We humans like to think of ourselves as pretty different from other animals. Language, philosophy, art, technology - we do things it seems like no other animal is capable of. But what makes us this way? In part one of our investigation, we focus on two features of the brain that seem to be particular to people. We start with Arnold Kriegstein of the University of California, San Francisco, who studies a type of stem cell that does something special during human brain development. We then turn to Kira Poskanzer and Anna Molofsky, also of UCSF, who believe the secret to human-ness might lie with a totally different, often neglected kind of brain cell.
Science journalism generally focuses on new discoveries. But this leaves out a part of the process that will make or break you as a scientist: how do you come up with the right questions to ask in the first place? In today’s episode, we talk to Charles Zuker of Columbia University about this process. Listen to find out the two questions he asks to determine whether an experiment is worth doing.
Our ability to diagnose and treat disorders of the mind lags far behind other medical disciplines. For our latest episode, we talked to Dr. Matthew State about why this is the case, and discussed how his research into the genetics of autism is revealing promising paths to future treatments.
Ready to get blasted with science? We recorded five different PhD students as they summarized their entire thesis in 3 minutes or less. The challenge was to describe their research with as little jargon as possible, for a general audience. You’ll hear about everything from cancer, to the developing embryo, to how dieting might make you smarter.
Humankind is fascinated by origin stories. We find them everywhere and they come in many forms... every religion has one, science has lots, they're in biographies, and they're even in superhero movies.
In this episode, Dr. Terry Deacon, a biological anthropologist at UC Berkeley, guides us through a novel perspective on how life itself might have started.
Constellation - Podington Bear
Dreamlike - Kevin Macleod
Erratum: Soccer balls have both hexagons and pentagons!
On average, five pounds of our body weight is made up of bacteria. But what are they doing there? Do they keep us healthy, make us sick, or are they just along for the ride? In this two-part episode, we will explore the mysterious and complex function of these microscopic critters that collectively make up our micro biome.
In part 1, we talk with Katie Pollard, a UCSF professor who studies the microbiome. Katie explains the current state of microbiome research and how critical her work is to forming appropriate conclusions about the relationship between our microbial ecosystem and disease.
In part 2, we take a plunge into a man's toilet bowl! (Not-so-average) Joe Hiatt shares an audio diary of his experiences with two extreme diets and the changes he sees in his microbiome. Join him as he chronicles both his bathroom habits along with his microbial diversity.
For our fourth and most delicious Bite yet, we take a journey through the five basic tastes guided by Dr. Gary Beauchamp. Together we investigate why the things that we eat and drink have different tastes, and what it means to taste something in the first place.
Our latest Bite introduces 'The Fog at Bay' - a new series of personal mental health stories from academia and medicine. In this crossover episode, Dr. Felicia De La Garza Mercer discusses stress and burnout in the student population. The Fog at Bay's complete first season is out now and features the voices of our graduate and medical school peers, as well as faculty. Stories touch on topics such as bipolar disorder, depression, and concussions. Catch it all on thefogatbay.com, itunes, facebook, or soundcloud.
In this episode, we learn about the war going on inside our bodies every day. We generally think of our immune systems as defending us from malicious, foreign attackers. But, as always with biology, we’re finding that it’s not that simple. In some cases, an apparent foe might turn out to be a friend, and vice versa. Here we bring you three different stories about how the immune system can be outsmarted, misdirected, and even re-engineered.
For our second Bite, we sit down with Dr. Mala Murthy, a professor at Princeton University, who uses fruit fly songs to answer difficult questions about how flies can respond dynamically to changing environments and how their brains are wired to carry out these behaviors. You can hear the (quiet) low-frequency humming and purring of the fly song in some of the quiet sections of the episode!
Produced by Sam Ancona Esselmann with editing help from Meryl Horn