In our show (So Called) Life, we interviewed undergrads at MIT giving bacteria genes to make them smell minty fresh. If you are at all disquieted that such young minds are given such profound tools, sorry, bioengineers are getting ever younger. As part of a program designed to help teachers in NYC schools run a DNA transformation lab, I've seen 5th graders engineer bacteria to glow like a certain species of jellyfish found off the coast of Washington State.
Greek philosopher Heraclitus said 'Panta Rei', which means 'all things flow'. Rheology ('flow'-ology) is the study of viscoelastic materials like Jello that are a little bit liquid and a little bit solid. But even the most liquid of liquids have some solid character. And even the most solid of solids have some liquid character. Take those beautiful stained glass windows in gothic cathedrals. For a long time it was thought that these windows are thin at the top and thick at the bottom as a result of centuries of slow viscous flow. As it turns out, it would take much more than centuries for glass to flow (see comments below).
NPR’s David Kestenbaum ran a piece yesterday on Morning Edition about a 16-year-old climate skeptic named Kristen Byrnes. This ambitious teenager has set up a website and dedicated huge chunks of her time to arguing that the rise of global temperature is part of a natural cycle and not, as most climate scientists agree, caused by human action.
During the making of the show Deception, Radiolab explored the possibility of fMRI-based lie detectors. But what if we could detect lies remotely? What if we could know someone's lying without them knowing that we know they are... Well Britton Chance takes us one step closer to making science fiction a reality.
Radiolab is coming to Washington, DC! Sorry all- this event is SOLD OUT
On April 24th we'll be coming to DC to share some of our stories of experimentation. We’re partnering with WAMU 88.5 to bring you a live event at the Koshland Science Museum.
Remember that morality experiment about the oncoming train and the track workers dying? Dr. Joshua Greene explained how his neuroimaging research shows that making this kind of moral decision draws on a complex combination of emotional and “cognitive” processes in our brains. It seems that studying biology, as well as society, can help us understand how we decide what’s right and wrong.
Soren here, one of Radio Lab's worker bees ... With our Pop Music show on the way (the podcast will be released next week), I thought I'd prime the pump with a little personal pop music story:
When I was a kid, my family drove across the country every summer - from Montana, where we lived, to New Hampshire, where my father grew up. There was only one kind of music that played in that ‘74 Pinto station wagon as the great plains rolled by: Willie Nelson. And the favorite song was, of course, “On the Road Again.”
Have you ever looked a red and blue barber's pole and wondered why the stripes seem to be traveling up, rather than around the pole? Or have you looked at a still-life painting where the vase looked so real you could almost pick it up, even though it was just a painting? These two examples raise some interesting questions about how we interpret the things we see.
Earlier this month, a NASA satellite detected a stellar explosion so big that it could be seen by the naked eye...even though it happened halfway across the visible universe. The gamma ray burst actually occurred before Earth was even formed--the light from the blast traveled over 7 billion years before it reached Earth.
Over the Easter weekend, a Catholic Church in Scotland found itself listening to a sermon that discussed some of the very same issues we raised in our So-Called Life show. Of course, the context was a bit different... but the questions raised were similar: Are we allowed to tinker with life?
Arthur C. Clarke, the author of the book '2001: A Space Odyssey,' which became a Stanely Kubrick movie, died yesterday. Clarke was a visionary science fiction writer who foresaw the use of satellites for communications and planted a seed of wonder and awe in the universe for many young kids, including me.
Apparently the biggest factor in the amount of sleep we get is whether or not we have a job. Earlier this week, the Washington Post featured an article on a new report, 'Not So Deprived: Sleep in America, 1965-2005,' that found that employment status had a greater effect on sleep than age, race, or sex.
The genes of all living things are made of DNA. And DNA is made of four chemicals, called A, T, C, and G. These days, scientists can read those 'letters' of DNA for any creature (including you and me). And they can make strands of DNA from jars of A, T, C, and G. In fact, scientists now have databases of thousands of different genes, written in letters, for functions like 'glow in the dark,' or 'metabolize glucose,' or any number of traits or talents.