Hurricane Florence was a perfect example of how climate change supercharges extreme weather events. But climate change also affects us in other more subtle, interconnected, and difficult to manage ways. Thankfully, people like June Blotnick, Executive Director of environmental advocacy group Clean Air Carolina, are working on the ground to help communities battle climate change. Miles sits down with June to learn more about how the average citizen can move the needle on these issues.
Steve Squyres is the principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover Program, which gave us the plucky and productive rovers Spirit and Opportunity. With the latter on life support and the former no longer with us, I spoke with him about his amazing run on Mars and what he’s working on now. It’s all out-of-this-world stuff.
There are calls in the EPA and in Congress for the use of more transparent science. But what does that mean? Why do scientists seem united against these regulations? And what would it mean if they went into effect? In this special Hash it Out episode, Brian and Fedor talk to vocal opponent of science transparency regulations George D. Thurston, Director of the Program in Exposure Assessment and Human Health Effects at the Department of Environmental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine.
For more than three decades, behavioral biologist Denise Herzing has tracked and observed a pod of wild spotted dolphins that live in the warm clear waters of the Bahamas. She’s learned an awful lot about their behaviors and their communication–or is it a language? Denise has as good a chance as anyone to find out what the dolphins might be saying to each other. But the question is: if we could communicate with them, what would we say? Maybe we should start with an apology.
Methane is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of gas: on one hand, it is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. On the other, if it leaks, methane itself is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. In this special Hash It Out episode, Brian and Fedor go from 18th century Italian methane guns to present day Google Street View cars that sniff out methane leaks. Listen to learn about the history of methane, its current uses, and what is being done to curb its environmental impact.
For several years, environmental advocacy groups have been fighting to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos from agricultural use. A turnover in leadership at the EPA has led to a moment of indecision on what to do about the chemical. Robert Sapolsky is a neuroscientist who’s spent a long time assisting in the legal battle against chlorpyrifos. We discussed the devastating effects of chlorpyrifos on an exposed nervous system as well as his work to discredit the industry science claiming its safety.
After years of exhaustive research linking the pesticide chlorpyrifos to a host of developmental and cognitive deficiencies in children, the EPA was poised to ban the chemical in November 2016. But something else happened that same month; the election of Donald Trump. As a result, this potent neurotoxin is still in use. Miriam Rotkin-Ellman is a senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is still fighting for a ban.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not off in the distant future... in some ways it is already here. How is AI already changing our lives? Does it work independently of us or does it also have our all-too-human biases? After hashing out machine learning on Episode 19, Brian and Fedor sit down with Picasa founder and serial tech entrepreneur Lars Perkins to discuss AI in broader strokes on this special edition of Miles To Go.
Communicating the science of climate change, with its overwhelming expert consensus, seems like it should be easy. However, a science-averse media and strong fossil fuel lobby make it exceedingly difficult. Climatologist Michael Mann and cartoonist Tom Toles have teamed up to put climate change in context in their new book, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy. I talked to both of them at this year’s Annapolis...
What is machine learning? How does it work? What are these artificially intelligent algorithms useful for? Considering they are used by Amazon, Google, Netflix, Facebook and many other companies we interact with on a daily basis, what are the benefits and drawbacks? Thanks to a listener suggestion, we decided to delve deeper on the subject. Miles O’Brien Productions team members Brian Truglio and Fedor Kossakovski are joined by producer and coder Cameron Hickey to hash it out on this special...
Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide. It is more short-lived than CO2 (about a decade as opposed a century), but it is 85 times more effective at warming. Robert Green is a world-renowned expert in spectroscopy, which is a great way to find methane on distant planets, but also ours, as I learned in this interview.
In the final episode in our series on Junk News, some wisdom from one of the leading experts in the murky world of online misinformation. He also happens to be the producer of the series that we aired on the PBS NewsHour. Now he’s taking the software he wrote to Harvard, where they hope to find new ways to combat Junk News. I hope you enjoy this talk with Cameron Hickey, my friend and soon-to-be former colleague.
Facebook was created for people to share family photos and memories. But as ads entered the mix, the platform was refined to hold our attention for as long as possible. Quality was not a consideration - until recently. But how to fix the junk news mess without editing it? Maybe Facebook needs a newsroom.
The Internet was supposed to provide a utopian virtual world where all of us could come together in peace, love and harmony to better understand each other and our differing viewpoints…
But we got derailed on the road to utopia, didn’t we? Eli Pariser, the man who coined the phrase “filter bubble”, knows as much about this as anyone. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.
As Hawaii trembles with earthquakes and the Kilauea volcano continues to spew forth lava and gas, residents and the wider world watch and wonder: how long will this renewed activity continue? To find out, we turn to Mike Garcia, professor of geology at the University of Hawaii and funded by the National Science Foundation. He has been following the eruption since its beginning, which actually bubbled to life in 1983. To better understand the history and possible future of Kilauea, I sit down...
Russian actors may have run an online disinformation campaign during the 2016 US presidential elections, but they likely learned their tactics from Americans. As part of our investigation, PBS NewsHour series producer Cameron Hickey tracked down one of these junk news pioneers, Cyrus Massoumi. He runs liberal and conservative junk news sites, which have millions of followers on Facebook. I continue my conversation with Cyrus on this episode of Miles To Go.
Russian actors may have run an online disinformation campaign during the 2016 US presidential elections, but they likely learned their tactics from Americans. As part of our investigation, PBS NewsHour series producer Cameron Hickey tracked down one of these junk news pioneers, Cyrus Massoumi. He runs liberal and conservative junk news sites, which have millions of followers on Facebook. To find out more about the murky world of junk news, I sit down with Massoumi on this episode of Miles To...
Top US intelligence agencies agree that Russia meddled in the 2016 US Presidential election using an organized campaign of online trolling and misinformation. The details of exactly how are harder to uncover. Jonathan Albright, data journalist and Research Director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, studies information flow in networks. Recently, he has been mapping how Russian propaganda spreads on the web. I sit down with Albright on this episode of Miles To Go.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has placed Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook at the center of the data privacy debate. But is Facebook’s ad-driven business model fundamentally incompatible with protecting users’ personal data? And, if so, what can be done to fix it? Miles O’Brien Productions team members Brian Truglio and Fedor Kossakovski hash it out on this special edition of Miles To Go.
The uncontained engine failure of Southwest flight 1380 reminds us once again that commercial aviation is a business that does not always put safety first - and regulators seem reluctant to change that. Jennifer Riordan’s death could have been avoided if only the FAA did not have a “Tombstone Mentality.” My guest on this special edition: former FAA inspector general and aviation attorney Mary Schiavo.