50 episodes

Science and technology are everywhere in our lives. This podcast takes a look not only at the science itself, but its role in society, how it affects our lives, and how it influences how we define ourselves as humans. Episodes also throw in a mix of culture, history, ethics, philosophy, religion, and the future! Hosted by Elizabeth Fernandez, an astronomer and science communicator. Let's spark some dialog!

SparkDialog Elizabeth Fernandez

    • Natural Sciences
    • 5.0, 7 Ratings

Science and technology are everywhere in our lives. This podcast takes a look not only at the science itself, but its role in society, how it affects our lives, and how it influences how we define ourselves as humans. Episodes also throw in a mix of culture, history, ethics, philosophy, religion, and the future! Hosted by Elizabeth Fernandez, an astronomer and science communicator. Let's spark some dialog!

    Ep 85: How Paleolithic is the Paleo Diet? What did our Ancestors Eat Anyways? – with guest Dr. Briana Pobiner

    Ep 85: How Paleolithic is the Paleo Diet? What did our Ancestors Eat Anyways? – with guest Dr. Briana Pobiner

    There’s a lot of opinions about the current Paleo diet. Some proponents say eat what our ancestors ate – meat, veggies, fruit, nuts. But what about things like lentils? Beans? Milk or wheat? Are those allowed in the Paleo diet? There are differing opinions. How do we really know what our ancestors ate?







    Stomachs don’t fossilize, so this actually is a pretty difficult question to answer. In order to figure it out, archaeologists and scientists have to use indirect methods, and infer our ancestors’ diets based on clues. It’s a treasure hunt involving ancient food and ancient diets. And the results could lead to understanding how our food influenced our evolution, and eventually, how we developed into the human species we are today.







    Today on the podcast I welcome Dr. Briana Pobiner. Briana is a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian, and has traveled all around the world, looking for fossils and using them to deduce what did our ancestors eat.







    You can follow Human Origins at the Smithsonian Institute @HumanOrigins.







    For patrons of this podcast, check out the bonus content at Patreon.com. You’ll find photos that Briana took from the road during her archaeological digs.  If you are not a patron and want to become one, you can sign up at Patreon.com.  Thank you for you support!







    Some of the background music you here are clips from:









    SUNBIRDS by BOCrew (c) copyright 2012 Licensed under a Creative

    Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

    http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/BOCrew/38854 Ft: THEDEEPR / THECORNER /

    feat : FORENSIC /







    Drops of H2O ( The

    Filtered Water Treatment ) by J.Lang (c) copyright 2012 Licensed

    under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

    http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/djlang59/37792 Ft: Airtone







    reCreation by

    airtone (c) copyright 2019 Licensed under a Creative Commons

    Attribution (3.0) license.

    http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/airtone/59721







    B34 by zikweb (c)

    copyright 2006 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

    http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/zikweb/8168 Ft: NoSushi

    • 36 min
    Ep 84: The Coronavirus, Social Media, Online Dating and Black Lives Matter – with guest Dr. Shantel Buggs

    Ep 84: The Coronavirus, Social Media, Online Dating and Black Lives Matter – with guest Dr. Shantel Buggs

    To say we live in changing times is an understatement. The world right now is a pressure cooker. Already, people around the world were losing their jobs, their lives, and their ability to even venture into public places with the coronavirus outbreak. But then add to that the tragic murder of George Floyd by the police, igniting protests across the country and world.  Amid all of this, our online presence is having an affect on what is occurring, with social media playing a roll in black lives matter and COVID-19.

    Today, I’m joined by Dr. Shantel Buggs, an assistant professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Florida State University.  Shantel looks at the roll of social media and online communities, especially in the context of society.  How has dating – now primarily online dating – changed when most dates now take place on a video call or with a facemask?  How are social media platforms affecting the Black Lives Matter movement, used both to coordinate protests and simultaneously being used against protesters?  How do online platforms change our friendships?  How are our online communities playing in a roll in how we define ourselves and those that we want to associate with?  And how is misinformation handled on social media?

    For patrons of this podcast, check out the bonus content at Patreon.com. You’ll find the Pulitzer Winning photo that Shantel mentions in the podcast.  If you are not a patron and want to become one, you can sign up at Patreon.com.  Thank you for you support!

    Some of the background music you here are clips from:

    I dunno by grapes (c) copyright 2008 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/grapes/16626 Ft: J Lang, Morusque

    eighteen pieces (soda) by Soda (c) copyright 2008 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/soda/16738

    SkyDub by Psykick (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/Psykick/52937

    Start To Grow (cdk Mix) by Analog By Nature (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/cdk/43815 Ft: Jeris

    Transmutation by Kara Square (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/mindmapthat/56527 Ft: Spinningmerkaba

    • 33 min
    Ep 83: The West: On the Cusp of a MegaDrought – with guest Dr. Kasey Bolles

    Ep 83: The West: On the Cusp of a MegaDrought – with guest Dr. Kasey Bolles

    With the wildfires in California, extreme insect infestations in forests, and the duration between rainstorms lengthening, the western United States is in the midst of a drought.  But this drought could be the part of something larger – a so-called “megadrought”, which the United States has not seen the likes of for four hundred years.

    Megadroughts themselves are large events – ones that can last hundreds of years.  Modern American culture has never seen a megadrought.  How will this affect giant cities with millions of inhabitants – Phoenix, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, or businesses that call the west home?  How will they respond to a drought that goes on for decades?

    Today I welcome Dr. Kasey Bolles on the podcast.  Kasey is an interdisciplinary climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s Tree-Ring Lab.  She focuses on understanding how changes in water availability play out at the Earth’s surface and impact human health, culture, economy, and society.  She joins us today to explain why scientists think the western United States is on the cusp of a megadrought, how droughts have affected society in the past, and what we can do about it if the current drought continues not for years, but for decades.

    For patrons of this podcast, check out the bonus content at Patreon.com.  You’ll find a mini podcast episode where Kasey explains how tree rings can tell us more about Native American culture and history and amazing historical images of the Dust Bowl.  If you are not a patron and want to become one, you can sign up at Patreon.com.  Thank you for you support!

    Some of the background music you here are clips from:

    The Sky of our Ancestors by Kevin MacLeod

    Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4510-the-sky-of-our-ancestors

    License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

    Ave Marimba by Kevin MacLeod

    Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3396-ave-marimba

    License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

    The Long Goodbye by John Pazdan (c) copyright 2008 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/flatwound/14476

    Longing for Tumbleweeds by Admiral Bob (c) copyright 2011 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/admiralbob77/33347 Ft: snowflake

    Amazing Plan by Kevin MacLeod

    Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3358-amazing-plan

    License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

    MILLENNIALS by Analog By Nature (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/cdk/57150

    • 27 min
    Ep 82 : The Origins of Language May Go Much Farther Back Than We Thought – with guests Dr. Chris Petkov and Dr. Ben Wilson

    Ep 82 : The Origins of Language May Go Much Farther Back Than We Thought – with guests Dr. Chris Petkov and Dr. Ben Wilson

    When did language originate?  It’s a tricky question to answer.  We can’t go back in time.  We can’t even look at “fossilized brains” to see how they worked.  So how can we understand the origins of language?

    Scientists have a few ways to do this.  One way is to scan the brains of living animals – humans, chimpanzees, apes, and monkeys.  They can see how these brains work, how they are different than ours, and how they are the same.  Using this, they can infer some of our own evolutionary history.

    Many people previously thought the origins of language went back about five million years.  But now, a team of scientists are suggesting that pre-language ability actually went back much, much farther.

    Today on the podcast we are joined by Dr. Chris Petkov and Dr. Ben Wilson.  Chris is a Professor of Comparative Neuropsychology and Newcastle University Medical School.  Ben is a comparative neurosciencist studying how the brain evolved to support language.  Previously he worked at Newcastle University, and is about to move to Emory University.   We discuss how far back they can trace the origin of language, how they do it, and why language is so special to us humans after all.

    You can follow Chris @cipetkov.

    For patrons of this podcast, check out the bonus content at Patreon.com.  You’ll find images of brain scans, one of Ben and Chris’ monkey friends from their lab, and a mini-episode where Chris talks about what music and language have in common.  If you are not a patron and want to become one, you can sign up at Patreon.com.  Thank you for you support!

    Some of the background music you here are clips from:

    Language of My Reality by Tomas PhUsIoN (c) copyright 2005 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/phusion/860

    Depart (cdk mix) by Analog By Nature (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/cdk/50347 Ft: Tekno Eddy

    SkyDub by Psykick (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/Psykick/52937

    Start To Grow (cdk Mix) by Analog By Nature (c) copyright 2013 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/cdk/43815 Ft: Jeris

    • 38 min
    Ep 81: Staying Connected During COVID-19 (with Technology!) – with guest Eric Elnes

    Ep 81: Staying Connected During COVID-19 (with Technology!) – with guest Eric Elnes

    How can we stay connected during this era of COVID-19? I talk to Eric Elnes, who was diagnosed positive with COVID-19 at the start of this outbreak. It is partially due to him that we learned that people can be asymptomatic. We discuss how he keeps his church together through technology during this era of social distancing, how technology can help us all during this time, and why we need each other.

    • 30 min
    Ep 80: Smart Replies Aren’t So Smart – with guest Jess Hohenstein

    Ep 80: Smart Replies Aren’t So Smart – with guest Jess Hohenstein

    Have you ever been tempted to use one of those pre-generated replies at the bottom of your gmail message? These so-called smart replies may be convenient, but according to our guest Jess Hohenstein, they might be affecting how we interact and how other people think of you.

    • 21 min

Customer Reviews

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The Pope’s Astronomer episode #41

This episode was so interesting and thought provoking. The guest was so insightful and had me hanging on to his thoughts from the start. The host Elizabeth as always asked great questions. I look forward to the next episode every two weeks.

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Accessible and fascinating!

No advanced degrees necessary to enjoy this great find for science fans. The topics are wide ranging and I walk away learning something new each time I listen. Elizabeth does a great job leading the conversation and making sure that the experts communicate in a way that's understandable and interesting for the audience.

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