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science

The latest film in the “Jurassic Park” series, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” is number one at the box office. It goes to show that even decades after the first film was made, people still love dinosaurs. Dinosaur enthusiasts are also commenting about the latest in science related to the creatures. Researchers say they think they can recreate living dinosaurs within the next five years; genetic research involving modern day chickens could be the key to reversing evolution.

We discuss the science, how probable it is that we’ll see dinosaurs in our lifetime, and why the dinosaur craze won’t be going extinct anytime soon. Our guests:

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that there are mixed messages about public trust in science, and science advocates say the field is under attack.

A group of graduate students at the University of Rochester Medical Center have joined together to try to improve perceptions of science. Students in the “Thinkers and Drinkers” group meet up with strangers at local bars and, in exchange for free appetizers, talk to them about science. The goal is to help the students improve their communication skills when it comes to explaining science, and to improve science literacy in the general population.

We talk with members of the group about their program and why they think it’s needed in this current moment.

  • Heather Natola, Ph.D., post-doctoral associate in the department of Biomedical Genetics at URMC, and co-founder of Thinkers and Drinkers
  • Jessica Hogestyn, Ph.D. candidate in the neuroscience graduate program at URMC, and co-founder of Thinkers and Drinkers
  • Tracey Baas, Ph.D., assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology and executive director for the University of Rochester Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (URBEST) program at URMC

World renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking died early Wednesday morning in Cambridge at age 76. The visionary scientist is best known for his work with black holes, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, but as physicist Adam Frank says, Hawking’s story is about more than the science. At age 22, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS and given only a few years to live. He used a wheelchair and a voice synthesizer to speak. As Frank says, Hawking’s story is about the triumph of the human spirit and the ability to push at the frontier.

Our guests discuss his life and work:

  • Brian Koberlein, senior lecturer of physics at RIT
  • Roger Dube, research professor and director of the Science Exploration Program at RIT
  • Mike Campbell, director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester
  • Adam Frank, astrophysicist at the University of Rochester, and contributor to NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture blog

freeimages.com/Flavio Takemoto

The organization representing more than 600 public school boards across the state says how science is taught in the classroom will influence how a generation of students think about climate change.

Starting this fall, new standards for teaching science go into effect in New York.  They put a much more specific emphasis on the role of human activity in global warming.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Dave Albert, spokesman for the New York State School Boards Association.

Can science and faith coexist in today's politically-charged environment? A 2015 survey found that nearly 70 percent of evangelicals in the United States don't see religion and science as being totally at odds. Meanwhile, a survey cited by National Geographic says scientists may be just as likely to believe in God as those outside the scientific community.

We discuss the relationship between science and religion with our guests:

  • Rev. J. Eric Thompson, priest in charge at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Dansville
  • Dan Courtney, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and atheist activist

The March for Science happened this past weekend in Washington, and around the world. Scientists from all manner of fields declared their desire to do their work without politicization. Of course, critics said the entire idea was political. But the Trump administration has been openly hostile to several basic, scientific ideas. So where does that leave science in the United States? Our guests:

  • David Williams, professor of optics and biomedical engineering, and dean for research in arts, sciences and engineering at the University of Rochester
  • Matthew Hoffman, associate professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences at RIT
  • Jason Szymanski, assistant professor of chemistry and geosciences at Monroe Community College
  • Adam Rich, associate professor of biology at the College at Brockport
  • Stephanie Gallant, chair of the organizing committee for the Rochester March for Science

For all of ways we use the term "Epicurean," here's something strange: the original works of Epicurus himself have never been found. It's only through letters and quotations that we glimpse his work. But what if a library on a seaside villa contains the lost works of Epicurus -- and dozens of others?

When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in 79 AD, it also buried Herculaneum. That seaside estate contained a library of many scrolls, and the volcanic ash preserved the scrolls... in a manner of speaking. They look like lumps of coal, but top scientists are desperate to find a way to either unspool them without destroying them, or to use new technology to peer inside. What might we find? How could we do it? What other ancient texts are begging to be read, if we can only figure out how? Our guests:

  • Brent Seales, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, and director of the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky
  • Roger Easton, professor of imaging science and director of the Laboratory for Imaging of Historical Artifacts at the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Greg Heyworth, associate professor of English and Textual Science and director of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester

Our Monthly Science Roundtable looks at the science of political tweeting. Specifically, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton would be a failed candidate if she were a man, and then tweeted that she was using the "woman card." Clinton's twitter account responded with, "If paying for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in." Who won that social media exchange?

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester has been digging for the answer, using followers and responses. They believe their work shows who has been winning the so-called "gender wars" on social media. Our guests:

  • Jiebo Luo, associate professor of computer science at the University of Rochester
  • Mike Johansson, senior lecturer of communications at RIT, and social media consultant at Fixitology

Should STEM become STEAM? We look at the growing movement to add arts to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Supporters say that adding arts allows students to incorporate creativity and critical thinking, not just rote memorization. Opponents say this is a distraction, and the United States needs even more emphasis on STEM.

Our panel explores the impact of turning STEM into STEAM:

  • Dr. Hitomi Mukaibo, assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Rochester
  • Katie Maley, art teacher at Brighton High School
  • Laura Arnold, physics teacher at Brighton High School
  • Ben McLauchlin, 2014 Brighton High School graduate and currently a sophomore at SUNY Binghamton

We may not be not the universe's first advanced civilization.

University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank is the co-author of a new paper that puts some numbers on how likely it is that humans are unique. His conclusion? Other intelligent life has very likely come before us. How often?

We discuss how Frank modified the famous "Drake Equation" of 1961, and why it's so likely that other intelligent life is either out there -- or has been out there, at one time or another.

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