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Sorting fact from fiction in a post-truth world

When social media micro-targeting is shaping political views and ‘alternative facts’ abound, is there any hope for democracy? Cognitive psychologist Professor Stephan Lewandowsky explains why we still believe something to be true, even after we have been told it is not, and why we are all so willing to believe what we read - including fake news. In our post-truth era he suggests we all need to become a little more cynical, to ward off misinformation and guard against its potential to...


The secret history of stone

Cultural geographer Tim Edensor is passionate about place. His career has taken him from the Taj Mahal to industrial ruins in England's north, and now to Melbourne and its stone buildings. Wandering is the best way to get to know a place, says Dr Tim Edensor, and as a cultural geographer who has explored everything from what Christmas lights reveal about British class identity to Melbourne's old stone buildings, he should know. Episode recorded: March 1 2018 Producers: Dr Andi Horvath,...


Seeing like an anthropologist

Anthropologist Monica Minnegal has spent her career observing "the extraordinary things that people do", with much of her work dedicated to learning more about the Kubo people in Papua New Guinea. A community in the last uncontrolled part of the country, the Kubo are now encountering the West through mining companies and navigating the many cultural and social changes that brings. Episode recorded: February 23, 2018 Producers: Dr Andi Horvath, Chris Hatzis and Silvi Vann-Wall Audio...


At the human-computer interface

In 1980 Ben Shneiderman published one of the first texts in the field that would come to be known as human-computer interaction, and has since pioneered innovations we take for granted today, like touchscreens and hyperlinks. He has now turned his attention to maximising the real-world impact of university research, by combining applied and basic research; a topic he addresses in his new book 'The New ABCs of Research'. He chats with our reporter Steve Grimwade. Episode recorded: December...


For the love of the stage

Acting is not natural - but it can be learned, and the VCA's Rinske Ginsberg passes on her wisdom about how the body can express an internal state; as well what it takes to make it as an actor. The Melbourne Fringe 'living legend' talks to Steve Grimwade, reflecting on life in Melbourne's radical arts scene of the 1980s, and how performance and art making has changed since. Episode recorded: December 8 2017 Producers: Dr Andi Horvath, Chris Hatzis and Silvi Vann-Wall Audio engineer:...


Human dignity and digital identity

You're chatting and posting online to your various social media accounts. But where does that data go? Who else is seeing your daily data habits? And does your social media define your identity? In this episode, Professor Luciano Floridi from the University of Oxford explores some of the ethical questions about our digital lives that are being asked by us more and each day. Episode recorded: 25 October 2017 Producers: Dr Andi Horvath and Chris Hatzis Co-producer: Silvi Vann-Wall Audio...


Is Europe heading for divorce?

The European experiment has been both revolutionary and successful, but having lurched from one crisis to the next in recent years does the future look as bright? Shaken by financial crises, Brexit and growing numbers of refugees, many - including US President Donald Trump - have questioned whether the European experiment is doomed to fail. In this episode Professor Loukas Tsoukalis from the University of Athens explains why he believes the EU will survive the current crisis, and what...


Hearing, healing And Havana

How can music and food help promote healing? In this episode we explore how music transcends barriers to bring diverse peoples together through a common language. We head to a performance by Associate Professor Adrian Hearn's band, Suns of Mercury, at the Festival of Nations. Producers: Chris Hatzis, Claudia Hooper and Dr Andi Horvath Editor: Chris Hatzis Audio engineer: Arch Cuthbertson Episode recorded: 25th October, Festival of Nations 4-5th October Banner image: Pixabay


Give me a campus among the gum trees

How do you produce a seriously juicy steak? What's the difference between brewing a lager and a pale ale? How can students produce award winning wine? What role do drones have in the future of farming? In this special episode of Eavesdrop on Experts, the team hits the road to meet the agriculture experts based in the rural town of Dookie in northern Victoria, where the University of Melbourne has a campus. They bring a unique mix of expertise from the chemical molecules responsible for...


Making Friends With Fronds - Understanding plants' feelings

How do plants sense and respond to the world around them - and do they listen when we talk? Dr Kim Johnson shares how an early fascination with plants' movements led to studying how they adapt to their environments. Far from being passive organisms, plants are constantly sensing and responding to their surroundings, including us. She discusses how plants have contributed to scientific understanding of processes like RNA silencing and how the mechanisms that give plants their shape can help...


Gene Genies - Meet the researchers mapping our DNA to combat cancer

How can genome sequencing help not only cancer treatment, but also its prevention? Two men who are looking to answer that very question, Professor Sean Grimmond and Dr Peter Campbell, discuss their research journeys and the challenges that lie ahead. Producers: Dr Andi Horvath and Chris Hatzis Audio engineer: Gavin Nebauer Editor: Chris Hatzis Production assistant: Claudia Hooper Banner image: Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre/ Claudia Hooper and Lep Beljac, University of Melbourne


Words And War - The role of the linguist in conflict resolution

The best mechanisms for change are debate, dialogue and discourse and yet this is remains something we struggle to do. Professor Joseph Lo Bianco says we need to explore new models for public discussion that don't silence controversial words, opinions and views. Coming from an Italian migrant family, Professor Lo Bianco experienced first-hand the kind of discrimination and hostility that exists in situations where distrust and fear of the Other is rife. Whilst Australia has, thankfully,...


Honey, I shrunk the particles!

How can a teaspoon of nanoparticles have a greater surface area than a football field? It's not a silly riddle, but the reality of the burgeoning field of nanodynamics, which among endless applications, could revolutionise medicine and tailor cancer treatments. PhD student Matt Faria shares his commitment to discovering more about these particles' potential and how his dedication to experimentation lead him to jump out of a plane. Low-gravity isn't cheap, and without access to the...


Discrimination in the classroom

More and more parents are taking discrimination cases to court, alleging that schools are not making adequate provisions to accommodate their children's learning needs. Why do so many feel the need to resort to such extreme measures? Teacher and researcher Dr Shiralee Poed says it's really important that every child can go to their neighbourhood school, and it is possible for teachers to cater for a diverse range of learning needs. She shares her thoughts on the controversial My School...


Whose fake news?

In the wake of President Trump's election, Washington Post op-ed columnist Dana Milbank questions whether the media should have given him so much free publicity and the role of journalists in an age where people can filter out the news they don't want to hear. He also questions the ethics of Wikileaks and muses on the misuse of the term 'fake news' - particularly by President Trump - to diminish unflattering coverage. Is propaganda on the rise and can journalists do anything about...


Newell's renewal

In this bonus episode, we head down to Newell's Paddock in Melbourne's inner-west to see the local community rejuvenate the former industrial site. We uncover the paddock's murky past as a former night soil dump, typhoid hot spot and abattoir. Speaking with residents, academics, teachers and students, we see how efforts to engage the community in urban renewal are are contributing to the site's restoration (and attracting many native waterbirds along the way). Producers: Claudia Hooper...


Art on the page

Our reporter Dr Andi Horvath is given privileged access to the University of Melbourne's rare books collection, stored in a darkened room kept at 19°C, where books rest upon cushions and magnificent manuscripts and folios can be found. Susan Millard and Andi thumb the pages of great (and sometimes rather quirky) illustrated works, revealing the surprising stories behind why some of the 20th century's most celebrated artists decided to turn over a new leaf and add their art to books and...


"5 Things About..." Germaine Greer’s audio recordings

In 2013 the University of Melbourne bought the Germaine Greer Archive, which includes over 150 hours of audio. Archivist Kate Hodgetts has listened to the audio collection in full. She talks us through some of its most notable moments, and how it reveals Greer's more "human, candid side". Much of the content comes from Greer's solo travels around Australia in search of a plot to land to buy, with her audio recorder for company. The recordings reveal a witty person with a deep appreciation...


How do we become an ecocity?

Dr Andi Horvath meets Dr Seona Candy - an academic at Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, and an expert in the importance of urban green areas. As the EcoCity World Summit comes to Melbourne, Dr Candy says our focus on building resilient, sustainable ecocities of the future must focus on its socio-, ecological, and technological systems; because a city is not just about its infrastructure or its technology, it's about its people. Audio engineering: Arch...


Legs, ligaments and longevity

Our reporter Dr Andi Horvath is given privileged access to the usually off-limits to the public Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. She speaks to Professor Stefan Lohmander, an anatomy expert, about how to decrease our risk of osteoarthritis. Producers: Dr Andi Horvath and Chris Hatzis Audio Engineer: Arch Cuthbertson Editor: Chris Hatzis Production Assistant: Claudia Hooper Episode recorded: 24 May 2017 Banner image: Jim Hooper


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