Friday, June 6, 2008

Science Friday - podcast review

A fellow blogger by the name of Micheal Barton, from the blog The Dispersal of Darwin, sent me a comment containing his list of scientific and history of science podcasts. Many of the podcasts in this list, such as The Missing Link and In Our Time are well known to readers of this blog. An NPR classic on the list, Science Friday, had not yet appeared on my blog yet - in spite of wide acclaim I have been aware of since my early listening days. Time to take a pick out of their archive.

I tried six episodes, two of which I left rather swiftly. A recent issue about nanotubes went over my head and another one about crystal skulls in archeology had me irritatedly feel the program was riding the publicity wave of a movie sequel (the skulls are a scam, needless to say). Four others had me glued to my earphones though.

My favorite, though not the easiest listen was about the Sahara, since I am in an Africa mood so much lately. I had a vague notion the Sahara had not always been dry, but this program taught me some of the background. It dried up in about 6000 years time. I thought that was quick, but actually this is slower than previously assumed. There is still a huge reservoir of ancient water left, deep in the ground. Tapping into that is neither easy nor necessarily good.

Another good subject was HIV research, which 'celebrated' a 25 year anniversary. Interviews are done over the phone and one of the connections was absolutely terrible, full of echoes, bad sound and overlapping tracks; it practically spoils the episode. Nevertheless it is very interesting to learn where the research stands today.

Two other items were about food. One on Food and methane. Methane is a bad greenhouse gas and your choice of food correlates to methane emissions. The advice is to eat less red meat and diary. Will that stop cow flatulence?

The other food item is not about what you eat, but rather when your eat. Your internal clock is set at lunch time. This could be a recipe against jet lag: have lunch when you need to re-adjust to the time zone you are in.

More Science:
Domestic Science,
Human rights and the body,
The dialectic of knowledge and culture,
The brain,
Life and bio-engineering.

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