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Perpetual Emotion Machine [rebroadcast] from Big Picture Science

From Big Picture Science - Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you're coming from.  Computers that can tell by your voice whether you're pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your mood.  Empathetic electronics that you can relate to. But wait a minute - we don't always relate to other humans.  Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging - our emotions are often conflicted and irrational.   We cry when we're happy.  Frown when we're pensive.  A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience.  One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge's blood sugar. So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway.  Guests: Rosalind Picard - Professor at the MIT Media Lab and co-founder of the companies Affectiva and Empatica.  Robert Sapolsky - Professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, and author of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. 


Big Picture Science
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Perpetual Emotion Machine [rebroadcast]
2020-01-13 07:14:06
Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you're coming from.  Computers that can tell by your voice whether you're pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your mood.  Empathetic electronics that you can relate to. But wait a minute - we don't always relate to other humans.  Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging - our emotions are often conflicted and irrational.   We cry when we're happy.  Frown when we're pensive.  A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience.  One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge's blood sugar. So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway.  Guests: Rosalind Picard - Professor at the MIT Media Lab and co-founder of the companies Affectiva and Empatica.  Robert Sapolsky - Professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, and author of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. 
50 minutes, 31 seconds


The Ears Have It
2020-01-20 09:28:41
What's the difference between a bird call and the sound of a pile driver?  Not much, when you're close to the loudest bird ever.  Find out when it pays to be noisy and when noise can worsen your health.  Just about everyone eventually suffers some hearing loss, but that's not merely aging.  It's an ailment we inflict on ourselves.  Hear how a team in New York City has put sensors throughout the city to catalog noise sources, hoping to tame the tumult. And can underwater speakers blasting the sounds of a healthy reef bring life back to dead patches of the Great Barrier Reef? Guests: Mark Cartwright - Research Assistant Professor at New York University's Department of Computer Science and Engineering Charles Mydlarz - Research Assistant Professor at New York University's Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL) David Owen - Staff writer at The New Yorker, and author of Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World Jeff Podos - Professor in the Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Steve Simpson - Professor of Marine Biology and Global Change, Exeter University, U.K.


Perpetual Emotion Machine [rebroadcast]
2020-01-13 07:14:06
Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you're coming from.  Computers that can tell by your voice whether you're pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your mood.  Empathetic electronics that you can relate to. But wait a minute - we don't always relate to other humans.  Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging - our emotions are often conflicted and irrational.   We cry when we're happy.  Frown when we're pensive.  A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience.  One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge's blood sugar. So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway.  Guests: Rosalind Picard - Professor at the MIT Media Lab and co-founder of the companies Affectiva and Empatica.  Robert Sapolsky - Professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, and author of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. 


Your Brain's Reins [rebroadcast]
2020-01-06 07:37:11
You are your brain.  But what happens when your brain changes for the worse - either by physical injury or experience?  Are you still responsible for your actions? We hear how the case of a New York man charged with murder was one of the first to introduce neuroscience as evidence in court.  Plus, how technology hooks us - a young man so addicted to video games, he lacked social skills, or even a desire to eat.  Find out how technology designers conspire against his digital detox. Also, even if your brain is intact and your only task is choosing a sock color, are you really in control?  How your unconscious directs even mundane behavior ... and how you can outwit it.  Guests: Kevin Davis - Author of The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America's Courtrooms Hilarie Cash - Co-founder and chief clinical officer of reSTART, an internet addiction recovery program Adam Alter - Assistant professor of marketing and psychology at New York University, Stern School of Business, and author of Irresistible: the Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Peter Vishton - Psychologist at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia


Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself [rebroadcast]
2019-12-30 10:34:20
Do we still need doctors?  There are umpteen alternative sources of medical advice, including endless and heartfelt health tips from people without medical degrees. Frankly, self-diagnosis with a health app is easier and cheaper than a trip to a clinic.   Since we're urged to be our own health advocate and seek second opinions, why not ask Alexa or consult with a celebrity about what ails us? Find out if you can trust these alternative medical advice platforms.  Plus, lessons from an AIDS fighter about ignoring the findings of medical science.   And, if AI can diagnose better than an MD, will we stop listening to doctors altogether? It's our monthly look at critical thinking ... but don't take our word for it! Guests: Katherine Foley - Science and health reporter at Quartz, and author of the article "Alexa is a Terrible Doctor" Paul Offit - Professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of "Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren't Your Best Source of  Health Information" Richard Marlink - Director Rutgers Global Health Institute. Shinjini Kundu - Research Fellow, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Stuart Schlisserman - Internist, Palo Alto, California   originally aired September 24, 2018


Handling the Holidays
2019-12-23 09:14:38
The stress of the holidays can make you want to hide under the covers with a warm cup of cocoa.  From gift buying to family gatherings, the holidays can feel like being inside a pressure cooker.  But don't despair!  Science can help make the holidays a little brighter, from some gift-giving tips from our animal friends to embracing pessimism before a challenging social event to stopping that annoying merry melody on repeat in your head. Guests: Adam South - Research assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University Mitch Ratcliffe - CEO and publisher of Earth911 Julie Norem - Psychology professor at Wellesley College and author of "The Positive Power of Negative Thinking" Elizabeth Margulis - Music professor at Princeton University and author of "On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind" Steve Ilardi - Clinical psychology associate professor at the University of Kansas.  Read his paper on the effects of sugar here.


HtH1_South
2019-12-23 09:06:31



HtH4_Illardi
2019-12-23 09:06:01



HtH2_Ratcliffe
2019-12-23 09:05:18



HtH3_Norem
2019-12-23 09:04:50



HtH5_Margulis
2019-12-23 09:04:24



Waste Not
2019-12-16 08:29:40
Why create more landfill?  Perhaps you should resist the urge to toss those old sneakers, the broken ceiling fan, or last year's smart phone.  Instead, repurpose them!  Global junk entrepreneurs are leading the way in turning trash to treasure, while right-to-repair advocates fight for legislation that would give you a decent shot at fixing your own electronic devices.  And, if you toss food scraps down the drain as you cook, are you contributing to a "fatberg" horror in the sewer? Guests: John Love - Synthetic biologist at the University of Exeter Adam Minter - Author of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale Amanda Preske - Chemist and the owner of Circuit Breaker Labs Nathan Proctor - National campaign director for S. Public Interest Research Group - (PIRGS) Right to Repair campaign Kyle Wiens - CEO of I-Fixit, an Internet repair community


Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience
2019-11-25 07:55:12
Psychics may not be able to predict the future or sense your thoughts.  Nonetheless, they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  But the harm from pseudoscience can go far beyond your wallet - especially when it promotes unscientific treatments for serious disease.  Find out what alarming discovery led one naturopath to quit her practice and why scientific ignorance is not bliss.  It's our regular look at critical thinking, but don't take our word for it. Guests: Robert Palmer - Member of the Guerilla Skeptics on the Wikipedia editing team and columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer on-line magazine Lee McIntyre - Research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and lecturer on ethics at Harvard Extension School Britt Marie Hermes - Former naturopath doctor; now doctoral student in evolutionary genetics at the University of Kiel, Germany  


Stopping Ebola
2019-11-18 07:56:22
A new vaccine may help turn Ebola into a disease we can prevent, and a new drug may make it one we can cure.  But the political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo has fueled violence against health workers and Ebola treatment centers.  Find out why context matters in the efforts to stop Ebola, what new drugs and vaccines are on the horizon, and whether the world is prepared for the next infectious pandemic.  Even if Ebola's threat is diminishing, what about the next pandemic?  Is the world prepared? Guests: Richard Preston - Journalist and author  of "Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History." Yap Boum - Regional representative for Africa for Epicentre, the research arm of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Cameroon. Amy Maxmen - Senior reporter, Nature.  Her most recent piece is "Behind the Front Lines of the Ebola Wars."


Supercomputer Showdown
2019-11-04 07:50:46
Do you have a hard-to-answer question?  The Summit, Sierra, Trinity, Frontier, and Aurora supercomputers are built to tackle it.  Summit tops the petaflop heap - at least for now.  But Frontier and Aurora are catching up as they take aim at a new performance benchmark called exascale.    So why do we need all this processing power?  From climate modeling to personalized medicine, find out why the super-est computers are necessary to answer our biggest questions. But is the dark horse candidate, quantum computing, destined to leave classical computing in the dust? Guests: Katherine Riley - Director of Science, Argonne National Laboratory Jack Wells - Director of Science, Oak Ridge National Laboratory National Center for Computational Sciences Katie Bethea - Communications Team Lead, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Jeffrey Hawkins - Technologist and neuroscientist.  Co-founder of Palm, Handspring and Numenta Eleanor Rieffel - Mathematician, NASA Ames Research Center, and co-author of "Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor," published in Nature magazine


Nobel Efforts
2019-10-21 08:00:56
For two Swiss astronomers, it's "Stockholm, here we come."  Their first-ever discovery of a planet orbiting another star has been awarded the most prestigious prize in science.  Find out how their exoplanet discovery led to 4,000 more and how that changes the odds of finding life beyond Earth.  Also, the Nobel committee is not alone in finding distant worlds inspirational: a musician is translating their orbital signatures into sound. Guests: Roy Gould - Biophysicist and researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Author of "Universe in Creation" Jeffrey Smith - Data scientist and a principal investigator for TESS at the SETI Institute David Ibbett - Composer and director of the Multiverse Concert Series


Battling Bacteria
2019-10-07 07:33:27
We can't say we weren't warned.  More than 75 years ago, bacteriologist Rene Dubos cautioned that misuse of antibiotics could breed drug-resistant bacteria - and he has been proved prescient.  In this episode: the rise of superbugs, why we ignored the warnings about them, how some are enlisting an old therapy to fight back, and whether we'll heed history's lessons in the face of a future pandemic.  Plus, a weird unforeseen effect of antibiotics being investigated at the Body Farm.  Guests: Fred Turek - Director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, Department of Neurobology, Northwestern University Jennifer DeBruyn - Microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, who also works at the Anthropology Research Facility, a.k.a. the Body Farm   Steffanie Strathdee - Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author (with Tom Patterson) of  "The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug" Tom Patterson - Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author (with Steffanie Strathdee) of  "The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug" Mark Honigsbaum - Medical Historian, journalist, and lecturer at City University, London, and author of "The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris"


Headed For Trouble
2019-09-30 08:47:12
The stone heads on Easter Island are an enduring mystery: why were they built and why were they abandoned and destroyed?  The old ideas about cultural collapse are yielding to new ones based on careful investigation on the ground - but also from above.  What surprising explanations have we found and are we off base to think that ancient societies such as the Easter Islanders or the classical Egyptians were, in the end, failures?  Can what we learn from these histories help predict which societies will survive? Guests: James Grant Peterkin - Tour guide, resident, and British Honorary Consul on Easter Island Sarah Parcak - Archaeologist, Egyptologist, remote sensing expert, professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and author of Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past Carl Lipo - Anthropologist and professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York


For Good Measure
2019-09-09 07:53:48
The reign of Le Grand K has come to an end. After 130 years, this hunk of metal sitting in a Parisian vault will no longer define the kilogram. The new kilogram mass will be defined by Planck's constant, joining three other units for redefinition by fundamental constants.  But as we measure with increasing precision - from cesium atomic clocks to gravitational wave detectors able to measure spacetime distortions to 1/1000th the width of a proton - is something fundamental lost along the way?  Meanwhile, the BiPiSci team accepts the banana-measurement challenge. Guests: Jon Pratt - Mechanical engineer and engineer and Chief of the Quantum Measurement Division of the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Wolfgang Ketterle - Physicist at MIT, Nobel Laureate Simon Winchester - Author of "The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World"


Skeptic Check: Data Bias
2019-09-02 09:00:00
Sexist snow plowing?  Data that guide everything from snow removal schedules to heart research often fail to consider gender.  In these cases, "reference man" stands in for "average human."   Human bias also infects artificial intelligence, with speech recognition triggered only by male voices and facial recognition that can't see black faces.  We question the assumptions baked into these numbers and algorithms. Guests: Caroline Criado-Perez - Journalist and author of "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" Kade Crockford - Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts Amy Webb - Futurist, founder and CEO of the Future Today Institute, and author of "The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and There Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity"


Granting Immunity
2019-08-12 07:44:53
"Diversity or die" could be your new health mantra. Don't boost your immune system, cultivate it! Like a garden, your body's defenses benefit from species diversity.  Find out why multiple strains of microbes, engaged in a delicate ballet with your T-cells, join internal fungi in combatting disease. Plus, global ecosystems also depend on the diversity of its tiniest members; so what happens when the world's insects bug out? Guests: Matt Richtel - Author, most recently, of "An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of The Immune System" Rob Dunn - Biologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University. Author of "Never Home Alone" David Underhill - Professor of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, California Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson - Professor in conservation biology at the Institute for Ecology and Nature Management at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.  Author of "Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects"  


Let's Stick Together
2019-07-22 08:56:11
Crowded subway driving you crazy?  Sick of the marathon-length grocery store line? Wish you had a hovercraft to float over traffic?  If you are itching to hightail it to an isolated cabin in the woods, remember, we evolved to be together.  Humans are not only social, we're driven to care for one another, even those outside our immediate family.   We look at some of the reasons why this is so - from the increase in valuable communication within social groups to the power of the hormone oxytocin.  Plus, how our willingness to tolerate anonymity, a condition which allows societies to grow, has a parallel in ant supercolonies. Guests: Adam Rutherford - Geneticist and author of "Humanimal: How Homo sapiensBecame Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature - a New Evolutionary History" Patricia Churchland - Neurophilosopher, professor of philosophy emerita at the University of California San Diego, and author most recently of "Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition" Mark Moffett - Tropical biologist, Smithsonian Institution researcher, and author of "The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive and Fall"


Math's Paths
2019-07-15 06:42:47
If you bake, you can appreciate math's transformative properties.  Admiring the stackable potato chip is to admire a hyperbolic sheet.  Find out why there's no need to fear math - you just need to think outside the cuboid.  Also, how nature's geometric shapes inspire the next generation of squishy robots and an argument for radically overhauling math class.  The end point of these common factors is acute show that's as fun as eating Pi. Guests: Eugenia Cheng - Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, tenured at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and author of "How to Bake Pi" Shankar Venkataramani - Professor of math at the University of Arizona Steven Strogatz - Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University and author of "Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe" Daniel Finkel - Mathematician and founder and director of operations at "Math for Love"


Nailing the Moon Landing
2019-07-01 08:36:21
Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effortless, but the moon landing was neither easy nor inevitable.  Soon after President Kennedy publicly stated the goal of sending Americans to the moon, NASA confessed that the chances of success were only about 50/50.   But on July 20, 1969, despite enormous difficulties, astronauts stepped onto the lunar regolith. In this special anniversary episode, we go behind the iconic phrases and familiar photos to consider the errors, mishaps, and the Plan B contingencies that dogged the project, as well as hear of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who made Apollo 11 possible.    Guests: Charles Fishman -  author of "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon" Matt Hayes -  President and CEO of the Museum of Flight, Seattle Geoff Nunn - Adjust curator for Space History at the Museum of Flight. David Whitehouse -  Journalist, broadcaster, and author of "Apollo 11: The Inside Story" Dee O'Hara - NASA's first aerospace nurse and flight nurse for the Apollo mission James Allen Joki - EMU Flight Controller, Apollo Mission Control, Houston. Ted Huetter - Museum of Flight public relations manager.


Animals Like Us
2019-06-24 08:28:17
Laughing rats, sorrowful elephants, joyful chimpanzees.  The more carefully we observe, and the more we learn about animals, the closer their emotional lives appear to resemble our own.  Most would agree that we should minimize the physical suffering of animals, but should we give equal consideration to their emotional stress?  Bioethicist Peter Singer weighs in. Meanwhile, captivity that may be ethical: How human-elephant teamwork in Asia may help protect an endangered species. Guests: Frans de Waal - Primatologist and biologist at Emory University; author of "Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves."  Watch the video of Mama and Jan Van Hooff. Peter Singer - Philosopher, professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Jacob Shell - Professor of geography at Temple University, and author of "Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants." Kevin Schneider - Executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project


Skeptic Check: Worrier Mentality
2019-05-27 08:33:35
Poisonous snakes, lightning strikes, a rogue rock from space.  There are plenty of scary things to fret about, but are we burning adrenaline on the right ones?  Stepping into the bathtub is more dangerous than flying from a statistical point of view, but no one signs up for "fear of showering" classes.  Find out why we get tripped up by statistics, worry about the wrong things, and how the "intelligence trap" not only leads smart people to make dumb mistakes, but actually causes them to make more. Guests: Eric Chudler - Research association professor, department of bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle and co-author of "Worried: Science Investigates Some of Life's Common Concerns" Lise Johnson - Director of the Basic Science Curriculum, Rocky Vista University, and co-author of "Worried: Science Investigates Some of Life's Common Concerns" Willie Turner - Vice President of Operations at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA Charles Wheelan - Senior Lecturer and Policy Fellow, Dartmouth College, and author of "Naked Statistics" David Robson - Commissioning Editor for the BBC and author of "The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes"


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