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Check the Label

Who has time to read the small print — to go over all the “stuff” that’s in our food, medicine, or supplements? And what’s carrageenan or hexyldecyl laurate anyway? But maybe we should be paying closer attention — some ingredients can cause side effects and make us sick. On this episode of The Pulse, a closer look at some of the things we put in our bodies, and why they matter. We talk to chemists, interrogate food labels, and go on the hunt for hidden ingredients that can have a big...


In the Name of Science

Advances in science don’t just happen — sometimes, real progress requires heroic measures. On this show, we explore the lengths people go to in the name of science. We hear stories about researchers subjecting themselves to punishing experiments, venturing to remote corners of the earth, and racing against the cosmos for a peek at their subject of inquiry. Also heard on this week’s episode: Kurtis Baute’s hunchJay ZagorskybookSawbonesNoah Strycker


Different Country, Different Medicine

Medicine, healthcare — even illness — vary from country to country. Those differences are driven by tradition, culture, even politics. On this episode of The Pulse, we zoom in on those contrasts. In Hong Kong, we learn why acupuncture could be the next frontier for pain treatment. In Germany, we investigate the burnout epidemic affecting stressed-out workers. And in India, we visit a hospital that turns anxious family into trained care companions. Also heard on this week’s show: Paul...


Feeling Your Age

They call it the golden years, but there’s a reason many of us dread old age — it can mean losing our health, our independence, our memories, and loved ones. But getting old doesn’t mean what it used to. Thanks to advancements in tech and medicine, seniors have more options than ever when it comes to maintaining their health and quality of life. On this episode — how we want to age, and what gets in the way. Also heard on this week’s episode: Esther HonigBarbara ResnickFarah Khanwho has...


Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico One Year Later

It’s been a year since Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, destroying lives and reducing many communities to rubble. The storm also affected the island in other ways — devastating its power grid, crippling communications, and transforming industry. On this episode, we explore Maria’s aftermath — what the storm revealed about Puerto Rico’s vulnerabilities, the changing landscape, and the human toll of failed infrastructure. Plus, efforts by locals to adapt and rebuild, and the...


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...


How Schools Shape Health

School is a place where kids learn about health — everything from nutrition to avoiding STDs. But increasingly, schools across the country are taking a stronger role in health issues affecting students. They’re providing basic medical care and counseling, and even tackling major public health problems like traumatic stress. In this episode — exploring the role that schools can and should play in caring for kids’ health. Also heard on this week’s episode: experienced violence and...


When Panic Attacks

From panic disorders to social phobia, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the United States. What toll does anxiety take on our lives? In this episode, we explore how anxiety affects our bodies, relationships, and lives. We investigate its causes, what it feels like, and what we can do to treat it. Also heard on this week’s episode: Psychologist Tamar ChanskyFreeing Your Child from AnxietyAudio producer Carin Gilfry


Sports and Health

We think of sports as part of a healthy lifestyle — a chance to move our muscles, work up a sweat, release endorphins. Often that’s true… other times, not so much. In this show, The Pulse explores how sports affect our health — when they help, and when they hurt. Also heard on this week’s episode: Josh Anderson“Gamebreaker with Keith Olbermann.”Laura KlivansLisa Gillespie


Why We Travel

We travel to experience awe or learn something new — maybe even to get our worldview shaken up a bit. On this episode, The Pulse explores how travel changes us and how we change the places we visit. Also heard on this week’s show: Jarita HolbrookNational Society of Black Physicists


Unintended Consequences

In science and medicine, we often fail to predict the outcomes of our experiments and actions. The result: unintended consequences. Sometimes the surprise is an interesting success. Other times, it’s a disaster. On this episode of The Pulse, how we handle the things we didn’t see coming. The hour includes: the Nazi physician trial that helped shape medical ethics; how hospitals are dealing with incessant medical alarms; and the history of Macquarie Island — where the introduction of a few...


Make (a) Way

For a long time disability meant one thing — limitations. Think about the word disabled: its literal meaning is broken, not functioning. In a world largely built by and for those considered typical, people with disabilities are often boxed out — from jobs they want, places they want to go and activities they could love. But that’s changing as advances in science and technology collide with evolving conceptions of disability. On this week’s show, we explore the idea that “disability” resides...


DNA, Adapted

The Pulse explores how the environment shapes biology. Turns out that influence goes deep, down to the molecular level — to the DNA of humans and animals. Also heard on this week’s show: Unnatural SelectionEric Kmiec


Crisis Mode

As drug overdose deaths continue to soar, cities hit hard by the opioid crisis are considering a controversial new proposal: safe injection sites. That’s where people can bring their illicit drugs — and inject them — under medical supervision. Supporters say this harm-reduction approach saves lives. For more than a decade, Vancouver has been experimenting with safe injection sites. On this episode, we travel there to talk with users, staff, advocates, and neighbors, and see what lessons the...


Science and the Fourth of July

Rebroadcast: Happy Birthday, America! From the very beginning, science has shaped this country. Many of the Founding Fathers — Madison, Jefferson, Washington — were science geeks, and their methodical way of thinking is reflected in the Declaration of Independence. To celebrate the holiday, we dig into the science that makes fireworks sparkle, flags durable, and hot dogs delicious. Plus, what brain researchers are learning about the pursuit of happiness and feelings of patriotism.


Weighed Down

Sometimes it feels like the world is conspiring to make us pack on the pounds — we sit at desks all day, grab fast food on the run, and spend our evenings Netflixing on the couch. America is heavier than it’s ever been. In 2017, the CDC found that 40 percent of Americans deal with obesity, and health problems related to weight gain are on the rise. On this episode of The Pulse, we looks at some of the ways that excess weight affects our health, our wallets and our lives. Also heard this...



The Atlantic hurricane season is here — that time of the year when tropical storms whip their way in from the sea, cutting paths of destruction from Nova Scotia all the way down to the Caribbean. From Katrina back in 2005, to Harvey and Maria more recently, we’ve seen the devastation these storms can do. How do we prepare better — and recover more fully? In this episode, we hear stories about the power of hurricanes, and how we deal with them. Also heard on this week’s episode: Stuart...


What Lab Animals Teach Us

We have dogs to thank for pacemakers. We probably should be a little grateful to mice for the development of chemotherapy. Cows helped us conquer smallpox, and chimp research led to the new ebola vaccine. But despite those breakthroughs, animal testing makes a lot of us squirm. On this episode of The Pulse, we explore our complicated relationship with lab animals (and insects). How do we treat them? What are we learning? And what do we owe them? Also heard this week: Stephanie...


Treat Yourself

On this week’s show, we talk with people taking their health and wellness into their own hands — with varying results.


The Difference a Gun Makes

A gun can change a moment, a life, a family, an entire neighborhood. Like a catalyst in a chemical reaction, guns have a unique ability to transform the calculus of a situation. A gun can make you feel safe. Sometimes it’s symbol of cultural identity. It also has the power to destroy. On this episode of The Pulse, we look at the difference a gun makes. Also heard on this week’s episode: Trigger WarningHealing Hurt PeopleJessie Wright-MendozaIrène P. Mathieu