April 16, 2014
After repeatedly failing to find a room on the campus of Carnegie Mellon that is silent enough to record our podcast in, we asked ourselves this question. Because every little sound messing up our pristine recording—the spinning of computer fans, the constancy of indoor climate control, the buzz of traffic filtering in from outside—seemed to be a product of the modern age. Was the world a more silent place 100 years ago? We pursue the answer by talking with an author who wrote a book about trying to find silence in, of all places, Manhattan. Along the way we encounter the world's quietest place, a rare condition where everyday sounds can cause anxiety and even madness, and ask the bigger question: "what IS sound?" Because we didn't really know. image credit: flickr user hebedesign
September 24, 2013
This week, we're traveling halfway around the globe using the most direct route we can think of-- through the center of the Earth. To help us along the way, we consult the mind of Professor Markus Deserno of the department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon. It turns out, even after turning down the thermostat in the Earth's core (so we don't melt during our journey), we run into a few problems, most of which are not obvious.
May 14, 2013
In this episode we ask: where is highest point on land in the city of Pittsburgh? In answering, we uncover the events that give our city both its unique topography, as well as the "gold mine" beneath our feet----the Marcellus Shale. To help us, we talk to Professors Charles Jones and Brian Stewart of the Department of Geology & Planetary Science, as well as Mike Homa, GIS Manager for the City of Pittsburgh. They help us find the highest point, and teach us how "eventlessness" in geology is not eventless at all.
March 5, 2013
Many of us know the feeling— after a night of having a few too many, you wake up feeling miserable. One of the great enigmas of our time, hangovers have been affecting humans for thousands of years. There must be a cure, right? In this episode, we search for a hangover cure by talking with cocktail historian and Esquire staffwriter David Wondrich, Brown University professor Dr. Robert Swift, and Stephen Braun, author of "Buzz: the science and lore of alcohol and caffeine."
January 10, 2013
In our changing climate, wouldn’t life be simpler if we had a thermostat we could dial down the earth’s temperature with? It turns out we do, actually. And a few billion dollars is all it would take to deploy a version of solar-radiation management (SRM), one form of geoengineering. SRM uses stratospheric aerosol particles to shade the earth’s surface from incoming sunlight, thus lowering temperature. Whether or not it would be nice to ‘turn the dial’ on this atmospheric thermostat is another matter though. To wrap our heads around how geoengineering works, we sat down with Granger Morgan, a Carnegie Mellon professor and director of the Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making. He discusses whether we should use geoengineering or not, the geopolitics behind the idea, and the ethical and moral dimensions of controlling the earth’s temperature. Above all, Morgan argues that we urgently need more scientific research to understand the possible side-effects of deploying geoengineering. This interview was conducted by both Ellis and Daniel for the Generation Anthropocene podcast at Stanford University. Also, check out Ellis’ write-up for the interview on Grist:
January 6, 2013
How much does a genetically-engineered tomato have in common with your dog? A lot more than you might think. Both are shining examples of PostNatural organisms, a term Rich Pell, assistant professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon, uses to describe living things whose evolutionary path has been controlled by humans. He is the curator of the Center for PostNatural History in Pittsburgh, a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to classifying, cataloguing, and archiving PostNatural organisms. In this interview, Pell gives a tour of his museum, explains the story of postnaturalism, and discusses visitors’ reactions to his project. This interview was written and recorded by Ellis for the Generation Anthropocene podcast at Stanford University (
May 2, 2012
Ever been listening to a sad song wondering why it sounds so darn sad? Happy, sad, peaceful or angry — there's just something about music that makes us feel a certain way. Apart from any lyrics, there seems to be much more to music than meets the ear. In our investigation of how and why we perceive music the way we do, we talk to physicist Dr. Roy Briere and music theorist Dr. Richard Randall from Carnegie Mellon University, and psychologists Dr. Meagan Curtis from Purchase College and Dr. Shantala Hegde from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences.
April 11, 2012
As you’re reading this sentence, what is your brain doing? What’s actually going on as it turns a bunch of lines and circles into words that carry meaning? This week, I Wonder… explores the world of reading. During the program, we talk to some people who have been thinking about the reading brain for quite a while: Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, Dr. Marcel Just from Carnegie Mellon University, and Dr. Charles Perfetti from the University of Pittsburgh.
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