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The Changing Roles of Nurses

The roles of nurses have changed and expanded a lot in recent decades. Nurses are highly specialized, they have branched out into new areas of medicine. Still, nurses remain on the front lines of patient care. They communicate with doctors, relay patient wishes, and address family concerns. On this episode, we look into how nursing is changing, and how that’s affecting patient care. We hear about nurses fighting for limits on how many patients they’re assigned; find out what it’s like to be...


Science and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving usually means we’re going big — way over the top. Twice as much turkey as we could possibly eat; more side dishes than the table can hold; and, of course, so much pie. We travel great distances to see our families and friends — we hug, we eat, we argue, and we nap. On this special episode of The Pulse, we explore the traditions and rituals of Thanksgiving through a scientific lens. We hear stories about the neuroscience of gratitude — and how it can help us through grief; the...


The Science of Policing

Police forces in democratic societies are supposed to safeguard the rights of citizens, and protect their lives and well-being. We think of their role in terms of laws, rules, and regulations — but ultimately, so much of what they do is about psychology and human behavior. It’s about how people react to threats, what they do when they panic, and how far a person will go when they feel they have nothing left to lose. What does behavioral science say about these situations? Could research help...


Beyond Measure

We look at things that are hard to measure and the different approaches that we take to get those measurements correct.


It’s About Time

December 30, 2011 never happened in Samoa. The island nation in the South Pacific skipped this day, to move ahead into a different time zone. We change our clocks to start and stop daylight saving time. We travel across time zones. Time, in many ways, is a human construct. We have chosen ways to measure it, to parse it out, to track it. But time is also an experience that can vary wildly from one moment to the next — the minutes that stretch endlessly, the hours that fly by. On this episode,...


Between Life and Death

Often we think of life and death as opposite sides of a coin — categories as final as they are discrete. But in an age when machines can keep hearts pumping and lungs breathing, the line between life and death can sometimes start to blur. Modern medicine pushes us to think differently, ask if perhaps life and death are instead two points on a spectrum of existence. In this episode, The Pulse explores the space between those points. How do we define life and death — medically and culturally?...


Shifting Gears

Cars have played a fundamental role in changing our modern lives — where we live, where we work, the shape of our communities, and how we spend our money and free time. But along with new opportunities, cars have also brought negative impacts — air pollution, traffic deaths, congestion, and road rage, just to name a few. On this episode, we explore how cars have affected our world, and how we might reframe their role going forward. Also, why we often behave so badly while driving. Also...


Challenging the Norm

Every culture, workplace, group, and family has its norms — its standards, the way things are done. Norms govern everything from relationships to driving to making coffee. But how does something become the norm? On this episode, we explore how things and behaviors become “normal,” and what happens when we challenge those norms. We hear stories about dog crates and why they are embraced in the U.S., but reviled in other countries; why sleeping through the night isn’t as standard as you might...


Fake vs. Real — And When It Matters

There was a time when seeing was believing — but that’s changing, thanks to new technology that’s elevating fakery to a whole new level. In an ever-growing world of synthesized realities, how do we tell what’s real from what’s fake? And when and why does it matter? We explore that question on this episode, with stories about deepfakes — a new kind of fake video, powered by artificial intelligence; lab-grown meat in our pets’ food; and fake laughter. Also heard on this week’s...


Who Do You Think You Are?

Scientist. Farmer. Feminist. Leader. Alpha male. Veteran. African-American. Hindu. Identity isn’t just about who we think we are — it’s about how others perceive us, and how we move through the world. It’s determined by our families and culture; our race and gender; our jobs, personalities, bodies, and minds. All of those things make up our personal narratives, defining who we are and how we deal with things. But identities aren’t always fixed. Sometimes, they can change, and even clash. On...


Hair and our Health

Hair can be our crowning glory, a big part of our identity, and a tool for self-expression. We shave it, style it, cut it, dye it — and sometimes, hope for it to come back. We obsess over its texture and length. While products help, how our hair looks is related to DNA, to hormones, and to our immune system. On this episode, we look into the connection between our health and our hair. We hear stories about the chemicals in hair dyes, treatments for baldness, and certain aspects of hair that...


Gut Feeling

You know when you get butterflies in your stomach? Or your gut clenches with fear? Or the way a gory movie can fill you with nausea? Those feelings exist because of a special connection between our heads and our tummies called the gut-brain axis. On this episode, we explore how that connection works, the strange effects it can have on our stomachs (and our minds), and why scientists are creating “guts on chips” that mimic our digestive systems. Also heard on this week’s episode: a...


The Anatomy of Sadness

Sadness seemingly comes out of nowhere sometimes: a song, a photo, a movie scene, a memory, and there it is. Your heart seems heavy. Tears well up in your eyes. What is happening in the brain when we feel sad? We delve into this complex emotion, and explore how we experience it, and how we deal with it. From tears shed at the gym after a serious workout, to crying in public, and sad songs that help us cope with tough times. Also heard on this week’s episode: Said SayrafiezadehShaina...


Science At Work

It’s Labor Day, which means we’re celebrating the hard-working people who keep the engines of productivity humming. On this episode, we’ll explore how science and technology are changing work and workplaces, and what we are learning about the pitfalls of different work environments. A look at how the American tradition of tying benefits to jobs has impacted our health care. We’ll meet a woman who used science to prove that ladies should be part of the workforce. Plus, the psychology of...


Man-Made Worlds

It was supposed to be a paradise. A parcel of wilderness, reminiscent of the past, where birds and large grazers would find refuge. Conservationists fought hard to create this sanctuary, but things didn’t go as planned. Soon, animals were dying, and humans were fighting over the future of the reserve. People have long tried their hand at creating their own worlds, and on this episode, we explore why we do this, and what happens next. We hear stories about nature conservation gone wrong, the...


Why We Play

You know what they say — all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And science seems to confirm that statement, with findings that play is as important for adults’ emotional health as it is for children’s development. But what exactly counts as play? Who engages in it — and why is it so important? On this episode, we explore some of those questions. We’ll hear stories about rediscovering play as an adult, which animals play and why, and meet a reverend in her 70s who still jumps double...


How Buildings Impact Our Lives

From bungalows to skyscrapers, farmhouses to condos, brownstones to corner shops, buildings define the spaces of our lives. They are our homes, our workplaces, and our settings for fun, commerce, and government. And the way they’re built can shape the way we live our lives. In this episode, we look at how buildings affect our health and well-being, along with the future of our cities. We hear stories about protecting hospitals from the elements, what it takes to make buildings truly...


The Ocean and Us

Our planet’s surface is 71% water — with five vast oceans that span a range of temperatures and shades of blue. Humans have long loved and feared these oceans. They sustain us and other animals, help regulate our climate, and offer endless opportunities for awe and joy. But our relationship hasn’t always been smooth. The ocean can be a threat to us, and we — with our expanding environmental footprint — can be a threat to it. On this episode of The Pulse, we dig into the science of our...



Everyone loves a good comeback story — but they don’t just apply to athletes and washed-up actors. Revivals can happen for ideas, places — even entire species. On this episode of The Pulse, we explore how and why comebacks happen in the scientific realm. We’ll hear stories about how grizzly bears are starting to rebound, the unexpected revival of Lamarckian evolution, how flatworms regenerate their bodies, and the psychological power of nostalgia. Also heard on this week’s episode: Leslie...


The Other Side of the Moon

In honor of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary, we’ve been talking a lot about getting to the moon, and the science of understanding its origins. This episode is more of a tribute to the moon itself, and our relationship with this bright, beautiful object in the sky. The moon lights up our nights, influences the oceans’ tides, stabilizes the earth’s tilt — which is responsible for our seasons. Without the moon, our lives here on Earth would be very, very different. On this episode of The Pulse,...