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Interviews with Scientists about their New Books

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    • Naturwissenschaften
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Interviews with Scientists about their New Books

    A. Espay and B. Stecher, "Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    A. Espay and B. Stecher, "Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    An estimated 80 million people live with a neurodegenerative disease, with this number expected to double by 2050. Despite decades of research and billions in funding, there are no medications that can slow, much less stop, the progress of these diseases. The time to rethink degenerative brain disorders has come. With no biological boundaries between neurodegenerative diseases, illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's result from a large spectrum of biological abnormalities, hampering effective treatment. In Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them (Cambridge UP, 2020), acclaimed neurologist Dr Alberto Espay and Parkinson's advocate Benjamin Stecher present compelling evidence that these diseases should be targeted according to genetic and molecular signatures rather than clinical diagnoses. There is no Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, simply people with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. An incredibly important story never before told, Brain Fables is a wakeup call to the scientific community and society, explaining why we have no effective disease-modifying treatments, and how we can get back on track.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. You can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 1 Std. 19 Min.
    Glenn Sauer, "Points of Contact: Science, Religion, and the Search for Truth" (Orbis Books, 2020)

    Glenn Sauer, "Points of Contact: Science, Religion, and the Search for Truth" (Orbis Books, 2020)

    As a scientist and practicing Catholic, Dr. Sauer brings a unique perspective to several of the important issues related to finding a space for dialogue between the at times opposing fields of science and religion. Drawing on insights from Darwin, Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Kuhn, and many others, Dr. Sauer presents a powerful and important framework for reconciling the historically changing divide between science and religion. His take is that we need to encourage a stance of intellectual humility on all sides of the discussion as a means for finding common ground--or at least identifying points where we can have fruitful exchanges of ideas about how scientific and religious perspectives can coexist without ongoing conflict.  Points of Contact: Science, Religion, and the Search for Truth (Orbis Books, 2020) will be valuable to people who inhabit both sides of this divide and has the potential to generate more openness about what can be radically different ways of seeing the world.  
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    • 59 Min.
    Anna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

    Anna Weltman, "Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

    Mathematics as a subject is distinctive in its symbolic abstraction and its potential for logical and computational rigor. But mathematicians tend to impute other qualities to our subject that set it apart, such as impartiality, universality, and elegance. Far from incidental, these ideas prime mathematicians and the public to see in mathematics the answers—for example, an impartial arbiter, or a meritocratic equalizer—to many urgent societal questions. Anna Weltman's new book, Supermath: The Power of Numbers for Good and Evil (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), surveys a number of ways this conception of mathematics has informed scientific undertakings and public policies, not to mention our everyday behaviors, and makes a powerful case for reevaluating its assumptions.
    The book's five chapters contain stories of mathematical exploits from ancient to ongoing and across the spectrum from pure to applied. Many may be familiar, for example active research and journalism into the use and misuse of predictive algorithms or G. H. Hardy's enumeration of the elements of mathematical beauty. Others, including continuing work to interpret Incan documents that survived European colonial erasure and the epidemiological insights obtained from massively multiplayer online gaming, will be new even to many mathematical readers. What they share is the essential but often ignored interplay between theory and culture that makes mathematics a thoroughly human activity. Weltman's book can be read as a call for scholars, educators, and communicators of mathematics to grapple with the power our training and credentialing in mathematics grants us, and to understand that its most basic promise of solving problems is not automatic but one that we must realize.
    Anna Weltman is a math teacher and writer who earned her PhD in mathematics education from the University of California at Berkeley. She is also the author of This Is Not a Math Book and This Is Not Another Math Book.
    Cory Brunson (he/him) is a Research Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Systems Medicine at the University of Florida.
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    • 1 Std. 47 Min.
    Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    “What are chromosomes? And what does it mean to treat them as visual objects?” asks Soraya de Chadarevian in her new book, Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Considering this question as she follows the history of microscope-based practices in chromosomal research across a variety of contexts—from the medical clinic to the study of human variation—de Chadarevian offers readers a new history of postwar human genetics. This approach enables her to argue that cytogenetics was far from just “old fashioned biology that was eventually superseded by molecular approaches” and to show the continuities and interdependencies between different methods for studying our DNA.
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    • 52 Min.
    K. C. Smith and C. Mariscal, "Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    K. C. Smith and C. Mariscal, "Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (Oxford University Press, 2020) focuses on the emerging scientific discipline of astrobiology, exploring many of the humanistic issues this multidisciplinary field is generating. Despite there being myriad scientific questions that astrobiologists have only begun to address, this is not a purely scientific enterprise. More research on the broader social and conceptual aspects of astrobiology is needed and this volume does an outstanding job of setting the course for important themes to be explored in the future. The authors of the chapters in the book ask questions such as: What are our ethical obligations towards different sorts of alien life? Should we attempt to communicate with life beyond our planet? What is "life" in the most general sense? Kelly C. Smith and Carlos Mariscal's important book addresses these questions by looking at different perspectives from philosophers, historians, theologians, social scientists, and legal scholars. It sets a benchmark for future work in astrobiology, giving readers the groundwork from which to base the continuous scholarship coming from this ever-growing scientific field.
    John W. Traphagan is a professor in Department of Religious Studies and Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas at Austin.
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    • 1 Std. 11 Min.
    Gina Rippon, "Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (Vintage, 2020)

    Gina Rippon, "Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (Vintage, 2020)

    There is a long history of brain research that seems to legitimize widely held beliefs about the men versus women. According to my guest, much of that research is founded on biases and misguided experiments, which raises the questions: Are there any meaningful neurological differences between men and women? And if so, what are they? To find out, you’ll want to listen to my interview with Dr. Gina Rippon, author of the book, Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (2020, Vintage Books). We talk about the difference between good and bad science in this area and how the field of psychology has contributed to misinformed but long-lasting ideas about gender differences. This episode will interest those longing for clarity about male versus female brains and shed light on the role of science in shaping social perceptions about the sexes.
    Gina Rippon, Ph.D. is an honorary professor of cognitive neuroimaging at Aston Brain Centre at Aston University in Birmingham, England. Her research involves the use of state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to investigate developmental disorders such as autism. In 2015, she was made a honorary fellow of the British Science Association for her contributions to the public communication of science. Dr. Rippon is part of the European Union Gender Equality Network, belongs to WISE and ScienceGrrl, and is a member of Robert Peston’s Speakers for Schools program and the Inspiring the Future intitative. She lives in the United Kingdom.
    Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Miami. He treats individuals and couples, with specialties in gender and sexuality, eating and body image problems, and relationship issues. He is a graduate and faculty of William Alanson White Institute in Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York City and former chair of their LGBTQ Study Group; and faculty at Florida Psychoanalytic Institute in Miami. He is also a contributing author to the book Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (2018, Routledge).
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    • 39 Min.

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