Science Talk podcast

Top 10 Emerging Tech of 2021

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The World Economic Forum and Scientific American team up to highlight technological advances that could change the world—including self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3-D-printed houses.

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  • Science Talk podcast

    Top 10 Emerging Tech of 2021

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    The World Economic Forum and Scientific American team up to highlight technological advances that could change the world—including self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3-D-printed houses.
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    An Unblinking History of the Conservation Movement

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    In her new book  Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction,  science journalist Michelle Nijhuis looks into the past of the wildlife conservation field, warts and all, to try to chart its future.
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    Inside the Nail-Biting Quest to Find the 'Loneliest Whale'

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    It is a tale of sound: the song of a solitary whale that vocalizes at a unique frequency of 52 hertz, which no other whale—as the story goes—can seemingly understand. It is also a tale about science and ocean life, laced with fantasy and mystery and mostly shrouded in darkness. The whale, who is of unknown species and nicknamed “52,” was originally discovered in 1989 and has been intermittently tracked by scientists ever since. Its solitary nature baffled marine researchers. And its very existence captured the attention and hearts of millions of people. But as 52 roams the ocean’s depths, a lot about its nature is still up in the air. No one has ever seen it in the flesh. Scientists have determined that the whale is a large male and possibly a hybrid, and they have speculated that its unique song—too low in frequency for humans and too high for whales—might be a result of a malformation. Scientific American sat down with Josh Zeman, an award-winning filmmaker who created a documentary about 52, to talk not just about his impressive cinematic quest (and it is impressive and beautifully shot) but also the science and academic collaborations that fueled it. The documentary—written and directed by Zeman and executive produced by actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Adrian Grenier—is inspired by the findings of the late bioacoustics scientist William Watkins. It is propelled by passion and curiosity and relies on underwater acoustics to track 52 through the sound-rich and noise-heavy environment of the ocean. A departure for Zeman in terms of genre choice, the film still exudes an air of mystery and sleuthing reminiscent of whodunits. It unfolds like a classic true-crime story, a genre that Zeman, an investigative reporter and a true-crime documentarian, was originally famous for working in. Then again, when Zeman started making the movie, the whale was MIA and had been silent for years. In essence, Zeman reopened a cold case to—in his own words—“set the record straight” and “bring the audience into the world of the whale.” With the help of marine scientists, he followed streams of whale songs and other breadcrumbs in the form of auditory clues, listening in, analyzing, tracking, slowly and persistently narrowing down the circle around 52. Zeman found him, lost him and found him again until eventually the filmmaker made an unexpected revelation about him. It may not be the closure Zeman expected to give to his audiences. But it is definitely a fresh chapter in this evolving tale. Zeman says he is hopeful that other storytellers will take up the mantle and continue to unearth more facts about 52. “What a more beautiful gift can you give than to say, ‘Actually, there’s another chapter.’ And then, 20 years later, somebody else comes in and adds their chapter,” he says. “That’s what storytelling is.”
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    Summer of Science Reading, Episode 4: Navigating Loss and Hope with Nature

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    Summer of Science Reading, Episode 3: Abandoned and Underground but Not Lost

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    In Science Book Talk, a new four-part podcast miniseries, host Deboki Chakravarti acts as literary guide to two science books that share a beautiful and sometimes deeply resonant entanglement. In this week’s show:  Underland, by Robert MacFarlane, and  Islands of Abandonment, by Cal Flyn. 
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    Summer of Science Reading, Episode 2: Life beneath Our Feet

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    In Science Book Talk, a new four-part podcast miniseries, host Deboki Chakravarti acts as literary guide to two science books that share a beautiful and sometimes deeply resonant entanglement. In this week’s show: Entangled Life,  by Merlin Sheldrake, and  Gathering Moss,  by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
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    Summer of Science Reading, Episode 1: The Many Mysteries of Fish

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    In Science Book Talk, a new four-part podcast miniseries, host Deboki Chakravarti acts as literary guide to two science books that share a beautiful and sometimes deeply resonant entanglement. In this week’s show: Why Fish Don’t Exist,  by Lulu Miller, and The Book of Eels,  by Patrik Svensson.
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    National Park Nature Walks, Episode 10: The Otherworldly Sounds of an Elk Rut

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    Here is our next installment of a new pop-up podcast miniseries that takes your ears into the deep sound of nature. Host Jacob Job , an ecologist and audiophile, brings you inches away from a multitude of creatures, great and small, amid the sonic grandeur of nature. You may not be easily able to access these places amid the pandemic, but after you take this acoustic journey, you will be longing to get back outside. Strap on some headphones, find a quiet place and prepare to experience a the alien sounds of the yearly elk rut inside of Rocky Mountain National Park . Catch additional episodes in the series here .

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