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Town Hall Seattle Science Series

Science Podcasts

The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.

The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.


United States


The Science series presents cutting-edge research about biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, geology, astronomy, and more. These events appeal to many different levels of expertise, from grade school students to career scientists. With a range of relevant applications, including medicine, the environment, and technology, this series expands our thinking and our possibilities.








181. Leah Thomas with Hannah Wilson: The Intersection Between Environmentalism, Racism, and Privilege

As the threats of climate change become more urgent than ever, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do. The problems — and their solutions — seem unwieldy and complicated. But what if we embrace the complexity of the climate crisis and create solutions that are just as intertwined as the issues? That’s where intersectional environmentalism comes in. Leah Thomas, a prominent voice in the field and the activist who coined the term “Intersectional Environmentalism,” offered...


180. Don Stuart with Addie Candib: No Farms, No Food

Farmers and environmentalists haven’t always seen eye-to-eye about the best ways to manage agricultural landscapes, but America’s farms are vital to preserving ecosystems and a stable climate. How might the two come together to unite for the common good? In No Farms, No Food, longtime farm, fisheries, and environmental policy advocate Don Stuart took readers inside the political and policy battles that determine the fate of our nation’s farmland. Stuart traced the history of agriculture...


179. Elena Conis with Sally James: The Rise, Fall, and Toxic Return of DDT

In the 1940s, the insecticide DDT was widely used to combat insect-borne human diseases like malaria and control insects in agricultural applications, gardens, and inside homes. In the 1950s, it became evident that the pesticide was causing extensive health and environmental damage. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring alerted the public to the long-lasting dangers of pesticide use. And in 1972, the United States EPA issued an order for DDT’s cancellation due to adverse environmental...


178. Jane McGonigal with Margaret Morris: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything

The COVID-19 pandemic — one of the most disruptive events in human history — has made it more challenging than ever to feel prepared, hopeful, and equipped to face the future with optimism. How do we map out our lives when it feels impossible to predict what the world will be like next week, let alone next year or next decade? Humans aren’t particularly fond of uncertainty, but what if we had the tools to help us feel more secure and shape our futures? Future forecaster and game designer...


177. David Bainbridge—Paleontology: An Illustrated History

Humans have been stumbling upon the remains of ancient animals since prehistoric times, long before fossils were routinely dug up, named, and pieced together into “whole” prehistoric skeletons. The word dinosaur wasn’t established until the mid-19th century – practically yesterday, considering the massive span of the geologic time scale. From bits and bones from unknown creatures emerged tales of giant dogs, dragons, sea serpents, and myriad other creatures. Absurd as these legends might...


176. Jack E. Davis with Deborah Jensen: A Cultural and Natural History of the Bald Eagle

The majestic bald eagle can be spotted throughout most of North America at various points during the year. Here in Western Washington, we’re lucky to spot them all year-round — no doubt thanks to an abundance of tall trees for nesting and open bodies of water that provide a source of food. They are revered birds, sacred within Indigenous traditions, and associated with wisdom, bravery, and protection. Only a few decades ago, the future of bald eagles was tenuous. In the late 19th and early...


175. David Haskell with Lyanda Lynn Haupt: The Evolution of Sound

Our world constantly vibrates with sound, from the delicate flap of an insect’s wings to the thunderous roar of a rocket launching into space. There’s the spring chorus of frogs. The sputter of a creek and the whoosh of a sudden breeze. Songs, music, and speech. But the sounds of today aren’t necessarily the same sounds that our ancestors encountered. How have sounds changed? What might be missing from our present and future sonic experiences? In his new book, Sounds Wild and Broken,...


174. Charlotte Coté with Dana Arviso: Stories of Indigenous Food Sovereignty from the NW

In the dense rainforest of the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Somass River (c̓uumaʕas) brings sockeye salmon (miʕaat) into the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Tseshaht. C̓uumaʕas and miʕaat are central to the sacred food practices that have been a crucial part of the Indigenous community’s efforts to enact food sovereignty, decolonize their diet, and preserve their ancestral knowledge. In A Drum in One Hand, a Sockeye in the Other, Charlotte Coté shared contemporary Nuu-chah-nulth...


173. Vidya Krishnan with Amber Payne: The Past, Present, and Future of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis might seem like a disease of the past in the West, but globally it remains a persistent and costly threat across all age groups. According to the World Health Organization, over 1.5 million people died from TB in 2020 — could it be on track to re-emerge as the next global public health crisis? According to medical science journalist Vidya Krishnan, the disease could be mounting a “frightening comeback.” In her new book, Phantom Plague, Krishnan traced a century of TB’s history...


172. Matt Richtel: The New Science of the Immune System

The human immune system is nothing short of remarkable: it helps our bodies ward off bacteria and viruses, heals wounds, and maintains the balance needed to keep us alive. The good news? Our immune systems are no longer threatened by the plagues and common diseases of the past. The bad news? Our bodies face an array of distinctively modern challenges; threats like fatigue, stress, and exposure to toxins, which place undue pressure on a system that typically keeps us healthy. Could the...


171. Dr. Carl L. Hart with Professor Jennifer Oliva: Drug Use for Grown-Ups

Is it possible for drug use to be part of a responsible, balanced, and happy life? Dr. Carl L. Hart, a prominent neuroscientist and professor of psychology at Columbia University, believes so; but he didn’t always see it that way. Dr. Hart grew up in Miami at a time when drugs like crack cocaine were blamed for his city’s problems. Initially, his research aimed to prove that drug use led to bad outcomes. But what he found was unexpected: the facts didn’t support the ideology, the truth was...


170. Robin George Andrews: What Volcanic Eruptions Can Reveal About Our Planet

Volcanoes have long fascinated curious humans of all ages. Here in the Seattle area, our beloved Tahoma (Mount Rainier) and the four other active volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range are beautiful but ever-present reminders of Washington’s location in the “Ring of Fire,” a 25,000-mile arc of volcanic activity that follows the rim of the Pacific Ocean. Volcanoes are quite literally our neighbors; how can we get to know them better and understand their role in shaping and reshaping our...


169. Howard Frumkin with Joseph Winters: A Roadmap for Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves

It’s no secret that human health and the health of Earth’s systems — in particular, the air, water, biodiversity, and climate — are inextricably linked. It’s also no secret that Earth’s systems are changing in ways that can feel daunting and unwieldy. But with all great change comes great opportunity, and the emerging field of Planetary Health offers glimmers of hope rooted in actions, strategies, and a deepened understanding of our interconnectedness. In Planetary Health: Protecting Nature...


168. Lynda V. Mapes: The Natural History of the Orca and the Threats to Their Survival

In July of 2018, Orca whale J35, also known as “Tahlequah,” gave birth to a calf off the coast of British Columbia. When the calf died shortly after birth, the world grieved alongside J35 as she carried the calf for 17 days across 1,000 miles before finally releasing it and rejoining her pod. Grief that transcends species is an extraordinary thing; it sparked a revival awareness of the critical need to preserve orcas, the chinook salmon they feed on, and their habitat — together, core...


167. Neal Stephenson: Termination Shock

Bestselling author Neal Stephenson is known for delivering novels with poignant and incisive reflections on our present and future. He’s also no stranger to the Town Hall stage and has joined us in the past to discuss his novel Fall and collaborative work with Nicole Galland, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., among others. Stephenson returned to the Town Hall stage to discuss his newest thriller, Termination Shock. In his speculative vision of the not-too-distant future, sea levels are rising,...


166. Hannah Zeavin with Dr. Margaret Morris and Dr. Orna Guralnik—The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy

When you think of therapy in a traditional sense, what comes to mind? Television shows, movies, and comics love to paint a stereotypical scene: a bespectacled therapist asks poignant questions and jots down notes on a legal pad; meanwhile, the patient reclines on a sofa and spills their thoughts and emotions into the void of the room. It might be easy to assume that therapy has always involved a person-to-person conversation, but in her new book The Distance Cure, scholar and author Hannah...


165. Dr. MeiLan K. Han with Dr. Albert Rizzo: A Doctor’s Guide to Lung Health

On average, a person takes around 20,000 breaths each day; yet most of us never notice the rhythmic rush of air flowing in and out, keeping our bodies oxygenated and alive. And as many asthma or respiratory distress sufferers will attest, you don’t want to notice. But things are happening all around us that threaten our blissful ignorance of breathing — wildfire smoke, indoor and outdoor pollution, and Viruses like COVID-19, to name a few — and they will continue to impact us unless we take...


164. Dr. Jack Gilbert with Dr. Sean Gibbons: The Promise of the Human Microbiome

Prebiotics and probiotics. Fecal microbiota transplants. Optimizing a diet personalized to you. These microbiome-themed topics are all around us in the media, but microbiome research remains a fairly nascent field of study and wasn’t on many people’s radars even 10 years ago. UCSD Professor Dr. Jack Gilbert and Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) Assistant Professor Dr. Sean Gibbons came together to tackle this exciting area of research. What have we learned over the past few years? What...


163. Beth Shapiro with Carl Zimmer: The Perks of Meddling with Nature

Human beings are extraordinary meddlers. We’ve been shaping the world around us since the last ice age, and the longer we’re around, the better we become at resetting the course of evolution. From domesticating animals to CRISPR, a revolutionary new gene-editing tool that garnered a Nobel Prize in 2020, humans haven’t stopped tinkering and probably never will. There’s an understandable nervousness around human interference; what are we potentially destroying, or at least mucking up, when we...


162. Saul Griffith with David Roberts: A Realistic, Optimistic Plan for our Clean Energy Future

We know we have to do something about climate change, and we know we need to move immediately. The mere thought of it tends to make people freeze in their tracks from sheer overwhelm. Thousands of ideas exist, but there’s no clear, collective plan. Try as some people might, jumping on a rocket to the next planet isn’t the answer. But what if we don’t need groundbreaking new inventions to move the needle on climate change? What if most of the innovations already exist? Could we build a...