From the PBS science series NOVA, a biweekly podcast digging into the science behind the headlines. Alok Patel takes you behind the scenes with the people—scientists, engineers, technologists, mathematicians and more—working to understand our world. Now it's more critical than ever to distinguish fact from fiction and find science-based answers to the most pressing questions of our time.
Subscribe, and learn more by visiting pbs.org/novanowpodcast.
Cryptocurrency: the future of money in a digital world?
The internet revolutionized how we communicate and exchange information. Now, it’s causing the ways in which we invest and spend money to change, laying the foundation for cryptocurrency. How this digital currency functions—much like the inner workings of the internet itself—is invisible to most. But the ongoing explosion of interest and investment in cryptocurrency is undeniable. In September, El Salvador became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. Meanwhile, China announced a ban on all crypto trading and mining. So what exactly is cryptocurrency, and how risky is it to invest in it? Is the future of money heading in a digital direction? With help from innovators paving the way for the future of money in a digital world, Dr. Alok Patel learns what the hype is all about.
Cannabis: Discovering its effects on the body and brain
The cannabis industry has flowered into a billion-dollar industry in the last decade. Now, cannabis is easier than ever to legally access for medical or recreational use in the majority of U.S. states. But does legalization mean that cannabis is actually safe to use? After all, cannabis is still federally classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a substance with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” (Though the Senate’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act proposes to end cannabis’s federal prohibition.) But even under current restrictions, some researchers have interrogated assumptions about the addictive potential of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds of the cannabis plant, and investigated their therapeutic properties. With the help of leading cannabis researchers, host Dr. Alok Patel explores current studies to find out what science can tell us about the therapeutic potential, risks, and long-term effects of cannabis on your body and brain.
The case of hurricanes and climate change
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is half-way through and, like 2020, is expected to be another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season as estimated by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. As of September 14, 2021, there have been over a dozen named storms, including three major hurricanes, Grace, Ida, and Larry, that reached Category 3 status or higher. Climate computer models predict that rising ocean temperatures—warm water being fuel for hurricanes—impact storm activity; but does this mean that as our planet warms, hurricanes are actually becoming stronger and more destructive? Alok Patel speaks with climate scientists and a hurricane researcher to get inside the anatomy of tropical storms, and to better understand what the evidence shows, and what we can expect for the future.
Back to school during a pandemic: experts weigh in
Back-to-school jitters are in the air as many schools across the U.S. welcome students back to in-person learning for the 2021 to 2022 school year. But, after more than a year of pandemic-related disruption and the more recent emergence of the highly infectious delta variant, excitement to get back into the classroom is met by significant concern for student health. Dr. Alok Patel speaks with a leading expert in aerosol transmission of infectious disease, an education researcher and specialist in individualized instructional interventions for students, and a developmental psychobiologist studying stress in young people. They share insights into strategies to reduce viral spread in schools and mitigate the pandemic’s effect on students’ learning, mental health, and overall well being. To learn more about the science behind kids and parenting, check out the YouTube channel “Parentalogic” hosted by Dr. Patel and comedian and mom Bethany Van Delft.
Electric vehicles: infrastructural needs and environmental effects
Gasoline-powered passenger cars account for about 17% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Earlier this month, President Biden signed an executive order setting a goal that by 2030, half of all cars sold in the U.S. would be hybrid or electric. And major automakers have joined in support to make this a reality. But will a widespread switch to battery-powered cars ensure a cleaner future? And what does it take to make the shift from gas to electric? Dr. Alok Patel speaks with a leader in automobile battery development to learn the inner workings of electric vehicles, and checks in with an expert in energy and transportation systems to better understand the environmental impact and infrastructure requirements of a shift to electric.
Covid Vaccines & Variants: What will it take to get out of this pandemic?
With the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus, including Delta, COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly across much of the world. In most U.S. states, a surge in cases is reigniting conversations about the country’s response to the pandemic. Dr. Alok Patel speaks with a leading epidemiologist and a specialist in infectious diseases to gain perspective on pressing concerns, from vaccine effectiveness and boosters to vaccine hesitancy, misinformation, and inequity at a national and global scale.
Love the content, but....
The woman expert is very difficult to understand because of her heavy accent. Is there a written form of this podcast?
Over 28 minutes of hot air bringing nothing insightful on the topic of UAPs
I love the host. He does a great job of hosting a podcast in a relatively entertaining manner (which is hard considering that science can be perceived as a boring topic).