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Rank #183 in Science category

Science

The Pulse

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #183 in Science category

Science
Read more

Listen to full episodes of WHYY’s health, science and innovation program, The Pulse.

Read more

Listen to full episodes of WHYY’s health, science and innovation program, The Pulse.

iTunes Ratings

160 Ratings
Average Ratings
128
16
9
2
5

Intalegent thoughtful inspiring

By ocelectric - Apr 11 2020
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Intalegent thoughtful inspiring

Download Speed Issues Seem to be Resolved

By Apple1234Pie - Nov 18 2018
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The last 3 podcasts I listend to I rated as 4,5,3.

iTunes Ratings

160 Ratings
Average Ratings
128
16
9
2
5

Intalegent thoughtful inspiring

By ocelectric - Apr 11 2020
Read more
Intalegent thoughtful inspiring

Download Speed Issues Seem to be Resolved

By Apple1234Pie - Nov 18 2018
Read more
The last 3 podcasts I listend to I rated as 4,5,3.
Cover image of The Pulse

The Pulse

Latest release on Jul 03, 2020

Read more

Listen to full episodes of WHYY’s health, science and innovation program, The Pulse.

Rank #1: The Anatomy of Sadness

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Sadness seemingly comes out of nowhere sometimes: a song, a photo, a movie scene, a memory, and there it is. Your heart seems heavy. Tears well up in your eyes. What is happening in the brain when we feel sad? We delve into this complex emotion, and explore how we experience it, and how we deal with it. From tears shed at the gym after a serious workout, to crying in public, and sad songs that help us cope with tough times.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Sometimes, it seems like kids cry over just about anything — but other times, they surprise us with a deeper sadness: sorrow for others, existential angst, or despair over unfairness in the world. When do kids begin to experience this kind of profound, complex sadness? How common is it? Reporter Steph Yin digs deep into the landscape of children’s sadness.
  • Can sadness make us more creative? Reporter Gisele Regatao talks with author Said Sayrafiezadeh about his experiences with sadness and writer’s block.
  • Why do people pay good money to go to an exercise class that makes them cry? We investigate the SoulCycle-crying connection.
  • We look into public crying, and why New Yorkers say it’s a bonding experience. We hear from Shaina Feinberg, who has made a map of all the places where she’s cried.
  • We think of sadness as something we want to avoid — but then why do we love sad songs so much? We talk with neuroscientist Matt Sachs about the sad songs we love and how they help us through tough situations.

Feb 28 2020

49mins

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Rank #2: Why We Exercise

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Running, biking, weightlifting, swimming — for lots of people, working out is an important part of life. It’s about our health — mental and physical — strength, weight control, discipline and let’s face it: vanity. On this episode, we explore why we exercise, why we should, and how to do it best.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Baby, we were born to run — even more than you might think. Reporter Jad Sleiman explores why humans are such improbably good runners. We cheer on Harvard professor Dan Lieberman as he races a horse in a 20-mile run, learn the history of persistence hunting, and find out why butts are our secret weapon.
  • Producer Lindsay Lazarski talks with historian Natalia Mehlman Petrzela about the history of women’s workouts — starting with the “reducing salons” of the 1930s through the age of jazzercise and aerobics. Petrzela’s upcoming book is called “Fit Nation: How America Embraced Exercise As The Government Abandoned It.”
  • Want to be able to tie your shoes when you’re 80, and still get up the stairs? Start working out now. We chat with sports physician Tony Reed from Temple University Hospital about the benefits of regular exercise for healthy aging.
  • Working out transformed Marta Rusek’s health and her life. But changing her difficult relationship with her body took even more time — and work.

Dec 27 2019

48mins

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Rank #3: Hair and our Health

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Hair can be our crowning glory, a big part of our identity, and a tool for self-expression. We shave it, style it, cut it, dye it — and sometimes, hope for it to come back. We obsess over its texture and length. While products help, how our hair looks is related to DNA, to hormones, and to our immune system. On this episode, we look into the connection between our health and our hair. We hear stories about the chemicals in hair dyes, treatments for baldness, and certain aspects of hair that can become an obsession.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We’ve put a man on the moon — so why can’t we cure baldness? The Pulse’s Jad Sleiman explores why baldness so difficult to treat … and what could finally work.
  • Erin Wall is one of opera’s most sought-after classical sopranos. But when she lost her iconic blond locks to cancer treatment, Wall had to get comfortable with a new onstage persona.
  • KUOW’s Eilis O’Neill tells the story of Geneva “Gigi” Myhrvold, who started pulling out her hair as a child. Gigi explains how she deals with trichotillomania, and what helps her get the urge to pull under control.
  • Internist Neda Frayha says female baldness comes up in her practice a lot, but she cautions patients to be careful with expensive vitamin products that promise relief.
  • WOSU’s Paige Pfleger on why public health officials in Columbus, Ohio are making use of barbershops to help spread the word about infant mortality.
  • When Amy Silverman’s daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Amy had many questions — and one of them was whether her daughter would ever have curly hair.

This episode originally aired September 19, 2019.

Jan 23 2020

49mins

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Rank #4: The Hidden Lives of Dentists

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Being a dentist can be a lonely job. Your patients don’t want to be there — and even if they did, it’s not like they can talk with their mouths open. Most dentists are solo practitioners, and many feel isolated. And, even though oral health is very important to our overall well-being, dentistry is totally separate from the rest of medicine. But there is a very active Facebook group where dentists can talk shop, connect with each other, ask for help, complain, and compare notes. So — what’s worrying dentists? In this episode, we look at some of the forces that are disrupting and changing dentistry.

We hear about the rise of SmileDirect — and why brick and mortar dentists and orthodontists are upset about the new mail-order system. We learn about the skyrocketing cost of dental school, and what it means for future dentists. And we find out what advancements are changing the field, from startups to cutting-edge tech.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with health care reporter Mary Otto about the rise of dental therapists, and what they have to do with economic inequality. Otto also discusses the dentistry-medical divide. She is the author of “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.”
  • We call up internist Neda Frayha to find out how primary care providers tackle the issue of oral health. How often do they ask their patients about whether they’re seeing a dentist?
  • Reporter Will Stone takes us to the University of Washington in Seattle, where surgeons and dentists are using technology to revolutionize how we reconstruct the mouth.
  • Nobody likes going to the dentist — but a new start-up is trying to change that. Matthew Schneeman reports on a new startup called Tend. Their tagline: “Look forward to the dentist.”

Dec 06 2019

49mins

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Rank #5: This is Your Brain During a Pandemic

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Optimizing our brains has become an obsession of the modern world. We meditate, take supplements, read books on productivity — all in the name of sharpening our minds, and boosting cognitive function. But at a time when we’re most in need of our A game, a lot of us are finding ourselves seriously derailed. The pandemic has disrupted our lives, work, and schedules; thrust us into a fog of anxiety and uncertainty; and in some cases, stretched us impossibly thin between the pressures of work and family. On this episode, we explore how we can reclaim our best brains. We hear stories about innovating under pressure, accepting boredom as a cognitive reset, and reaching the creative flow state.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with Randall Munroe — the prolific author behind webcomic XKCD — about using science and math for whimsical (and totally impractical) problem solving. For instance: building an above-ground pool out of Gruyere cheese.
  • Doctors use brain stimulation to treat conditions ranging from anxiety and depression, to chronic pain. But now, people are also doing this at home, with brain-zapping devices they can buy online. Does that work, and is it a good idea? We hear from Roy Hamilton, a neurologist and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s brainSTIM Center (Brain Stimulation, Translation, Innovation, and Modulation Center).

Apr 17 2020

48mins

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Rank #6: Between Life and Death

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Often we think of life and death as opposite sides of a coin — categories as final as they are discrete. But in an age when machines can keep hearts pumping and lungs breathing, the line between life and death can sometimes start to blur. Modern medicine pushes us to think differently, ask if perhaps life and death are instead two points on a spectrum of existence. In this episode, The Pulse explores the space between those points. How do we define life and death — medically and culturally? We hear about a court case challenging the legal definition of death; the evolving debate over end-of-life care; and what scientists are saying about near-death experiences.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • In 2017, the family of 27-year-old Taquisha McKitty sued to keep her on life support, after doctors declared her brain dead. The question for the court was — was she actually dead?
  • A look into the study of near-death experiences, and what those moments in the the runup to death are really like — and why.
  • Working with the biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is using genetic samples to recreate the scents of extinct flowers.
  • KCRW’s Avishay Artsy reports on how shared ideas about the afterlife transcend not only time, but also religion and culture.

Oct 25 2019

48mins

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Rank #7: Science At Work

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It’s Labor Day, which means we’re celebrating the hard-working people who keep the engines of productivity humming. On this episode, we’ll explore how science and technology are changing work and workplaces, and what we are learning about the pitfalls of different work environments. A look at how the American tradition of tying benefits to jobs has impacted our health care. We’ll meet a woman who used science to prove that ladies should be part of the workforce. Plus, the psychology of snarky office emails, and the case for mandatory vacation days.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Dan Gorenstein offers a history lesson on how health coverage became tied to our jobs — along with how it’s affected our wallets and the overall economy.
  • WESA’s Margaret J. Krauss brings us the story of a night-shift emergency doctor who handles lots of tough stuff and still loves his job.
  • History Professor Carla Bittel explains how Victorian-era physician Mary Putnam Jacobi upended the idea that women can work during their periods — and how that paved the way for women to become doctors and scientists.
  • Host Maiken Scott talks with Nikil Saval, author of Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, about the rise of cubicles. Next, psychiatrist Jody Foster chimes in on how working together in tight spaces can create workplace tensions.
  • Psychologist Dan Gottlieb says “end-of-summer sadness” is a real thing. But there’s good news: you can also find joy while wearing a fall sweater.

Aug 30 2019

47mins

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Rank #8: Gut Feeling

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You know when you get butterflies in your stomach? Or your gut clenches with fear? Or the way a gory movie can fill you with nausea? Those feelings exist because of a special connection between our heads and our tummies called the gut-brain axis. On this episode, we explore how that connection works, the strange effects it can have on our stomachs (and our minds), and why scientists are creating “guts on chips” that mimic our digestive systems.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • About 16 years ago, Robin started getting sick: she experienced nausea, a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, even passing out on a train. Doctors had no idea what was going on — until, finally, she got a diagnosis — IBS. Reporter Alan Yu explores the history of this mysterious illness, why it’s so difficult to diagnose, and the unexpected treatment that doctors have discovered.
  • Number two is not what you might call polite conversation. In South Korea, however, poop is a celebrated part of life, and asking people if they’ve had a bowel movement yet is no big deal. Reporter Matthew Schneeman talks with some locals about how this cultural difference plays out in real life.
  • The interactions between the brain and the gut are really complicated and difficult to tease apart. We hear from Abigail Koppes, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern University, who is designing research platforms she calls “guts on a chip.” The goal is to isolate different cells from the human body, and understand exactly how they talk to each other.
  • Morgan Steele Dykeman started dieting when she was 12 years old. By college, she was limiting her food intake to less than 500 calories a day. Carbs were the enemy, and bread, especially, was a forbidden food. She describes her recovery, and relearning how to eat bread without shame and guilt — and without her stomach being in knots.
  • Alexander Charles Adams felt nauseous for months. Throwing up became a daily part of life, which led to anxiety and depression. We hear about Alexander’s medical journey through this digestive nightmare, and what turned out to be the culprit.

Sep 13 2019

48mins

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Rank #9: What We Call Things and Why It Matters

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How we talk about an issue has ramifications that go far beyond the words. Names, descriptions, and terms lay the foundation for how we think about an issue, how we deal with a problem — or whether we see something as a problem at all. Why do we call addiction a “brain disease,” and how does that impact treatment and policy? Is stuttering a “disorder,” or merely a different way of speaking? Plus, the debate over who gets called “Dr.” and the respect that comes with that title.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Historian Sverker Sörlin explains the origins of “the environment” as a concept, and why it spawned a global movement to protect nature.
  • Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX has called the word nano “100 percent synonymous with bs.” But what does the term actually mean?
  • Scientists kvetch about the scientific terms that the public uses incorrectly.

Jul 05 2019

48mins

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Rank #10: The Science of Everyday Objects

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From penicillin to the moon landing, we have science to thank for humanity’s greatest achievements. But science has also helped advance things we consider common and ordinary. From bicycles to toilets, our everyday objects hold tales of dogged pursuit, and occasional lucky breaks.

On this episode of The Pulse, we take a closer look at our stuff, to uncover the hidden science that fuels our daily lives.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Bathrooms used to be much more luxurious — and way gross. Public health historian Michael Yudell tells us how germ theory revolutionized the way we design our restrooms.
  • Reporter Todd Bookman spins a yarn about — well, yarn. How we went from cotton to GORE-TEX, and where these fibers of the future are developed.
  • Chemist and retired “stain detective” Curtis Schwartz on how laundry detergents have really “turned the tide” (eh? eh?) when it comes to getting rid of stains.
  • LCD screens light up our lives and bombard us with information everywhere we go. Science historian Ben Gross talks about the origins of liquid-crystal displays (aka LCDs) in his new book “The TVs of Tomorrow.” Archival audio courtesy of the Hagley Museum and Library.
  • Psychologist Nicholas Epley explains why we anthropomorphize everyday objects; then Ian Chillag — creator of the podcast “Everything is Alive” — helps us speak directly with our stuff.
  • Professional foodie (and self-described clean freak) Rebecca Firkser schools us on the hidden dangers that lurk in recyclable straws. She is the Culinary Editor at the breakfast and brunch website Extra Crispy.

Jun 21 2019

48mins

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Rank #11: The Ocean and Us

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Our planet’s surface is 71% water — with five vast oceans that span a range of temperatures and shades of blue. Humans have long loved and feared these oceans. They sustain us and other animals, help regulate our climate, and offer endless opportunities for awe and joy. But our relationship hasn’t always been smooth. The ocean can be a threat to us, and we — with our expanding environmental footprint — can be a threat to it. On this episode of The Pulse, we dig into the science of our oceans: Their connection to our survival, the threats they face, and the secrets they hide.

We hear about the mystery of the great jellyfish boom, and why seaweed might just be the next hot (and sustainable) food trend. We also explore recent discoveries about the fate of plastic in our oceans — and why the impact goes deeper than we once thought.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Some scientists are calling it an invasion — across the world, jellyfish are swarming the coasts, leading to beach closures, and even several deaths in Australia and the Philippines. Gisele Regatao reports on what researchers are saying is behind this unprecedented boom.
  • You may know Ellen Horne from her years working at Radiolab. But before that, she had another vocation — marine conservationist. Her passion for the field withered with the arrival of aquaculture, a method of seafood farming that she saw as an insurmountable threat to ocean ecosystems. But now, a lifetime later, Horne takes a second look, and explains why that could be changing. We also talk to Amy Novogratz, one of the founders of Aqua-Spark, a global firm that’s trying to reinvent aquaculture in a more sustainable way.
  • Before her death at 25, writer Mallory Smith spent years documenting her life and battle with cystic fibrosis in a series of raw and eloquent journal entries that comprise the newly published memoir, “Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life.” We talk with her mother, Diane Shader Smith, who assembled the book, about Mallory and her deep connection with the ocean.
  • Marine biologist Rick Stafford, who’s based at Bournemouth University in southwest England, introduces us to underwater soundscapes and explains how our human sounds affect fish.

Aug 02 2019

48mins

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Rank #12: The Changing Roles of Nurses

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The roles of nurses have changed and expanded a lot in recent decades. Nurses are highly specialized, they have branched out into new areas of medicine. Still, nurses remain on the front lines of patient care. They communicate with doctors, relay patient wishes, and address family concerns. On this episode, we look into how nursing is changing, and how that’s affecting patient care. We hear about nurses fighting for limits on how many patients they’re assigned; find out what it’s like to be a school nurse in the age of active shooter drills; and talk to nurses who are getting involved in climate change issues for the sake of their patients.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Alan Yu explores how climate change is affecting public health — and what nurses are doing about it.
  • Sexual assault examinations are crucial for criminal prosecutions — but not all ER nurses know how to do them. Reporter Stephanie Marudas heads to one hospital in rural Pennsylvania that’s using technology to connect forensic nurses with expert practitioners who can walk them through the process.
  • Nursing historian Patricia D’Antonio of the University of Pennsylvania discusses nurses’ role in advocating for public health reforms and social change.
  • From RNs and LPNs, to NPs and DNPs, there’s a veritable alphabet soup of nursing specialties. We talk with a range of nurses to get a glimpse of what they do.

Nov 29 2019

49mins

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Rank #13: It’s About Time

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December 30, 2011 never happened in Samoa. The island nation in the South Pacific skipped this day, to move ahead into a different time zone. We change our clocks to start and stop daylight saving time. We travel across time zones. Time, in many ways, is a human construct. We have chosen ways to measure it, to parse it out, to track it. But time is also an experience that can vary wildly from one moment to the next — the minutes that stretch endlessly, the hours that fly by. On this episode, we explore time — how we measure it, how we experience it, and how it bends and warps in our minds.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • What is time, really? It depends on whom you ask! It could be measured in the time it takes to cook rice, or down to the millisecond, as measured by an atomic clock. Kevin Birth, professor of anthropology at Queens College of the City University of New York, discusses how we measure time, and how that has changed over the course of the centuries.
  • Is time travel possible? Will it ever be? Reporter Kathleen Davis checks into it. We hear from John Norton, a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • We explore the experience of déjà vu. We hear from Eva Hall who has déjà vu frequently, and Roderick Spears, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • We take a look at a lesser-known book by Michael Ende, author of “The Neverending Story.” “Momo” tells the story of a young girl who fights back against an evil empire of time thieves. Journalist Giulia Pines tells us why she loves this book and what it has taught her about time.
  • Claire Drexler, a grief therapist at the Center for Loss and Bereavement in Skippack, Pa., joins us to discuss how grief changes our experience of time. We also hear from Sol De Heras and Jared Michael Lowe, who talk about their personal experiences with grief and time.
  • We also put together a playlist with songs about time, you can find it on Spotify.

Nov 01 2019

48mins

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Rank #14: Who Do You Think You Are?

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Scientist. Farmer. Feminist. Leader. Alpha male. Veteran. African-American. Hindu. Identity isn’t just about who we think we are — it’s about how others perceive us, and how we move through the world. It’s determined by our families and culture; our race and gender; our jobs, personalities, bodies, and minds. All of those things make up our personal narratives, defining who we are and how we deal with things. But identities aren’t always fixed. Sometimes, they can change, and even clash. On this episode, we explore stories of people wrestling with those changes. We hear about tough Australian farmers becoming more in tune with their feelings, how DNA testing is transforming who we think we are, and the challenges of dating while trans.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • When a DNA test revealed that Dani Shapiro wasn’t who she thought she was, it sent her on a search for her biological roots. That mission, documented in the memoir “Inheritance,” takes Shapiro deep into the strange and tangled world of early fertility medicine. We hear her story, and also chat with historian Margaret Marsh, who, together with OB-GYN Wanda Ronner, has written three books about fertility treatments. Their latest is called “The Pursuit of Parenthood.”
  • Dating’s tough enough — but transitioning gender can make it even harder. We explore some of those complications with Nava Mau, a trans woman and filmmaker, whose short film “Waking Hour” depicts the minefield trans people might encounter on a night out. Canadian researcher Karen Blair says that the dating pool for trans people appears small, but her data suggests attitudes could shift.
  • Elyn Saks is a law professor, best-selling author, and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient. She’s also someone who lives with schizophrenia. She talks about how she manages her symptoms, and why she firmly believes that mental illness need not define a person.
  • We talk with West Chester University professor Anita Foeman, who uses ancestry information to spark conversations in the classroom — and to push the boundaries of how we think about our own racial and ethnic identities.

Sep 27 2019

48mins

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Rank #15: Vision 2020

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The New Year is often a time for a fresh start. We reflect on our past habits, and resolve to do better — eat healthier, work harder, or work less, and spend more time on the things that really matter. We set goals and create new visions for our best possible lives. Usually, though, come February, most of us are back to our old habits and routines. But some people actually manage to succeed at making their visions a reality. How are they doing it? What have they learned? And what can we learn from them?

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We hear from scientists about what they plan to do differently in 2020.
  • We talk to author Scott Fedor about his experience persevering through a devastating accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His new book is called “Head Strong: How a Broken Neck Strengthened My Spirit.”
  • David Fajgenbaum was in medical school when he was diagnosed with Castleman’s disease — a rare and deadly illness with no known cure. We hear about Fajgenbaum’s extraordinary fight to not only survive, but find a possible cure. You can read more about David Fajgenbaum’s journey in his book: “Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action.”
  • As an inmate at California’s Solano State Prison, Gordon Melvin’s life revolved around drinking, dope, and violence — until a yoga program on PBS transformed his body, mind, and life. This story is from the KALW series “Uncuffed,” produced by people inside Solano and San Quentin State Prison.

Jan 03 2020

48mins

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Rank #16: Psychedelics and Therapy

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After a decades-long hiatus, researchers are taking a fresh look at the potential of psychedelics in therapy. Could substances like ketamine, MDMA, psilocybin, and LSD help people with depression or PTSD? What are the risks? We explore the recent explosion of psychedelics research, and hear from people who have tried them to treat mental health issues.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Many people report having breakthroughs in therapy when using psychedelics, in part because they gain new perspective on an issue. Scientists call this “cognitive flexibility.” Neurologist turned teacher Judy Willis describes how she encourages that skill in her classroom, without the use of psychedelics.
  • Last year, the FDA approved a ketamine-based nasal spray to be used for treating severe depression. Reporter Claire Tighe looks into how ketamine addresses depression, and how the nasal spray is impacting patients.
  • Rick Doblin, executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, joins us to discuss the history and future of psychedelics research.
  • MDMA is being used in treating PTSD, and some researchers say it also has a role in couples therapy. Brian Earp, co-author of “Love Drugs: The Chemical Future of our Relationships” discusses how the substance works in tandem with therapy.
  • Sandor Iron Rope lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and is part of the Native American Church. The church uses peyote in religious ceremonies. Sandor is wary of the scientific exploration of psychedelics, because he worries it will lead to the exploitation of a traditional and sacred Native American resource.

Jan 10 2020

48mins

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Rank #17: Science and Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving usually means we’re going big — way over the top. Twice as much turkey as we could possibly eat; more side dishes than the table can hold; and, of course, so much pie. We travel great distances to see our families and friends — we hug, we eat, we argue, and we nap. On this special episode of The Pulse, we explore the traditions and rituals of Thanksgiving through a scientific lens. We hear stories about the neuroscience of gratitude — and how it can help us through grief; the environmental impact of our holiday feasts, from cranberries to food waste; and ask whether turkeys are really as dumb as they look.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Turkeys have a reputation for being big, dumb birds. But are they? And what does it mean for a bird to be smart anyway? Reporter Alan Yu explores.
  • Jad Sleiman introduces a New Jersey family that does all their food shopping at local dumpsters. They are among a tiny minority of people fighting global food waste. We hear about how this problem affects the environment — and what we can do about it.
  • We chat with Yale GI specialist Earl Campbell about what happens inside of our digestive tract when we overeat.
  • Reporter Nina Feldman on her annual Friendsgiving tradition, and why it’s come to mean more than she ever thought it would.

Nov 22 2019

49mins

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Rank #18: Finding Resilience During a Pandemic

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What does it take to get through a global pandemic? How do you keep going, keep working, get up every day and hope for the best? Around the world, people are discovering the answer through their own sense of resilience — the resources within ourselves and our communities that brace us against outside pressures, allowing us to bend, and not break. On this episode, we explore what resilience means, with stories about people facing down sometimes impossible situations, and finding a way to adapt, recover, and eventually bounce back. We hear about an Olympic athlete who is dealing with the historic postponement of Tokyo 2020, an ER nurse in New York City treating patients with COVID-19, and we’ll find out why kids may emerge stronger on the other side of this pandemic.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • David Fajgenbaum was in medical school when he was diagnosed with Castleman disease — a rare and deadly illness with no known cure. We hear about Fajgenbaum’s extraordinary fight to not only survive, but find a possible cure. Since we reported that story, Fajgenbaum has begun to work on finding a possible treatment for the cytokine storms that occur with both Castleman and COVID-19. You can read more about David Fajgenbaum’s journey in his book: “Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action.”
  • Michael Ungar — a therapist, social work professor, and director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University — explains how community and social structure play into our shared resilience.
  • An average day in the emergency room is never easy, and during a pandemic, the stakes are even higher — with more patients needing critical care. ER nurse and audio producer Kate O’Connell shares what it’s like working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak in the Transom series “Pandemic ER: Notes From A Nurse In Queens.” We also hear from Donna Nickitas, dean and professor of nursing at Rutgers University-Camden, on what nurses can do to get through this tough time.
  • Primary care practices play an important role as a first line of defense with our health in general, but the pandemic could threaten their survival. Dan Gorenstein, host of the podcast Tradeoffs, explains why these providers are facing tough choices to keep their doors open.
  • During this pandemic, many friends and colleagues have turned to Aisha Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, to share her experiences adapting to and surviving war zones and disease outbreaks around the world. She’s writing a series of essays for The Chronicle of Higher Education and recorded her advice for us.
  • How are kids dealing with all of this — not going to school, not seeing their friends, and their parents being all kinds of stressed out? We check in with Kim Wheeler Poitevien, a clinical social worker in Philadelphia, on the resiliency of children.

Apr 10 2020

49mins

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How Movies Move Us

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Movies may not be real — but in a lot of ways, they’re real to us. Great films help us understand the world, history, and one another. They have the ability to reach a level of truth that we can feel in our bones. When a great actor delivers a line, we believe them. When a beloved character dies, we mourn them. When danger approaches, our hair stands on end.

What creates these strong reactions — and makes the illusion so compelling? On this episode, we look to science to explain how movie magic works in our brains and plays out in our emotions. We hear stories about the creation of movie sounds, method acting for dogs, whether you can really trust an actor, and how we draw the line between onscreen romance and real-life love.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Ari Saperstein takes us inside the world of Foley artists, who recreate everyday sounds for movies, from walking to eating to sneezing.
  • Alan Yu reports on our obsession with on-screen couples, and explores whether acting in love can lead to real romance.
  • For a lot of actors, embodying someone else can take a toll on your psyche. Barton Goldsmith talks about his work as an on-set film therapist, and how it can lead to a more productive movie making experience.
  • We talk with Cornell psychology professor James Cutting about how and why films capture our attention.

Jul 03 2020

49mins

Play

What’s Here to Stay or Gone Forever?

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COVID-19 hasn’t just changed the world — it’s transformed the way we live. On a national scale, it has upended politics and flattened our economy. On a human level, we’ve lost loved ones and livelihoods. But the pandemic has also led to unexpected changes for the better — it’s accelerated innovation, revealed new truths, and pushed us to find new ways of doing things. On this episode of The Pulse, we look into some of those lessons. What will the world look like after COVID-19 — what’s here to stay, and what may be gone forever? We hear stories about the benefits of working from home, how the pandemic has affected romantic relationships, and why more scientific conferences may be moving online for good.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • For a lot of scientists, academic conferences are the biggest event of the year — a chance for them to network, present their research, and catch up on the latest in their field. This year, however, the pandemic forced most conferences online. Reporter Alan Yu explains why this stopgap solution might turn into the new normal, even after COVID-19 subsides.
  • Germ expert Connie Steed from The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology offers her predictions about what we can expect from our new reality, from tech innovations to how we travel.
  • Will the pandemic accelerate efforts to bring hospital care to people’s homes? We hear an excerpt from the health care podcast “Tradeoffs” that digs into that issue.
  • We talk with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher about love and dating in the midst of COVID-19 — she explains how couples are dealing with being cooped up together, and why the pandemic may lead to more meaningful relationships.

Jun 26 2020

49mins

Play

Social Media’s ‘Infodemic’

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Thanks to COVID-19, social media has never been more important — or more dangerous. Information — good or bad — spreads at lightning speed, including viral rumors, conspiracy theories, and “cures” that can kill. In fact, the spread of misinformation on social media has become such a threat to public health that it’s earned its own name: “infodemic.”

On this episode, we track the spread of viral messaging on social media, and its implications for our health. We hear stories about the origins of the “infodemic,” and how researchers are fighting back; why posting on TikTok could be an “ethical gray zone” for doctors; and how researchers are using what we share about ourselves on social media to better understand our mental health.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with public health researcher Timothy Caulfield about how and why social media has become a vector for the spread of health-related misinformation — along with what we can do to the fight the ongoing COVID-related “infodemic.”
  • Medical ethicist Dominic Sisti explains why social media is valuable for health care providers, but can also be an “ethical gray zone” for Tweet-happy doctors that could ultimately harm the profession. Gastroenterologist Earl Campbell adds his perspective about why doctors can — and should — be active on social media to help combat prevalent misinformation.
  • Sometimes it feels like we’re being inundated with conflicting messages about the coronavirus. So how do we sort what’s true from what isn’t? Enter “Nerdy Girls,” an all-female team of researchers and clinicians who’ve made it their mission to spread accurate and up-to-date information on social media. We chat with one of their members, Alison Buttenheim, an associate professor of nursing and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania who studies the behavioral aspects of preventing infectious diseases.
  • Researchers are mining our social media posts for information on our moods and well-being. We hear from University of Pennsylvania emergency medicine physician and digital health expert Raina Merchant, and Chris Danforth from the Computational Story Lab team at the University of Vermont.
  • Footage of police brutality — most notably, the recent murder of George Floyd — has sparked a nationwide movement for justice. But what is the psychic cost of watching these horrific videos? We talk with adolescent and child psychiatrist Karriem Salaam about the impact these images have on mental health, especially for Black and brown adolescents.

Jun 19 2020

48mins

Play

Fake vs. Real — And When It Matters

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There was a time when seeing was believing — but that’s changing, thanks to new technology that’s elevating fakery to a whole new level. In an ever-growing world of synthesized realities, how do we tell what’s real from what’s fake? And when and why does it matter?

We explore that question on this episode, with stories about deepfakes — a new kind of fake video, powered by artificial intelligence; lab-grown meat in our pets’ food; and fake laughter.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Susie Armitage explores fake laughter in its natural habitat — comedy open mics. We hear about how up-and-coming comics learn to tell real laughter from fake, and how our evolutionary past explains that ability… along with our tendency to chuckle when things aren’t remotely funny.
  • What happens when a piece of information shatters everything we believe to be true? Reporter Molly Schwartz explores that question with the story of Austin Lane Howard, a devout Jehovah’s Witness whose doubt eventually pulled him away from the church.
  • We talk with Lydia Pyne, author of “Genuine Fakes,” about everything from lab-grown diamonds to replicas of famous historical sites.

Jun 12 2020

49mins

Play

The Impact of Police Violence on Health

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The killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis has sparked another wave of national outrage over police brutality and violence. Protesters have taken to the streets, demanding an end to police violence, and some are even asking for police departments to be defunded or abolished altogether. On this episode, we explore what better policing could look like, and what role research and science might play in serious reform. We talk with experts about the effects police violence is having on Black Americans’ health — both mental and physical. It’s not only the actual violence — it’s also the constant fear of violence, and the fear of being stopped and arrested that’s causing stress and anxiety. We hear ideas for reform, along with how we can improve, or even reinvent, American policing.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk to Rashawn Ray, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park, about his experiences with police, and his essay “Bad apples come from rotten trees in policing.” He is also a Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
  • Harvard University public health researcher David Williams and Bay Area pediatrician and community health advocate Rhea Boyd discuss the health impact of police violence on communities of color. The threat of violence can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance.
  • Rohini Haar, an emergency medicine physician in Oakland, California, and medical expert for Physicians for Human Rights, explains the health effects of tear gas, which can include permanent injury and even death.
  • We talk to Karen Quigley, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, about how more factors than we might think affect police officers’ decision-making. Judith Andersen, a health psychologist at the University of Toronto Mississauga, then weighs in on how better, science-based training could help officers overcome their fight-or-flight response in the midst of stressful situations.
  • Tracey Meares — a law professor at Yale Law School, and founding director of The Justice Collaboratory — discusses her research on how to improve the relationship between police and the public, which she says involves a fundamental reframing of how we think about police.

Jun 05 2020

48mins

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The Science of Staying Cool

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Imagine for a moment a world without air conditioners, refrigerators, fans, or even ice. We take them for granted — but keeping cool is a lot more complicated than you might think. As we roll into what’s predicted to be one of the hotter summers in recent memory, The Pulse explores the science of keeping cool. We hear stories about battling heat islands, designing cooler buildings, and cooling down our bodies and our minds.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Irina Zhorov reports on what creates “heat islands” in cities, and how deadly heat waves inspired a new way of cooling houses down.
  • We talk with Ajla Aksamija, an associate professor of architecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, about how high-performance buildings are starting to replace air conditioning.
  • Most of us think of sweat as a nuisance — but it’s a key part of our bodies’ internal cooling system and essential to our survival. Pulse producer Lindsay Lazarski explains why we sweat, and what happens when you can’t.
  • In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) heat isn’t just a temperature — it’s an indication of health. Reporter Liz Tung investigates the TCM concept of “internal heat,” to find out what it is and how quelling it might help one patient overcome her chronic intestinal problems.
  • Despite ongoing quarantine orders, warmer weather is drawing crowds to beaches and parks. Jodie Guest, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University, explains how to stay safe.
  • Poet, birder and wildlife biologist J. Drew Lanham talks about the importance of green spaces for all, and explains how being in nature is helping him keep his spirits up during this time.

May 29 2020

48mins

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Science Interrupted: The Impact of Coronavirus

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Around the globe, COVID-19 has frozen economies, closed schools, stores, and restaurants, and even canceled the Olympics. Millions of people are stuck at home, trying their best to keep their work going from a distance. So what does all this mean for scientific research? On this episode, we explore how the pandemic is transforming the lives and work of scientists, both now and in the future. We hear stories about the impact on field research — and what that means for the next generation of scientists; one lab’s mission to rescue valuable research mice; and areas that have been thrust into overdrive, including a high-stakes drug trial seeking a cure.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Irina Zhorov pulls back the curtain on the high-stakes drug trials digging into a hyped — and hated — potential treatment, hydroxychloroquine.
  • Stephen Tang, the CEO of OraSure Technologies, discusses their work developing a rapid COVID-19 antigen test.
  • We talk with MIT’s Martin Culpepper and Drexel University’s Genevieve Dion about their universities’ efforts to help in the fight against COVID-19.
  • We hear from scientists around the world who talk about how the coronavirus has affected their research. Jacinta Beehner describes what it’s like to pack up a field station in a hurry.

May 15 2020

48mins

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Buzz Off, Mosquitoes

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Most of us dread mosquito season — but on some level, you’ve got to admire these pesky bloodsuckers. Over the millennia, they’ve spread around the world — finding ways to survive even the coldest winters, mate while flying through the air, breed pretty much anywhere, and hunt their prey with relentless precision. In the meantime, viruses have evolved to use mosquitoes as a free ride to millions of hosts. That, of course, is a major reason to fear mosquitoes — they’re not just annoying, they’re dangerous, serving as the vectors for deadly plagues past and present. Scientists and communities have been striving to figure out how we can reduce their numbers. On this episode, we explore why mosquitoes are so hard to control, and why the fight to control them sometimes becomes its own war, tearing communities apart.

Also heard on this week’s episode:
Cornell University entomologist Laura Harrington explains why mosquitoes feed on humans, how viruses capitalize on that relationship, and what mosquito research looks like in the lab.

May 08 2020

49mins

Play

Outbreaks and Epidemics: The Role of Public Health

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You know you’ve made it when you get parodied on Saturday Night Live … by none other than Brad Pitt. And you really know you’ve made it when Pitt breaks character to thank you for your service. That was an honor recently bestowed upon Anthony Fauci, America’s bespectacled top infectious disease physician, who’s achieved rock star levels of fame in recent weeks. Usually, though, public health officials have much lower profiles. They’re behind-the-scenes thinkers and doers, who help keep their communities healthy with initiatives like traffic safety, vaccinations, and fluoridated water. In the best of times, we don’t even know they’re there — but during disease outbreaks, their work kicks into high gear.

So how did this field get its start? And what can we learn from past crises, starting with the yellow fever outbreak of 1793, through the AIDS epidemic, into the present? In this episode, we hear stories about the origins of public health; how the 1918 flu pandemic shaped the modern bathroom; and how schools and public health became a power couple.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We explore the very beginnings of public health in America by telling the story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, which ravaged the young nation’s capital.
  • What lessons can we learn from America’s last major epidemic — HIV/AIDS? We ask Carlos Del Rio, a professor of medicine and global health at Emory University, about how public health approaches shaped the HIV epidemic, and vice versa.
  • Public health expert Alison Buttenheim from the University of Pennsylvania explains why the core of her job is to make it seem like nothing’s happened.
  • We listen to The Crossing, a professional chamber choir in Philadelphia, performing “Protect Yourself from Infection” — a new piece that was commissioned by the Mütter Museum for its 2019 exhibit “Spit Spreads Death,” a commemoration of the Spanish Flu pandemic. The music was composed by David Lang, and the lyrics are word-for-word transcriptions of advice from a U.S. government health manual from 1918.
  • During the coronavirus outbreak, we’re constantly hearing about the importance of washing our hands and keeping surfaces clean. A little more than 100 years ago, this same concern over cleanliness emerged during the 1918 flu pandemic. Architect David Feldman joins us to discuss how this past pandemic helped to shape our homes — especially the bathroom.

May 01 2020

48mins

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How to Stop an Invasion

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It feels like we’ve been invaded by an invisible enemy — so scary we don’t even want to go to the grocery store. Inside of hospitals, patients and health care workers are fighting this invasion by wearing layers of protective gear. As a country, we’re dealing with it through social distancing and increased testing … And, it feels a bit like war. All of this got us thinking about the idea of invasion. What happens when you face an outside threat, that’s trying to come in?
On this episode, we’ll explore this idea through different lenses. We’ll hear stories about coronavirus invading our bodies. Then, we dig into invasive species, and the pushback against the language we use to describe them. And lastly, we get to invasion on a personal level — inside of our minds, and our homes.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Climate change has already started pushing wildlife into new territories — leading to widespread concern over the threat posed by “invasive species.” Susan Phillips reports on how some scientists are rethinking this threat, including whether we should consider it a threat at all.
  • Last year Alex Wolfe and his girlfriend made a big decision: They were finally moving in together. Things were going smooth at first, until they realized they were not alone.
  • Are security cameras making us safer at home — or just more paranoid? Reporter Grant Hill tells the story of how a prank planted a seed of suspicion in his family’s home, and talks with psychologist Pamela Rutledge about why and what we’re hardwired to fear.
  • Microbiologist Carolina Lopez offers a primer on our immune systems’ amazing ability to defend against attacks. She also explains all the ways our bodies are — and aren’t — prepared to fight off coronavirus.
  • Can you stop a virus from invading? We talk with Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, about what we can do better to halt the spread of the coronavirus in our communities.
  • Disease outbreaks can make people suspicious of others or more likely to cast blame. Public health historian Michael Yudell walks us through some past examples of when racism, discrimination, and fear bubbled up to the surface during times of crisis.

Apr 24 2020

48mins

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This is Your Brain During a Pandemic

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Optimizing our brains has become an obsession of the modern world. We meditate, take supplements, read books on productivity — all in the name of sharpening our minds, and boosting cognitive function. But at a time when we’re most in need of our A game, a lot of us are finding ourselves seriously derailed. The pandemic has disrupted our lives, work, and schedules; thrust us into a fog of anxiety and uncertainty; and in some cases, stretched us impossibly thin between the pressures of work and family. On this episode, we explore how we can reclaim our best brains. We hear stories about innovating under pressure, accepting boredom as a cognitive reset, and reaching the creative flow state.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We talk with Randall Munroe — the prolific author behind webcomic XKCD — about using science and math for whimsical (and totally impractical) problem solving. For instance: building an above-ground pool out of Gruyere cheese.
  • Doctors use brain stimulation to treat conditions ranging from anxiety and depression, to chronic pain. But now, people are also doing this at home, with brain-zapping devices they can buy online. Does that work, and is it a good idea? We hear from Roy Hamilton, a neurologist and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s brainSTIM Center (Brain Stimulation, Translation, Innovation, and Modulation Center).

Apr 17 2020

48mins

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Finding Resilience During a Pandemic

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What does it take to get through a global pandemic? How do you keep going, keep working, get up every day and hope for the best? Around the world, people are discovering the answer through their own sense of resilience — the resources within ourselves and our communities that brace us against outside pressures, allowing us to bend, and not break. On this episode, we explore what resilience means, with stories about people facing down sometimes impossible situations, and finding a way to adapt, recover, and eventually bounce back. We hear about an Olympic athlete who is dealing with the historic postponement of Tokyo 2020, an ER nurse in New York City treating patients with COVID-19, and we’ll find out why kids may emerge stronger on the other side of this pandemic.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • David Fajgenbaum was in medical school when he was diagnosed with Castleman disease — a rare and deadly illness with no known cure. We hear about Fajgenbaum’s extraordinary fight to not only survive, but find a possible cure. Since we reported that story, Fajgenbaum has begun to work on finding a possible treatment for the cytokine storms that occur with both Castleman and COVID-19. You can read more about David Fajgenbaum’s journey in his book: “Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action.”
  • Michael Ungar — a therapist, social work professor, and director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University — explains how community and social structure play into our shared resilience.
  • An average day in the emergency room is never easy, and during a pandemic, the stakes are even higher — with more patients needing critical care. ER nurse and audio producer Kate O’Connell shares what it’s like working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak in the Transom series “Pandemic ER: Notes From A Nurse In Queens.” We also hear from Donna Nickitas, dean and professor of nursing at Rutgers University-Camden, on what nurses can do to get through this tough time.
  • Primary care practices play an important role as a first line of defense with our health in general, but the pandemic could threaten their survival. Dan Gorenstein, host of the podcast Tradeoffs, explains why these providers are facing tough choices to keep their doors open.
  • During this pandemic, many friends and colleagues have turned to Aisha Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, to share her experiences adapting to and surviving war zones and disease outbreaks around the world. She’s writing a series of essays for The Chronicle of Higher Education and recorded her advice for us.
  • How are kids dealing with all of this — not going to school, not seeing their friends, and their parents being all kinds of stressed out? We check in with Kim Wheeler Poitevien, a clinical social worker in Philadelphia, on the resiliency of children.

Apr 10 2020

49mins

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Mental Health in Times of Crisis

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The COVID-19 outbreak is creating increased demand for mental health services — lots of people are feeling anxious, or are getting depressed. At the same time, traditional mental health services have been disrupted. In-person sessions are not possible at the moment, nor are group sessions. How are providers and their clients adjusting? We take a look at mental health services and what people are doing to stay well during these difficult times. We also hear stories of families affected by serious mental health issues, and why they say the system fails too many people.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Dawn Brown, director of community engagement for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), discusses her organization’s guide for dealing with the fallout of COVID-19.
  • We talk with Jonathan Singer, a professor of social work at Loyola University, about how the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing our mental health system to offer services online.
  • Psychiatrist and documentarian Kenneth Paul Rosenberg talks about his recent film and book, “Bedlam: An Intimate Journey into America’s Mental Health Crisis,” which traces the failure of the U.S. mental health system.
  • When you’re faced with a mental health crisis, who do you call? Internist and regular Pulse contributor Neda Frayha explains why primary care physicians might be the first and only access point for some people with mental health issues.
  • Karriem Salaam, an adolescent and child psychiatrist at Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, discusses how people with previous trauma or mental health issues are coping during this global crisis.
  • Author Melody Moezzi shares how poetry is helping her through difficult times. Her new book is “The Rumi Prescription.”
  • Psychologist Scott Haas discusses how reframing our general take on this crisis could help us deal with this situation.

Apr 03 2020

47mins

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Why We Need Friends — Especially Now

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We rely on our friends for all kinds of things — companionship, laughter, and right now — support in times of crisis. But it’s only recently that scientists have started investigating how friendship works, and why it matters to our health and well-being. On this episode, we explore the anatomy of this unique bond, with stories about what happens when friendship turns romantic, the painful experience of bestie breakups, and how friendships can form between unlikely animal pairings.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Science journalist Lydia Denworth discusses why friendship is essential to our health and to our survival. She is the author of “Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond.”
  • Dakota Fisher-Vance and Cara Scharf were both diagnosed with cancer in their early 20s. They talk to us about how being young adults with cancer brought them together, and why having a shared illness has made their bond stronger. They are the co-founders of Young Adult Cancer Connection.
  • Do friendship apps actually work? Reporter Buffy Gorrilla takes us on a journey as she navigates different apps while looking for friendship in Australia.
  • Some animals form something akin to what we think of as friendship. It’s usually animals that live in “stable, bonded social groups,” like primates or whales. But sometimes, friendships happen with animals that aren’t usually candidates for that kind of relationship. Liz Tung reports on an unlikely friendship between two bears at the Philadelphia Zoo.
  • We also created a mixtape of all of our favorite songs about friends. Check it out on Spotify or press play below.

Mar 27 2020

49mins

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Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

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Communities around the world are scrambling to slow the spread of COVID-19: closing businesses and schools, canceling gatherings, and limiting social interactions. Some countries and cities have even gone on almost total lockdown. On this episode, we hear about different measures to stop the virus, and how they’re affecting people. We hear about the impact of medical quarantine, how more aggressive testing could slow the spread, and why some ER doctors think they’re not doing enough to keep the virus in check. We also get an update on COVID-19 vaccine research.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We are asking people all around the country to start sending us little time capsules of their lives as the coronavirus spreads. If you can record yourself on your smartphone and tell us how your life is changing, please be in touch with host Maiken Scott, mscott@whyy.org
  • Regular Pulse contributor and ER doctor Avir Vitra tells us about how medical professionals are dealing with the COVID-19 spread, and whether the medical system is prepared for this kind of pandemic.
  • Sheri Fink, a New York Times correspondent and executive producer of the Netflix series, “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak,” explains why testing is so crucial for both public health officials and anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the virus. Fink, who won Pulitzer Prizes for her investigation into a New Orleans hospital in the days after Hurricane Katrina and for her reporting during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, also offers advice on how to stay safe and sane during the pandemic.
  • Reporter Cris Barrish takes us to one of the country’s first drive-through testing sites, and talks to patients who suspect they may have been infected.

Mar 20 2020

48mins

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Working Memory

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Think about the millions of details stored in your memory: what you had for breakfast; how to get to work; the smell of lavender; your first kiss; a great vacation; how to calculate percentages.
So much of our existence is based on our memory. All of the small and big things we accomplish and do every day tap into this system. But how does memory work? Why do we remember some things and not others? On this episode, we look at memory. We hear stories about what scientists say happens to our earliest childhood memories; people who cultivate a practice of remembering their dreams; and a new therapy that uses the senses to improve recall among people with dementia.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Michael Yassa, professor of neurobiology at the University of California Irvine, explains what we know about how memories are stored and accessed in our brains.
  • We look into the “jukebox” in our heads that stores thousands of songs and melodies — and seemingly plays them at random.
  • We explore the relationship between creativity and memory with Kevin Paul Madore, a research psychologist at Stanford University. We need memory to be creative, but sometimes it can be a tricky partner when we’re trying to come up with something brand new.

    Mar 13 2020

    48mins

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    Changing Treatments

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    Medicine is always changing. New treatments become available. Old ones become obsolete. But how does a treatment become established? How long does it take for science to get from research bench to bedside? And how do patients decide what is best for them? On this episode, we take a look at how patients and health care providers navigate the constantly changing world of medical treatments.

    We hear stories about how Accelerated Resolution Therapy [ART] became a hot new trauma therapy; one family’s wrenching decision over scoliosis surgery; and health care journalist Kate Pickert’s personal journey through modern breast cancer treatments.

    Also heard on this week’s episode:

    • Health care journalist Kate Pickert wrote several stories about breast cancer over the years — but when she was diagnosed herself, she realized that a lot of what she thought about treatment was wrong. Pickert wrote “Radical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America.”
    • Physician Jeff Brenner set out to revolutionize how health care is delivered to some of the country’s sickest patients. His goal: to give patients who were using the ER for health care easy access to primary care. But was his approach successful? We chat with Dan Gorenstein, host of the health care podcast “Tradeoffs.”

    Mar 06 2020

    48mins

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    Outbreak 1793

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    COVID-19 — a coronavirus disease — is spreading around the world, putting people and governments on high alert. How will we respond to this crisis in the U.S.? Are we prepared? Can we contain the spread and treat those who are sick?

    As we grapple with these questions, this special edition of the Pulse, Outbreak 1793, takes a look back to another time when this nation battled a major infectious disease epidemic.

    It happened in 1793 in Philadelphia, which was the nation’s capital at the time. In the sweltering heat of summer Yellow Fever began to spread, claiming lives at a rapid pace. Those who could flee left the city. Those who remained were panicked. Who or what was to blame? And who would fall victim next?

    Hosts Maiken Scott and public health historian Michael Yudell visit different parts of historic Philadelphia that played an important role during this Yellow Fever epidemic. We’ll meet the people who stayed to fight the illness and learn about the important public health changes that happened as a result of this crisis. This outbreak marked the beginning of public health in America, and led to the kinds of policies and changes that still protect populations today.

    Mar 04 2020

    27mins

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    The Anatomy of Sadness

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    Sadness seemingly comes out of nowhere sometimes: a song, a photo, a movie scene, a memory, and there it is. Your heart seems heavy. Tears well up in your eyes. What is happening in the brain when we feel sad? We delve into this complex emotion, and explore how we experience it, and how we deal with it. From tears shed at the gym after a serious workout, to crying in public, and sad songs that help us cope with tough times.

    Also heard on this week’s episode:

    • Sometimes, it seems like kids cry over just about anything — but other times, they surprise us with a deeper sadness: sorrow for others, existential angst, or despair over unfairness in the world. When do kids begin to experience this kind of profound, complex sadness? How common is it? Reporter Steph Yin digs deep into the landscape of children’s sadness.
    • Can sadness make us more creative? Reporter Gisele Regatao talks with author Said Sayrafiezadeh about his experiences with sadness and writer’s block.
    • Why do people pay good money to go to an exercise class that makes them cry? We investigate the SoulCycle-crying connection.
    • We look into public crying, and why New Yorkers say it’s a bonding experience. We hear from Shaina Feinberg, who has made a map of all the places where she’s cried.
    • We think of sadness as something we want to avoid — but then why do we love sad songs so much? We talk with neuroscientist Matt Sachs about the sad songs we love and how they help us through tough situations.

    Feb 28 2020

    49mins

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    Deciding What’s Fair

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    “It’s not fair!” That’s a common refrain anyone with kids is familiar with. From the time they learn to talk, kids begin protesting the innumerable injustices of everyday life — slices of cake that aren’t quite big enough, bedtimes that are earlier than their siblings’, play times cut short by unexpected weather.

    And that obsession with fairness stays with us throughout our lives. It helps shape our relationships and personal values — along with our government, social systems, and national identity. So where does this fundamental drive toward fairness come from? How do we define what’s fair — and who gets to decide?

    On this episode, we explore fairness, and how we learn to understand it. We hear stories about how algorithms are redefining what counts as fair — and why critics say they’re doing the opposite; the neuroscience behind why we care so much about what’s fair and what isn’t; and the complicated fight to distribute donated organs in a more equitable way.

    Also heard on this week’s episode:

    • People with chronic conditions often have to pay out of pocket for medications that keep them alive and well. Dan Gorenstein from the health policy podcast “Tradeoffs” joins us to discuss efforts and ideas to bring more fairness to the insurance system.
    • More than 100,000 Americans are on a waiting list for life-saving organ transplants that only a fraction will receive. Art Caplan, founding head of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s School of Medicine, explains how the organ distribution system works, and how it could be improved. We also hear from two people who are currently waiting for transplants. If you want to learn more about becoming an organ donor, visit www.donors1.org.
    • We talk to one of the creators of the MIT website Moral Machine, which seeks human input on questions of fairness in artificial intelligence.

    Feb 21 2020

    48mins

    Play

    iTunes Ratings

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    Average Ratings
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    Intalegent thoughtful inspiring

    By ocelectric - Apr 11 2020
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    Intalegent thoughtful inspiring

    Download Speed Issues Seem to be Resolved

    By Apple1234Pie - Nov 18 2018
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    The last 3 podcasts I listend to I rated as 4,5,3.