The Best Of Our Knowledge

Fridays, 3pm - 3:30pm

Every day, faculty members at schools and universities throughout the world are making discoveries that shape our ways of thinking and redefine our understanding of today's knowledge-driven society. Since 1990, The Best of Our Knowledge has highlighted breakthroughs across disciplines and across the globe, putting you in touch with the men and women at the forefront of their fields. Each week this program examines some of the issues unique to college campuses, looks at the latest research, and invites commentary from experts and administrators from all levels of education.

Twitter: @TBOOKnowledge

Ways to Connect

Usually when we talk about class on this program, it’s one of those things they have in school.  Today, not so much.  Social status , or class isn’t something we really talk about much in the US. OK during election season we hear the term middle class thrown around like crazy, but other than that it’s almost a taboo topic.  But ignoring the issue doesn’t change the issue…class matters. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of a new book about class in the US…and a new study which focused on the class divisions in the activist community.

We talk a lot about space on this program. We hear from scientists and astro-physicists and researchers…but not from the people who actually go up and do the work. Well, until now.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear a conversation with Captain William Shepherd, the first commander of the international space station about working in space…and the politics of working side by side with Russians.

We'll also hear about school gardens, long distance unicycle ride and spend an academic minute playing with your food.

Studying the origins of life can have some benefits.  Scientists have been able to search for clues to beginnings of life down to the cellular level. And then they narrowed the search down even further.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series continues with a look at the study of our DNA with this molecular biochemistry...and how this study has resulted in some new and unexpected advances in medicine.

We'll also spend an academic minute studying another type of DNA...the building blocks of flowers.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been a part of children’s lives for a long time…and they’re probably not going away anytime soon. But what they say is true…times have changed. Now there’s a new kind of scouting that helps enrich a child’s digital life.

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about D-I-Y dot O-R-G, and how it’s taken the concept of scouting into the new century.

Then we’ll head to Oregon, where teachers using the common core standards are starting with one important skill: language.

Last week we had a great talk about community colleges in the US...and what the future might hold for these institutions and their students. This week, we're going to talk about a fairly large portion of their students, and of the whole population. People who have earned a G.E.D.

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk about what it means to have a G.E.D., and how getting one may have just become a bit harder.

We'll also spend an Academic Minute talking about the ear wax of whales because why not. 

I’ve got some numbers for you.  There are over 12 million students enrolled in community colleges in the US. That’s over 45% of all college students. And over the past decade those numbers have been growing. But are community colleges getting the attention…and the money…they need to serve those students?

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the state of community colleges in the US…and what needs to happen to keep them healthy and growing.

We'll also spend an Academic Minute giving you a one minute talk about giving a one minute talk. 

The Common Core standards. That's really all you have to say to get an animated discussion going...and by that I mean an argument. Though the standards were adopted by almost all the states, there is now a good deal of push back against them.

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll discuss the standards with a group of teachers from Florida, one of the states that is rethinking Common Core

What did you do on your last vacation? Hit the slopes for some skiing, fly to an island for a little sun and, oh I don’t know, maybe discover a new form of Eukaryotic life? Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series continues with the discovery of this unique form of life…and what it means for the study of the origins of life on Earth.

We'll also spend an academic minute letting you know what arraignments to make if you ever want to sleep with a lemur.

As parents, one of our biggest desires and challenges is for our children to be successful.  The thing is, sometimes we can be real pains in the neck about it and it’s not helping.

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of the book “Teach Your Children Well”, and try to find out how understanding and support beat so-called hyper-parenting any day of the week.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute finding out how gender roles determine who children choose to be their friends.

Harvard Education Press

Four or five decades ago, a college education wasn't worth that much.  Sure, getting a degree opened a lot of doors and many parents encouraged their children to continue their education...but there were plenty of well paying jobs waiting for people with a high school diploma, or less. Today, that's not nearly the case.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the authors of the new book "Restoring Opportunity - The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education"...and find out why the value of a college degree has skyrocketed since the 70s.

Fertility treatments have worked miracles for women and couples trying to have children. But those treatments have also open up other doors, including the ability to manipulate genes and quote: build a better baby.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a discussion on the ethics of embryonic genetics.

We'll also hear from a mother who wants to someday hear her deaf son say "I love you". Then the story of the opening of an independent book store...with actual books. And we’ll spend an academic minute with your genes and your jeans.

The search for life on Mars has gotten a lot of press over the past few years with probes and remote control explorers roaming the red planet for signs and clues.  But research is also done on meteorites that were found in one of the most barren environments on OUR planet.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series continues with the search for and study of microbial life on Mars, that may have hitched a ride to Earth.

We'll also spend an academic minute with some Earth bound microbes that are a little gassy.

In 2012, the New York Times Magazine featured a series of articles that created quite wave of comments and attention, both good and bad. The series was about a new field of intelligence research to reveal what researchers call a revolution in human intellectual abilities. The research shattered decades of dogma, with scientists publishing studies showing that “fluid intelligence”—the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things—can be increased through training.

University of Alabama

It wasn’t that long ago that scientists unlocked the human genome. Now, your unique genetic sequence can be mapped, paving the way for personalized health care…and perhaps high tech identity theft.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to Dr. Bruce Korf from the department of Genomics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham about the challenges of maintaining privacy in the information age.

We’ll also visit a school in the northeast that has been getting along quite well without a principal…and we’ll spend an academic minute making you want to scream.

As our understanding of the minds of children with autism continues to grow, new methods are being used to both evaluate and nurture those children. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about research published last summer from scientists at Indiana University about new ways to interact with these young people.

We’ll also go to a science fair.  And not one of those Mentos and Diet Coke volcano science fairs.  This one has actual science.  Plus we’ll spend an academic minute finding out how mosquitoes smell.

Some of the greatest advances in the past seven or eight decades have come from the laboratory. In those labs, some of the finest and most powerful minds in the country work to save lives.  There does seem to be an issue that is causing problem…they mix up the labels on their specimens…a lot.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about a new system that is working to end those errors.

OK, so how’s this new year been treating you so far?  Here at TBOOK central when we get into the first few cold days of January our thoughts almost always drift off to…SUMMER CAMP! But instead of sack races and soggy sheets, this camp involved lofty goals and big ideas.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series goes to camp…the sixth annual Exxon-Mobile Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp.

We'll also spend an academic minute keeping our eyes peeled for a stray super nova or two.

If you developed a good relationship with a baby sitter or a pediatrician, would you arbitrarily end that relationship each year and find a new one?  Well, when you stop and think about it, that’s exactly what most schools with students and teachers.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to a veteran school teacher and administrator about his new book with a very self-explanatory title: “Kids Need The Same Teacher For More Than One Year”.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute learning if a student’s brain is elastic enough for learning.

Do you constantly split infinitives, start sentences with “and” or “but” and end sentences with a preposition?  Have no fear, you’ve done nothing wrong.  It seems many of the grammar rules that we’ve been following over the years are completely bogus. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an English professor about the seven bogus grammar errors that you don’t need to worry about...and a lot more about the state of writing in general.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with another form of writing…tattoos, and see what effect they can have on job interviews.

If you spend any time at all watching football you know concussions are getting a lot more attention.  Now, the NFL is partnering with GE and Under Armor to promote their second Head Health Challenge...with up to 10 million dollars at stake. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to one of the judges of this competition.

We'll also find out how some students and trade school are dealing with student debt...listen to the music of the Furry Ambers, a group made up of developmentally challenged members...and spend an academic minute with frisky honey bees.

We spend a lot of time on this program talking about Astro-biology.  Today, we’re getting small.  It’s time to talk about Micro-biology…specifically, the workings innards of a micro-biology laboratory. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear how automation is finding its way into micro-biology labs.

We'll also find out that becoming a good Santa is about a lot more than the belly and the beard…and we’ll spend an academic minute with a lot of fun and games…and choices.

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.

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