. Finally, we'll hear from IgNobel prize winner Patricia Yang about her work studying the flow rate of mammal pee, and why all mammals pee and poop at the same rate. This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from...


#505 Top Science Stories of 2018
2018-12-20 20:00:00
We're looking back over 2018 and calling out our favourite science news stories from this past year: the ones we think you should remember -- or hear about for the first time if maybe you've been taking a break from the internet -- and we've brought in a team of reports from Science News to do it. Buckle up for a whistle stop tour of this year's most fascinating science news. Related links: Top 10 stories of 2018 on Science News News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm by Tina Hesman Saey Chinese scientists raise ethical questions with...


#504 The Art of Logic
2018-12-13 20:00:00
How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions.


#503 Postpartum Blues (Rebroadcast)
2018-12-06 20:00:00
When a woman gives birth, it seems like everyone wants to know how the baby is doing. What does it weigh? Is it breathing right? Did it cry? But it turns out that, in the United States, we're not doing to great at asking how the mom, who just pushed something the size of a pot roast out of something the size of a Cheerio, is doing. This week we talk to anthropologist Kate Clancy about her postpartum experience and how it is becoming distressingly common, and we speak with Julie Wiebe about prolapse, what it is and how it's...


#502 Nerd Gift Extravaganza
2018-11-29 20:00:00
It's that time of year when nerds who care about each other buy each other nerdy presents. And because we know it can be so difficult to find that "just right" gift for the geek in your life, we're here to jump start the process with a boost of inspiration. We've brought back pop-science power-readers Joanne Manaster and John Dupuis to highlight their favourite books from the last year that you might not have heard of. And Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders prowl the internet for gift ideas that make our inner geeks squee with delight. Visit our news section...


#501 Hidden Technology
2018-11-22 20:00:00
This week we spend the hour with Kat Jungnickel to discuss her new book "Bikes & Bloomers: Victorian women inventors and their extraordinary cycle wear". New technology can change social expectations and sometimes requires other new inventions so everyone can participate. Those might sound like modern problems, but Victorian Britain in the 1890's had to answer the question: how can a woman use the latest must-have technology, the safety bicycle, while wearing a corset and long, multilayered skirts?


#500 500th Episode
2018-11-15 20:00:00
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!


#499 Technology, Work and The Future (Rebroadcast)
2018-11-08 20:00:00
This week, we're thinking about how rapidly advancing technology will change our future, our work, and our well-being. We speak to Richard and Daniel Susskind about their book "The Future of Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts" about the impacts technology may have on professional work. And Nicholas Agar comes on to talk about his book "The Sceptical Optimist" and the ways new technologies will affect our perceptions and well-being.


#498 The Poison Squad
2018-11-01 21:00:00
This week, let's go back in time. Back to the 1900s, when life was pure and clean, and your milk was preserved with formaldehyde, your meat with Borax and your canned peas with copper. On second thought, that trip back in time doesn't sound so great. This week, we're meeting the Poison Squad. We're spending the hour with Deborah Blum talking about the history of food regulation, or the lack thereof, and her new book "The Poison Squad: One Chemist's Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer...


#497 Built
2018-10-25 21:00:00
This week we're talking about towers, bridges, sinking cathedrals, and other feats of structural engineering. How do we build skyscrapers? How do engineers plan for disaster? What have we learned from structures that have failed about how to build things better? We speak with structural engineer Roma Agrawal about her book "Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures" and what the constructed world we live in looks like through an engineer's eyes.


#496 Anti-Intellectualism: Down With the Scientist!
2018-10-18 21:00:00
This week we get to the bottom of anti-intellectualism. We'll be speaking with David Robson, senior journalist at BBC Future, about misology -- the hatred of reason and argument -- and how it may be connected to distrust of intellectuals. Then we'll speak with Bruno Takahashi, associate professor of environmental journalism and communication at Michigan State University, about how the way we consume media affects our scientific knowledge and how we feel about scientists and the press.


#495 Earth Science in Space
2018-10-11 21:00:00
Some worlds are made of sand. Some are made of water. Some are even made of salt. In science fiction and fantasy, planet can be made of whatever you want. But what does that mean for how the planets themselves work? When in doubt, throw an asteroid at it. This is a live show recorded at the 2018 Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. Featuring Travor Valle, Mika McKinnon, David Moscato, Scott Harris, and moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Note: The sound isn't as good as we'd hoped but we love the guests and the conversation and we wanted to...


#494 The Tangled Taxonomic Tree
2018-10-04 21:00:00
The idea of the tree of life appears in many of the world's religions, and it appears, famously, in science, with Darwin's famous tree of life, where species evolve over millions of years from a common ancestor in the trunk to new species in the branches. But while Darwin's tree of life endures in textbooks, t-shirts and tattoos, science has moved on. And the tree of life has become more of a tangle. We will speak with David Quammen about his new book "The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life", and with Julie Dunning Hotopp, who studies how...


#493 Trowel Blazing (Rebroadcast)
2018-09-27 21:00:00
This week we look at some of the lesser known historical figures and current public perception of anthropology, archaeology, and other fields that end in "ology". Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an archaeologist, writer, and co-founder of the TrowelBlazers, tells us about the Raising Horizons project and how their team is trying to shine the spotlight on the forgotten historical women of archaeological, geological, and palaeontological science. And Kristina Killgrove, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of West Florida and science writer, talks about the public perception of the fields of anthropology and archeology, and how those science are represented -...


#492 Flint Water Crisis
2018-09-20 21:00:00
This week we dig into the Flint water crisis: what happened, how it got so bad, what turned the tide, what's still left to do, and the mix of science, politics, and activism that are still needed to finish pulling Flint out of the crisis. We spend the hour with Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a physician, scientist, activist, the founder and director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, and author of the book "What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City".


#491 Frankenstein LIVES
2018-09-13 21:00:00
Two hundred years ago, Mary Shelley gave us a legendary monster, shaping science fiction for good. Thanks to her, the name of Frankenstein is now famous world-wide. But who was the real monster here? The creation? Or the scientist that put him together? Tune in to a live show from Dragon Con 2018 in Atlanta, as we breakdown the science of Frankenstein, complete with grave robbing and rivers of maggots. Featuring Tina Saey, Lucas Hernandez, Travor Valle, and Nancy Miorelli. Moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Related links: Scientists successfully transplant lab-grown lungs into pigs, by Maria Temming on Science...


#490 Breaking Down Chemical Weapons
2018-09-06 21:00:00
It sounds like something out of a spy novel: an ex-spy is poisoned on a park bench, or a dictator's brother is sprayed in the face with a chemical weapon and dies. But these are real life events, and they are the result of chemical weapons. What are these chemicals, how do the work, and what on Earth do people do about them? We're talking with chemist Chris Cramer about his expertise, getting rid of chemical weapons. Related links: Nerge agent attack on spy used 'Novichok' poison, on c&en Novichok poisoning breakthrough as original container found, on Chemistry World Decontamination...


#489 Sand
2018-08-30 21:00:00
Did you know that, even though sand the most used building materials in world, the sand in the desert is more or less useless? Did you know there is a serious black market trade in sand in certain parts of the world, and that people are murdered to protect that black market trade? This week we learn just how much of our modern world is built with, on, and using sand. We spend the hour with award-winning journalist and author Vince Beiser, talking about his new book "The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed...


#488 Big Chicken (Rebroadcast)
2018-08-23 21:00:00
We eat a lot of chicken. But we didn't used to. What changed? In part, what changed was the discovery that antibiotics could build a bigger, better chicken. Now, the big chicken may be suffering the results of too much medicine. This week, we hear from science journalist Maryn McKenna about her new book "Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats." We'll also hear from zoonotic disease specialist Tara Smith about the challenges scientists face trying to get out of the lab and into the pigpen. This episode is...


#487 Knitting in PEARL
2018-08-16 21:00:00
This week we're discussing math and things made from yarn. We welcome mathematician Daina Taimina to the show to discuss her book "Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes: Tactile Mathematics, Art and Craft for all to Explore", and how making geometric models that people can play with helps teach math. And we speak with research scientist Janelle Shane about her hobby of training neural networks to do things like name colours, come up with Halloween costume ideas, and generate knitting patterns: often with hilarious results. Related links: Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane by Daina Taimina and David Henderson Daina's Hyperbolic Crochet blog...


#486 Volcanoes
2018-08-09 21:00:00
This week we're talking volcanoes. Because there are few things that fascinate us more than the amazing, unstoppable power of an erupting volcano. First, Jessica Johnson takes us through the latest activity from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii to help us understand what's happening with this headline-grabbing volcano. And Janine Krippner joins us to highlight some of the lesser-known volcanoes that can be found in the USA, the different kinds of eruptions we might one day see at them, and how damaging they have the potential to be. Related links: Kilauea status report at USGS A beginner's guide to Hawaii's otherworldly...


#485 Fine Times with Wine
2018-08-02 21:00:00
How do you pick your wine? By its history? By its grape? By the picture on the bottle? Well you're about to get your wine world turned upside down. We'll hear about the history of this fabulous fermentation from Kevin Begos, author of the book "Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine". Then we'll talk with Erika Saymanski about the little microbes that make it all possible, yeast! On the way, we're going to have Science for the People's first ever wine tasting! Related links: Background music: Mozart Flute Quartet in D...


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#509 Anisogamy: The Beginning of Male and Female
This week we discuss how the sperm and egg came to be, and how a difference of reproductive interest has led to sexual conflict in bed bugs. We'll be speaking with Dr. Geoff Parker, an evolutionary biologist credited with developing a theory to explain the evolution of two sexes, about anisogamy, sexual reproduction through the fusion of two different gametes: the egg and the sperm. Then we'll speak with Dr. Roberto Pereira, research scientist in urban entomology at the University of Florida, about traumatic insemination in bed bugs.