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7th Ave. Project


Thinking persons' radio! A weekly radio show for the seriously curious. Interviews and features on science, philosophy, art, music, culture and real-life stories, from Nobel laureates to prison inmates.

Thinking persons' radio! A weekly radio show for the seriously curious. Interviews and features on science, philosophy, art, music, culture and real-life stories, from Nobel laureates to prison inmates.


Santa Cruz, CA


Thinking persons' radio! A weekly radio show for the seriously curious. Interviews and features on science, philosophy, art, music, culture and real-life stories, from Nobel laureates to prison inmates.




203 8th Avenue Santa Cruz, CA 95062 831-476-2800


Gravity Waves Explained by Physicist Anthony Aguirre

If the news coverage of recently discovered gravitational waves left you with lingering questions, you've come to the right place. Theoretical physicist Anthony Aguirre, our go-to guy on all things general relativistic, provides some great insight into the details and subtleties that popular accounts ignored or glossed over.


Gwendolyn Mok: Pianist and Musical Medium

Gwendolyn Mok may have flunked her first Juilliard audition at the age of 5, but that was just a speed bump en route to a distinguished recording and concert career. Gwen sees herself as a kind of medium, doing her best to channel the spirit and intentions of composers such as Brahms, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, and particularly Ravel. Her brand of originalism extends to playing historic pianos like those the composers themselves knew and wrote for, and Gwen demonstrated with some exquisite...


Racial Passing in the USA: Historian Allyson Hobbs

The recent case of Rachel Dolezal – the “black” activist outed as white – may have seemed novel, but she’s actually part of an old tradition of racial passing in this country. How long has passing been going on and how has it changed over the years? What’s it tell us about racial categories and color lines? Why are we so fascinated with passing stories? I spoke with historian Allyson Hobbs about her book A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life.

Astronomer Robert Kirshner: Supernovas, Dark Energy and The Fate of the Uni

Astronomer Robert Kirshner is an expert in supernovae – those spectacular exploding stars that can outshine a galaxy. It's a specialty he chanced on in grad school, and his timing was perfect. The field was really taking off, and it was supernovae that would lead to the biggest cosmological surprise of the last 20 years: the revelation that mysterious "dark energy" os pushing the universe apart at faster and faster rates. Bob and I talked about his career, the discovery of dark energy and...


Writer-Illustrator Sydney Padua: Babbage, Lovelace and the First Computer

A century before the first electronic computers, there was the Analytical Engine, a giant, coal-powered mechanical brain. Sounds like a steampunk fantasy, but it was the real deal: a general-purpose computer capable not only of number-crunching but also logical operations. Not even its inventor, the brilliant and eccentric Victorian-era mathematician Charles Babbage, grasped its full potential. It was his friend and fellow visionary Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, who had that...


Biophysicist Jeremy England: A New Theory of Evolution

We know life is made of molecules, but how did those molecules come together in the first place? Was it more than a series of rare and highly improbable coincidences--the parts just falling into place? MIT biophysicist Jeremy England thinks so. He says that under the right circumstances, which aren't rare at all, matter tends naturally toward greater organization, complex structures and adaptive behavior, making life a likely, even inevitable result of physics. His theory of pre-biological...


Philosopher John Searle on Perception, Mind, Matter and Consciousness

One of America’s most prominent philosophers says his field has been tilting at windmills for nearly 400 years. Representationalism – the idea that we don’t directly perceive objects in the world, only our mental images of them – has bedeviled philosophy ever since Descartes, and now it’s mucking up neuroscience as well, John Searle alleges. He has long defended the “naïve” alternative – that our senses do give us direct access to reality – and he fires his latest salvo in his new book...


Plato Lives! Rebecca Goldstein on Why Philosophy Still Matters (Re-run)

(From March 2014) Rebecca Goldstein says some of her best friends are “philosophy jeerers,” convinced that anything philosophers can do, scientists can do better. She begs to differ, and offers the grandaddy of Western philosophy as exhibit A. 21st-century America has a surprising amount in common with Athens c. 400 BCE, Rebecca says, and Plato still has a thing or two to teach us moderns. She shows how well the 2,400-year-old-man has aged by transporting him to our own times in her new...


Naturalist and snake expert Harry Greene (Re-run)

(From Feb 2014) Harry Greene is a much-admired natural historian and herpetologist with a soft spot for black-tailed rattlesnakes. He’s spent years in the field studying venomous serpents, when not in the classroom or lab (he’s currently a prof at Cornell; before that he was at UC Berkeley, where he both taught and curated the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology). Harry’s a very thoughtful guy and serious writer, as evidenced in his new memoir Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art. We talked...


General Relativity for Beginners with Anthony Aguirre. Pt. 2 of 2 (Re-run)

Cosmologist Anthony Aguirre and I continue our jaunt through General Relativity. Last week we presented some of the basics. This week, we talk about the evidence, the impacts and implications, including the cosmological constant, the expanding universe, gravity waves, time dilation, black holes, and spacetime singularities.


General Relativity for Beginners with Anthony Aguirre. Pt. 1 of 2 (Re-run)

It was Einstein’s greatest idea, and one of the most audacious leaps of scientific imagination ever. Much of what physicists know or think they know about space, time and the cosmos depends on it. But General Relativity is usually brushed over in pop sci accounts, because GR is considered too GD difficult for ordinary brains. Even on this scientifically-minded program, we’ve given it pretty cursory treatment. But not this time. I’m devoting two whole shows to the subject with physicist...


Jonathan Katz on “Dr. Katz” and More

With apologies to Bob Newhart and others, my favorite TV shrink will always be Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. A lot of the best comics of our era tried out their routines—and worked out their issues—on Dr. Katz’s couch, and the effect was certainly therapeutic for viewers like me. The animated series ran from 1995-1999 and marks its 20th birthday this year with a live performance at SF Sketchfest. I spoke with co-creator and star Jonathan Katz about the show, his life and career....


Davis Perkins: Stories from an Ebola Treatment Unit

Ever wondered what life is like for medical workers treating Ebola patients? Or what sort of people volunteer for such hazardous duty? Davis Perkins is a paramedic, a former paratrooper and retired firefighter with a passion for landscape painting and overseas medical missions. He’s just returned from Liberia, where he worked in an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU). As Davis waited out his mandatory 21-day homecoming quarantine, we talked about his decision to go to the hot zone and what he...


Eula Biss: On Immunity, Vaccines and Fear

Before reading Eula Biss's new book "On Immunity," I thought the anti-vaccination movement was a recent phenomenon. But as she makes clear, the roots go much deeper: not only historically, but psychologically, sociologically, maybe even theologically. We talked about vaccines and their safety, the history of inoculation and its discontents, public vs. personal health, choosing what to fear, purity and pollution, illness as metaphor, and vampires.


Rick Doblin: Psychedelics and Psychotherapy

The criminalization of psychedelic drugs did little to stop casual use, but did make it nearly impossible to do legitimate research on their effects and medicinal potential. Rick Doblin has spent most of his life trying to change that. Now, he and the organization he founded, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), may be on the verge of a breakthrough: the first FDA approval for therapeutic use of psychedelics. On today’s show, I spoke to Rick about the long road...


Laura Kipnis and the Modern Man

Cultural commentator Laura Kipnis is one of our sharpest surveyors of sexual politics and gender relations. She’s written bracingly about porn, femininity and feminism, self-deception and scandal, love and marriage… So why’d it take her so long to get around to the subject of men and masculinity? Actually, Laura’s been writing about and puzzling over guys—and her relationship to them—for years, and now she’s collected some of her best essays on the topic in her book "Men: Notes from an...


Poet And Warlock of Words Michael Robbins

Michael Robbins says he wanted to be a rock star even more than a poet. His devotion to music, from rap to rock to pop and country, is plain in almost every line of his verse — not just in the lyrics he samples and remixes, but in the sounds and the syllables themselves. Michael's just released his second poetry collection, "The Second Sex," following up on 2012's critical smash, "Alien Vs. Predator." We talked about his sources and inspirations, both literary and musical, and listened to...


Richard Ford on Frank Bascombe And Himself

Richard Ford and I don’t always see eye to eye on his long-running protagonist Frank Bascombe, and he thinks that’s OK, even a good thing. Amidst differing readings and some good-natured contrariety, I learned a lot about Richard the writer, his craft and the man himself. With Frank Bascombe’s return in Richard’s new collection of stories, this interview feels as timely as it did when first broadcast eight years ago to the day.


Molecular Biologist Sofie Salama: The Story of Jumping Genes

It’s not just organisms that compete in nature—molecules do, too. Sofie Salama and colleagues have been exploring an age-old tug-of-war inside our genome, between genes that spread like kudzu and others that perform a kind of weed control. The conflict between jumping genes (aka transposons), and repressors may have a biological payoff, contributing new regulatory elements that drive organismal complexity and new evolutionary possibilities. Among the subjects Sofie and I discussed: *The...


Writing for Keeps: The Life and Legacy of Tillie Olsen

Tillie Olsen didn’t publish much, but her work has had an outsize impact. Her stories were instant classics and part of the great democratization of 20th-century American lit. The fact that they were painstakingly written while working menial jobs, raising four kids and campaigning tirelessly for human rights added to her legend. With the recent publication of some of her previously out-of-print works, I talked with teacher/writer Julie Olsen Edwards and poet/teacher Rebekah Edwards –...