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Science Talk

Science Talk

Science Talk is a weekly science audio show covering the latest in the world of science and technology. Join Steve Mirsky each week as he explores cutting-edge breakthroughs and controversial issues with leading scientists and journalists. He is also an articles editor and columnist at Scientific American magazine. His column, "Antigravity," is one of science writing's great humor venues. Also check our daily podcast from Scientific American : "60-Second Science." To view all of our archived podcasts please go to


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Secrets of the Universe Revealed!

Cornell University applied mathematics professor Steven Strogatz talks about his new book Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe.
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How the Black Hole Said Cheese

Scientific American 's chief features editor Seth Fletcher talks about his book Einstein's Shadow, an account of the long effort to image a black hole that recently came to fruition.
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A Tree and Its People in a Warming Landscape

Conservation scientist Lauren Oakes discusses her book about Alaska ecology and sociology, In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World.
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Science Couple Phages Out Superbug

Medical researcher Steffanie Strathdee needed to save the life of her husband, researcher Tom Patterson, when he contracted one of the world's worst infections. She turned to phage therapy: using a virus to kill the bacteria.
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Vaccine Rejection: Truth and Consequences

Kent State epidemiologist Tara Smith talks about vaccines, recent preventable measles outbreaks and her 2017 journal article on vaccine rejection.
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On the Origin of Darwin

On this 210th anniversary of Darwin's birth we hear evolution writer and historian Richard Milner perform a brief monologue as Charles Darwin, and former Scientific American editor in chief John Rennie and Darwin's great-great-grandson Matthew Chapman read excerpts from The Origin of Species .
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Warming Arctic on Thin Ice

Scientific American collections editor Andrea Gawrylewski talks to managing editor Curtis Brainard about how warming in the Arctic affects us all. And glaciologist Elizabeth Case takes us out near Juneau to study and live on the shifting ice.
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Fake Whiskeys and Octo-Ecstasy

Scientific American assistant news editor, Tanya Lewis, and collections editor, Andrea Gawrylewski, take a deeper look at two short articles from the Advances news section of the December issue, on counterfeit whiskeys and the effect of real ecstasy...on octopuses.
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Ultima Thule and the Apes of Earth

As the New Horizons mission approached Ultima Thule, Rowan University paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara put our close-up study of the Kuiper Belt object into a deep-time perspective.
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Meet the Real Ravenmaster

Christopher Skaife talks about his new book The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London, in front of a live audience at Caveat, “the speakeasy bar for intelligent nightlife" in Lower Manhattan.
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The Crusade against Dangerous Food, Part 2

Pulitzer Priz?e–winning journalist Deborah Blum talks about her book The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the 20th Century, Part 2.
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The Crusade against Dangerous Food, Part 1

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Deborah Blum talks about her book The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the 20th Century, Part 1.
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Bones and Stones: Cemetery Geology

A tour of Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, N.Y., focuses on the geology of the landscape and the mausoleums.
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Tinder for Cheetahs; and an Unusual Blindness

Scientific American assistant news editor, Tanya Lewis, and collections editor, Andrea Gawrylewski, host a new podcast that takes a deeper look at short articles from the Advances news section of the magazine.
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Better Living through Evolution: Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for using evolutionary principles to create highly efficient enzymes and antibodies, with numerous practical applications.
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Laser Advances That Changed Our Lives: Nobel Prize in Physics

Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland shared the Nobel Prize for finding ways to control and enhance laser light, leading to numerous common applications. 
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Unleashing Immunity against Cancer: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

James P. Allison and and Tasuku Honjo shared the Nobel Prize for their discovery of inhibition of negative immune regulation, the basis of new drugs against cancer.
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Where There's a Wills There's a Way to Explain the Home Run Rise

Astrophysicist and sports data scientist Meredith Wills talks about why a subtle change in Major League baseballs may be behind the jump in home runs after 2014.
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More People, but Less Hardship?

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann talks about the just-issued Goalkeepers Report, tracking progress against poverty and disease even as the population keeps rising.
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Here's Looking at Humanity, Kid

Senior Editor Gary Stix talks about the September special issue of Scientific American , devoted to the science of being human. And Brown University evolutionary biologist Ken Miller discusses human chromosome 2 and what it tells us about us.
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Life at the Improv: The Power of Imagination

Stephen Asma, professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, talks about his two latest books, The Evolution of Imagination and Why We Need Religion .
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Out with the Bad Science

NPR science journalist Richard Harris talks about his book, Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope and Wastes Billions .
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AI, Robotics and Your Health

At the second Science on the Hill event, AI, Robotics and Your Health, experts from academia and the private sector talked with Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina about the future of AI and robotics in medicine.  
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Dinosaurs: From Humble Beginnings to Global Dominance

Edinburgh University paleontologist Steve Brusatte talks about his May 2018 Scientific American article, "The Unlikely Triumph of the Dinosaurs," and his new book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World .
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Humans Evolved but Are Still Special

Brown University biologist and author Ken Miller talks about his new book The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness and Free Will .
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A Brain Deprived of Memory

Michael Lemonick, opinion editor at Scientific American , talks about his most recent book, The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory and Love , about Lonni Sue Johnson, who suffered a specific kind of brain damage that robbed her of much of her memory and her ability to form new memories, and what she has revealed to neuroscientists about memory and the brain.
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Blockchain beyond Bitcoin: The Energy Sector

Freelance science journalist Kevin Begos reports from the U.S. Power and Renewable Summit in Austin, Texas, on the use of blockchain technology to make more efficient energy markets and distribution. 
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Enrico Fermi: The Last Man Who Knew Everything

David N. Schwartz talks about his latest book, The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age .  
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A Future for American Energy

At the first Science Meets Congress event, Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future, energy and innovation experts from academia, government and the private sector talked with Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina about American's energy future.  
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The Skinny on Fat

Biochemist Sylvia Tara talks about her book The Secret Life of Fat: The Science behind the Body's Least-Understood Organ and What It Means for You .
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Your Brain Is So Easily Fooled

Journalist Erik Vance talks about his first book, Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform and Heal .
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Come On and Zoom (through the Universe)

Caleb Scharf, director of Columbia University’s Astrobiology Center talks about his latest book, The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour through Cosmic Scale, from Almost Everything to Almost Nothing, and the OSIRIS-REx space mission.
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Monsters: Not Just for Halloween

Stephen Asma, professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago and author of On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, talks about our enduring fascination with monsters.
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Maryn McKenna's Big Chicken, Part 2

Award-winning journalist Maryn McKenna talks about her latest book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats . (Part 2 of 2)
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Maryn McKenna's Big Chicken, Part 1

Award-winning journalist Maryn McKenna talks about her latest book, Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats . (Part 1 of 2)
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Nobel Prize Explainer: Catching Proteins in the Act

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for developing cryo-electron microscopy that can determine high-resolution structures of biomolecules in solution.
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Nobel Prize Explainer: Gravitational Waves and the LIGO Detector

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded today to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for their contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.
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Nobel Prize Explainer: Circadian Rhythm's Oscillatory Control Mechanism

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded today to Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young for discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms.
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Does Evolution Repeat Itself?

Jonathan Losos, biology professor at Harvard and curator of herpetology at the university’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, talks about his latest book, Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution .
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The Great American Eclipse

In advance of the big solar eclipse on August 21, author and journalist David Baron talks about his new book American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World .
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Curiouser and Curiouser

Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio ventures deep into the human mind in his new book, Why? What Makes Us Curious .
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The Shark That Conquered the Whorl

Journalist and author Susan Ewing talks about her new book Resurrecting the Shark: A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil . (And we'll discuss how Helicoprion is not technically a shark, but it's really close!)
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Undersea National Monument Could Be Left High and Dry

Scott Kraus, vice president and senior science advisor at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium in Boston, talks about the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, created last year and already under threat.  
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Wacky Florida's Weird Science

Journalist Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times talks about his book, Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country .
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The Gestation Equation: Testing Babies' Genes

Journalist Bonnie Rochman talks about her new Scientific American /Farrar, Straus and Giroux book, The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have .
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5G Wiz: What's on the Horizon for Mobile

Verizon’s director of network planning, Sanyogita Shamsunder, talks with Scientific American 's Larry Greenemeier about the coming 5G and EM-spectrum-based communications in general.
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Take the Tube: Underground as a Way of Life

Emory University paleontologist, geologist and ichnologist Anthony J. Martin talks about his new book, The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers and the Marvelous Subterranean World beneath Our Feet .
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Killer Cats Bash Biodiversity

Conservation biologist Peter Marra talks with journalist Rene Ebersole about the threat of outdoor cats to wild animals and to human health. Marra is the co-author, with writer Chris Santella, of the book Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer .
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Dogging It: Turning Wild Foxes into Man's Second-Best Friend

Evolutionary biologist and science historian Lee Dugatkin talks about the legendary six-decade Siberian experiment in fox domestication run by Lyudmila Trut, his co-author of a new book and Scientific American article about the research.
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What's Driving the Self-Driving Cars Rush

Scientific American technology editor Larry Greenemeier talks with Ken Washington, vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford, about self-driving cars.
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