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s02e08: Katharine Hayhoe: A Climate for Change

Katharine Hayhoe, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, founder and CEO of ATMOS Research and author of A Climate for Change.


s02e07: Paul Dawson: Double-Dipping and Other Food Peculiarities

Have you ever eaten food after it has been dropped on the floor or double-dipped a chip? What about the cleanliness of restaurant menus or how sanitary it is to play beer pong. Paul Dawson will talk about what the research says on these and other topics related to the bacterial transfer on and around food. We’ll look at the ways bacteria live and move around the surfaces where we eat, drink and celebrate. Ice, lemon slices, sharing food, and even blowing out birthday candles will be placed...


s02e06: Katalin Gothard: The Magic of Emotional Touch

Touch is essential for communicating our emotions. Indeed our earliest socio-emotional experience may be the protective embrace of a parent. Humans and non-human primates use touch to build and maintain bonds throughout life, yet little is known about how the brain extracts the emotional content of social touch. This talk will focus on the role of the amygdala, the emotional hub of the brain, in processing touch and in extracting the positive or negative valence of touch stimuli. Dr. Gothard...

s02e05: Anthony James: La Zanzara Vitruviana: Synthetic Biology and Malaria

New technologies hold great promise for sustainable control of malaria parasite transmission by mosquitoes. The science of these technologies has advanced so quickly that the public understanding of their benefits and risks lags far behind. The challenge is to develop these new disease control methods while at the same time recruiting public support for the efforts.


s02e04: Michael M. Merzenich: Brain Power and Brain Health

Neuroscience research over the past several decades has revolutionized our understanding of the change processes in the brain that underlie the development and elaboration of our skills and abilities in younger life, and that account for their predictable, progressive decline at an older age. Neuroplasticity studies also provide us with important new insights into strategies for overcoming those losses, and for managing our brain health all across the span of our lives. Our goal is to...


s02e03: Emily Chew: Earthquake Resilience of California’s Water Distribution System

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The most common factor that increases the risk of AMD is increasing age. However, environmental factors including cigarette smoking and nutrition also play important roles in the development of AMD. This lecture will discuss specifically how researchers examined the role of diets and the use of nutritional supplements for the treatment of AMD. Unlike other medical conditions, nutritional...


s02e02: Jonathan P. Stewart: Earthquake Resilience of California’s Water Distribution System

California relies on a network of dams and aqueducts to store and transport water from the primary source areas (e.g., Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills) to usage areas (e.g., Central Valley farms and coastal urban regions). Southern California, in particular, relies on this infrastructure for 60% of its water, with the primary supply aqueducts importing from Owens Valley (eastern Sierra), Colorado River, and the California Bay-Delta Region. In this seminar, the presenter will define the...


s02e01: Alex Stone: The Science of Magic and the Art of Deception

Magic is dramatized deception, lying as performance art, cons as theatre. Magicians trick our brains into seeing what isn’t real, and for whatever reason our brains let them get away with it.Turns out, you can learn a lot about how the mind works—and why it sometimes doesn’t—by looking at how magicians distort our perception.Through a mix of psychology, storytelling,and sleight-of-hand, Stone explores the cognitive underpinnings of misdirection, illusion, scams, and secrecy, pulling back the...


s01e14: Jill McDermott: A Deep Sea Hunt for Evidence of Dark Life

If you want to find life on other worlds, then you may want to start by searching the deepest, most remote areas of our seafloor. At hydrothermal vents, high pressure and heat from volcanic activity transforms seawater into hot, mineral-laden water. These hot springs support thriving ecosystems that exist completely devoid of sunlight. Chemical clues in hydrothermal vent fluids reveal the presence of a subseafloor biosphere, and recent exploration in the Arctic uncovers the nature of...


s01e13: Shane Ardo: Development of a Plastic Water Bottle for Sunlight-Driven Desalination

One in ten human beings does not have access to clean potable water, a number that the United Nations predicts will more than quadruple in the next 13 years, mostly due to population growth in developing nations. These water needs can be met by desalination of ocean water but that requires a capital investment exceeding one trillion U.S. dollars. Therefore, development of affordable technologies to desalinate salt water for human consumption and agriculture is important. Toward this, my...


s01e12: Krysta Svore: Quantum Computing: Revolutionizing Computation Through Quantum Mechanics

Since 1981 when Richard Feynman proposed a device called a "quantum computer" to take advantage of the laws of quantum physics to achieve computational speed-ups over classical methods, quantum algorithms have been developed that offer fast solutions to problems in a variety of fields including number theory, optimization, chemistry, physics, and materials science. Quantum devices have also significantly advanced such that components of a scalable quantum computer have been demonstrated; the...


s01e11: Nels Elde: Microbial Control of Hosts: Annual Seymour Benzer Lecture

Microscopic beasts including viruses, bacteria, and fungi often associate with hosts to facilitate their spread and reproduction. Host-microbial interactions stretch back to the origins of cellular life. These alliances range from hostile to cooperative and from transient to permanent. We will explore the influence of microbes on their hosts and how they gain the ability to manipulate cell functions and organismal behavior. Understanding how microbes control hosts is helping unlock the...


s01e10: Rob Rubin: What Can the Development of the Flu Vaccine Teach Us About Online Learning and Skilling the Workforce?

This lecture will explore what happens when you look at online learning as a complex system, analogous to the yearly development of the flu vaccine. Dr. Rubin will draw on the complexity theory behind two-sided networks (critical to understanding both the economics of Health Maintenance Organizations and vaccine creation) and identify fundamental gaps in learning systems. He will then describe how Microsoft applied this work to the reskilling challenge in Data Science. Drawing on the work...


s01e09: James Robinson: Where You Live Should Not Determine IF You Live

Traumatic injury in the United States presents a staggering national economic and social burden. Unfortunately, despite the burden, trauma care does not garner the leadership, funding or research commensurate to it. If there is any positive to armed conflict, one might be that war advances trauma care in both the military and civilian sectors. It is important that these hard-earned lessons, paid for in blood, be translated diffusely across the civilian sector. Recommendations from the...


s01e08: Stephen Levinson: Cultural Diversity in an Age of Fear

We live in an era where the values of an open society are being challenged by rising xenophobia. It is timely then to remind ourselves of the multiple gifts we have received from other cultures, from morphine to the alphabet, from our cultivars to our mathematics. Culture is the human way of adapting to local ecologies, social and political forces, and each one offers thousands of years of collective experiment. We still have very much to learn from these well-honed solutions both...


s01e07: David Mills: Mammals, Milk, and Microbes

Human milk contains numerous components that shape the microbial content of the developing infant gastrointestinal tract. Studies suggest a co-evolutionary relationship between mammalian milk glycans, infant-borne bifidobacteria and the infant host resulting in a programmed enrichment of a protective bifidobacterial-dominant community during a critical stage of infant development. Disruption of this programmed enrichment, by poor environmental transfer, antibiotic use, or infection, can lead...


s01e06: Deborah Cramer: The Narrow Edge

Each year tiny sandpipers -- red knots -- undertake a near miraculous 19,000 mile journey from one end of the earth to the other and back. In this firsthand account, Deborah Cramer accompanies them on their extraordinary odyssey along the length of two continents, tracking birds from remote Tierra del Fuego to the icy Arctic. On the full moon of spring's highest tides, she seeks out horseshoe crabs -- ancient, primordial animals whose eggs are essential to migrating shorebirds, and whose...


s01e05: James Fallon: The Psychopath Inside

Neuroscientist James Fallon was looking at brain scans of serial killers at the same time that he was also doing a study on Alzheimer’s and had brain scans from himself and members of his family on his desk. He discovered that the psychopathic brain pictured in a particular scan was his own. The fact that a person with the genes and brain of a psychopath could end up a non-violent, stable and successful scientist made Fallon reconsider the ambiguity of the term. Research shows that a...


s01e04: Britney Schmidt: Robots Under the Ice, and One Day, In Space?

Europa is one of the most enticing targets in the search for life beyond Earth. With an icy outer shell hiding a global ocean, Europa exists in a dynamic environment and sources of energy that could sustain a biosphere. Beneath ice shelves on Earth, processes such as accretion, melt and circulation mediate the ice as an important element of the climate system. Here, ice-ocean exchange may be similar to that on Europa, but the harsh environment and thickness of the ice make it difficult to...


s01e03: Richard Harris: Science Friction: What’s Slowing Progress in Biomedicine

American taxpayers spend about $30 billion a year to support the National Institutes of Health. Most of that funding supports research at universities, at the boundary of medicine and biology. Unfortunately it appears that a great deal of that research is not robust, and can't be reproduced in other labs. Richard Harris took a year's leave from his job as science correspondent at National Public Radio to explore the reasons for these failings and to explore ways that the scientific...