General Science

Should We Model Human Behavior On a Brainless, Single-Cell Amoeba?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

 

Academics in Amherst, Massachusetts, have jumped on an unusual source of scientific ….and existential…. investigation — a brainless amoeba known as slime mold.

Slime mold, by Aldyn Markle

This Fall, Hampshire College launched what it calls the first “institute for non-human scholars,” and the organizers insist it’s more than a gimmick. New England Public Radio’s Karen Brown has this story.

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This story was originally performed at Live Art Magazine in Northampton, Massachusetts in October 2017, rebroadcast on New England Public Radio. Original music by John Townsend.

Scientists Enter Political Fray To Defend Silly-Sounding Research

Friday, June 16th, 2017

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Biologist Patricia Brennan, examining an Orca whale penis.

The national March for Science on April 22 – and satellite events around New England – mark a departure for many scientists. Until recently, they did not consider political activism part of their job. But over the past few years, a growing number of researchers – including targets of political attacks – say it’s time to come out swinging. And that includes defending what might sound like unusual lines of inquiry. [Aired on New England Public Radio April 20, 2017]

Vets Get Alternative Treatment for PTSD, But Not Always Evidence-Based

Monday, October 17th, 2016

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The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates up to 30 percent of former service members — from the Vietnam war to Iraq and Afghanistan –have post traumatic stress disorder. They don’t all seek treatment – but among those who do, the V-A says twenty to forty percent don’t get better with the standard regimen of therapy, medication, or both. Increasingly veterans are seeking out alternative mental health care – and much of it untested.

Aired on New England Public Radio July 18, 2016

“Living Buildings” – Beautiful Concept, But Will They Save the Earth?

Friday, May 6th, 2016

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Hampshire College’s entry into the Living Building Challenge.

In the construction industry, the most eco-friendly type of building used to be LEED certified. That’s where buildings get different ratings according to how well they conserve energy and other resources. But today, there’s a higher standard — the living building — which is meant to be so green it actually leaves the environment better than it found it. Western Massachusetts may soon be one of the densest spots for this kind of project. But there are skeptics, including in the green building movement, who wonder whether pursuing such an environmental ideal, building by building, will ultimately serve the cause. [Aired on New England Public Radio, April 29, 2016]