Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

Ways to Connect

What came first, life on Earth or oxygen on Earth? It might depend on what type of life you are talking about. But understanding how oxygen got here might go a long way towards explaining how we got here.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series returns with a look at the search for the origins of oxygen on Earth…and how that might lead to more clues about the origins of life.

We'll also spend an academic minute looking for water beneath the surface of Mars.

Despite all the innovations and new teaching techniques schools have introduced in the last few decades, the actual school day has looked pretty much the same.  Students go to class, listen to a teacher and take notes, then are off to do homework or study for an exam.  But there is a trend starting to take hold in some schools that reverses that school day. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about schools that are flipping classes…and how it has succeeded where other innovations have failed.

Have you ever done something, stopped, and then thought...why the heck do I just do that? The answer is: you didn't...apparently it's all your brain's fault. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to a psychiatric researcher about how the brain sometimes goes off on its own...and how you can regain control.

We'll also spend some time in a special education class in California...and spend an academic minute getting older in living color.

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has entertained audiences for over two decades with movies like The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs.  As founder of the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation he has lead initiatives to feed the hungry, empower women and provide children in Africa with lifesaving vitamins.  Now, he is tackling one of the most hotly debated topics here in the US…schools. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with this award winning director about how he got schooled about the keys to education reform.

Can knowledge be patented?  A series of court rulings in the past few years have given conflicting answers to that question. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll speak to a patent attorney about some of the most prominent intellectual property patent cases of the last few years...including one that still not settled.

We'll also find out if a university that was used as part of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s is radioactive today...and spend an academic minute finding out what Shakespeare thought about property.

Earlier this year we got word from NASA that, after traveling through space for nearly 35 years, the probe Voyager 1 has left our solar system and headed off into, well...we really don't know do we.  However we are getting a better idea of what type of planets are systems are waiting beyond our solar system. 

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series returns with a look at the search for exo-planets...and perhaps the forms of life they may host.

There is growing controversy around the country about the Common Core education standards that almost every state is adopting.  Some of that controversy is just political posturing and blow-hardiness.  But one element may be worth listening to: the teaching of cursive writing is not part of the standards. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from a handwriting expert who thinks cursive writing is a disappearing skill that is still vital.

Ready for some tough questions? How about, you discover your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mix-up at the hospital, not yours. Would you want to exchange the child to try to correct the mistake? Want another? Would you be willing to murder an innocent person if you knew it would end world hunger? 

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the author of The Book Of Questions and find out if there are any really good answers.

We’ve heard many times that the key to getting out of poverty is education.  But schools cost money…something that is in short supply in the most impoverished areas of the world.  That’s a problem that Jim Ziolkowski has spent the last 20 years trying to solve. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the beginnings of the non-profit called buildOn that is helping the poorest around the world find education…including here in the US.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with smokers and their families.

We’ve been searching for the origins of life for quite some time now…well, at least we have on this program.  Now, in order to get a better understanding of where that origin might me, there is work being done study the make-up…and origins…of planets.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astro-biology series returns with a look at the building blocks of planets…and the clues they hold about the building blocks of life.

We’ll also spend an academic minute confirming that if you have arms and legs, it’s a pretty good idea to live on land.

One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from the author of one of the most complete biographies of the man who, among other things, led the US through World War One.

Then we’ll spend an academic minute finding out that size really does matter.

Remember the story of Johnny Appleseed...the man who legend says roaming the country planting his seeds wherever he went?  Well, Janisse Ray isn’t roaming the country planting seeds; she’s touring colleges and universities talking about the importance of saving different varieties of seeds before they are lost forever. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from Janisse about The Seed Underground.

There’s an awful lot of money involved in higher education…and that’s not even going into the cost of attending college for a student.  More and more, universities and colleges are becoming some of the leading economic drivers of their communities. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll find out the financial impact of college.

We’ll also hear about the latest apps for the classroom, and spend an academic minute with the question: “What’s the deal with hot lava?”

Believe it or not, some, if not most schools across the country have entire departments dedicated to nothing but playing games.  These games are called sports…and they seem to be pretty popular.  But seriously now…

As we begin another college and professional football season, there is still a lot of talk about how to rid the sports world of performance enhancing drugs.  All of the college and major sports leagues in the US have drug testing programs…but how exactly do those programs work?

Where can you find the smartest kids in the world? It’s not an easy question.  It’s probably not even a fair question.  But it’s a question that one journalist and author sought to answer by following three US students as they studied in countries with some of the best education outcomes in the world. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, the search for the smartest kids in the world.

When searching for the origins of life on earth you’re going to need a few basic things in your toolbox.  One is patience.  Another is an understanding of the chemical make-up of life.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astro-biology series returns with a look at the chemical make-up of Earth…and how it compares to the earth of a few billion years ago.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with the really nasty chemistry that goes on the in box jelly fish near the Hawaiian Islands.

There’s an awful lot of learning and training going on in colleges and universities across the US, but according to a new book…not a lot of thinking.  Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear why some people in education are saying “why teach”.  We’ll also hear from the mother of a 14 year old literal genius…who was never expected to be able to tie his own shoes.  And spend an academic minute imaging an emotional brain.

As we get ready for the new school year, a lot of students are making plans for life after high school.  For the majority of those students that means trying to get into the college of their choice…and that means it time for another choice: the ACT or the SAT.  Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to one of the authors of the book Ace The A.C.T, and find out some secrets for test taking happiness.

If you plan on going to school to become a physical therapist…you should probably plan on going to school a little longer than you planned. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the new academic standards for physical therapists.

We’ll also hear what medical schools are, and are not teaching students about alternative medicine.  Then it’s off to DC where a University of Maryland art professor has the hottest class on campus…and we’ll spend an academic minute with a galactic hook up.

I think it’s safe to say that over the past few decades we have made enormous changes and advances in the way we communicate. Information is flowing at an amazing pace in almost every aspect in life.  However…there is one surprising hold out: the scientific journal. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation on the evolution, or lack thereof, of scientific journals.

For years here on TBOOK we’ve been running our Astrobiology series which, among other things, chronicles scientists’ efforts to discover the origins of life.  And it’s not just life on Earth.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from a woman who is a scientist and an explorer doing a long distance search for life on Mars.

We’ll also hear about the discovery of a new species of fish in a very unusual…and dry…location.

We hear a lot about the amount of debt many students take on while attending college.  But how many of those schools are making sure those students know how to deal with that debt...or even understand it once they graduation? Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about one northeast school that now mandates courses in financial literacy for all their students.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute trying to find a little financial sense in the cost of health care in the US.

The question of race is never easy...and it’s not going away anytime soon. This week on The Best Of Our Knowledge, a look at High Schools, Race, and America's Future.

We’ll also spend an academic minute looking at the evolution of skin color.

The Health Show #1317

Jun 28, 2013

1988 was an interesting year.  A presidential election was underway.  The Mets were in first place.  And a public radio station in Albany, New York decided to begin producing a weekly program on health issues hosted by Dr. David Carpenter called The Health Show.  

25 years, several hosts and producers and 1,317 episodes later, we come to the final installment of that show.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll look back at some of the segments of the show that we are most proud of.  

A subject we’ve hit on a lot here is the challenge of reviving inner city schools and giving those students equal opportunities with more affluent districts.  Funny’s happening right now. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about some improbable scholars turning around a school system in New Jersey.

We’ll also meet a man who keeps a school system musical without playing a single note...hear commentary about keeping things fun...and spend an academic minute learning about yesterday’s climate on today’s Hudson River.

The Health Show #1316

Jun 21, 2013

Almost decade ago, Dr. Richard Besser...the chief medical editor for ABC News lost his sister while she was having elective surgery.  Since then he has been a vocal advocate for patients demanding information from their health care providers.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll hear about the book “Tell Me The Truth, Doctor”.

We’ll also hear about the health concerns being raised by the increasing popularity of raw milk cheese...and hear the story of two women dealing with breast cancer in two different worlds.

Although some high school students might disagree with this, science is not a dry topic.  In fact, studying life on Earth, or on any other planet for that matter has to begin in water.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology Series returns with a look at the importance of water in the study...and the origins of life.

Plus we’ll spend an academic minute finding out why humidity makes it harder to keep your cold drink cold.

The Health Show #1315

Jun 14, 2013

If you had the chance, would you go back to being a teenagers again?  Before you answer think back to just exactly what that meant.  It wasn’t easy.  Now imagine living that portion of your life over with a parent who has cancer.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk to a father and daughter who co-wrote a book about that experience in the aptly titled book: “Cancer Sucks!”.

We’ll also hear from some musicians who continue making music...even though they are hearing impaired.

I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that swift and amazing changes have taken place in this, the digital age.  But according to a pair a executives from Google, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear a conversation with this pair of high tech execs about what they call the NEW digital age.

We’ll also hear about technology you can wear...and how it is improving the study of people with autism.

The Health Show #1314

Jun 7, 2013

What is it about Americans that makes solving the problem of drugs and addiction so difficult?  Addiction to drugs impacts almost every other problem facing the nation, from education to crime to poverty to health care.  What are the most effective ways to defeat addiction and how has the war on drugs made the problem worse?  These are the questions being tackled by award winning journalist and author David Sheff.