Monday, October 29, 2007

Free Radicals - Fungus Radio

Corpse finder. Destroying angel. Black Trumpet. It’s the Halloween episode of Free Radicals!

Turn out the lights and lock the doors as you take a listen to Fungus Radio.

In today's show gastronomer Catherine Macpherson and science journalist Hannah Hoag take you on a tour through the fabulous world of the mushroom, from the mushroom laboratory of mycologist Suha Jabaji-Hare to delectable forest cuisine at La Table des Jardins Sauvages.

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Free Radicals - Breast Cancer Awareness

On our October 22 show, we honoured Breast Cancer Awareness month by raising a somewhat skeptical eyebrow at it. What is missing from the current discussions on breast cancer and our awareness of its causes and treatments? In an interview with Madeline Bird of Breast Cancer Action Montreal, we address the gaps in research and education and offer an alternative view on a health issue with major social and cultural relevance.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Free Radicals - Your Brain on Music

On this week's show, science journalist Hannah Hoag provides insight into how music affects us on a neurological level. We hear some clips from a recent talk given by McGill psychology and neuroscience professor Dan Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. I play some examples of music that would light up certain parts of my brain if my brain were in an MRI machine or CT scanner and then I play name that tune with Hannah. Which I possibly rule at or possibly fail. To find out you'll have to:

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Free Radicals - Thanksgiving Day Science

It's Thanksgiving Day here and Free Radicals is thankful for a lot of things - from friends to music to the wonders of universe. By which I mean, on today's show I play some 90s rocknroll and talk about why leaves change colour in the fall. But because today's show is a full hour long, much more goes on, of course.

As a follow-up to last's week show about science and education, I rebroadcast an interview I did during the summer with mathematician and educator John Mighton, who is certain that anyone can learn math, and that, yes, it's fun.

In the second half hour of the show, we hear a talk from given by Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. The talk focuses on "the way humans mimic nature in the products we build and the systems we implement. And because the champion adapters in the natural world are, by definition, those that can survive without destroying the environment that sustains them, biomimicry can contribute to the long-term health of our planet." Then I play some more rocknroll.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

Free Radicals - Science, Education and Everyday Life

Today we talk about how people bring science into their everyday lives and how certain facets of science become part of common knowledge. Kamal Fox, who holds an MA in Media Studies and teaches communications to engineers, and I quizzed several students on the McGill campus and asked them what they think about the sciences - what they had to say mirrors the complexity of our general relationship to science - we play those clips throughout the show. And Hannah Hoag, science journalist and former science graduate student, addresses where we get our science information, as well as the commonly understood divide between hating and loving science and between science and arts.

This divide in education obviously stems from a wider social divide though. For instance, I was listening to an episode of Tapestry where Ursula Franklin, Ph.D. in experimental physics, mentor to a generation of engineers and women in science, Companion of the Order of Canada, author, peace activist, and Quaker, generally brilliant person (and Canadian). She was responding to a question about how science affects our lives and our personal beliefs, Ursula Franklin on a recent episode of CBC’s Tapestry: “As I see it, all that science brings us, the inherently increased knowledge of the world around us, brings me to just knowing how little I know and how much more there is. But also, when you look at what science has brought from the cosmic to the molecular to the atomic – we’ve learned that nature works, and it’s amazing that nature works, we’ve learned that nature works frugally with a minimum of waste, and the products of nature are beautiful. Why would anyone think that any being of any form would be threatened or contradicted by the accumulating results of scientific inquiry? Then you can argue with scientists, what do you do with your knowledge? And that’s where I argue that my belief doesn’t allow me to make an atomic bomb but that’s not science, to me that’s the use, that’s society of which scientists are an integral part.”

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