science

  Rob Dunn's The Man Who Touched His Own Heart tells the raucous, gory, mesmerizing story of the heart, from the first "explorers" who dug up cadavers and plumbed their hearts' chambers, through the first heart surgeries-which had to be completed in three minutes before death arrived-to heart transplants and the latest medical efforts to prolong our hearts' lives, almost defying nature in the process.

  Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Museum has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2013. Established in 1903, the Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines.

The new exhibition If/Then opens this Saturday, January 24 at the Berkshire Museum. Visitors to If/Then will enter a topsy-turvy world of experience, where senses rule. They will traverse the horizontal climbing wall; dodge an obstacle course of pretend laser beams; and use dots and dashes to mark their height on a drawing wall.

  Science popularizer, Chad Orzel received his BA in physics from Williams College, his Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Maryland, and his postdoctorate from Yale University. He maintains the blog Uncertain Principles and is the author of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog and How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog. He is a professor at Union College in Schenectady, New York.

In his new book, Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist, Orzel argues that even the people who are most forthright about hating science are doing science, often without even knowing it.

    New Yorker staff writer and best-selling author Elizabeth Kolbert offers a startling look at the mass extinction currently unfolding before us in her new book –The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

Over the last half billion years, there have been five major mass extinctions – we’ll learn more about the sixth with Elizabeth Kolbert.

  The odds are good that you know a narcissist. The odds are also good that they are intelligent, confident, and articulate—the center of attention.

Narcissists are everywhere. There are millions of them in the United States alone: entertainers, politicians, business people, your neighbors. Recognizing and understanding them is crucial to your not being overtaken by them, says Jeffrey Kluger, in his provocative new book, The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed - in Your World.

    Sarah Varney is a senior correspondent with Kaiser Health News. She also reports for NPR’s science and health desk and the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and McClatchy newspapers. She has reported extensively on health policy and health disparities within the public health sphere, and she has contributed multiple stories to NPR’s "Living Large," a series on how obesity is changing life in America.

In her book, XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis is Complicating America's Love Life, she travels the country and tells the personal stories of men and women who are experiencing what millions of others feel every day, along with the stories of those who are in the business of helping them: physicians, researchers, scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and more.

  

  The Science Festival of The Capital Region is taking place this weekend – November 7th – 9th.

You can discover wall-to-wall science with more than 45 presenters from throughout the Capital Region and explore nanotechnology, robotics, natural sciences, chemistry, astronomy, and more with miSci, Girls Inc. Eureka Girls, the Adirondack Museum, Dudley Observatory, Time Warner Cable, Quirky, National Grid, Nano-Link, San Francisco’s Exploratorium, Scotia-Glenville Children’s Museum, WMHT and others.

Stephen Gottlieb: American Scientific Capital

Aug 19, 2014

A panel at a national meeting of historians I attended was devoted to the relation between the study of history and STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. One speaker explained that practical skills were widespread early in our history. Those skills, like surveying, sailing, or building canals, required both hands-on skills and the ability to perform calculations and experiment. American surveyors, navigators and builders were doing what we now call science and math, though they rarely got the credit. One surveyor wrote to a Frenchman around 1814 that no one was paying for astronomy, and no one was paying him for his astronomical investigations and calculations. But the speaker then pointed out that this gentleman was in fact being paid by the government for surveying and that his surveys required the astronomical observations he was making. He was doing the work, though not being recognized for it as his French friend would have been.

    Bob Berman is considered one of America's top astronomy writers. He is currently a columnist for Astronomy and the science editor of The Old Farmer's Almanac.

In his latest book, Zoom: How Everything Moves, From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees, Berman explores how motion shapes every aspect of the universe. 

  Deborah Harkness is a scholar and writer specializing in the history of science and medicine. She has received numerous awards, including Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Humanities Center fellowships. Currently a professor of history at the University of Southern California, she is the author of the New York Times bestselling All Souls Trilogy, and the final book in that trilogy, The Book of Life, is out today.

    

  At some point during the last 100,000 years, humans began exhibiting traits and behavior that distinguished us from other animals, eventually creating language, art, religion, bicycles, spacecraft, and nuclear weapons—all within a heartbeat of evolutionary time. Now, faced with the threat of nuclear weapons and the effects of climate change, it seems our innate tendencies for violence and invention have led us to a crucial tipping point. Where did these traits come from? Are they part of our species immutable destiny? Or is there hope for our species’ future if we change?

With fascinating facts and his unparalleled readability, Jared Diamond intended his book, The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, to improve the world that today’s young people will inherit.

  What if we woke up one morning all of the dinosaur bones in the world were gone? How would we know these iconic animals had a165-million year history on earth, and had adapted to all land-based environments from pole to pole? What clues would be left to discern not only their presence, but also to learn about their sex lives, raising of young, social lives, combat, and who ate who? What would it take for us to know how fast dinosaurs moved, whether they lived underground, climbed trees, or went for a swim?

Welcome to the world of ichnology, the study of traces and trace fossils—such as tracks, trails, burrows, nests, toothmarks, and other vestiges of behavior—and how through these remarkable clues, we can explore and intuit the rich and complicated lives of dinosaurs.

    Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike -- strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents -- and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. Parents suddenly couldn't recognize their own children. Pillars of the community became pathological liars. Some people couldn't speak but could still sing.

In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean travels through time with stories of neurological curiosities: phantom limbs, Siamese twin brains, viruses that eat patients' memories, blind people who see through their tongues.

    Brought to you by the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio, The Art of Tinkering is an unprecedented celebration of what it means to tinker: to take things apart, explore tools and materials, and build wondrous, wild art that’s part science and part technology. Join 150+ makers as they share the stories behind their beautiful and bold work—and use the special conductive ink on the cover to do some tinkering yourself!

    Former New Paltz resident and 2003 Oakwood Friends School graduate Dr. Jennifer Yee, 29, will return to the School to present its annual Herzog Lecture, on Friday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m.

Dr. Yee, who has helped discover 15 planets, was one of five young astronomers in 2013 to be awarded a Carl Sagan Exoplanet Postdoctoral Fellowship by NASA. The prize fellowship, named for the late astronomer, was created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around stars other than the Sun. For her Sagan Fellowship, Dr. Yee is based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

    

  Dave Goulson became obsessed with wildlife as a small boy growing up in rural England, starting with an increasingly exotic menagerie of pets. When his interest turned to the anatomical, there were even some ill-fated experiments with taxidermy. But bees are where Goulson’s true passion lies—the humble bumblebee in particular.

Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the English short-haired bumblebee went extinct in the United Kingdom, but by a twist of fate still exists in the wilds of New Zealand, the descendants of a few pairs shipped over in the nineteenth century.

Dave Goulson’s quest to reintroduce it to its native land is one of the highlights of his book, A Sting in the Tale, that includes original research into the habits of these mysterious creatures, history’s relationship with the bumblebee, and advice on how to protect the bumblebee for future generations.

"Gulp" by Mary Roach

Apr 4, 2014

    Science writer, Mary Roach, started out as a magazine journalist, but eventually parlayed her column for Salon.com into her first book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Next, she investigated the afterlife in Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, then came Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.

In Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Roach dives into the human body, beginning at the mouth, then moves, um, downward as she discusses digestion and elimination.

    

  Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.

The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.

   

    We like to imagine that medicine is based on evidence and the results of fair testing and clinical trials. In reality, those tests and trials are often profoundly flawed. We like to imagine that doctors who write prescriptions for everything from antidepressants to cancer drugs to heart medication are familiar with the research literature about a drug, when in reality much of the research is hidden from them by drug companies.

With Ben Goldacre’s characteristic flair and a forensic attention to detail, Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients reveals a shockingly broken system and calls for regulation. This is the pharmaceutical industry as it has never been seen before.

Butterflies At miSci

Mar 11, 2014

  miSci is Schenectady NY’s Museum of Innovation and Science. You can escape winter’s seemingly never-ending chill and discover hundreds of brilliantly colored native butterflies at miSci’s new indoor butterfly house which is open through April 19th.

Dr. Mac Sudduth is miSci’s Executive Director and he joins us to talk about the Butterfly House and other goings-on at miSci.

We are also joined by Dr. Radislav Potyrailo a Principal Scientist in Chemistry & Chemical Engineering for GE Global Research. Tonight, he will be giving a lecture at miSci entitled Learning from Nature: Advancing Technologies from Biomimicry to Biomimetics and to Bioinspiration. He’s going to tell us a bit about sensors that were inspired by the iridescent scales of the Morpho butterfly wings.

    Expanding upon one of the most-read New York Times Magazine features of 2012, Smarter penetrates the hot new field of intelligence research to reveal what researchers call a revolution in human intellectual abilities.

Shattering decades of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that “fluid intelligence”—the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things—can be increased through training.

   Showtime's dramatic series Masters of Sex, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, is based on this real-life story of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson.

Convincing hundreds of men and women to shed their clothes and copulate, the pair were the nation’s top experts on love and intimacy. Highlighting interviews with the notoriously private Masters and the ambitious Johnson, critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier shows how this unusual team changed the way we all thought about, talked about, and engaged in sex while they simultaneously tried to make sense of their own relationship.

  From the Coke and Mentos fountain makers who found initial fame via Maker Faire and YouTube (more than 150 million views) comes a collection of DIY science projects guaranteed to inspire a love of experimentation. Their book is How to Build a Hovercraft.

Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz share their favorite projects: a giant air vortex cannon, a leaf blower hovercraft, a paper airplane that will fly forever, and many more.

Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz are the mad scientists behind EepyBird. Best known as "the Coke and Mentos guys," their viral videos have been seen over 150 million times. They experiment with soda and candy, sticky notes, paper airplanes, shampoo, plywood, and more, searching for ways to transform these everyday objects into something new and unforgettable. They are based in Buckfield, Maine. Half of the duo, Stephen Voltz joins us.

 Michael Ian Black is a comedian by trade, having starred in the sketch comedy series “The State,” “Stella,” “Michael & Michael Have Issues” and more.

But he is also a man of science.

He is set to co-host “Duck Quacks Don’t Echo,” a National Geographic reality series that puts over-the-top theories to the test through in-studio and pre-produced experiments.

Black will co-star alongside fellow comedians Tom Papa and Seth Herzog, who will conduct a variety of zany experiments in order to answer these questions: What happens if you give someone a nonalcoholic drink but tell them it contains alcohol — will they act drunk? Can four ceramic coffee mugs support the entire weight of a pick-up truck? Can pigeons can actually remember human faces?

The show premieres tonight at 10PM on National Geographic.

 Human genomes are 99.9 percent identical—with one prominent exception. Instead of a matching pair of X chromosomes, men carry a single X, coupled with a tiny chromosome called the Y.

Using methods from history, philosophy, and gender studies of science, Sarah Richardson examines in her new book, Sex Itself, how gender has helped to shape the research practices, questions asked, theories and models, and descriptive language used in sex chromosome research.

Sarah Richardson is assistant professor of the history of science and of studies of women, gender, and sexuality at Harvard University.

From refrigerators to roller-coasters, from neon signs to digital music - everywhere you turn the things around you help explain the fundamentals of science. National Geographic’s new book, The Science of Everything reveals the science behind virtually everything.

David Pogue is the former New York Times tech columnist (he's now with Yahoo) has written the foreword to the book and we welcome him to the show.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick held a cabinet meeting and made stops in the western part of the state today.

Tim Bizony is a letter press operator and one of the workers Governor Patrick spoke with at the Crane & Company Stationary site in North Adams.

“He was genuinely interested in what I do,” Bizony said. “He was fascinated by the machine. He asked a lot of questions and I was glad I was able to answer them for him.”

      The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is boasting a brand new science center, the MCLA Center for Science and Innovation, on its campus in North Adams. The four-story, 65,000 square foot building cost more than $30 million, taking just about a year to build. The center will be the home of the chemistry, biology, physics, psychology, and environmental studies departments.

A grand opening celebration will take place early next month. In the meantime, we celebrate today with the woman behind this project for the last several years - Mary Grant, the 11th president of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the first alumna of the College to serve as its president.

  On one day, Thursday Oct 10th, 3 thousand students, educators, and volunteers will visit 65 sites along the Hudson from New York Harbor to the mouth of the Mohawk.

It is being called “A Day In the Life of Hudson River.” 

  Hudson River Estuary Coordinator, Fran Dunwell and Hudson River Science Educator, Chris Bowser from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Estuary Program are here to tell us this morning about how this helps people get a feel for the diversity and dynamic nature of the Hudson River system.

Cindy Schultz / Times Union

    The word of the hour is Dinosaur. We mention it as two area organizations are focusing on the diverse group of animals of the clade Dinosauria.

miSci has an exhibit, Dinosaurs!, which contains animatronic dinosaurs on display through September 29th. The Dudley Observatory is offering one of their Skywatch Lectures: Death of the Dinosaurs on September 25, 2013.

This morning, we welcome - William “Mac” Sudduth, miSci Executive Director and John Delano, Dudley Observatory Skywatch Lecture Series Lecturer - Distinguished Teaching Professor; Collins Fellow; Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; Associate Director, New York Center for Astrobiology at the University at Albany.

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