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Rank #15 in Natural Sciences category

Science
Natural Sciences

Transistor

Updated 5 days ago

Rank #15 in Natural Sciences category

Science
Natural Sciences
Read more

Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Read more

Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

iTunes Ratings

41 Ratings
Average Ratings
25
12
3
0
1

This rocks

By morphy232 - Mar 17 2016
Read more
Love love love the trace elements series. Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek rock it.

Inspiring, intelligent, interesting

By mdvmcr - Jun 12 2015
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Smart, interesting and I always come away with something I want to research more. Excellent!!

iTunes Ratings

41 Ratings
Average Ratings
25
12
3
0
1

This rocks

By morphy232 - Mar 17 2016
Read more
Love love love the trace elements series. Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek rock it.

Inspiring, intelligent, interesting

By mdvmcr - Jun 12 2015
Read more
Smart, interesting and I always come away with something I want to research more. Excellent!!
Cover image of Transistor

Transistor

Updated 5 days ago

Rank #15 in Natural Sciences category

Read more

Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Rank #1: Sidedoor from the Smithsonian: Masters of Disguise

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For the next few episodes, we’re featuring select episodes from the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, humanity and where they unexpectedly overlap — just like their museums. Up first: tales of scientific deception and trickery.

For even more from Sidedoor, subscribe in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dec 01 2016
19 mins
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Rank #2: Engineering NYC from Below

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Head underground to hear how some of the first subways were built, and how they are built today.

This story was originally produced by Bishop Sand in 2013. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Adam E. Moreira | Music: Whurlywind from Podington Bear

Mar 09 2017
10 mins
Play

Rank #3: Totally Cerebral: Untangling the Mystery of Memory

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How has our understanding of the mysterious tissue between our ears changed in the past 50 years? In her Totally Cerebral episodes on Transistor, neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki introduces us to scientists who have uncovered some of the deepest secrets about how our brains make us who we are.



Brenda Milner in 2011 | Photo by Eva Blue

Wendy begins by talking with groundbreaking experimental psychologist Brenda Milner , who in the 1950s, completely changed our understanding of the parts of the brain important for forming new long-term memories. Through her observation and careful study of patients with profound amnesia, Brenda wrote a paper in 1957 that broke with the accepted theories about memory, and blew open the entire field of neuroscience.

Inside the Episode

The brain! The front view shows the location of the right and left hippocampus (in orange/yellow) within the brain’s temporal lobe. The side view shows the location of the left hippocampus (in orange/yellow) within the temporal lobe. (Click to enlarge.)

Brenda Milner was born in 1918, and she is still working and using the same wooden chair in her office at McGill University in Montreal, where she wrote her pioneering paper on HM and memory. In fact, if you listen carefully in the episode you may hear the faint squeak of her wooden desk chair, which she has used for more than 50 years. Brenda has received numerous prizes for her work, including the Kavli Prize in 2014.



HM as a young man

Patient HM is perhaps the most famous amnesic patient in history. He had experimental surgery in 1953 to address his severe epilepsy, and when he woke up it was immediately clear that something was horribly wrong.



Suzanne Corkin

For 47 years, Suzanne Corkin, a former student of Brenda Milner, studied HM in her own lab at MIT. She’s the author of Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient HM. We’ll hear more from Suzanne in the next episode of Transistor.

This episode was produced by Julie Burstein, with editing and sound design by Derek John. Host Wendy Suzuki’s book Healthy Brain, Happy Life, goes on sale May 19, 2015.

Brain image from Shutterstock.

Feb 09 2015
30 mins
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Rank #4: The Straight Poop

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A freezer full of donated poop at OpenBiome

For one disease, poop — yes, human poop — is nothing short a miracle cure. Microbiologist Christina Agapakis takes a look at Fecal Microbiota Transplants or FMT and what happens when you take the really complex gut microbiome from a healthy person and transplant it into the gut of a really sick person. For patients suffering from a one of the most common and deadly hospital acquired infections, Clostridium Difficile, or C Diff, one poop transplant can cure them, sometimes within hours. But, why?

Inside the Episode:



Mark Smith shows host Christina Agapakis and

producer Kerry Donahue the container

donors, uh…”donate” in.



Sign on the door at OpenBiome,

reminding us of the importance of poop!

Christina visits Mark Smith at OpenBiome in Medford, Massachusetts. OpenBiome is a poop bank where donors are paid $40 bucks a po(o)p and where scientists like Mark produce highly screened, liquefied poop samples to be sent to doctors and hospitals all over the country.

Christina talks with Ed Yong, blogger at Not Exactly Rocket Science and author of a forthcoming book about microbes called I Contain Multitudes, about what we might be failing to ask in all of the excitement surrounding FMT.

Christina also talks with Tami Lieberman, a systems biologist at Harvard who decided to put some new home sampling kits for sequencing your gut microbiome to the test.

It’s a wild and wooly world out there when it comes to the medical power of poop. Who knew? Stay tuned.

This episode was produced by Kerry Donahue and Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and mixed by David Herman. Photos by Genevieve Sponsler.

Music credits:

Mort Garson: “Good Morning Starshine” from Electronic Hair Pieces

Anna Meredith: “Bubble Gun” from Jet Black Raider

Piero Piccioni: “Mexican Borders” from Piero Piccioni Soundtracks

Four Tet: “As Serious As Your Life” from Rounds

Hauschka: “Cube” from Salon des amateurs

Laurie Spiegel: “Patchwork” from The Expanding Universe

Mar 05 2015
19 mins
Play

Rank #5: The Indiana Jones of Math

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Ken Golden isn’t your typical mathematician. He’s the Indiana Jones of Mathematics. He gets up from behind his desk, armed with mathematical theory and gets out into the world, having adventures and finding unifying math behind seemingly unconnected subjects.

In this episode, we find him out on the Arctic sea ice drawing on math developed for stealth technology to understand not only the ice, but the bones of people with osteoporosis.

This episode was produced by Ben Harden in 2014 for PRX’s STEM Story Project. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz.

Image by: Amanda Kowalski

Oct 05 2015
8 mins
Play

Rank #6: Orbital Path: Must Be Aliens

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Loyal Transistor listeners will remember astronomer Michelle Thaller, who hosted three episodes for us early in 2015. She’s back, now with her own monthly podcast from PRX called Orbital Path. It’s all about stars, the universe, and us — for space lovers or just the curious.

The debut episode features the infamous Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, as Michelle and Phil talk about why aliens get the credit for almost everything unexplainable. And episode two is in the works with another guest you won’t want to miss.

Enjoy the show — and get links to subscribe to Orbital Path here.

Orbital Path is produced by Lauren Ober.

Dec 17 2015
14 mins
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Rank #7: Trace Elements: Mystery at the Lake

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Lake Oneida on April 24, 2016. Photo by Carl Hagmann

Special episode #4 featuring Trace Elements with Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek. In the 1970s, a geochemist and a biologist banded together to solve a mystery at Lake Oneida in upstate New York. What they found is changing the way we think about human life, and where the origins of life come from.

Guests:

Kenneth Nealson, professor, University of Southern California

Willard Moore, professor emeritus, University of South Carolina

Apr 21 2016
14 mins
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Rank #8: Trace Elements: Upgrade

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It’s here! Episode three of our special five-part series called Trace Elements with hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek.

Hacking your hearing aid to implanting NFC tags into your hands — we are now in the age of DIY Bio. Dive into the growing underworld of body modification from the backrooms of tattoo shops to the lab in your kitchen.

Guests:

Frank Swain, biohacker/community manager at New Scientist

Amal Graafstra, CEO of Dangerous Things

Meredith Patterson, technologist

Apr 07 2016
19 mins
Play

Rank #9: Totally Cerebral: Exercise and Your Brain

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A story of movement, memory, and mentors. Dr. Wendy Suzuki introduces us to Dr. Marian Diamond, whose lively classes ushered Wendy into a career in neuroscience. And Wendy shares how she came to study how exercise profoundly affects the brain, not just the body.

Dr. Marian Diamond and Wendy Suzuki on Wendy’s undergrad graduation day

Here’s more from Wendy:

A science mentor can make your career. Dr. Marian Diamond not only ushered me into the field of neuroscience with her lively and engaging classes but she has continued to influence me and help me throughout my work as a scientist and teacher.

What made Marian such a profound mentor? Her multi-dimensionality. First, she was the best teacher I have ever experienced in my entire thirty-year career, unendingly fascinated with her specialty, human anatomy, including both brain anatomy and gross human anatomy. Now, if you have never taken an anatomy course before, you should know it can be as dry as learning last year’s tax laws. Marian made anatomy come alive, relating every brain or body part to a question or observation about ourselves, such as “The word uterus means Hysterical- do you agree with this?” Or “Do you know what the largest organ in the body is? It’s your skin- take care of it!” She made anatomy relevant and personal.

Second, she made groundbreaking scientific contributions on the capacity of the brain to change in response to the environment. When she did this work in the late 1950s/early 1960s, nobody believed that the adult brain could change – at least in any ways that scientists could measure. Marian and her colleagues showed that changing a rat’s living space (what she called “enriching” the environment) could have profound effects of the brain’s anatomy and that she could measure them. In this episode, I’ll describe Marian’s pioneering studies and how they related to recent studies showing the profound ways that exercise transforms the brain.

Third, she offered me a role model of a thriving, engaged and enthusiastic female scientist, even if it took me years to appreciate how lucky I was. You see, she was such a powerful presence on the Berkeley campus that I thought that smart strong, successful female neuroscientists who were extraordinary teachers were everywhere! I never questioned whether I would be able to do the same thing, because she showed me that it could be done. Only much later into my post-doctoral studies did I notice that other female scientists didn’t seem to have the same confidence that I did; they saw the sea of men in science with only a few successful women and many found it discouraging.

Only later was I able to fully appreciate what a wonderful gift she gave me as my role model in science. Because Marian did the work she loved, she allowed me to sail right over worries over whether a woman could make it.

In this episode, we’ll hear from Marian herself, as she teaches a class and describes her groundbreaking findings. Her work on brain plasticity is at the heart of the work that I and many neuroscientists pursue today.

— Dr. Wendy Suzuki

This episode was hosted by Wendy Suzuki and produced by Julie Burstein, with editing and sound design by Derek John. Wendy Suzuki’s book Healthy Brain, Happy Life, is on sale now.

May 22 2015
17 mins
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Rank #10: Nautilus special: “To Save California, Read Dune”

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The sci-fi epic of Dune takes place on a desert planet. There, the water in even a single tear is precious. Can Dune offer lessons for drought-stricken California of 2015?

This is a special episode featuring science magazine Nautilus.

This episode was produced for PRX and Nautilus by David Schulman.

Nov 05 2015
20 mins
Play

Rank #11: Venus and Us: Two Stories of Climate Change

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Venus | © NASA

Space scientists are acutely aware of what can happen when climates change in other parts of our solar system. Take Venus, where it rains sulfuric acid and is 900°F on the surface, but it wasn’t always that way. Astrophysicist Michelle Thaller talks with a NASA expert on Venus about how it became a hellscape. And she talks with the Library of Congress’ inaugural chair of astrobiology about how to grasp this new geologic era where humans cause rapid change.

Inside the Episode:
Lori Glaze, the deputy director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA, studies Venus. Here are some fun facts about the planet often called the Morning Star:

  • It takes longer for Venus to rotate once on its axis than it does to make one trip around the sun. Meaning that Venus’ days are longer than its years.
  • After the moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the sky.
  • It rains sulphuric acid on Venus.
  • Venus’ atmospheric pressure is 92 times what it is on Earth, which is enough to crush a human flat.
  • Surface temperatures on Venus can get up to 880 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Venus boasts tens of thousands of volcanoes on its surface.

David Grinspoon is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Library of Congress. He’s also plays music in the House Band of the Universe.

Check out one of his band’s performances at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

David’s music is also featured in this episode of Transistor.

This episode was produced by Lauren Ober. Mix and sound design by Whitney Jones.

Feb 24 2015
17 mins
Play

Rank #12: The Ultimate Wayback Machine

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Looking through a telescope is like being inside a time machine — you are seeing light from the past. And some space telescopes allow astronomers to see light that is billions of years old and existed before there was an Earth or sun. Astrophysicist Michelle Thaller introduces us to scientists who started two of the most powerful telescopes, the Hubble, which launched 25 years ago, and the James Webb Space Telescope, being built right now.

Inside the Episode:

Dr. Michelle Thaller speaks with Nancy Grace Roman, the first Head of Astrophysics at NASA, about how she got interested in the stars and her time working at NASA on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Then, Dr. Thaller meets with Jane Rigby, Deputy Operations Project Scientist for The James Webb Space Telescope, the next generation of space telescope, launching in 2018. Its mirror will be seven times the size of Hubble’s and will help astronomers see farther than they’ve ever seen before. Here are some photos of their visit:



Drs. Michelle Thaller (L) and Jane Rigby look into the clean room where NASA is building the James Webb Space Telescope. This six-story room is the largest clean room in the world.



Drs. Jane Rigby (L) and Michelle Thaller gaze up at a giant piece of machinery at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center that will be used to test the James Webb Space Telescope before its launch in 2018.

This episode was produced by Lauren Ober. Mix and sound design by Whitney Jones. Photos by Lauren Ober.

Apr 02 2015
20 mins
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Rank #13: Outside Podcast: Struck by Lightning

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Transistor’s mothership PRX has partnered with Outside magazine to produce four special podcast episodes on the Science of Survival. You’ll receive them in Transistor’s podcast feed, and for even more, subscribe to the Outside Podcast.

Here’s episode 2.

Most of the time, when lightning makes the news, you’re hearing about it because something really unlikely has happened. Like the park ranger who was struck by lightning seven times. Or the strike survivor who also won the lottery. This is not one of those stories. This is about Phil Broscovak and what his life was really like after he was struck.

May 19 2016
43 mins
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Rank #14: All By Myself…Maybe

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“52 Hz” is the name given to a mysterious whale that vocalizes at a different frequency than other whales. Some refer to him as “The World’s Loneliest Whale,” but other scientists aren’t convinced that its unique call has left the whale isolated at all.

Craig and George went on a whale watch when they reported this story. See their photos and videos here.

This episode was produced for PRX & Transistor by Craig Shank and George Drake Jr. of Everything Sounds, and was mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image from Shutterstock. Not 52 Hz.

Nov 20 2015
8 mins
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Rank #15: Disease Detectives On the Case

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Ebola, salmonella, even measles. All of these have a source, and disease detectives trained at the CDC know how to find the culprits. Join two rookies as as they solve “the case of the nutty dish”.

This episode was originally produced by Philip Graitcer for PRX’s STEM Story Project in 2014. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Jan 07 2016
9 mins
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Rank #16: 700 Fathoms Under the Sea

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This 1948 graphic shows sound traveling on an axis 700 fathoms down in the Atlantic.

Something unusual happens about a half mile under the sea. Ocean physics create a special zone where sound travels for hundreds, even thousands of miles. Whales use it, and cold warriors plumbed its secrets. Listen in:

This story was produced by David Schulman in 2014. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Feb 07 2017
8 mins
Play

Rank #17: Trace Elements: Fooled Ya

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Cristina & Marco hanging out with EDI

Episode two of our special five-part series called Trace Elements — with hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek — is here. This time: the how and why of illusion. Maybe you’ll get some April Fools ideas.

Marco Tempest is not your average magician. He uses robots to do magic tricks on stage — but the real trick is in how easily he can get an audience to believe that robot has personality and is almost human.

Guests: Marco Tempest, cyberillusionist

Matt Berlin, co-founder IFRobotics, LLC

Kate Darling, researcher, MIT Media Lab

Engineer: Andrew Kramer

Theme Song: Rory Jackson

Additional Music: Lullatone, Keen Collective, and Golden Gram

Special Thanks: The Great Shiftini, aka Craig LeMoult

Mar 24 2016
17 mins
Play

Rank #18: Science’s Blind Spots

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One of the things we assign to science is that there are true, absolute facts. But scientists are human and, it turns out, as prone to blind spots in their thinking as the rest of us, especially when cultural assumptions and biases get in the way.



Emily Martin

& Richard Cone

In this episode, biologist Christina Agapakis explores ways these blind spots, especially around gender and sexism, have affected research and women’s careers in science. She talks with one of her heroes, anthropologist Emily Martin, and her husband, biophysicist Richard Cone, about Emily’s 1991 article “The Egg & The Sperm.” Reading that article about the ways cultural romantic assumptions limited scientists’ understanding of human reproduction was a turning point for Christina as a young scientist who considered her feminism as something separate from science.



Kate Clancy

She also talks with anthropologist Kate Clancy who has spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the ways women’s careers in science are different from men’s. Kate offers some thoughts on what science needs to consider to truly bring in more underrepresented voices and perspectives. New perspectives and voices in science may be key to science seeing blind spots for the first time.

Episode Extras — Your Transistor producers have picked out some further reading on this topic and how it affects both men and women:

This episode was produced by Kerry Donahue and Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and mixed by David Herman.

Music Credits:

Hauschka: “Cube” from Salon des amateurs

Anna Meredith: “Bubble Gun” from Jet Black Raider

Four Tet: “As Serious As Your Life” from Rounds

Not Waving: “Two-Way Mirror” from Intercepts

Laurie Spiegel: “Patchwork” from The Expanding Universe

May 14 2015
16 mins
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Rank #19: The Skinny on Your Skin

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Art by Noa Kaplan. Photo by Jed Kim

Your skin is your largest organ and is also is a thriving ecosystem, covered in bacteria. While many of us consider regular showers key to keeping our skin healthy, a group of scientists — and artists — are starting to ask: Could the future of skin care not be soap, but bacteria?

Inside the Episode

Biologist Christina Agapakis visits AOBiome in Cambridge, Mass. to talk with the team there that has developed a bacterial mist you spritz on your skin several times a day instead of showering.

Then, it’s off to rethink one of the most common skin problems, pimples. We meet Noa Kaplan, who makes sculptures based from ultra-magnified shots of her pores.

©Noa Kaplan

©Noa Kaplan

We also explore how fabric could support our skin’s ecosystem. Fashion futurist Suzanne Lee talks about the not-too-distant future when our clothes may do more than just cover us – they may be made from living bacteria and designed to interact with our skin. Check out this article about Suzanne’s process, and her TED Talk.

This episode was produced by Kerry Donahue and Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and mixed by David Herman.

Music credits:

Hauschka: “Cube” from Salon des amateurs

Four Tet: “As Serious As Your Life” from Rounds

Anna Meredith: “Bubble Gun” from Jet Black Raider

Pye Corner Audio: “Palais Spectres” from Sleep Games

Laurie Spiegel: “Patchwork” from The Expanding Universe

Apr 09 2015
17 mins
Play

Rank #20: Totally Cerebral: What’s That Smell?

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Scents and tastes are powerfully evocative — one whiff of perfume or cooking aromas can transport you back to a particular moment, a particular place, a particular person. Because the things we smell reach two brain structures called the hippocampus and amygdala in just one synapse, scents can almost immediately stimulate the key brain areas for memory, emotion, and location.

In this episode of Totally Cerebral, Dr. Wendy Suzuki speaks with neuroscientist Howard Eichenbaum, an expert on olfactory memory, and together with chemist Kent Kirshenbaum, sits down to a meal with Chef Anita Lo to hear how she plays with our senses and our memories in her delicious creations.

This episode was hosted by Wendy Suzuki and produced by Julie Burstein, with editing and sound design by Derek John. Wendy Suzuki’s book Healthy Brain, Happy Life, goes on sale May 19, 2015.

Image from Shutterstock.

Apr 16 2015
32 mins
Play

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