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Universe of Art

Science Podcasts

Meet artists who use science to bring their creations to the next level.

Location:

United States

Description:

Meet artists who use science to bring their creations to the next level.

Language:

English


Episodes

Breaking down the physics behind ‘3 Body Problem’

4/2/2024
Last month, Netflix released its adaptation of the Hugo Award-winning sci-fi book The 3 Body Problem by Cixin Liu. It follows the journey of several scientists, from the Chinese Cultural Revolution to the present day, as they seek to understand why their fellow researchers are dying and why their scientific results no longer make sense. Along the way, they discover an ultra-advanced VR game and a dark secret that suggests we might not be alone in the universe. Guest host Arielle Duhaime-Ross sits down with the show’s science advisor, Dr. Matt Kenzie, an associate professor of physics at the University of Cambridge, to talk about what exactly the three body problem is, why he gave the actors physics lessons, and what he hopes audiences take away from a show focused on scientists. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday’s science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have science-inspired art you’d like to share with us for a future episode? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:10:57

Could life exist on a planet like Arrakis from 'Dune'?

3/19/2024
“Dune: Part II” is one of the year’s most highly anticipated films, and it picks up where the first film left off: with Paul Atreides escaping into the desert on the planet Arrakis. It’s a scorching-hot world that’s covered in dunes, and home to giant, deadly sandworms. Obviously “Dune” and its setting are fictional, but could there be a real planet that resembles Arrakis? And if so, could it sustain life? Science Friday host Ira Flatow talks with Dr. Mike Wong, astrobiologist and planetary scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, about what Arrakis’ atmosphere is like, the search for life in the universe, and what sci-fi films get wrong—and right—about alien planets. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Rasha Aridi. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday’s science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have science-inspired art you’d like to share with us for a future episode? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:12:44

Meet the comedians bringing a sense of humor to science

3/5/2024
A scientist and a comedian walk into a bar—for an interview about the craft of science comedy. Ira talks to comedians Chuck Nice, Kasha Patel, and Kyle Marian Viterbo about their work bringing the joke format to science communication. While all three have different approaches to science—whether it’s sneaking the knowledge into “regular” jokes, or going straight for the factual jugular—they agree that the practice of stand-up has much in common with the scientific process. “We normally start with an observation or a question,” says Nice. “The experimentation is the joke itself, seeing whether or not it will get a laugh… you have to tell it in front of an audience. And after that you go, ‘Wow, that sucked. I can’t believe that wasn’t funny.’” Plus, why comedy can itself be a science, and what good comedy has in common with good (science) communication. “It’s a long term skillset in playing with, and communicating, and connecting with your audience,” says Viterbo. “To be able to really listen to our audience, which these days we need more of.” Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Christie Taylor. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday’s science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have science-inspired art you’d like to share with us for a future episode? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:32:17

How gamification has crept into school, work, and fitness

2/20/2024
Gamers often spend hours embarking on quests, unlocking new levels, and collecting badges. But what about when aspects of games start popping up in other parts of life—like work, school, and exercise? Adrian Hon created the fitness app “Zombies, Run!” and has thought a lot about how the principles of gaming have crept into so many different corners of our lives, and why it may not always be as innocent as it seems. Ira Flatow and co-host Kathleen Davis talk with Adrian Hon, author of You’ve Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, and Schools Use Games to Control Us All. Hon is also the CEO and founder of the game developer, Six to Start, based in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Read an excerpt of You’ve Been Played: How Corporations, Governments, And Schools Use Games To Control Us All. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Shoshannah Buxbaum. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have science-inspired art you’d like to share with us for a future episode? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:17:34

Why a robotics professor writes Black STEM romance novels

2/6/2024
The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (also known as STEM) are not particularly diverse. And despite a gradual uptick in diversity over the last decade, a 2023 report from the National Science Foundation showed that only 24% of people in these industries are Hispanic, Black, or Native American. Dr. Carlotta Berry is working to change that, taking an untraditional approach to encourage people from marginalized backgrounds to enter the sciences. She is, as she puts it, an engineering professor by day and romance novelist by night. Working under the pen name Carlotta Ardell, she writes youth-friendly romance novels featuring Black protagonists who work in STEM fields. SciFri producer and host of the Universe Of Art podcast D. Peterschmidt sat down with Dr. Berry, who is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, to talk about how she got started on this journey and why she wants to make STEM a little steamier. Further Reading NoireSTEMinist

Duration:00:09:50

Let's take a field trip!

1/23/2024
We’re working on an upcoming episode about the science-inspired art that you’re making! If you want to share paintings, songs, pottery, poetry, or anything else, we’d love to hear about it. Write to us or send us a voice memo at universe@sciencefriday.com to tell us about what you made and why, and we might reach out to you. Thanks! Today, we’re going to take a field trip to a couple science-inspired museum exhibits that host D. Peterschmidt checked out last fall. The first is artist Heather Dewey Hagborg’s Hybrid: An Interspecies Opera, where she interviewed scientists and archaeologists and even filmed in a lab that’s experimenting with genetically modifying pigs to create more human-compatible organs. In the resulting documentary, which plays in the exhibit, the words from the scientists she interviewed are transposed into an opera composed by musician Bethany Barrett. Visitors can also find 3D-printed clay pig statues and a timeline of how humans have transformed pigs over ten millennia, thanks to selective breeding. Then, we’ll head over to Climate Futurism, an exhibit curated by marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, who thinks a lot about the possible futures of our climate. Not just one ideal climate future, but a range of futures that could be better if we make some changes. And one of the exhibit’s central questions it asks the viewer is, what if we get it right? D. spoke to Dr. Johnson and one of the three featured artists, Erica Deeman, about food justice, reconnecting with nature, and why the exhibit is called Climate Futurism. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have science-inspired art you’d like to share with us for a future episode? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:15:40

Why a scientist made a graphic novel about understanding physics

1/9/2024
Comic book superheroes use and abuse physics for their supernatural powers. But how many can actually explain the physics behind gravitation or electromagnetism? In The Dialogues, graphic novel by physicist Clifford Johnson, the heroes are scientists—and though they have no special powers beyond their scientific abilities, the characters address everything from the mysteries of dark energy to the possibility of immortality. In this interview from 2018, black hole physicist Janna Levin joins Clifford Johnson to discuss the quantum questions vexing physicists today—and why black holes might be the perfect place to find the answers. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Christopher Intagliata. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:29:25

The delightfully silly science comics of Rosemary Mosco

12/26/2023
Have you ever wondered what a Great Blue Heron would write in a love letter to a potential mate? Or what the moons of Mars think of themselves? These are the scenes that nature cartoonist Rosemary Mosco dreams up in her comic Bird and Moon. “Nature is really funny. It’s never not funny,” Mosco says in a SciFri SciArts video. “You can go into the woods and find 20 or 30 hilarious potential comic prompts anywhere you go.” Viewers may come for the laughs, but they will end up learning facts, she explains. Mosco talks about her inspiration for finding the funny side of snakes, planets, and nature, and how she uses humor to communicate science. See a selection of Mosco’s comics and more of her work at Bird and Moon! Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Alexa Lim. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:09:16

How artists and scientists collaborated to make art about HIV

12/12/2023
This past July, the 12th International Conference on HIV Science was held in Brisbane, Australia. But this wasn’t your typical scientific conference. Yes, findings were presented on the latest in HIV research, but it culminated in a museum exhibition. 12 HIV-positive artists were paired with 12 scientists, and each pair collaborated on a piece of art, largely based on the scientists’ research. And one of the pieces attracted a bit more attention than the others. Kairon Liu, an artist, curator, and photographer, and Kane Race, a professor of gender and cultural studies at the University of Sydney, wanted to create something that commented on the negative effects of global HIV policy and the current stigma of living with the disease. The resulting piece is titled Untransmittable, a transparent penis-shaped sculpture filled with thousands of expired antiretroviral pills. Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt sat down with Liu and Race to talk about the piece they made, why they couldn’t take it over the Australian border, and their hopes for future HIV research. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:18:23

Music genres are more universal than you may think

11/28/2023
For most people, when you hear the first few bars of “Rock-A-Bye Baby,” you immediately know that the tune is a lullaby. But would you be able to pick out a lullaby from another culture? This is the question that cognitive scientist Samuel Mehr and evolutionary biologist Manvir Singh were interested in answering. They played lullabies, dance songs, and other types of songs to random internet users to see if there was a universality between these musical forms. Their results were published in Current Biology in 2018. Mehr and Singh discuss whether music is universally understood across cultures, and how context and culture play a role in our understanding of music. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Alexa Lim. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:12:16

Bonus episode: Musician Kilo Kish learns a new trick

11/14/2023
Today, we’re featuring an episode from the podcast Sing For Science, where musicians talk to scientists about science as it connects to their most famous songs. In this episode, recorded live at the 2022 On Air Fest in Brooklyn, NY, rapper Kilo Kish and NYU neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki talk about Kish’s song “NEW TRICKS: ART, AESTHETICS, AND MONEY” and how it overlaps with brain plasticity, memory formation, and brain anatomy. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:20:22

Why is daydreaming so difficult for adults?

10/31/2023
Children have a natural talent for imagination. Even in moments of boredom, their imagination can take them away into daydreams that help pass the time in a flash. But for many adults, falling into a daydream is hard, especially when our minds are filled with worries about tomorrow’s obligations, finances, and a global pandemic. Turns out those who feel this way are not alone. New research shows that adults report getting to a daydreaming state is harder than experiencing their unguided thoughts. Adults often require a prompt to think about something pleasant, and tend to ruminate on unpleasant things. Daydreaming can be an antidote to boredom, and researcher Erin Westgate of the University of Florida says that’s important. Her previous research shows that boredom can cause sadistic behavior in people. Westgate joins guest host John Dankosky and Manoush Zomorodi, host of the TED Radio Hour and author of the book Bored and Brilliant, who argues leaning into boredom can unlock our most creative selves. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Kathleen Davis. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:19:30

This poet turns to science in times of uncertainty

10/17/2023
Poet Jane Hirshfield calls these “unaccountable” times. Crises in the biosphere—climate change, extinctions—collide with crises in human life. And in her new book Ledger, she says she has tried to do the accounting of where we, human beings, are as a result. As a poet whose work touches on the Hubble telescope, the proteins of itch, and the silencing of climate researchers, Hirshfield talks with John Dankosky about the particular observational capacity of language, and why scientists and poets can share similar awe. Hirshfield is also the founder of Poets for Science, which continues a project to create a global community poem started after 2017’s March for Science. You can read a selection of her poetry from Ledger here. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. The original segment was produced by Christie Taylor. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com. Read this episode's transcript here.

Duration:00:18:40

How this composer integrated neuroscience into her music

10/3/2023
When composer Sarah Hennies learned about a neurological theory called “motor tapes” from Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, the concept stuck with her for years. The theory comes from neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinás, who posited that many of our thoughts, memories, and physical movements operate via a series of “looping tapes,” with the goal of reducing the amount of energy the brain uses while doing common, repetitive tasks. The concept resonated with Hennies, who is also a visiting assistant professor of music at Bard College. Most of her compositions use heavy amounts of repetition, and Llinás’ theory fit with how she experienced her own memories and the evolution of her identity. Her piece “Motor Tapes” premiered in early August, performed by Ensemble Dedalus. Hennies joins guest host and musician Dessa to talk about repetition in music, how to translate neuroscience into art, and what that pairing can reveal about our bodies and the world around us. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:12:28

How video game devs and musicians are processing climate change

9/19/2023
It’s Climate Week in New York City this week, which brings together hundreds of events, all aimed at encouraging conversation and participation and action around our climate crisis. So this week, we wanted to play two stories of artists grappling with and integrating climate change into their work. The first is about a gaming competition called the Climate Jam, where teams compete to build video games about climate change in just one week. Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt talked with Indiecade organizers and the winning team about their game, and how they’re working to overcome climate apathy. The second is an interview with folk musician and independent scholar Daniel Bachman. His latest album, Almanac Behind, is a meditative instrumental reflection on the extreme weather events in Bachman’s home state of Virginia—using actual field recordings of those events. He also talks about his work as an independent scholar, and how the traditions of Appalachian folklore influenced his view of the album as a climatological historical document. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com. Read this episode's transcript here.

Duration:00:22:27

How scientifically accurate are the sharks in "Meg 2: The Trench"?

9/5/2023
“Meg 2: The Trench” is the sequel to the 2018 movie “The Meg,” in which a team of ocean scientists discover a megalodon, the largest shark that ever lived, thriving at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Megalodon went extinct over 2.6 million years ago … or so the movie’s characters thought. When the team’s research sub gets damaged, a skilled rescue diver, played by Jason Statham, is brought in, who happened to have encountered the same megalodon years earlier. Over the course of the movie, the team discovers how this long-thought extinct apex predator survived, and what they can do to stop it before it wreaks havoc on the surface world. “Meg 2: The Trench” largely follows in that movie’s footsteps, but this time, it features not just one, but multiple megalodons. Oh, and they’re even bigger this time. Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt chats with Dr. Sora Kim, an associate professor of paleoecology at University of California, Merced, about what science the movie got wrong (and right) and how these over-the-top blockbusters can inspire the scientists of the future. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:12:32

Pregnancy goes high-tech in "The Pod Generation"

8/22/2023
In the new movie The Pod Generation, a wife named Rachel, played by Emilia Clarke, and her husband Alvy, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, want to start a family. In the movie’s near future, you don’t have to have a baby by getting pregnant, or using IVF, or going through a surrogate. If you’re lucky, you can get a reservation at The Womb Center, where you can grow your baby inside a convenient, high-tech, egg-shaped pod. Pressured by her friends and her work’s HR department, Rachel decides to give The Womb Center a shot. But Alvy, a professor of botany and lover of the natural world, is not thrilled to find out Rachel wants a pod baby. Despite this, they forge ahead and learn how this new technology will not only change society, but their relationship. Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt sat down with the film’s writer and director, Sophie Barthes, to talk about what inspired her to make the movie, and what may be lost in the thoughtless pursuit of technology. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com.

Duration:00:13:20

How NASA translates space data into sparkly and haunting songs

8/8/2023
You’ve probably heard that if you scream in space, no one will hear a thing. Space is a vacuum, so sound waves don’t have anything to bounce off of. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that space is silent. A team of researchers are taking data from a variety of telescopes and assigning them sounds, creating song-length sonifications of beloved space structures like black holes, nebulas, galaxies, and beyond. The album, called “Universal Harmonies” aims to bring galaxies to life and allow more people, such as those who are blind and low-vision, to engage with outer space. Guest host Flora Lichtman talks with two of the scientists behind “Universal Harmonies,” Dr. Kimberly Arcand, visualization scientist at NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Dr. Matt Russo, astrophysicist and musician at the University of Toronto. Visit our website to listen to a selection of the ethereal sonifications of “Universal Harmonies.” Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. The original segment featured in this episode was produced by Science Friday producer Rasha Aridi. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com. Read this episode's transcript here.

Duration:00:22:52

Star Trek’s science advisor reveals the real astrophysics on screen

7/25/2023
Few pop culture properties have lasted quite as long as Star Trek. A dozen Star Trek television shows have aired over the last sixty years—not to mention countless movies, novels, and comic books. Science concepts have always been integral to the Star Trek franchise: from warp speed travel to dilithium. But how much does the series accurately depict? Science Friday host Ira Flatow speaks with astrophysicist Dr. Erin Macdonald, science consultant for Star Trek about the legacy of the franchise, and how accurate the science is within the series. And Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt chats with Science Friday producer Kathleen Davis about producing the segment and the role expert consultants play in TV and movies. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. The original segment featured in this episode was produced by Science Friday producer Kathleen Davis. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com. You can read this episode’s transcript here.

Duration:00:30:53

Changing parasites’ bad reputation with monster girl art

7/11/2023
In Alien, the titular xenomorph uses the body of a human host to grow and eventually burst out of his chest. In the video game-turned TV series The Last Of Us, a fungi called cordyceps causes a catastrophic global pandemic by infecting humans and forming a parasitic relationship that turns them into flesh-eating zombies. Are you noticing a pattern here? As far as pop culture is concerned, humans and parasites definitely have beef. Dr. Tommy Leung, a lecturer and parasitologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, was dissatisfied with the negative perception surrounding his primary research focus. “The word ‘parasite’ in general vernacular is kind of like an insult, and that’s one reason why people don’t care about them,” he said. So, to help people understand the fascinating world of parasites, he started Parasite Monmusu, or Parasite Monster Girls, a blog where he shares original vibrant anime art of monster characters inspired by parasite species. Leung hopes that his illustrations and writing will help change negative perceptions of parasites. Lauren J. Young, associate health editor at Scientific American, profiled Leung in an article she wrote for Science Friday called Why We Should Defend Parasites. Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt sits down with her to talk about what she learned while writing it, and then reads her article. Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Charles Bergquist and John Dankosky provided production assistance. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. The original article featured in this episode was written by Lauren J. Young. Support for Science Friday's science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Do you have an idea for a future episode of Universe of Art? Send us an email or a voice memo to universe@sciencefriday.com. Read this episode's transcript here.

Duration:00:15:08