Undiscovered

By Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.


Category: Science & Medicine

Open in iTunes


Open RSS feed


Open Website


Rate for this podcast


Description

A podcast about the left turns, missteps, and lucky breaks that make science happen.

Episode Date
Mouse’s Vineyard
29:01
<p>Martha’s Vineyard has a Lyme disease problem. Now a scientist is coming to town with a possible fix: genetically engineered mice.</p> <p><span>An island associated with summer rest and relaxation is gaining a reputation for something else: Lyme disease. Martha’s Vineyard has one of the highest rates of Lyme in the country. Now MIT geneticist Kevin Esvelt is coming to the island with a potential long-term fix. The catch: It involves releasing up to a few hundred thousand genetically modified mice onto the island. Are Vineyarders ready?</span></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/mouse.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Kevin Esvelt makes the case for engineered mice, at a public meeting at a Vineyard public library.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Photo: Annie Minoff)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/mouse1.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Kevin Esvelt takes questions from the Martha’s Vineyard audience. (He’s joined by Dr. Michael Jacobs and Dr. Sam Telford.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Photo: Annie Minoff)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/mouse2.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Bob, Cheryl, and Spice (the lucky dog who gets a Lyme vaccine).</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Photo: Annie Minoff)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/mouse3.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>No lack of tick-repelling options at a Martha’s Vineyard general store.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Photo: Annie Minoff)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1000/l/80/2018/08/mouse4.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.sculptingevolution.org/kevin-m-esvelt">Kevin Esvelt,</a> Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab</p> <p><span><span> </span></span></p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://elifesciences.org/articles/03401">Read</a> Kevin Esvelt’s original paper describing the gene drive mechanism in <em>eLife</em>. Less technical descriptions available <a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/gene-drives-and-crispr-could-revolutionize-ecosystem-management/">here</a> via <em>Scientific American</em>, and <a href="http://www.sculptingevolution.org/genedrives/genedrivefaq">here</a> via Esvelt’s Sculpting Evolution Group.</li> <li>Watch Kevin’s July 20, 2016 presentation on Martha’s Vineyard (Unfortunately there is no direct link. <a href="http://www.mvtv.org/video-on-demand-castus/">Search</a> “7.20.16” to find the video, titled “Preventing Tick-Borne Disease.”)</li> <li><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/could-genetically-engineered-insects-squash-mosquito-borne-disease/">Listen</a> to Kevin Esvelt talk about gene drive on Science Friday.</li> <li><a href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/zika-mosquito-florida-vote/">Read</a> about Oxitec’s proposed mosquito trial in Key West, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WQkM-yc7QI">watch</a> the public meeting excerpted in this episode.</li> <li>Learn more about Kevin’s lab, the <a href="http://www.sculptingevolution.org/">Sculpting Evolution Group</a>.</li> <li>Looking for more information about Lyme disease? Here are resources from the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html">CDC</a>.</li> </ul> <p><span><span><br><br></span></span></p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Annie Minoff and Elah Feder. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Fact-checking help by Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p> <p><span><span> </span></span></p> <p>Special thanks to Joanna Buchthal, Bob Rosenbaum, Dick Johnson, and Sam Telford.</p> <p> </p>
Jun 27, 2017
Kurt Vonnegut and the Rainmakers
31:30
<p>In the mid 1940s, no one would publish Kurt Vonnegut’s stories. But when he gets hired as a press writer at General Electric, the company’s fantastical science inspires some of his most iconic--and best-selling--novels.</p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/441/l/80/2018/08/kurt.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Every snowflake is unique—except they all have six sides. In ice, water molecules arrange themselves into hexagons.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy MiSci Museum)</div> </div> </div> <p>Imagine the Earth has been turned into a frozen wasteland. The culprit? Ice-nine. With a crystalline structure that makes it solid at room temperature, ice-nine freezes every drop of water it comes into contact with, and (predictably) ends up destroying the world. This is the fantastical plot of Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel, Cat’s Cradle. But the science that inspired the fiction came from the real-life research his older brother and team of scientists at General Electric conducted just after World War II.</p> <p><span>General Electric might be best known for manufacturing refrigerators and light bulbs, but in the 1940s, the GE scientists joined forces with the military and set their sights on a loftier project: controlling the weather.</span></p> <p><span>Controlling the weather could mean putting an end to droughts and raining out forest fires. But the GE scientists’ military collaborators have more aggressive plans in mind. Kurt, a pacifist, closely watches GE’s saga unfold, and in his stories, he demands an answer to one of science’s greatest ethical questions: are scientists responsible for the pursuit of knowledge alone, or are they also responsible for the consequences of that knowledge?</span></p> <p>  </p> <p>Vincent Schaefer of the General Electric Research Laboratory demonstrates his method for making snow in a laboratory freezer, circa 1947.<img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/raw/80/2018/08/kurt1.png" alt=""></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1056/l/80/2018/08/kurt1_XWF1Yfn.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Vincent Schaefer, colleague of Bernie Vonnegut, makes man-made snow in a freezer at General Electric.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy of MiSci Museum)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/977/l/80/2018/08/kurt2.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Vincent Schaefer gives a demonstration of the team’s cloud seeding research to Signal Corps at GE laboratories in 1947.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Courtesy of MiSci Museum)</div> </div> </div> <p>  </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1000/l/80/2018/08/kurt3.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://gingerstrand.com/">Ginger Strand</a>, author of The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic</li> <li><a href="http://www.cynthiabarnett.net/">Cynthia Barnett</a>, author of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History</li> <li> </li> </ul> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Elah Feder and Annie Minoff. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Archival material was provided with help from Chris Hunter of miSci in Schenectady, as well as Scott Vonnegut and Jim Schaefer. Fact-checking help by Michelle Harris. Voice acting by Charles Bergquist, Christie Taylor, Luke Groskin, and Ira Flatow. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p> <p> </p>
Jun 20, 2017
The Wastebook
31:01
<p>After a senator calls her research a waste of taxpayer dollars, biologist Sheila Patek heads to Capitol Hill to prove what her science is worth.</p> <p>In December 2015, the fight over science funding got personal for biologist Sheila Patek. She discovered that a U.S. Senator, <a href="https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/">Jeff Flake</a> of Arizona, had included her research on mantis shrimp in his “wastebook”: a list of federally-funded projects he deemed a waste of taxpayer money. So what did Patek do? She headed to Capitol Hill to make the case to Senator Flake—and to Congress—that blue-sky science is worth the money.</p> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1000/l/80/2018/08/wastebook_Gh8jiJO.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p>  </p> <p> </p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://pateklab.biology.duke.edu/users/sheila-patek">Sheila Patek</a>, Professor of Biology, Duke University</li> <li><a href="https://www.restoreaccountability.com/about/our-team/">Bryan Berky</a>, Executive Director, <a href="https://www.restoreaccountability.com/">Restore Accountability</a></li> <li><a href="http://sites.gsu.edu/pstephan/">Paula Stephan</a>, Professor of Economics, Georgia State University, author of <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674088160&amp;content=reviews"><em>How Economics Shapes Science</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://melinda-baldwin.com/">Melinda Baldwin</a>, science historian, author of <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo20298849.html"><em>Making Nature: The History of a Scientific Journal</em></a></li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li>Read Sen. Jeff Flake’s 2015 Wastebook "<a href="https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/03714fa3-e01d-46a1-9c19-299533056741/wastebook---the-farce-awakens.pdf">The Farce Awakens</a>," and his science-themed 2016 Wastebook “<a href="https://www.flake.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/ef6fcd58-c537-491f-aa06-6f7a81038d0e/sen.-jeff-flake-s-twenty-questions---report.pdf">Twenty Questions</a>.”</li> <li><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psnvOqtRmzI">Watch</a> two mantis shrimp duke it out!</li> <li><a href="http://www.patrickmccray.com/2014/11/02/golden-fleece-2-0/">Read</a> Melinda Baldwin’s article on the grand-daddy of the modern waste report: Sen. William Proxmire.</li> <li>Read about Congressman Jim Cooper’s answer to Sen. Proxmire’s “Golden Fleece Award”: the “<a href="https://www.goldengooseaward.org/">Golden Goose Award</a>."</li> <li>Read the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s 2014 report <a href="https://www.nap.edu/catalog/18804/furthering-americas-research-enterprise"><em>Furthering America’s Research Enterprise</em></a>, detailing the benefits of federal science investment (and the difficulty of measuring them).</li> <li>Learn more about <a href="https://www.restoreaccountability.com/">Restore Accountability</a> and read their <a href="https://www.restoreaccountability.com/news/m.blog/128/why-the-wastebook-matters">response</a> to the episode.</li> <li>Watch Sheila Patek’s <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/why-knowledge-for-the-pure-sake-of-knowing-is-good-enough-to-justify-scientific-research/">PBS NewsHour essay</a> about her meeting with Sen. Flake, and read about current research at the <a href="https://pateklab.biology.duke.edu/">Patek Lab</a>.</li> <li>How much does the federal government spend on R&amp;D? <a href="https://www.aaas.org/page/federal-rd-budget-dashboard">Here’s</a> how much!</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Annie Minoff and Elah Feder. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Fact-checking help by Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p>
Jun 13, 2017
Six Degrees
32:37
<p>Are you just six handshakes away from every other person on Earth? Two mathematicians set out to prove we’re all connected.</p> <p>You have probably heard the phrase “six degrees of separation,” the idea that you’re connected to everyone else on Earth by a chain of just six people. It has inspired a Broadway play, a film nerd’s game, called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”...and even a No Doubt song! But is it true? In the ‘90s, two mathematicians set out to discover just how connected we really are—and ended up launching a new field of science in the process.</p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1200/l/80/2018/08/six.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Annie holds one of Milgram’s “Letter Experiment” mailings sent to June Shields in Wichita, Kansas. Accessed at the Yale University archives.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Elah Feder)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/533/l/80/2018/08/six1.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>A version of psychologist Stanley Milgram’s “Letter Experiment” mailings. “Could you, as an active American, contact another American citizen regardless of his walk of life?” Milgram and his team wrote. They asked for recipients' help in finding out. Accessed at the Yale University archives.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Elah Feder)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1000/l/80/2018/08/six2.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong></p> <ul> <li>Duncan Watts, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, author of <a href="http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Six-Degrees/">Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age</a></li> <li>Steven Strogatz, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, author of <a href="http://www.stevenstrogatz.com/books/sync-the-emerging-science-of-spontaneous-order">Sync</a></li> <li><a href="http://leiferlab.princeton.edu/index.php">Andrew Leifer</a>, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute at Princeton University</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://static.squarespace.com/static/5436e695e4b07f1e91b30155/t/54452561e4b08d9eb2170909/1413817697054/collective-dynamics-of-small-world-networks.pdf">Read</a> Duncan Watts’ and Steven Strogatz’s breakthrough 1998 Nature paper on small-world networks.</li> <li><a href="http://snap.stanford.edu/class/cs224w-readings/milgram67smallworld.pdf">Read</a> Stanley Milgram’s 1967 article about his letter experiment in <em>Psychology Today</em>.</li> <li><a href="http://www.cornell.edu/video/six-degrees-of-separation-panel">Watch</a> Duncan and Steve discuss the past and future of small-world networks at Cornell.</li> <li><a href="http://movie-usa.glencoesoftware.com/video/10.1073/pnas.1507110112/video-1">Watch</a> <em>C. elegans'</em> brain glow! And <a href="http://leiferlab.princeton.edu/index.php">read</a> more about the brain imaging work happening in Andrew Leifer’s lab.</li> <li>Browse the small-world network of <em>C. elegans’</em> 302 neurons at <a href="http://wormweb.org/neuralnet">wormweb.org</a>.</li> <li><a href="https://research.fb.com/three-and-a-half-degrees-of-separation/">Read</a> Facebook’s analysis of Facebook users’ “degrees of separation.”</li> <li>Just for funsies, a network analysis of <a href="http://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Mathhorizons/NetworkofThrones%20%281%29.pdf">Game of Thrones</a>.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Annie Minoff and Elah Feder. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Fact-checking help by Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Additional music by Podington Bear and Lee Rosevere. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Story consulting by Ari Daniel. Engineering help from Sarah Fishman. Recording help from Alexa Lim. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p> <p> </p>
Jun 06, 2017
Sick and Tired
30:12
<p>When researchers publish a new study on chronic fatigue syndrome, a group of patients cry foul—and decide to investigate for themselves.</p> <p>A landmark study on chronic fatigue syndrome sets off a multi-year battle between patients and scientists. On one side, we have a team of psychiatrists who have researched the condition for decades, and have peer-reviewed studies to back up their conclusions. On the other, a group of patients who know this condition more intimately than anyone and set out to expose what they think is bad science.</p> <p><div class="user-embedded-video"><div id="videoplayer_idm140639553825872811eea4c-d475-46e4-90c1-ef95a06f2a49"><iframe width="620" height="349" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QbKTBMyZfX0?wmode=transparent&amp;autohide=1&amp;rel=0&amp;showinfo=0&amp;feature=oembed&amp;enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" id="a-6700369631628226366" class="youtube_video" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" data-original-url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbKTBMyZfX0"></iframe></div></div>  </p> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1000/l/80/2018/08/sick.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><em>A note to our listeners:</em></p> <p><em>This episode references studies that are both controversial and complex. Our interest is always to provide accurate and complete information to our listeners, and to provide context in which the science we cover can be understood. To that end, we’d like to share additional information on the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy and graded exercise therapy as treatments for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Two systematic reviews (studies of studies) by The Cochrane Collaboration examine </em><a href="https://www.cochrane.org/CD001027/DEPRESSN_cognitive-behaviour-therapy-for-chronic-fatigue-syndrome"><em>cognitive behavioral therapy</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://www.cochrane.org/CD003200/DEPRESSN_exercise-treatment-patients-chronic-fatigue-syndrome"><em>exercise</em></a><em> as treatments for ME/CFS. These may help contextualize the findings of the PACE trial and aid our listeners in drawing their own conclusions.</em></p> <p><span><span> </span></span></p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.julierehmeyer.com/">Julie Rehmeyer</a>, author of "Through the Shadowlands"</li> <li><a href="https://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/team/michael-sharpe">Michael Sharpe</a> professor of psychological medicine at Oxford University</li> <li><a href="https://journalism.berkeley.edu/faculty/david_tuller/">David Tuller</a>, journalist and visiting lecturer at UC Berkeley</li> <li><a href="http://retractionwatch.com/meet-the-retraction-watch-staff/about/">Ivan Oransky</a>, journalist and co-founder of Retraction Watch</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li>The <a href="http://pacetrial.org/">PACE trial home page</a>, includes trial materials, FAQ, and links to the papers that came out of the trial.</li> <li>The <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/pacefoir/pace-ipd_foia-qmul-2014-f73.xlsx">PACE trial data</a> and <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/pacefoir/pace-ipd-readme.txt">readme file</a>.</li> <li><a href="http://www.virology.ws/mecfs/">Virology Blog</a> including David Tuller’s original three part series criticizing PACE (“Trial by Error”), as well as responses from the authors, and more.</li> <li>Patients’ first <a href="http://www.virology.ws/2016/09/21/no-recovery-in-pace-trial-new-analysis-finds/">reanalysis</a> (published on the Virology Blog) of the <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychological-medicine/article/recovery-from-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-after-treatments-given-in-the-pace-trial/6E3A5B37D427239D146C5EB276A11E06/core-reader">PACE recovery paper</a>.</li> <li>They later published the <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21641846.2017.1259724">re-analysis in the journal Fatigue</a> and the <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/fqQ6bgG9IJCY95NCIAgd/full">PACE researchers responded</a> to the patients’ re-analysis.</li> <li><a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177037">PLOS ONE expression of concern</a>, including a response from the authors.</li> <li>Retraction Watch’s <a href="http://retractionwatch.com/2016/08/17/uk-tribunal-orders-release-of-data-from-controversial-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-study/">recap of the legal proceedings</a> regarding Alem Matthees’ request for anonymized trial data.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Elah Feder and Annie Minoff. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton. Fact-checking help by Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky.</p> <p> </p>
May 30, 2017
Born This Gay
33:04
<p>At the turn of the 20th century, a German doctor sets out to prove that homosexuality is rooted in biology—but his research has consequences he never intended.</p> <p>In pre-Nazi Germany, a doctor named Magnus Hirschfeld sets out to take down Paragraph 175, a law against “unnatural fornication” between men. Hirschfeld’s plan is to scientifically prove that homosexuality is natural, and that lesbians and gay men might be born gay—but his idea ends up falling into the wrong hands. </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/554/l/80/2018/08/born.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"> <p>Party at the Institute for Sexual Science. Magnus Hirschfeld (second from right) is the one with the moustache and glasses. His partner Karl Giese is holding his hand.</p> </div> <div class="image-credit"> <p>(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong> </strong></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/576/l/80/2018/08/born2.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>German students parade in front of the Institute for Sexual Research prior to their raid on the building. The students occupied and pillaged the Institute, then confiscated the Institute's books and periodicals for burning.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/581/l/80/2018/08/born3.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>German students and Nazi SA plunder the library of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. The materials were loaded onto trucks and carted away for burning. The public library of the Institute comprised approximately 10,000 mostly rare German and foreign books on the topics of sex and gender. </span></div> <div class="image-credit">(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)</div> </div> </div> <p><strong> </strong></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/1000/l/80/2018/08/born4_QQw6X9L.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>GUESTS</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://uic.yonsei.ac.kr/main/academic.asp?mid=m03_01_01&amp;act=view&amp;uid=804&amp;keyword=">Robert Beachy</a> is the author of Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity.</li> <li>Ralf Dose is the co-founder of the <a href="http://www.magnus-hirschfeld.de/start-en/">Magnus Hirschfeld Society</a> and author of Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement.</li> <li><a href="https://cardozo.yu.edu/directory/edward-stein">Edward Stein</a> is the author of the The Mismeasure of Desire: The Science, Theory, and Ethics of Sexual Orientation.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0008/bsb00089681/images/index.html?id=00089681&amp;fip=qrsxsxsyztsxdsydxdsydxdsydxdsydeayaxs&amp;no=3&amp;seite=5">Read</a> (in German) Sappho And Socrates, a booklet Magnus Hirschfeld published under a pseudonym in 1896, defending homosexuality.</li> <li><a href="https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Homosexuality_of_Men_and_Women.html?id=iDhWtiLsIMwC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false">Read</a> Magnus Hirschfeld’s grand opus, "The Homosexuality of Men and Women."</li> </ul> <p>Modern studies:</p> <ul> <li>A <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/695142.stm">BBC</a> article about the first study correlating finger length ratios and sexual orientation.</li> <li>A <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kenneth_Zucker3/publication/43019952_Sexual_Orientation_and_the_Second_to_Fourth_Finger_Length_Ratio_A_Meta-Analysis_in_Men_and_Women/links/56c73ac608ae5488f0d2c54d.pdf">meta-analysis</a> of finger length ratios and sexual orientation.</li> <li><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16140461">These</a> <a href="http://journals.aace.com/doi/pdf/10.4158/EP161528.OR">studies</a> looked at finger length ratios in transgender men and women, with conflicting results.</li> <li><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8332896">Dean Hamer’s X chromosome linkage study</a> (abstract only) and a Science article about a more <a href="http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/11/study-gay-brothers-may-confirm-x-chromosome-link-homosexuality">recent chromosome linkage study</a>.</li> <li>Simon LeVay’s <a href="https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e177/ef304d4b89cde6e6779568de7a85dabd390f.pdf">study comparing brains</a> of gay men with men and women who were presumed straight.</li> <li><a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/J_Bailey2/publication/21311211_A_genetic_study_of_male_sexual_orientation/links/02e7e53c1a72a8a596000000.pdf">Bailey and Pillard’s original study</a> of gay male twins. A <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/J_Bailey2/publication/12572213_Genetics_and_Environmental_Influences_on_Sexual_Orientation_and_Its_Correlates_in_an_Australian_Twin_Sample/links/0deec518bc0435c0cd000000.pdf">later study</a> by Bailey et al. found lower rates of matching sexual orientation in twins and concluded that earlier studies rates were “inflated because of concordance-dependent ascertainment bias.”</li> <li>Study of <a href="http://www.nature.com/news/epigenetic-tags-linked-to-homosexuality-in-men-1.18530">epigenetic markers in gay men</a>, criticized for its statistics.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Elah Feder and Annie Minoff. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Fact-checking help from Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Special thanks this week to Liat Fishman for translation from German, Shane McMillan for production help in Berlin, to Tobias Enzenhofer and Charles Bergquist for voice work. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p> <p> </p>
May 23, 2017
The Meteorite Hunter
32:35
<p>Deep in Antarctica, a rookie meteorite hunter helps collect a mystery rock. Could it be a little piece of Mars?</p> <p>In Antarctica, the wind can tear a tent to pieces. During some storms, the gusts are so powerful, you can’t leave the safety of your shelter. It’s one of the many reasons why the alluring, icy continent of Antarctica is an unforgiving landscape for human explorers.</p> <p>“It’s incredibly beautiful, but it’s also incredibly dangerous,” says geologist Nina Lanza, who conducted research in the Miller Range in the central Transantarctic Mountains of Antarctica for about five weeks in December, 2015. “It’s not like Antarctica is out to get you, but it’s like you don’t matter at all. You are nothing out there.”</p> <p><span>Yet, this landscape—unfit for human habitation—is where Lanza and the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) volunteers find themselves banded together. They are prospecting for meteorites. Embedded in the sparkling blue ice sheets of the Antarctic interior are scientifically precious stones that have fallen to Earth from space. Lanza is a rookie meteorite hunter, enduring the hostile conditions of the Antarctic for the first time—searching for little geologic fragments that reveal the history of our solar system.</span></p> <p><span>While most people associate Antarctica with penguins, in the Miller Range, there are no visible signs of life. There are no trees, animals, insects, or even birds in the sky. Being that isolated and alone is strange—it’s “very alien,” says Lanza.</span></p> <p>“You know the cold and the living outside part? That is easy compared to the mental part,” she says. “It’s almost hard to explain the level of isolation. Like we think we’ve all been isolated before, but for real, in the Miller Range, you are out there.”</p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/met.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>The luxurious ‘poo bucket’ at ANSMET camp.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Nina Lanza)</div> </div> </div> <p>  </p> <p>In this dramatic, extreme environment, Lanza finds comfort in the familiar details of everyday life at the ANSMET camp. Amid the Antarctic’s wailing winds, you can hear the recognizable hiss of a camp stove. During the holidays, Lanza got everyone singing Christmas carols. And then there’s the ‘poo bucket’—complete with a comfortable styrofoam toilet seat, scented candles, and bathroom reading reminiscent of home (including the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly).</p> <p><span>In the field, Nina documented these features of everyday life in detail, in pictures and voice recordings. “Everybody talks about how beautiful it is and you always see a million pictures of these grand vistas, but I’m like, ‘let’s talk about the less pretty stuff,’” says Lanza. Unless you make an effort to remind yourself, “you could almost forget that the poo bucket ever existed.”</span></p> <p>The work isn’t easy. The ANSMET field team can spend up to nine hours a day on their skidoos (Lanza’s skidoo, “Miss Kitty,” is covered with Hello Kitty stickers) combing ice sheets and flagging potential meteorites. The never-setting sun glares intensely on the stretches of glistening, blue ice. (Old, compressed, ice appears blue.) On a clear, cloudless day out in the field, the sky and ice sheets seem to meet in one continuous field of blue, says Lanza.</p> <p>“It’s almost like an artist’s conception of water rendered into glass or plastic,” she says about the ice. “It’s blue and it goes on forever.”</p> <p><span>The meteorite hunters concentrate their searches in these shimmering, blue ice areas, because these ice fields are gold mines for meteorites. When a meteorite impacts Antarctica, it becomes buried in snow. Over time as the snow compresses, the rock gets trapped in glacial ice. If that ice doesn’t break off and fall into the sea, Antarctic winds can eventually resurface that buried treasure.</span></p> <p><span>Over the last four decades, ANSMET scientists have collected over 20,000 rock specimens from the ice. And in December, 2015, Lanza thinks she may have helped strike gold in the form of a five-pound, grey rock. She and her colleagues will spend the next nine months wondering if this rock could be one of the most prized meteorites of all. Could it be a little piece of Mars?</span></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/met1.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>The mysterious rock (right), numbered 23042 in the field. Could it be from Mars?</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: <span>NASA Astromaterials Curation</span>)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/met2.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Meteorite sampling procedure.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Nina Lanza)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/met3.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Nina Lanza)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/met4.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Two ANSMET scientists in the field.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Nina Lanza)</div> </div> </div> <p>  </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/600/l/80/2018/08/met5.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Nina Lanza)</div> </div> </div> <p>  </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/800/449/l/80/2018/08/met6.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-caption"><span>Lanza and the ANSMET crew, Dec 2015-Jan 2016.</span></div> <div class="image-credit">(Credit: Nina Lanza)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/769/769/l/80/2018/08/met7.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://caslabs.case.edu/ansmet/category/15-16/">Read</a> Nina’s dispatches from the field.</li> <li><a href="https://sciencefriday.com/segments/confessions-of-a-meteorite-hunter/">Hear</a> Nina Lanza on Science Friday.</li> <li><a href="http://caslabs.case.edu/ansmet/">Read</a> about the Antarctic Search for Meteorites Program.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Annie Minoff and Elah Feder. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Fact-checking help from Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Voice acting by Alistair Gardiner and Charles Bergquist. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Story consulting by Ari Daniel. Engineering help from Sarah Fishman. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
May 15, 2017
Boss Hua and the Black Box
37:17
<p>A team of social scientists stumbles onto a cache of censored Chinese social media posts—and decides to find out what the Chinese government wants wiped from the internet.</p> <p>On China’s most influential microblogging platform, a wristwatch aficionado named Boss Hua accuses a government official of corruption. But, his posts aren’t censored. So what disappears into the black box of Chinese censorship...and what stays online? A team of social scientists cracked this question—by mistake—with big data.<br><br></p> <div class="embedded-image" style="max-width: 800px;"><img class="mcePuppyImage" src="https://media.wnyc.org/i/500/500/l/80/2018/08/bossHua.png" alt=""> <div class="image-metadata"> <div class="image-credit">(Original art by Claire Merchlinsky)</div> </div> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>FOOTNOTES</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://news.xinhuanet.com/photo/2012-08/26/c_123632033_8.htm">See</a> the picture that got ‘Smiling Official’ Yang Dacai fired.</li> <li><a href="https://gking.harvard.edu/publications/how-Censorship-China-Allows-Government-Criticism-Silences-Collective-Expression">Read</a> Gary, Jen, and Margaret’s first study on Chinese government censorship (American Political Science Review).</li> <li><a href="https://gking.harvard.edu/publications/randomized-experimental-study-censorship-china">Read</a> the results of Gary, Jen, and Margaret’s social media experiment (Science).</li> <li><a href="https://gking.harvard.edu/50c">Read</a> Gary, Jen, and Margaret’s latest study, about what the Chinese government secretly posts to the internet.</li> <li><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/mining-the-internet-for-clues-to-chinese-censorship/">Hear</a> Gary King on Science Friday.</li> </ul> <p> </p> <p><strong>CREDITS</strong></p> <p>This episode of Undiscovered was reported and produced by Annie Minoff and Elah Feder. Editing by Christopher Intagliata. Fact-checking help from Michelle Harris. Original music by Daniel Peterschmidt. Our theme music is by I am Robot and Proud. Art for this episode by Claire Merchlinsky. Story consulting by Ari Daniel. Translations and voicing by Isabelle. Thanks to Science Friday’s Danielle Dana, Christian Skotte, Brandon Echter, and Rachel Bouton.</p> <p> </p>
May 09, 2017
Hi! We are Undiscovered.
2:10
<p>We're a podcast about the left turns, false starts, and lucky breaks that move science forward.</p>
May 02, 2017