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Science & Medicine

The Pulse

Updated 9 days ago

Science & Medicine
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

105 Ratings
Average Ratings
90
9
4
1
1

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.

Interesting

By Rekellerwu - Jul 23 2016
Read more
I love the Pulse, keeps me up-to-date on new and interesting things going on in the world

iTunes Ratings

105 Ratings
Average Ratings
90
9
4
1
1

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.

Interesting

By Rekellerwu - Jul 23 2016
Read more
I love the Pulse, keeps me up-to-date on new and interesting things going on in the world
Cover image of The Pulse

The Pulse

Updated 9 days ago

Read more

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

Rank #1: Why We Travel

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We travel to experience awe or learn something new — maybe even to get our worldview shaken up a bit. On this episode, The Pulse explores how travel changes us and how we change the places we visit.

Also heard on this week’s show:

  • Science history geek Michael Yudell tells us about 19th century explorer John Cleves Symmes who believed the earth is hollow.
  • Travel medicine expert Phyllis Kozarsky says don’t blame the airplane for your stomach bug.
  • Reporter Liz Tung explores the future of biometric scans in travel security screening.
  • Astrophysicist Jarita Holbrook says her annual trip to the meeting of the National Society of Black Physicists feels like coming home.
  • Kiasha Huling recalls the culture shock she experienced when she traveled just a few miles to college.
  • New Zealand tourism expert Ian Yeoman predicts where we’ll want to travel in the next 20 to 50 years.
Aug 03 2018
48 mins
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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.
Jun 28 2019
48 mins
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Rank #3: Facing Our Fears

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Cue the scary lullaby. On this episode, we’re taking on the things that freak us out. There’s biology behind the spooky feeling you get when a horror movie soundtrack plays. Psychologists say fear can be a useful emotion — a warning system — and what prompts us to push past our limits. In healthcare, there’s a controversial treatment that asks patients to confront the exact things that cause them fear and pain — and to do those things over and over. Nerve-wracking. Sickening. Facing your fears can be all of that — and sometimes a little thrilling too.

Oct 26 2018
49 mins
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Rank #4: When Panic Attacks

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From panic disorders to social phobia, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the United States. What toll does anxiety take on our lives? In this episode, we explore how anxiety affects our bodies, relationships, and lives. We investigate its causes, what it feels like, and what we can do to treat it.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Psychologist Tamar Chansky talks about what causes childhood anxiety and what parents can do to help. Her books is called Freeing Your Child from Anxiety.
  • When anxious people show up in the emergency room, ER doc Avir Mitra often has to tease out serious physical symptoms that can mimic anxiety — and find ways not to get sucked into anxiety vortex himself.
  • Audio producer Carin Gilfry and her sister Erica Buchiarelli discuss the anxiety that motherhood brings, and when those worries cross into the danger zone.
  • We’ve all been there — waiting for someone to text us back. We explore how the expectation of constant connection has become a whole new source of anxiety.
  • Reporter Nina Feldman brings us this story about a group of Philadelphia seniors who are working to combat anxiety among older patients.
Aug 17 2018
48 mins
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Rank #5: 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:

  • Marketplace’s 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 31 2018
48 mins
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Rank #6: Feeling Your Age

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They call it the golden years, but there’s a reason many of us dread old age — it can mean losing our health, our independence, our memories, and loved ones.

But getting old doesn’t mean what it used to. Thanks to advancements in tech and medicine, seniors have more options than ever when it comes to maintaining their health and quality of life. On this episode — how we want to age, and what gets in the way.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Esther Honig documents her father’s cognitive decline.
  • Geriatric nurse practitioner Barbara Resnick from the University of Maryland explains why aging bodies are like old cars — parts break down, but a little TLC can keep them running for the long haul.
  • Endocrinologist Farah Khan on why it’s important to pay attention to bone health before it’s too late.
  • Sharon Wade from St. Louis talks about caring for her mother, who has dementia.
  • We hear about sex and intimacy at an assisted living facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jan 04 2019
48 mins
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Rank #7: The Difference a Gun Makes

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A gun can change a moment, a life, a family, an entire neighborhood. Like a catalyst in a chemical reaction, guns have a unique ability to transform the calculus of a situation. A gun can make you feel safe. Sometimes it’s symbol of cultural identity. It also has the power to destroy. On this episode of The Pulse, we look at the difference a gun makes.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • A chat with Lore McSpadden, the militant pacifist who went on to co-found an LGBTQ gun club called Trigger Warning.
  • Jermaine McCory and Ted Corbin both have first-hand experience with gun violence — Jermaine as a victim, and Ted as an emergency doctor. They describe what gun violence looks like from each of their perspectives, and their work with Healing Hurt People, a violence intervention program.
  • Jessie Wright-Mendoza talks with her grandfather about his choice to keep a gun in the house after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
  • Poet and pediatrician Irène P. Mathieu wrote “Our Boy” to mark the murder of Jordan Davis — an unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by a white man during a “loud music dispute” in front of a gas station.
Nov 22 2018
49 mins
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Rank #8: Shades of Green

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As Kermit the Frog once said — it’s not easy being green. Amid challenges like pollution, deforestation and climate change, engaging with environmental problems can feel like an overwhelming task. To mark Earth Day, we explore some of the ways, big and small, people are working to do just that.

Also on this week’s show:

  • How a recent landmark study uncovered a hidden – and huge – source of air pollution.
  • We talk with Chicago weatherman Tom Skilling on his decision to speak openly about climate change on the air.
  • A look back at Population Bomb, the doom-and-gloom book from 1968 that helped shape the debate on saving the planet.
  • Environmental scientist Halina Brown says saving the earth means cutting down what we buy.
  • We ask a range of people about what “being green” means to them.
Apr 19 2019
48 mins
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Rank #9: Separate: Black Health in America

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Segregation in housing and education has had reverberations on health care and health outcomes for African-Americans. In this episode, we explore the legacy of that separation. We meet some of the people who helped integrate hospitals as the Civil Rights fight was heating up, and hear from a millennial mom, who says that, yes — even in 2018, finding a black doctor to care for her girls is “a thing.” Throughout the episode, we also visit separate, largely black spaces that nourish African-American health and well-being.

Also heard on this episode:

  • Pierre Johnson talks about his path to becoming a physician – he’s co-authored a book about his experiences called “The Pulse of Perseverance.”
  • New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah Jones explores segregation in schools and the long-lasting effects on health and career choices.
  • Rickey Powell and Jeff Drew describe their experiences growing up in “Dynamite Hill,” a neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama that was targeted by the Klan.
Feb 01 2019
48 mins
Play

Rank #10: Sports and Health

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We think of sports as part of a healthy lifestyle — a chance to move our muscles, work up a sweat, release endorphins. Often that’s true… other times, not so much. In this show, The Pulse explores how sports affect our health — when they help, and when they hurt.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Reporter Anders Kelto brings us the story of Josh Anderson — a prodigious soccer player on the cusp of making it big. Until a mental health condition got in the way. You can find a longer version of this piece on “Gamebreaker with Keith Olbermann.”
  • For talented young athletes, college can be a springboard to the big leagues. Ivy league football champ Cameron Countryman discusses the stresses of being a student-athlete.
  • KQED’s Laura Klivans reports on an effort by the Washoe people — native to California and Nevada — to revive indigenous sports.
  • Think gamers can’t get injured? Think again. Physical therapist Caitlin McGee specializes in treating injuries common among professional e-sports players.
  • In an audio postcard from Louisville reporter Lisa Gillespie, jockey Miguel Mena discusses the dangers of horse-racing.
  • Adaptive surfing lets people with disabilities catch a wave.
Dec 28 2018
48 mins
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Rank #11: Make (a) Way

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For a long time disability meant one thing — limitations. Think about the word disabled: its literal meaning is broken, not functioning. In a world largely built by and for those considered typical, people with disabilities are often boxed out — from jobs they want, places they want to go and activities they could love. But that’s changing as advances in science and technology collide with evolving conceptions of disability. On this week’s show, we explore the idea that “disability” resides not in people, but in the systems, schools, workplaces and communities that don’t make a way for inclusion and participation.

To read a transcript of this week’s episode, click here.

Also on this week’s show:

  • Inside a growing movement to change a culture of medicine that sidelines disabled doctors, and could even hobble patient care.
  • Teresa Blankmeyer Burke is a deaf philosophy professor whose work probes how we define disability – and when it’s really just difference.
  • Introducing computer scientist Brian Smith, whose big idea could be bringing mainstream video games to blind players.
  • A chat with Mariette Bates, the head of CUNY’s Disability Studies program, about embracing disability as identity, and what that means for language.
  • Pianist Andrea Avery’s life changed when she developed rheumatoid arthritis – she describes her journey navigating the gray space between health and disability.
  • In a story from the podcast Exited, we follow a young man who says he’s ready for a job, while those around him say his developmental disabilities are sure to get in the way.
Jul 20 2018
49 mins
Play

Rank #12: 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
48 mins
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Rank #13: Unintended Consequences

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In science and medicine, we often fail to predict the outcomes of our experiments and actions. The result: unintended consequences. Sometimes the surprise is an interesting success. Other times, it’s a disaster. On this episode of The Pulse, how we handle the things we didn’t see coming.

The hour includes: the Nazi physician trial that helped shape medical ethics; how hospitals are dealing with incessant medical alarms; and the history of Macquarie Island — where the introduction of a few rats, cats, and rabbits triggered a domino effect of ecological disaster.

On the show:

  • Author Dawn Raffel tells us about Dr. Couney — the carnival showman who saved thousands of infants, and helped change the way we care for premature babies. Find info on her new book here.
  • Reporter Jad Sleiman brings us the history of the Doctors’ Trial — the post-WWII prosecution of Nazi physicians for war crimes. The goal was justice, but the trial yielded an unexpected result: standards that continue to shape modern medical ethics.
  • Rotavirus once sent hundreds of thousands of U.S. children to the emergency room every year. Then, in 2006, a new vaccine was released. One of the creators, pediatrician Paul Offit, describes the worries that scientists deal with while they wait to see if their product is a success — and safe.
  • Reporter Katja Ridderbusch explains the unintended consequences of hospital alarms, and how medical centers are tackling the problem.
  • When Marta Rusek dropped 80 pounds in three years, her confidence soared. Then — came the comments. Shai Ben-Yaacov reports.
  • LED streetlights can save cities millions on electric bills. But not everyone’s convinced — including one young activist with some science-based quibbles. Monica Eng from WBEZ’s Curious City addresses his concerns, one by one.
  • Conservation biologist Nick Holmes explains the bizarre history of Macquarie Island, where invasive species have devastated the native ecology.
  • Len Webb talks to Amalgam Comics owner Ariell Johnson about her time spent caring for her mother, and the unexpected gift that led to her new life.
Jul 27 2018
48 mins
Play

Rank #14: Sex and Health

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At its best, sex isn’t just fun — it’s good for our health. It can relieve stress, enhance our mood — even offer a bit of a workout! But sex can also be painful, both physically and emotionally; it can open the door to injury and disease; and it can reflect, or even magnify, changes that we’re not willing to face.

In this episode, we explore sex and our health. We hear stories about PrEP, asexuality, the online world of NoFap, and enjoying sex as you age.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • We venture inside the world of NoFap — an online movement of men dedicated to improving themselves by abstaining from masturbation. We talk to a self pro-claimed “fapstronaught,” as well as a urologist and a therapist to find out whether there’s any real benefit to abstinence.
  • Sex can be a healthy part of our lives. But what if the sex you want to have is painful — or even impossible? Noa Fleischacker opens up about her years spent dealing with this very question.
  • Audio producer Paulus van Horne chats with a friend about asexuality — what it is, and the perfect metaphor for explaining it to family and friends.
  • Retired sex therapist and columnist Ginger Manley discusses the challenges — both physical and mental — that come with intimacy as we age. Her book is called “Assisted Loving: The Journey through Sexuality and Aging.”
  • Writer and black feminist adrienne maree brown explains why it’s important for women of color to discuss sexual pleasure, along with learning how to embrace your body.
  • Sexologist Susana Mayer says post menopause —her sex life is the best it’s ever been. She is the author of “Does Sex Have an Expiration Date? Rethinking Low Libido: A Guide to Developing an Ageless Sex Life.”
Mar 22 2019
48 mins
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Rank #15: Why do we need the wild?

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Being in nature is restorative; the wild can feed your soul. But, for hundreds of years, we pushed west across the country, trampling and displacing wildlife along the way. Later, lots of people woke up to the effects of urban sprawl and industrialization. And, in 1964, the Wilderness Act was created to set aside places “where man himself is a visitor.” There are now many efforts to protect untouched land, and at the same time we want to enjoy the wild, be out there in it. Balancing those impulses requires a careful dance.

Does the wild still exist — and what qualifies as “wilderness” anyway? For answers, listen in as we chase tigers, track majestic elk, and help bears cross the road — safely.

Also heard on The Pulse this week:
  • Drew Lanham grew up on his family’s farm in South Carolina. He explains how wilderness has always meant happiness and freedom to him — but also makes him remember the painful history that same land holds.
  • We take a trip through Brigantine Wilderness in New Jersey with refuge manager Virginia Rettig
  • Deep sea ecologist Andrew Thaler describes wilderness at the bottom of the ocean
  • Sound artist Dianne Ballon shares some of her recordings from Shenandoah National Park
Mar 01 2019
48 mins
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