Groopman, Dr. Jerome — Facing Illness with Success

Hope is one of the most fundamental and powerful of human emotions, and also one of the least studied and understood. “The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness,” by Dr. Jerome Groopman, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and a writer for the New Yorker magazine, examines the role hope plays in the practice of medicine, and the ways in which hope can release chemicals powerful enough to change the outcome of otherwise fatal diseases.

Dr. Jerome Groopman recommends the book “The Old School,” by Tobian Wolff.

Originally broadcast February 20, 2004.

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Dvorak, John Ph.D. — Earthquakes: Why and When

To many of us who live along the coast of California, earthquakes are a living legend. That legend is closely associated with the San Andreas Fault, an earthquake line which runs roughly 800 miles through California forming the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.  More than just a legend, earthquakes over the millennia have rattled the world in multiple events close in time are referred to as “earthquake storms.”  These storms are close in geological time, not so much in human time.

As you might expect, this edition of Radio Curious is about earthquakes.  Our guest is John Dvorak, Ph.D., a geophysicist and author of “Earthquake Storms:  The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault.”  He is currently employed by the United States Geological Survey, working for the Institute for Astronomy in Hilo, Hawaii, after having taught at the University of Hawaii, UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Smithsonian Institute.

In our visit, recorded on October 31, 2014, from his office in Hilo, Hawaii, we began our conversation when I asked him to describe what an earthquake storm is.

The book John Dvorak recommends is “Daughters of Fire,” by Tom Peek.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Richmond, Martha — Lead in the Blood: Dangers and How to Protect

The level of lead in the blood of children is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious.  Our guest is Dr. Martha E. Richmond, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Director of Environmental Science, at Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts. 

Dr. Richmond’s current work centers on lead poisoning in children and involves  assessment of environmental regulation to effectively protect public health, including the effectiveness of regulations for air pollutants, and protection of children against lead toxicity.

Approximately 500,000 children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 5 suffer from lead poisoning as a result of lead in their blood above the level for which public health action is recommended. 

No safe blood lead level in children has been identified and lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized.   This results in short and long term adverse consequences in the exposed children and to society in general.

When Dr. Richmond visited by phone from her home near Boston, Massachusetts, on October 19, 2014, she began with a description of the issues surrounding lead poisoning.

The book Dr. Martha Richmond recommends is “Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children,” by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Brandt, Roger — The Oregon Caves

The Oregon Caves, located about 70 miles northeast of Crescent City, California in the Oregon Caves National Monument, are a place full of interest, mystery, and history. 

The caves were located in 1874 when Elijah Davidson chased his dog into the caves.

The Oregon Caves are very unique—possibly due to the fact that it is one of the few cave systems located on tectonically active ground, known as a subduction zone.   Their uniqueness may also be due to the fact an old growth Douglas fir forest grows directly above the caves, or the fact that they were created from what used to be a tropical reef that was pushed about 12 miles below the surface of the earth and then brought back up to its current location, and is still rising. I visited the Oregon Caves in 2006 and knew at once it would be a first-time, unique experience.

I spoke with Roger Brandt, the manager of visitor services and education of the Oregon Caves in June, 2006.  We began when I asked him about the Oregon Caves and what they represent.  

The book Roger Brandt recommends is “Golden Days and Pioneer Ways” by Ruth Phefferle.

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Owen, Doug & Ted Stout — A Visit to the Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in southern Idaho in the middle of the Snake River Plane halfway between Yellowstone National Park and Boise, Idaho.  It encompasses about 11,000 sq. miles, an area about the size of the State of Rhode Island.  In this special and unique part of the earth, lava has flowed regularly from 50 mile long deep, open, rift cracks approximately every 2000 years beginning 15,000 years ago.  With the last flow occurring about 2,100 years ago, another eruption is considered by many knowledgeable people to be due.

The area is so much like the surface of the moon that the astronauts who prepared for the second lunar landing in 1970 went to Craters of the Moon to train. 

I visited the Craters of the Moon on September 18 and 19, 2014, meeting first with Ted Stout, Chief of Interpretation and Education and then with Doug Owen, a geologist and National Park Ranger.

When Ted Stout and I met at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve headquarters I asked him to begin with a description of the land within the Preserve.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Wells, Spencer — The Peopling of the World

Around 60,000 years ago, a man – identical to us in all important genetic respects – lived in Africa. Every person alive today is descended from him. This is known because the secrets of human evolution are hidden in our genetic code. In this edition of Radio Curious, we visit with geneticist Spencer Wells, author of the book and movie, “Journey of Man, A Genetic Odyssey.”

Spencer Well is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where he leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the wold in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the world. He is also a professor a Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The book Spencer Wells recommends is “No Logo,” by Naomi Klein.

Originally Broadcast: February 10, 2004.

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Wells, Spencer — The Unforseen Cost of Civilization

In this edition of Radio Curious we revisit a conversation with Spencer Wells about his book, “Pandora’s Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization,” published in 2010.

Our interview is a follow-up to a 2003 conversation about his book, “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey,” in which Wells traces our routes as small bands of hunter-gatherers when our ancestors walked out of Africa approximately 60,000 years ago and began populating the world.

“Pandora’s Seed” tells the story of what we humans, with our hunter-gatherer biological construct have created in the past 10,000 years. These multiple life style changes have produced what we call “civilization,” with systems and mechanisms that will not allow us to continue the life-styles that are emulated by many people world-wide, and exploited by those who have access to them. In other words, we can’t last much longer doing what we are doing without radically reducing the way we all live, if not outright killing our species.

Spencer Well is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., where he leads the Genographic Project, which is collecting and analyzing hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from people around the wold in order to decipher how our ancestors populated the world. He is also a professor a Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

In this interview with Spencer Wells, recorded on July 19, 2010, we began by describing the changes necessary for our species survival.

The book Spencer Wells recommends is “The Histories,” by Herodotus, a 5th century B.C. Greek historian.

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Franklin, Benjamin – Archbold, Ralph — Two Visits with Benjamin Franklin Part One

This is the first of two archived visits with Benjamin Franklin, as portrayed by Ralph Archbold.

Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia as a young man and became an inventor, printer, scientist, author, governor, activist in the war for independence from England, an ambassador to France, and the first post master general in the United states, among a multitude of many other accomplishments. Ralph Archbold has portrayed Benjamin Franklin in theater, for conventions, and in the media for over 30 years.

Benjamin Franklin, through the person of Ralph Archbold, met with me in Franklin Court where his home and printshop were located, in Philadelphia. We met on July 18, 1994. We discussed his early life, his inventions and his role in the cessation from England and the formation of the United States. We began our conversation when I first asked him when he first came to Philadelphia.

The book Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Archbold recommend is “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.”  

Click here or on the media player below to listen to part one.  

Click here to listen to part two.

Brizendine, Dr. Louann — The Female & the Male Brain: There is a Difference

Have you ever been curious about the difference between the male brain and the female brain? Well I have, for a long time. Dr. Louann Brizendine, founder of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco wrote two books about those differences. In 2006 she wrote a book called, “The Female Brain,” and in 2010 she wrote “The Male Brain,”–very different books about very different genders of our human species.

The interview with Dr. Louann Brizendine was recorded by phone from her home in San Francisco, Ca on March 21st, 2011. We began by discussing the mail brain and in particular, the chapter to her book titled “Seeing the World Through Male Colored Glasses.”

The book Dr. Louann Brizendine recommends is “The Emperor of All Maladies,” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Click here or on the media player below to listen to part two.

Cochran, Gregory — The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution Part Two

In this, the second of two Radio Curious interviews, we continue our discussion of human evolution with Gregory Cochran an aerospace physicist and professor of anthropology at the University of Utah; his expertise is in genetic anthropology. Gregory Cochran along with Henry Harpending, also a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, are the co-authors of the 2009 book “The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.” This book explores how humans appear to have evolved over the last 10,000 years, largely driven by civilization-the place, culture and lifestyle of the time.

In this two part conversation, recorded by phone with Gregory Cochran from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23rd, 2009, we discuss how humans have genetically evolved.

In part one we discussed the changes in human biology such as lactose tolerance and resistance to malaria that represent human evolution accelerated by civilization. We also discussed the intermixing of neanderthals and humans and the genetic benefits in our species that continue to this day.

In part two, Cochran discusses how gene mutations have allowed specific human advantages in different locations around the world.   We began with his discussion of the migration of the human species out of Africa, which resulted in some people living in the northern latitudes.  People born in these areas with a random genetic mutation resulting in skin of a lighter color allowed them to absorb more vitamin D from the sun, thus giving them better health and a greater opportunity to have off spring. We also discuss the genetic mutations that contribute to certain types of intelligence.

The book Gregory Cochran recommends is”Tthe Princeton Companion to Mathematics,” edited by Timothy Gowers.

Click here or on the media player below to listen to part two.