Studio 360 - Science and Creativity
Understanding Creative Savants05/26/15
We all know the Thomas Edison line: genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. But there are those who don't seem to perspire at all. Their extraordinary gifts seem to come from no where. We often call those people savants. And some neuroscientists...
Frances Arnoldis a biochemical engineer atCal Techworking on one part of the energy crisis. In a process called “directed evolution,” Arnold’s team is altering the genetic codes of bacteria to evolve a strain of organisms than can digest grass and...
The Day After
More than25 years ago, the largest audience ever for a TV movie tuned to ABC to watch a simulated nuclear holocaust. “The Day After” focused on a group of survivors in the heartland of Kansas. Studio 360's Derek John grew up nearby. He asks his 9th...
Mind Games: Designing With EEG
EEG — electroencephalography — is almost a century old, and it’s creeping out of the research lab and the neurologist’s office. Headsets embedded with electrodes to read electrical activity in the brain are commercially available, and designers are...
How Do You Draw Dark Matter?
"Dark matter" has been in the news again lately as scientists in Switzerland have begun mapping what they believe is its prevalence across the universe. But they're not the only ones focused on identifying and describing it. French artist Abdelkader...
Greg Stock: Redesigning Humans
Nearly a decade after the human genome was decoded, scientists are only now beginning to understand its implications. One of the leading thinkers in this field is the biotech entrepreneur Gregory Stock. A biophysicist by training, his 2002 book...
The Posthuman Future
To make art, a computer first needs to understand what art is. A group of computer scientists at Brigham Young University is attempting this by feeding their program images by the thousands and describing those images. Digital Artist Communicating...
Backup Singers Bring the Hits
What makes a hit? A catchy hook? A good beat? Even the experts can’t really explain what the recipe is. “You can check off all of those checkboxes,” says Keith Caulfield, an associate director at Billboard, “but it doesn’t necessarily mean that song...
What if Mondrian Were a Programmer?
The Neuroscience of Jazz
Charles Limb is a professor of otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins Medicine who has a sideline in brain research; he’s also on the faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He wants to know what happens in our brains when we play piano. Simple: stick...
Big Data and Culturomics
Big Data — and how we use it — is changing the way we understand our culture and history. Research scientists Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean Baptiste Michel (Uncharted: Big Data as Lens on Human Culture) teamed up with Google to create the (highly...
Can Drugs Make Your Brain More Creative?
The association of art with altered states of consciousness goes back a long way. Archeological evidence of fermented beverages and some of the oldest musical instruments were found at thesame 9,000-year-old sitein China. (If the Lascaux painters had...
Hacking the Climate
The idea of geoengineering — tampering with the Earth’s climate to fit our needs — has been a favorite trope of science fiction since the 1920s. In the 1970s, Carl Sagan speculated that we could terraform Mars to make it into a second Earth. That...
Making Music for Animals
Laurel Braitman is a historian of science and the author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves. She’s particularly interested in animals held in captivity. “If their minds...
The Science of Sculpture
Don Ingberis a cell biologist fromHarvard Medical SchoolandChildren's Hospital. One day he saw a piece of modern sculpture,Kenneth Snelson's "Needle Tower" — and Eureka! — it inspired a scientific breakthrough. Produced byLu Olkowski.
Want to Be Creative? Try Getting Bored
WhenManoush Zomorodiwas eightyears old, she walked around her house gathering up all the houseplants. She arranged them in rows, gave them all name tags, and then performed a concert for their benefit. Why? Because she was bored. But Zomorodi — host...
Billboard Top Five, But for Whales
Humpback whales’ remarkable ability to produce sounds is part of their biology. But the songs they sing is in their culture. Researchers looking at how the songs of whales change over time have learned that a new song can catch on and spread across...
How to Fly to Alpha Centauri
Talking about building an interstellar space ship makes you sound like a sci-fi fan who’s lost touch with the real world. Unless you’reMae Jemison, a former astronaut andthe head of100 Year Starship, an organization the home page of which boldly...
Alan Turing, Man and Myth
Alan Turingmight be best known today for theTuring test, but during World War II, he cracked the Nazi’s “Enigma” code at Britain’s top-secret spy center Bletchley Park, significantly speeding the Allied victory. He also helped invent modern computing....
Making Memories with a Microchip
Ted Berger is trying to build a microchip that can remember things for us. He teaches biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, and his goal is to create a device that can take over for the hippocampus of the brain, translating...
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