Steven J. Alvarez: Selling War - A Critical Look at the Military's PR Machine
Today's conversation with retired US Army Major Steven J. Alvarez focuses on Steve's ideas of how the U.S. military lost the information war in Iraq by engaging the wrong audiences—that is, the Western media—by ignoring Iraqi citizens and the wider Arab population, and by paying mere lip service to the directive to “Put an Iraqi face on everything.” That in the absence of effective communication from the U.S. military, the information void was swiftly filled by Al Qaeda and, eventually,...
Ernest Naylor: Moonstruck, How Lunar Cycles Affect Life
Throughout history, the influence of the full Moon on humans and animals has featured in folklore and myths. Yet it has become increasingly apparent that many organisms really are influenced indirectly, and in some cases directly, by the lunar cycle. In Moonstruck, Ernest Naylor dismisses the myths concerning the influence of the Moon, but shows through a range of fascinating examples the remarkable real effects that we are now finding through science. He suggests that since the advent of...
Jeremy Taylor: Body by Darwin, How Evolution Shapes Our Health and Transforms Medicine
Jeremy Taylor argues in Body by Darwin, that we can trace the roots of many medical conditions through our evolutionary history, revealing what has made us susceptible to certain illnesses and ailments over time and how we can use that knowledge to help us treat or prevent problems in the future. He examines the evolutionary origins of some of our most common and serious health issues. To begin, he looks at the hygiene hypothesis, which argues that our obsession with anti-bacterial...
Jamie Holmes: Nonsense, The Power of Not Knowing
A look at the surprising upside of ambiguity—and how, properly harnessed, it can inspire learning, creativity, even empathy. Managing ambiguity—in our jobs, our relationships, and daily lives—is quickly becoming an essential skill. Yet most of us don’t know where to begin. As Jamie Holmes shows in Nonsense, being confused is unpleasant, so we tend to shutter our minds as we grasp for meaning and stability, especially in stressful circumstances. We’re hard-wired to resolve contradictions...
Jedediah Purdy: After Nature, A Politics for the Anthropocene
Nature no longer exists apart from humanity. Henceforth, the world we will inhabit is the one we have made. Geologists have called this new planetary epoch the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. The geological strata we are now creating record industrial emissions, industrial-scale crop pollens, and the disappearance of species driven to extinction. Climate change is planetary engineering without design. These facts of the Anthropocene are scientific, but its shape and meaning are questions...
Kevin Carey: The End of College
From a renowned education writer comes a paradigm-shifting examination of the rapidly changing world of college that every parent, student, educator, and investor needs to understand. Over the span of just nine months in 2011 and 2012, the world’s most famous universities and high-powered technology entrepreneurs began a race to revolutionize higher education. College courses that had been kept for centuries from all but an elite few were released to millions of students throughout the...
Episode 10: John Fialka, Car Wars
The resurgence of the electric car in modern life is a tale of adventurers, men and women who bucked the complete dominance of the fossil fuelled car to seek something cleaner, simpler and cheaper. Award-winning former Wall Street Journal reporter John Fialka documents the early days of the electric car, from the M.I.T./Caltech race between prototypes in the summer of 1968 to the 1987 victory of the Sunraycer in the world's first race featuring solar powered cars. Thirty years later, the...
Episode 7: Daniel Bell, The China Model
Westerners tend to divide the political world into "good" democracies and "bad" authoritarian regimes. But the Chinese political model does not fit neatly in either category. Over the past three decades, China has evolved a political system that can best be described as "political meritocracy." The China Model, seeks to understand the ideals and the reality of this unique political system. How do the ideals of political meritocracy set the standard for evaluating political progress (and...
Episode 6: Donald Prothero, The Story of Life in 25 Fossils
The twenty-five fossils portrayed in this book catch animals in their evolutionary splendor as they transition from one kind of organism to another. We witness extinct plants and animals of microscopic and immense size and thrilling diversity. We learn about fantastic land and sea creatures that have no match in nature today. Along the way, we encounter such fascinating fossils as the earliest trilobite, Olenellus; the giant shark Carcharocles; enormous marine reptiles and the biggest...
Episode 2: Beth Shapiro, How To Clone A Mammoth
Could extinct species like mammoths or the dodo be brought back to life? Author Beth Shapiro explores the cutting edge science that is being used – today – to resurrect the past. Beth considers de-extinction's practical benefits and ethical challenges. What are the costs and risks? What is the ultimate goal? How to Clone a Mammoth looks at the very real and compelling science behind what was once thought of as science fiction. Beth Shapiro is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology...