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The Pulse

Health & Wellness Podcasts

Go on an adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with award-winning host Maiken Scott. The Pulse takes you behind the doors of operating rooms, into the lab with some of the world's foremost scientists, and back in time to explore life-changing innovations. The Pulse delivers stories in ways that matter to you, and answers questions you never knew you had.

Location:

United States

Description:

Go on an adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with award-winning host Maiken Scott. The Pulse takes you behind the doors of operating rooms, into the lab with some of the world's foremost scientists, and back in time to explore life-changing innovations. The Pulse delivers stories in ways that matter to you, and answers questions you never knew you had.

Twitter:

@whyy

Language:

English

Contact:

215.351.2069


Episodes
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Living Greener — One Decision at a Time

4/19/2024
Every day, we hear about countless environmental threats — from air pollution and microplastics, to deforestation and global warming. And a lot of us feel overwhelmed by the scale of these problems, and helpless to enact global big-picture solutions. But small, everyday decisions matter too — and they add up. How you do your laundry, how warm or cool you keep your home, what you eat for lunch, what kinds of products you buy and or how you sort your trash — all of them have the potential to make a big difference. On this special Earth Day episode, we look at everyday choices that can lead to greener living. We hear stories about laundry detergents, and how we can clean our clothes without hurting the planet, what it'll take for plant-based meat to make it to the big leagues, and an innovation that could revolutionize recycling as we know it. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:56:22

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Bridging the Gaps for Latino Health

4/12/2024
Over the past few decades, Latinos have become the largest racial or ethnic minority in the United States, making up nearly 20 percent of the country's population. Despite that, many Latinos feel alienated by our medical system, due to cultural and language barriers, and a lack of Latino physicians — and those barriers can have a real impact on their overall health. On this episode, we look for solutions to provide better care to Latino communities and patients. We hear stories about one physician's bold initiative to bridge the language gap between doctors and farmworkers, new approaches to help victims of gun violence, and a national effort to increase the number of Latino physicians. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:30

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Boredom in the Age of Information Overload

4/5/2024
It sneaks up on us while we're sitting in traffic, or waiting at the doctor's office, or doing our taxes — boredom, that restless feeling of dissatisfaction that arises when we harbor "the desire for desires," as Leo Tolstoy said. At the same time, we're living in an age of never-ending stimulation, all at our fingertips — texting, social media, 24-hour news, and streaming galore. But despite this constant content consumption, we're still getting bored — maybe even more so than ever. We find ourselves hopping from tab to tab, scrolling through Instagram while watching a show, tuning out of meetings to check our email. And now some researchers are worried that all this stimulation could be changing our brains. On this rebroadcast episode, we look at boredom in the age of information overload, and whether or not it's really good for us and our brains. We hear stories about what happened when two reporters quit their digital addictions for four weeks, a monk who took his search for boredom to the ultimate extreme, and why there's value to the slow pace of baseball. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:51:33

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Chasing the Eclipse

3/29/2024
On April 8, a swath of North America will be treated to a rare and spectacular sight — a total solar eclipse; in some places, the first in more than a century, and the last for at least another 20 years. The path of totality, where it's possible to see the moon completely block out the sun, stretches in a narrow ribbon from Mexico, through Texas, all the way to Maine. It's an event that eclipse chasers have been anticipating for years. On this special episode, we find out why so many people call total solar eclipses a life-changing experience, and why they will go to great lengths to witness this fleeting spectacle of nature. We'll hear what scientists are hoping to learn during this brief but important moment, and we'll pay tribute to the celestial body that makes the eclipse possible: the moon. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:29

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Discovering your True Identity

3/22/2024
Identity's a complicated thing — a mixture of nurture and nature, ethnicity, gender, culture, conscious decisions, coincidences, and more. In many ways, though, who we think we are boils down to the stories we tell ourselves; stories based on our origins, our families, and how we came to be. But what happens when those stories change? When we discover that the narrative of our lives is completely different from what we've always believed? On this episode, we explore stories of identity, and what happens when long-buried secrets are uncovered. We hear about a journalist who discovered that his father wasn't who he thought he was, one woman's search for her childhood self in the records of a long-running experiment, and how a fateful medical decision changed the future of a baby born in 1986. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:53:09

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The Lasting Impacts of COVID-19

3/15/2024
It's been four years since COVID-19 struck, transforming our modern world in ways we'd never seen before — and we're still processing the aftershocks. The pandemic exposed fault lines lurking beneath the surface of our everyday lives — friendships and bonds that weren't as strong as we thought; political rifts that turned into chasms; shifts in our fundamental beliefs of who we should trust, and what rules we should follow. It showed us how fragile we are — as human beings, and as a global community. Now, we find ourselves trying to pick up the pieces — to understand what happened, and what we can do better next time. On this episode, we explore the major changes caused by the pandemic, what we can learn from them, and how we can move forward. We hear stories about one man's dogged search for a treatment for his long COVID, how the pandemic both hurt and revived the field of public health, and how to repair relationships that became frayed or broken by the pressures of the pandemic. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:56:59

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The New Mental Health Landscape

3/8/2024
Know the signs of depression. Recognize symptoms of anxiety. Pay attention to your friend's changing moods. There's been a push to raise mental health awareness for decades, and now, the topic is everywhere. It's leading the charts on social media sites, and everybody from celebrities to politicians to sports superstars are talking about it more openly. At the same time, it seems like our overall mental health is declining, as more and more people report having mental health issues. On this episode, we explore how the field of mental health is changing and adapting. We'll find out what traditionally trained therapists make of mental health advice on social media, why some experts argue that too much awareness can backfire, and why mental illness can be so tricky to diagnose. Also, one woman's quest to stay on her ADHD medications as shortages drag on. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:50:21

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Atomic Angst and the Teenage Spy

3/1/2024
In 1944, a brilliant, young Harvard physics student named Ted Hall was recruited to work on the super-secret mission that had already assembled the country's top scientists: the Manhattan Project. Soon, Hall was on his way to Los Alamos, where he worked on the implosion mechanism for the nuclear bomb. As the project started to succeed, Hall became increasingly concerned that it would spell disaster for the world, especially if the U.S. were the only country to have nuclear capacity. So, at the age of 18, Hall decided that he needed to do something, and he became a spy for the Soviets. Hall may have been an incredible physicist, but he was not the stealthiest of spies. Still, he was never officially caught or charged. On this episode, investigative journalist Dave Lindorff details why Ted chose this path and how he managed to evade intelligence agencies. Lindorff's new book is called, "Spy for No Country: The Story of Ted Hall, the Teenage Atomic Spy Who May Have Saved the World." We'll also hear about the state of America's nuclear arsenal today and find out why some experts argue it needs a big upgrade. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:54

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Bodies for Science

2/23/2024
If you're training to become a physician, your first patient is usually dead. In fact, "first patient" is what med students call the human cadavers that they work on in anatomy class — when they first learn to make careful incisions, and lay eyes on the beautiful intricacies of bone, muscle, blood vessels, and organs that make our bodies work. Human cadavers have long played a crucial role in medicine and science. They not only teach generations of doctors about the human body — they allow researchers to learn valuable lessons about everything from the causes of rare diseases to the effects of how we live our lives. But how do bodies end up on dissection tables in the first place? What can they still teach us? And why do people choose to donate their remains? On this episode, we explore bodies donated to science — how they're used, why they're so important, and why people make this choice for their remains. We hear stories about one woman's mission to recruit future medical cadavers, and how 19th century medical schools got involved in body snatching. We'll take a closer look at a program that connects med students to the families of their "first patients," and find out why one firefighter has opted for a future in the Body Worlds exhibition. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:47:31

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All the Rage

2/16/2024
You can feel it coming on — your face flushes hot, maybe your fists clench, your heartbeat speeds up and blood pressure rises. It's rage — and it can go from zero to red-hot in a matter of seconds. Best-case scenario, it disappears just as fast. Worst-case scenario — it completely takes over. It's normal to feel angry when you or somebody else has been wronged, mistreated, or hurt. But even justified rage can become destructive, like a wrecking ball ruining careers and relationships. So, how do we handle these fiery emotions when they erupt? On this episode — how to deal with anger and rage. We learn about healthy ways of expressing our ire; the rise of "rage rooms" and what psychologists have to say about them; and what causes toddlers to throw such terrible tantrums. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:27

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The Mysteries of Attraction

2/9/2024
It can show up as a spark or a lightning bolt; a glance or a touch; an easy rapport or butterflies in your stomach. Attraction — it's a feeling we know when we experience it, but we're often not sure exactly what fuels it. Is it about looks or personality? Psychology or chemistry? Instant fireworks or long-term compatibility? On this episode, we explore the mysteries of attraction — what kindles it, what kills it, and why we're often totally wrong about who we might be attracted to. We talk with a leading attraction researcher about the factors that determine attraction, and why he often advises people to follow their gut. We find out what dating apps — and the massive amounts of data they gather — are teaching researchers about who we're drawn to and why. And we hear the story of a couple whose mutual attraction changed over time — and why that turned out to be a good thing. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:14

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Setting the Medical Record Straight

2/2/2024
Medical records are an important part of health care. They create a history of past issues, test results, and medications. They paint a picture of somebody's general health. Patients now have more access than ever before to their records, and these changes have come with some growing pains — like receiving test results straight from the lab, before their doctor can review them, or discovering mistakes. On this episode, we crack open those medical records to get a better sense of how they can help and hinder care. We'll hear about how physicians struggle to access different parts of the record to create a cohesive picture of a patient's health. We dig into issues around law enforcement accessing these records, and why they're so valuable to hackers. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:50:27

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Inside Facebook: A Conversation with Jeff Horwitz

1/31/2024
After covering the 2016 U.S. presidential election, reporter Jeff Horwitz knew that "something really weird was going on," that social media sites, especially Facebook, had played a role in shaping the election. But how — exactly? In his new book, "Broken Code: Inside Facebook and the Fight to Expose Its Harmful Secrets," Horwitz details his chase to crack open this notoriously secretive black box that is Facebook. Host Maiken Scott talks to Horwitz about the powerful algorithms that favored engagement above all else, that not just amplified specific content, but started to shape everything from what we see, to what we post, to how politicians design their campaigns. Horwitz covers technology for The Wall Street Journal and was one of the reporters on the award-winning series "The Facebook Files." Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:36:04

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Facebook at 20

1/26/2024
Twenty years ago, a group of college sophomores created a website that would end up changing the world — fundamentally altering how we connect with other people, how much we know about each other, and how we curate our existence. That website was Facebook. In the years since, Facebook quickly grew from a quirky site for college students to a global powerhouse — one that can affect everything from how we feel about ourselves to the outcomes of elections. On this episode, a look at Facebook as it turns 20 — its history, its ongoing impact, and what we really know about how it operates. We hear stories about a curious coincidence linking Facebook to a defunct government surveillance project, why many researchers have mixed feelings about Facebook, and how the website's ever-changing features transformed the lives and mental health of young people. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:50:14

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When Healing Happens But We Don't Know Why

1/19/2024
More than a third of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine, ranging from acupuncture to herbalism, Ayurveda to homeopathy. But despite its growing popularity, complementary and alternative medicine remains, for the most part, outside the Western medical mainstream — regarded by some as fringe, and by others as straight-up quackery. Despite that, many researchers and supporters have been trying to gain a deeper understanding of medical practices from around the world, and to incorporate them into our health care system. And that's led to more questions: Which practices work, and for what conditions? How do they work? And how do we measure and standardize treatments when they're removed from their cultural contexts? On this episode, we step outside the boundaries of Western medicine to explore those questions. We hear stories about a mysterious Vodou treatment, the struggle to bring acupuncture into the medical mainstream, and answers to Western skeptics. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:49:03

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How to Live with Uncertainty

1/12/2024
Humans crave certainty — in science and politics, in our lives and our leaders, in our decisions and our futures. We find comfort in knowing the facts, and we fear the murky unknown. In the age of information, we've grown increasingly unnerved by uncertainty and do everything we can to mitigate that anxiety. We do research online, play out scenarios in our heads, make plans A, B, and C — imagining that if we can just prepare well enough, everything will be OK. But in her latest book, "Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure," author and journalist Maggie Jackson makes the case for an opposite way of being — embracing the unknown as an invitation to pause, an opportunity for growth and innovation. On this episode, we talk with Jackson about her book, and what science teaches us about living — and even thriving — amid uncertainty. We also hear stories about one reporter's quest to make a life-changing decision while filled with doubt, and how saying "yes" to the unknown changed an introvert's life. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:49:09

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Virtual Worlds, Virtual Lives

1/5/2024
We're in a major technological revolution where artificial intelligence, gaming, and virtual reality allow us to create and enter totally new spaces and have new experiences there.In these virtual worlds, we can reinvent ourselves, connect with people around the world, or take on new challenges and adventures. But as these worlds grow bigger, more intense, and consuming, they're also raising questions about what this new future will look like.We all know things are going to be different — but how? Will we soon have entirely new and far more fabulous lives in the virtual realm? Or will things feel surprisingly similar and mundane? How will a computer-generated life intersect with real life?On this episode: virtual worlds, virtual lives, and how they're changing our reality. We hear stories about Second Life — and the surprising political power structures that have emerged there; what happens when romantic relationships with AI go bad; and how increasingly realistic gaming worlds have led to the emerging discipline of archaeogaming. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:46

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Why We Love and Hate Exercising — And How to Do It Either Way

12/29/2023
We all know that exercise is good for us — for both our bodies and our minds — but motivating yourself to hit the gym, take a run, or even go for a walk sometimes feels like the hardest thing in the world. There are constant rebuttals that arise in our minds: We're too busy. We're too tired. We need a break — we'll start next week. At the same time, we're bombarded by messages from people who are all about fitness — influencers with seemingly perfect bodies and a healthy glow, who convince us that we too can get into shape. It's a habit that many of us try to cultivate — yet often seem to hit a wall. On this episode, we look at the science of fitness, the evolution of cultural messages surrounding exercise, and how we can overcome inertia to start fitting it into our lives. We'll hear about how exercise affects our mood and overall health, different approaches to getting in shape, the real-life struggle of becoming an Instagram fitness influencer, and one couch potato's reluctant journey to getting active. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:35

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The Transformative Power of Awe

12/22/2023
It's the goosebumps you get at the crescendo of your favorite song; the stupefying wonder that comes with witnessing a birth or a death; the astonishing mystery we feel when gazing at the vast night sky. This is awe — a complex, often overwhelming emotion that can elicit everything from pleasure and connectedness to a crawling sense of uncertainty. Moments of awe can create unforgettable memories — and they can have a lasting impact on our minds and the way we interact with others. One of the leading scientists studying awe is Dacher Keltner, a University of California, Berkeley psychologist, who's dedicated the past 15 years to investigating the origins and effects of this emotion. On this episode, we talk with Keltner about his new book "Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life." He discusses his own, very personal experience of awe amid profound grief, the ability of awe to transform our experience of the world, and how we can cultivate awe on a daily basis. We also hear from listeners about their experiences of awe, and listen back to a story about how voyages to space change the way astronauts perceive life, their relationships, and Earth as a whole. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:48:18

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The Blurred Line Between Life and Death

12/15/2023
We think of life and death as clear cut — you're alive or you're not; your heart's beating or it isn't; your brain functions or it doesn't. But when you look a bit deeper, both on a biological level, and in terms of people's experiences, the border where life ends and death begins starts to look less firm, leading to questions about what comes next. On this episode, we explore the blurred line between life and death. We hear about near-death experiences, and what researchers say about the difference between our brains and our consciousness; we discuss a pioneering approach to collecting organs that is raising questions about the definition of death; and we'll explore why some people experience sudden bursts of lucidity before death. Also, a story about a controversial contest to prove the existence of life after death. Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices NPR Privacy Policy

Duration:00:49:30