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February 5, 2012 -- It's About Time: How Biological Clocks Keep the World Ticking -- Guest: Dan Fergus
February 06, 2012 09:31 AM PST

How do our bodies know when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up? How come crickets chirp at night? Why is jet lag such a bummer? These seemingly unrelated phenomena are actually all topics of interest in the field of 'chronobiology,' the scientific study of the effect of time on living systems and of biological rhythms. Our guest on this episode of Science Cabaret, Dan Fergus, talks with host Jenny Nelson about how our biological clocks work, how can they can get out of whack, and how we're starting to use knowledge of our biological clocks to help tailor medical treatments.

December 12, 2011 -- Lighting the Future: Nanophotonics and the Technological Revolution -- Guest: Nicholas Sherwood
December 12, 2011 07:59 AM PST

"The speed of light does not merely transform the world. It becomes the world. Globalization is the speed of light." -- Paul Virilio

Continuing our conversation about nanotechnology, host Jenny Nelson talks with Nicholas Sherwood about light at its essence: nanophotonics. Dr. Sherwood completed his PhD in electrical engineering at Cornell University, where he specialized in developing optical interconnect devices and networks for hybrid multi-core processors.

November 27, 2011 -- Got Ink? Scientists and Their Magnificent Tattoos -- Guest: Carl Zimmer
November 27, 2011 07:12 PM PST

Carl Zimmer, renowned science writer, blogger and frequent contributor to the New York Times, National Geographic, Time magazine, and Scientific American, joins host Jenny Nelson to talk about his newest book, Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed .

November 6, 2011 -- Is Science Up to the Challenge? -- Guest: Dr. Jai Ranganathan
November 06, 2011 06:34 PM PST

If the arts, journalism and NPR can do it, why can’t science? So thought our guest Dr. Jai Ranganathan about the fund-raising strategy known as crowdfunding, where the small contributions of many are bundled together to fund a larger project or purpose. Together, Jai and a fellow ecologist Dr. Jarrett Byrnes co-founded the #SciFund Challenge, a 45-day grand experiment where 49 scientists have posted research proposals on-line to raise money for a diverse array of projects – from explosive duck penises to the soundscape of the Bornean rainforest. As Jai explains to host Holly Menninger, a crowdfunding campaign – which necessarily harnesses the power of social media and requires fundraisers to directly engage their funders – will help scientists get out of the ivory tower and directly connect to society in new ways. The #SciFund Challenge runs Nov 1 -Dec 15, check it out!

October 23, 2011 -- Solar Power to the People -- Guest: David Moore
October 28, 2011 03:16 PM PDT

Though we don’t see a lot of sun around these parts, solar energy has been touted as having enormous potential as a renewable energy source. But solar cells are expensive to make. The growing demand for renewable energy requires significant investment in the development of efficient and inexpensive materials that can convert solar radiation into direct electric current. The latest trends in photovoltaics, as solar energy is known, include the development of nanoscale materials such as semiconductor nanocrystals, or 'quantum dots,' which are promising candidates for photovoltaics due to their unique optical and electronic properties. Host Jenny Nelson talks with Cornell graduate student David Moore about the work he and his colleagues are doing in the Hanrath Energy Lab to advance seminconductor nanocrystals for use in capturing solar power.

October 2, 2011 -- "The Birds and The Bees"... of The Birds and The Bees -- Guest: Olivia Judson
October 05, 2011 02:48 PM PDT

Acclaimed evolutionary biologist and author of the award-winning book Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex, Olivia Judson, talks with host Jenny Nelson about hyena greeting ceremonies, the tragic sex lives of male bees, the intense parenting strategies of jackdaws, and why sex is so important in evolutionary processes. She speaks at the Cornell Plantations lecture series on October 5th at 7:30PM on Statler Auditorium.

September 11, 2011 -- The Nanotech Revolution Will Not Be Televised. But It Will Shrink Your TV. Guest: Mike Skvarla
September 12, 2011 07:14 AM PDT

Nanotechnology has been around for more than 30 years, if you can believe it, and just the word -- nanotech! -- still seems to create wild excitement about the possibilities of being able to work at such tiny scales. More and more, though, the excitement is tempered with concern about the social and ethical issues associated with the development of nanotechnology. Who will get access to the new innovations that nanotech will usher in? Who is overseeing the research to make sure that new products are used for the good of society? Mike Skvarla, user program manager at the Cornell Nanoscale Facility (CNF), joins host Jenny Nelson to discuss these concerns as well as a new program started by CNF and the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network called the 'Social and Ethical Implications of Nanotechnology' program.

Sept 4, 2011 -- Eco in the City -- Guest: Dr.Jason Munshi South
October 10, 2011 09:55 AM PDT

Like many field biologists, Dr. Jason Munshi-South got his start chasing mammals in exotic, far-off places like Borneo and Gabon. Nowadays, Jason and his students at CUNY's Baruch College conduct their field studies in the urban wilds of New York City. The Munshi-South lab has found that NYC parks provide important patches of habitat for wildlife – by which they mean white-footed mice, salamanders, and coyotes, not cockroaches and pigeons. Jason explains to host Holly Menninger how the Big Apple provides a unique laboratory for studying the ecology, evolution, and behavior of these special city-dwellers. (Image credit)

August 14, 2011: Who You Callin' Bird Brain? Guest: Karl Berg
September 15, 2011 04:16 PM PDT

Before a green-rumped parrotlet is even able to chirp and squawk, mom and dad teach it a distinct series of sounds used by parrots to recognize a specific individual. In short, they give their nestling a name. To find out how this worked, Cornell University ornithologist Karl Berg and his team swapped eggs between nests in a wild parrotlet population they’ve studied since 1987. Half the parrotlet pairs raised foster chicks, who used the contact calls demonstrated by their adoptive parents. If the calls were genetically predetermined, they’d have used their biological parents’ calls. Host Jenny Nelson talks with Karl Berg about his research, how they manage to listen to the birds in their nests, and why these parrots might have evolved this ability.

July 24, 2011 -- Let's Talk about Sex, Baby -- Guest: Rebecca Plante
July 24, 2011 05:45 PM PDT

Friends with benefits. Casual encounters. "No strings attached." We have a lot of names for it: sexual relationships with no emotional involvement. But does it actually exist? And *why* does it exist? Is it as popular a phenomenon as Hollywood would have us believe? Rebecca Plante, professor of sociology and women's studies at Ithaca College and teacher of a course on 'hooking up,' weighs in on the issue.

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