Posts about podcasts

Dennis Bray Podcast on Microbes As Computers

Carl Zimmer interviews Dennis Bray in an interesting podcast:

Dennis Bray is an active professor emeritus in both the Department of Physiology and Department of Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. He studies the behavior of microbes–how they “decide” where to swim, when to divide, and how best to manage the millions of chemical reactions taking place inside their membranes. For Bray, microbes are tiny, living computers, with genes and proteins serving the roles of microprocessors.

Related: E. Coli IndividualityWetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell by Dennis Bray – Programing BacteriaMicro-robots to ‘swim’ Through Veins

Study Shows Weight Loss From Calorie Reduction Not Low Fat or Low Carb

A Randomized Trial Comparing Low-Fat and Low-Carbohydrate Diets Matched for Energy and Protein

The preliminary results presented in this paper are for the first four of six postmenopausal overweight or obese participants who followed, in random order, both a VLC [very-low-carbohydrate] and an LF [low-fat] diet for 6 weeks. Other outcome measures were serum lipids, glucose, and insulin, as well as dietary compliance and side effects. Our results showed no significant weight loss, lipid, serum insulin, or glucose differences between the two diets. Lipids were dramatically reduced on both diets, with a trend for greater triglyceride reduction on the VLC diet. Glucose levels were also reduced on both diets, with a trend for insulin reduction on the VLC diet. Compliance was excellent with both diets, and side effects were mild

Essentially the study showed that the calories had an impact on weight loss but the makeup of those calories did not. Don’t forget this is just one study. Listen to interview with the Author, Frank Sacks, on Science Friday on NPR.

Related: Big Fat Lieposts on medical studiesWaste from Gut Bacteria Helps Control WeightCommon virus may contribute to obesity

Evolution, Methane, Jobs, Food and More

photo of sunset on Mars
Photo from May 2005 by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars.

Science Friday is a great National Public Radio show. The week was a great show covering Antimicrobial Copper, Top Jobs for Math and Science, Human-Driven Evolution, Methane On Mars, Fish with Mercury and more. This show, in particular did a great job of showing the scientific inquiry process in action.

“Fishing regulations often prescribe the taking of larger fish, and the same often applies to hunting regulations,” said Chris Darimont, one of the authors of the study. “Hunters are instructed not to take smaller animals or those with smaller horns. This is counter to patterns of natural predation, and now we’re seeing the consequences of this management.” Darimont and colleagues found that human predation accelerated the rate of observable trait changes in a species by 300 percent above the pace observed within purely natural systems, and 50 percent above that of systems subject to other human influences, such as pollution

Very interesting stuff, listen for more details. A part of what happens is those individuals that chose to focus on reproducing early (instead of investing in growing larger, to reproduce later) are those that are favored (they gain advantage) by the conditions of human activity. I am amazed how quickly the scientists says the changes in populations are taking place.

And Methane On Mars is another potentially amazing discovery. While it is far from providing proof of live on Mars it is possibly evidence of life on Mars. Which would then be looked back on as one of the most important scientific discoveries ever. And in any even the podcast is a great overview of scientists in action.

This week astronomers reported finding an unexpected gas — methane — in the Martian atmosphere. On Earth, a major source of methane is biological activity. However, planetary scientists aren’t ready to say that life on Mars is to blame for the presence of the gas there, as geochemical processes could also account for the finding. The find is intriguing especially because the researchers say they have detected seasonal variations of methane emissions over specific locations on the planet.

Martian Methane Reveals the Red Planet is not a Dead Planet
The Mars Methane Mystery: Aliens At Last?

Related: Mars Rover Continues ExplorationCopper Doorknobs and Faucets Kill 95% of SuperbugsViruses and What is Lifeposts on evolutionScience and Engineering Link Directory

StoryCorps: Passion for Mechanical Engineering

StoryCorps is an effort to record and archive conversations. NPR plays excerpts of one of the conversations each week, and they are often inspiring. They are conversation between two people who are important to each other: a son asking his mother about her childhood, an immigrant telling his friend about coming to America, or a couple reminiscing on their 50th wedding anniversary. By helping people to connect, and to talk about the questions that matter powerful recording are made. Yesterday I heard this one – A Bent For Building, From Father To Daughter:

“Can a girl be an engineer?” she asked her father. His answer: There was no reason she couldn’t.

Anne loved to take her things apart. It was mostly her toys — until the day she took a clock apart and spread its contents out.

When her father asked what had happened, his daughter answered, “Oh, I took it apart. Daddy fix.”

And as her dad put things back together, Anne would sit by, watching intently to see how things were made. “Did you ever notice that I always followed you around the shop, watching?” Anne asked Ledo.

“I thought there was a magnet hooked up to me and to you.”

Related: Tinker School: Engineering CampSarah, aged 3, Learns About SoapWhat Kids can LearnColored Bubbles

Science and the City: Science Barge

Science and the City is (among other things) an excellent podcast series from the New York Academy of Science. The latest podcast discusses the science barge project we posted about earlier. They discuss looking at commercially viable urban farms (on rooftops in NYC) and the establishing educational gardens at schools.

See the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Podcast Directory for some great resources for podcasts. Don’t miss the naked scientists from the BBC.

Related: Middle School EngineersFun primary school Science and EngineeringEducation Resources for Science and Engineering

Wabash Valley, Illinois Earthquakes

USGS on the recent earthquakes occurred in the Wabash Valley Seismic

These earthquakes occurred in the Wabash Valley Seismic zone. The earthquakes in this zone are scattered over a large area of southeastern Illinois and southwest Indiana. The zone had at least eight prehistoric earthquakes over the past 20,000 years with estimated magnitudes ranging from about 6.5 to 7.5, based on geologic evidence. Earthquakes of the size of the recent quake (Mw 5.2) can produce smaller aftershocks over the following days. A few might be large enough to be felt. Typically, earthquakes of this size (Mw 5.2) can cause light damage within a few tens of miles from the epicenter. Central and eastern US earthquakes generally shake areas about 10 times as large as those that occur in California. It is not surprising that this earthquake was felt as far south as Florida.

The Wabash Valley Seismic zone is adjacent to the more seismically active New Madrid seismic zone on the seismic zone’s north and west. The recent earthquake is also within the Illinois basin – Ozark dome region that covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas and stretches from Indianapolis and St. Louis to Memphis. Moderately frequent earthquakes occur at irregular intervals throughout the region. The largest historical earthquake in the Illinois Basin region (magnitude 5.4) damaged southern Illinois in 1968. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region each decade or two, and smaller earthquakes are felt about once or twice a year.

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast.

Related: Interview with Seismologist, Harley Benz, USGS Golden, ColoradoQuake Lifts Island Ten Feet Out of OceanAustralian Coal Mining Caused EarthquakesHimalayas Geology

The Woz Speaks

The Woz speaks at AlwaysOn 2006. Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, speaks on the development of the Apple II technology.

Science Education in the 21st Century

Photo of Dr. Carl Wieman

Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science podcast by Dr. Carl Wieman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001. Also received the first NSF Distinguished teaching Scholars award (NSF’s “highest honor for excellence in both teaching and research”) and the National Professor Of The Year (CASE and Carnegie Foundation).

Dr. Carl Wieman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, discusses the failures of traditional educational practices, even as used by “very good” teachers, and the successes of some new practices and technology that characterize this more effective approach. Research on how people learn science is now revealing how many teachers badly misinterpret what students are thinking and learning from traditional science classes and exams.

However, research is also providing insights on how to do much better. The combination of this research with modern information technology is setting the stage for a new more effective approach to science education based on using the tools of science. This can provide a relevant and effective science education to all students.

Podcast recording 21 Nov 2005 at the University of British Columbia.

Text of March 15, 2006 Dr. Wieman testimony to the US House of Representatives Science Committee.

Nobel Laureate Joins UBC to Boost Science Education

via: Maintaining scientific humility

Quantum Mechanics Made Relatively Simple Podcasts

Three Lectures by Hans Bethe

In 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University).

Intended for an audience of Professor Bethe’s neighbors at Kendal, the lectures hold appeal for experts and non-experts alike. The presentation makes use of limited mathematics while focusing on the personal and historical perspectives of one of the principal architects of quantum theory whose career in physics spans 75 years.

Soil Could Shed Light on Antibiotic Resistance

Soil Could Shed Light on Antibiotic Resistance, Science Friday podcast (7 minutes) from NPR. The podcast is an interview with Gerry Wright, McMaster University, Canada.

“New research points to drug resistance in soil-dwelling bacteria. Scientists say studying bacteria in the soil can help in understanding how the bacteria in humans develop resistance.”

Posts relating to antibiotics
Overuse of anitbiotics articles
Curious Cat McMaster University Alumni Connections