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

Prisons in the US are booming. We incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any other nation in the world. And a lot of those inmate are growing older and sicker behind bars. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about a program where prison inmates are being taught to care for their own.

Then we’ll hear about a special day in India set aside to celebrate teachers, find out about the long road back from a traumatic brain injury…and spend an academic minute learning about medical devices that are a smooth as silk.

Unlocking to human genome was a tremendous accomplishment…and it really didn’t happen that long ago. Scientists can now map your unique genetic fingerprint, so to speak…paving the way for personalized health care…and perhaps high tech identity theft. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the challenges of maintaining privacy in the information age.

Then we’ll hear about students going beyond the borders of their own country to find a college or university. And we'll spend an academic minute with a look at the struggle between eco-tourism and industry.

When you fill out a form for a loan or a job application and you get to the part about education, there’s that choice right between “college degree” and “high school diploma” that says “some college”. Apparently, a whole lot of people check that box…and one state is trying to get those people back on track to a degree. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll learn about a program called “Complete Florida”.

When it comes to learning all there is to know about Earth oceans, we've only scratched the surface...or waded in knee deep if you want an ocean metaphor. But when it comes to educating people about the waves of new information being learn about the sea...there is no Jacques Cousteau of the new millennium to spread the word. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk about the challenge of bringing the ocean into the classroom.

The New Press

One in three American young people will be arrested before the age of 23, and many will spend time in institutions that used to be called "reform schools" or "rehabilitation camps"...but can really only be described as prisons.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the author of an extensive study of the juvenile justice system and learn just what is happening to children behind bars.

We'll also spend an academic minute looking at the health care people get while in jail.

Think about the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He took office in the depths of the great depression and guided the country through the last days of World War II.   But while FDR’s first hundred days may be the most celebrated period of his presidency, the 18 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor proved the most critical. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll celebrate Independence Day with a trip back to history class...and learn about the most important days of FDR.

We'll also spend an academic minute understanding history by using math.

A rock is a rock is a rock...right? Well, maybe. Geologists and geochemists who study the rock that makes up our planet have found that the solid rock under our feet may not be as solid as we think.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series continues with a look at the constant shift of the structure of the Earth...and how that may have clues to the origins of life on the planet.

We'll also spend an academic minute studying life on the Bering Strait...before it was a strait.

The number of students who drop out of high school is still too high in many cities...and the percentage gets higher when talking about minority students.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll about a west coast city’s efforts to fight the dropout rate in African American students.

Then we'll head to the clinical laboratory and learn about Micro RNAs...and what they can tell us about heart attacks. Hear about a book where the questions are way cooler than the answers...and spend an academic minute talking to robots.

It’s no secret that at a time when even people with college degrees are having trouble finding a good job, the growing number of people who fail to even finish high school is a growing problem in many American cities.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear what a city in Ohio is trying to do about the problem.

We’ll also hear from a high school senior who has been a target for colleges around the country…for years. Then it’s a trip to the lab where scientists are trying to turn “o-mics” into personalized medicine.

It's no secret that some of the greatest writers the world has known have also been some of the biggest drinkers. But is there a connection between the remarkable creativity of an Earnest Hemingway or John Cheever and the contents of their favorite bottle?

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll from author Olivia Laing who tackles that question in her latest book.

We'll also spend an academic minute trying to find out why some things just make you laugh.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education published a report called "A Nation at Risk - the Imperative for Education Reform", which essentially said the country's schools were failing.

That report started the school reform movement and, according to some educators, began a system designed to punish teachers rather than enrich students.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to a school superintendent from Texas who thinks public education in the US is under attack.

Any real estate agent will tell you, when you look for a place to live...it's location, location, location. We all like to make a home in a nice, livable neighborhood. But what makes a neighborhood livable? Some extremely small organisms can live in some extremely nasty places.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series continues with a look at the extreme environments some microbial life calls home.

We'll also spend an academic minute with science fiction that's not quite fiction any more.

buildOn.org

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 trying to find out what a livable wage looks like.

Recently, the technology company Qualcomm announced a 10 million dollar prize to anyone who can invent a medical tricorder.  That's right, the machine that Dr. McCoy used in Star Trek to diagnose everything from  Rigellian Fever to the Phage. The thing is, doctors are already using hand held technology to do some diagnosis...smart phone.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear how doctors in Africa are using smart phones to fight disease.

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.

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