515 episodes

Interviews with Scientists about their New Books
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    • Science
    • 4.5 • 10 Ratings

Interviews with Scientists about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/science

    Speaking Bones: Unearthing Ancient Stories of Illness and Disease

    Speaking Bones: Unearthing Ancient Stories of Illness and Disease

    From mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue to chronic bacterial infections such as yaws, Southeast Asia is home to a wide range of tropical diseases. For a long time, the arrival in the region of these and other dangerous tropical diseases was believed to be connected to the introduction of agriculture. But how long have these diseases really been around for? How are they connected to the region’s fluctuating social and environmental conditions? And how have they impacted the human populations of Southeast Asia over time?
    Joining Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories, bioarchaeologist Dr Melandri Vlok sheds light on the complex science of paleoepidemiology and its use of advanced analytical practices such as DNA ancestry, skeletal studies, and teeth calculus to uncover ancient stories of illness and disease. She explains that far from being mere remnants of the past, archaeological human remains can help us understand the evolution and spread of pathogens, and inform strategies to curb the spread of infectious diseases in human populations.
    About Melandri Vlok:
    Dr Melandri Vlok is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Melandri specialises in palaeopathology/ bioarchaeology and researches the implications for migration and trade on the presence of infectious and nutritional diseases in past populations in Asia. Melandri's work, funded by grant bodies including National Geographic and the Royal Society of New Zealand, has involved the analysis of human skeletal remains from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand and the Philippines. She is also involved with repatriation efforts focused on returning Māori and Moriori ancestral remains to iwi and imi (tribes) in New Zealand.
    For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.
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    • 22 min
    Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani, "Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors" (PublicAffairs, 2021)

    Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani, "Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors" (PublicAffairs, 2021)

    Human-made climate change may have begun in the last two hundred years, but our species has witnessed many eras of climate instability. The results have not always been pretty. From Ancient Egypt to Rome to the Maya, some of history's mightiest civilizations have been felled by pestilence and glacial melt and drought.
    The challenges are no less great today. We face hurricanes and megafires and food shortages and more. But we have one powerful advantage as we face our current crisis: the past. Our knowledge of ancient climates has advanced tremendously in the last decade, to the point where we can now reconstruct seasonal weather going back thousands of years and see just how people and nature interacted. The lesson is clear: the societies that survive are those that plan ahead.
    Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani's Climate Chaos: Lessons on Survival from Our Ancestors (PublicAffairs, 2021) is a book about saving ourselves. Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani show in remarkable detail what it was like to battle our climate over centuries and offer us a path to a safer and healthier future.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland.
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    • 55 min
    John Cardina, "Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly" (Cornell UP, 2021)

    John Cardina, "Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly" (Cornell UP, 2021)

    Lives of Weeds: Opportunism, Resistance, Folly (Cornell UP, 2021) explores the tangled history of weeds and their relationship to humans. Through eight interwoven stories, John Cardina offers a fresh perspective on how these tenacious plants came about, why they are both inevitable and essential, and how their ecological success is ensured by determined efforts to eradicate them. Linking botany, history, ecology, and evolutionary biology to the social dimensions of humanity's ancient struggle with feral flora, Cardina shows how weeds have shaped—and are shaped by—the way we live in the natural world.
    Weeds and attempts to control them drove nomads toward settled communities, encouraged social stratification, caused environmental disruptions, and have motivated the development of GMO crops. They have snared us in social inequality and economic instability, infested social norms of suburbia, caused rage in the American heartland, and played a part in perpetuating pesticide use worldwide. Lives of Weeds reveals how the technologies directed against weeds underlie ethical questions about agriculture and the environment, and leaves readers with a deeper understanding of how the weeds around us are entangled in our daily choices.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Brendan Borrell, "The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine" (Mariner Books, 2021)

    Brendan Borrell, "The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine" (Mariner Books, 2021)

    Heroic science. Chaotic politics. Billionaire entrepreneurs. Award-winning journalist Brendan Borrell brings the defining story of our times alive through compulsively readable, first-time reporting on the players leading the fight against a vicious virus. The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the Coronavirus Vaccine (Mariner Books, 2021), soon to be the subject of an HBO limited series with superstar director and producer Adam McKay (Succession, Vice, The Big Short), draws on exclusive, high-level access to weave together the intense vaccine-race conflicts among hard-driving, heroic scientists and the epic rivalries among Washington power players that shaped 18 months of fear, resolve, and triumph.
    From infectious disease expert Michael Callahan, an American doctor secretly on the ground in Wuhan in January 2020 to gauge the terrifying ravages of Disease X; to Robert (Dr. Bob) Kadlec, one of Operation Warp Speed’s architects, whose audacious plans for the American people run straight into the buzz saw of the Trump White House factions; to Stéphane Bancel of upstart Moderna Therapeutics going toe-to-toe with pharma behemoth Pfizer, The First Shots lays bare, in a way we have not seen, the full stunning story behind the medical science “moon shot” of our lifetimes.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 43 min
    Paul Halpern, "Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate" (Basic Books, 2021)

    Paul Halpern, "Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate" (Basic Books, 2021)

    Today, the Big Bang is so entrenched in our understanding of the cosmos that to doubt it would seem crazy. But as Paul Halpern shows in Flashes of Creation: George Gamow, Fred Hoyle, and the Great Big Bang Debate (Basic Books, 2021), just decades ago its mere mention caused sparks to fly. At the center of the debate were Russian American physicist George Gamow and British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. Gamow insisted that a fiery explosion explained how the elements of the universe were created. Attacking the idea as half-baked, Hoyle countered that the universe was engaged in a never-ending process of creation. The battle was fierce. In the end, Gamow turned out to be right -- mostly -- and Hoyle, despite his many achievements, is remembered for giving the theory the silliest possible name: "The Big Bang." Halpern captures the brilliance of both thinkers and reminds us that even those proved wrong have much to teach us about boldness, imagination, and the universe itself.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Karl Herrup, "How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer's" (MIT Press, 2021)

    Karl Herrup, "How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer's" (MIT Press, 2021)

    For decades, some of our best and brightest medical scientists have dedicated themselves to finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. What happened? Where is the cure? The biggest breakthroughs occurred twenty-five years ago, with little progress since. In How Not to Study a Disease: The Story of Alzheimer's (MIT Press, 2021), neurobiologist Karl Herrup explains why the Alzheimer's discoveries of the 1990s didn't bear fruit and maps a direction for future research. Herrup describes the research, explains what's taking so long, and offers an approach for resetting future research.
    Herrup offers a unique insider's perspective, describing the red flags that science ignored in the rush to find a cure. He is unsparing in calling out the stubbornness, greed, and bad advice that has hamstrung the field, but his final message is a largely optimistic one. Herrup presents a new and sweeping vision of the field that includes a redefinition of the disease and a fresh conceptualization of aging and dementia that asks us to imagine the brain as a series of interconnected neighborhoods. He calls for changes in virtually every aspect of the Alzheimer's disease research effort, from the drug development process, to the mechanisms of support for basic research, to the often-overlooked role of the scientific media, and more. With How Not to Study a Disease, Herrup provides a roadmap that points us in a new direction in our journey to a cure for Alzheimer's.
    Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.
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    • 51 min

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