Behind every scientific discovery is a scientist (or 12) and a story. “Point of Discovery” takes you on a journey beyond WHAT we know to HOW we know it. Along the way, listeners will meet the sometimes quirky, always passionate people whose curiosity unlocks hidden worlds.
Music by: Podington Bear.
Learn more at: http://pointofdiscovery.org
Point of Discovery is part of the Texas Podcast Network, which is brought to you by The University of Texas at Austin. Podcasts are produced by faculty members and staffers at UT Austin who work with University Communications to craft content that adheres to journalistic best practices. The University of Texas at Austin offers these podcasts at no charge. Podcasts appearing on the network and this webpage represent the views of the hosts, not of The University of Texas at Austin.
A Physicist’s Search for Beauty
Here in part 2 of our continuing remembrance of Steven Weinberg, we’re diving a little deeper into what we know because of him. Weinberg was one of the world’s greatest theoretical physicists, and his passing last year was deeply felt not only by us here at The University of Texas at Austin, but by a broad community of scientists and science-loving people. Weinberg summed up the goal of his life’s work as: “to know why things are the way they are.” To him, that meant distilling the rules of physics down to their simplest, most beautiful essence.
Remembering Steven Weinberg
Today, in the first of two parts of a special segment, we’re remembering the life and legacy of one of the greatest theoretical physicists of all time — The University of Texas at Austin’s Steven Weinberg, who died in July. We’re exploring who he was as a scientist, writer and mentor — and a deep thinker about our place in the universe. We’ll hear from colleagues who worked with him — fellow UT Austin physicists Katherine Freese, Willy Fischler and Can Kilic — and from his former student John Preskill.
Did you know frogs are also in a pandemic? Today on the Point of Discovery podcast, five ways the frog pandemic is like COVID-19.
BONUS: Presenting the Texas Podcast Network
Today we’re doing something a little different. We’re bringing you an excerpt from another great podcast produced here at the University of Texas at Austin, called TX512. It’s about all things UT Austin and Texas.
In this excerpt, host Sam Torres asks guest Sara Robberson Lentz about the Texas Podcast Network, which is a group of more than a dozen podcasts produced across the university, including Point of Discovery. Sara is the managing editor for feature content in the University Communications office and founder of the Texas Podcast Network. After that, Marc Airhart, producer of Point of Discovery, talks about how the podcast started and why we produce it.
The Case Against Spanking
Physical punishment, or spanking, is widely practiced in the U.S. and around the world, although it appears to be decreasing. Parents, caregivers and school administrators who use it say the goal is to prevent unwanted behaviors and teach children to make better choices. But does it actually work? And what long term effects does it have on the physical and mental health of people who are punished this way?
In today’s special episode, we’re teaming up with Ike Evans, producer of the Into the Fold podcast, to jointly interview one of the world’s experts on physical punishment, Liz Gershoff. She’s a professor in the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Human Development and Family Sciences and the director of the Population Research Center. She’s been studying the effects of physical discipline on children for two decades and advocating for an end to the practice.
If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out Into the Fold Episode 22: Restorative Discipline in Schools: https://hogg.utexas.edu/into-the-fold-episode-22-restorative-discipline-in-schools
Listen to other great episodes of Into the Fold here: https://soundcloud.com/hoggfoundation
Music for today’s show was produced by:
Podington Bear - https://www.podingtonbear.com/
About Point of Discovery
Point of Discovery is a production of the University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences and is a part of the Texas Podcast Network. The opinions expressed in this podcast represent the views of the hosts, and not of The University of Texas at Austin. You can listen to all our episodes at @point-of-discovery .
Questions or comments about this episode, or our series in general? Email Marc Airhart at mairhart[AT]austin.utexas.edu
Do Sick Animals Socially Distance?
When we get sick, we change our social interactions—we keep away from others and we don’t share food. It turns out, humans aren’t the only species to do it.
According to a new review in the journal Science, when highly social animals — such as ants, mice and bats — get sick, their social interactions change, too. For example, sick vampire bats groom each other less, move less and call out less, and this may help reduce the spread of disease. It’s not active social distancing, but rather more like the way we humans are less active when we’re feeling lousy. Ants on the other hand are more proactive: when sick, they will actively self-isolate in a way that helps protect the rest of the colony.
By studying how social behavior changes in various animals, scientists are hoping to better understand the effectiveness of different strategies humans use, like social distancing, to combat the spread of diseases like COVID-19.
Today on the show we’ll meet Sebastian Stockmaier, a recently minted PhD scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, who has spent seven years studying vampire bats and how their social behaviors change when they feel sick.
Watch a video of a vampire bat tricked into feeling sick: https://youtu.be/lCr52sn76Wg
Watch a video of vampire bats “contact calling”: https://youtu.be/p9NcOGy8kJY
A collection of vampire bat videos: https://socialbat.org/videos/
Read the new review paper in the journal Science, “Infectious diseases and social distancing in nature”: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6533/eabc8881
Music for today’s show was produced by:
• Podington Bear - https://www.podingtonbear.com/
Photo credit: Josh Moore, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Saving the Bees
Thought this podcast was very interesting, fun, and informative. Relevant to issues in today’s world. Am forwarding to friends in Denver!
Great science podcast!
This show takes an interesting approach in focusing on the specific researchers and their work, instead of just explaining a general science topic on it’s own. It’s science driven but people focused. Looking forward to more episodes!
I love how every episode of this podcast breaks down complicated topics into something everyone can understand. I really enjoy listening with my family - we all learn something new every time!