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

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 8 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 97: Floods in India - A View of Climate Change from Under the River - with guest Dr. Luisa Cortesi

    Ep 97: Floods in India - A View of Climate Change from Under the River - with guest Dr. Luisa Cortesi

    There are places where people can choose to ignore climate change.  Then, there are places that it could never be considered a myth.  Here, the effects of climate change can never be ignored – with floods, heat waves, extreme storms, or literal rising waters.  Such a place is India – particularly, North Bihar.  The floods in India are so extreme that hundreds of villages and thousands of farms can find themselves underwater.  Rivers can dramatically shift course overnight.  And it is not only a problem of water.  In the floodplain of the Himalayas, climate change collides with poverty, culture, caste, and life.  

    Today, we are joined by Dr. Luisa Cortesi.  Luisa has lived around the world, in places where climate change where was particularly felt.  She saw how people lived through and dealt with these disasters.  

    In 2007, while working as an applied anthropologist, Luisa happened to be living in North Bihar when the worst floods in India in decades hit.  Again, she experienced major flooding in 2008 when she saw the entire course of the Kosi River shift.  Today, she shares her experiences.   

    Luisa is an environmental and engaged anthropologist of water, disasters, and inequalities. She received a joint PhD from Yale University in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She has been the Taylor Postdoctoral Fellow and Atkinson Fellow, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainability at Cornell University. She is now Assistant Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies at the Erasmus University in The Netherlands, as well as Marie S. Curie Fellow at the Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies in Germany. Luisa has worked extensively in India and continues to support NGOs there in an advisory capacity. She has recently started the Water Justice and Adaptation Lab.





    If you are a patron of the podcast, be sure to check the Patreon page all this month for bonus content from this episode, including some of Luisa’s pictures from her time in India and a discount code for her book.







    Luisa’s recent work includes: 







    2021    “The Ontology of Water and Land and Flood Control Infrastructure in North Bihar, India” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute  27:4 







    2021    Split waters: The Idea of Water Conflicts. London and New Delhi: Routledge (edited with Joy, K.J.) ISBN 978-0-367-37175-3 







    Forthcoming, The Shape of Water: the Geometry and Epistemology of Infrastructures of Fluvial Management and Flood Control in India,” in Amphibious Anthropologies: Life between the Wet and the Dry (edited with Krause, F. & A. Camargo) 







    Forthcoming, Disastrous Water: The Environmental Knowledge and Technologies of Floods, Toxic Drinking water, and Other Muddy Disasters







    Background music you heard are clips from:







    Adagio teru by rocavaco (c) copyright 2009 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.

    • 33 min
    Ep 96: AI, Ethics, and the Vatican - with guest Dr. Brian Patrick Green

    Ep 96: AI, Ethics, and the Vatican - with guest Dr. Brian Patrick Green

    Pope Francis has taken a special interest in science. Part of his interest is AI – particularly, how to make AI systems more ethical. Today, we are joined by Dr. Brian Patrick Green, the Director of Technology Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. We discuss why ethics in AI systems is important, from suggested videos on YouTube to privacy to how AI algorithms decide who is approved for a loan. We also discuss what exactly morality is, if AI could ever approach human intelligence, and what exactly makes the human mind so special.

    • 42 min
    Ep 95: Grief in the Time of COVID: with guest Dr. Kristel Clayville

    Ep 95: Grief in the Time of COVID: with guest Dr. Kristel Clayville

    Grief in the time of COVID is a very real thing. COVID has changed the way we interact with each other and the world. But perhaps most poignantly, it has introduced new types of grief in our lives. The grief of the dying, not allowed to touch or even see family members one last time. The grief of losing friendships, old traditions, or normal life. Or even the grief of waiting for a COVID vaccine, seeing others return to some sort of normalcy around you.

    Today, our guest is Dr. Kristel Clayville. Kristal has a PhD in religious ethics and works at the intersection of religion and medical ethics. She currently works as a hospital chaplain and ethicist at the University of Chicago. Today she discusses her unique perspective of COVID through the lens of a hospital chaplain – from how hospitals decide who gets a ventilator to what it’s like to stand in for family when someone is dying of COVID.  We also discuss how COVID revealed how fractured our healthcare system is.  

    You can follow Kristal on Twitter @RevDrClayville.





    If you are a patron of the podcast, be sure to check the Patreon page all this month for bonus content from this episode.







    Background music you heard are clips from:







    nightRain by airtone (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/airtone/55887







    Silence Await by Analog By Nature (c) copyright 2008 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/cdk/17432 Ft: oldDog







    Dark Woods II by Ivan Chew (c) copyright 2010 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/ramblinglibrarian/25168







    Two Pianos by Stefan Kartenberg (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/JeffSpeed68/57454 Ft: Admiral Bob (admiralbob77)

    • 29 min
    Ep 94: Quantum Entanglement, Consciousness, and the Nature of Reality: with guest Dr. Eric Cavalcanti

    Ep 94: Quantum Entanglement, Consciousness, and the Nature of Reality: with guest Dr. Eric Cavalcanti

    Quantum entanglement is weird. Two particles can share properties no matter where they are in the Universe. Have they always shared these properties, and they are somehow hidden from us, or do they decide these properties the moment they are measured, and somehow communicate across the vastness of space, instantaneously? Or is something else at work? Can people become entangled? Can we put a human consciousness in a sort of "Schrodinger's Cat" situation, where they are in two states at once? And is your reality the same as my reality? Guest Dr. Eric Cavalcanti addresses these questions and more on this episode of SparkDialog Podcasts.

    • 42 min
    Ep 93: Gratefulness, Hope, and COVID - with guest John Van Sloten

    Ep 93: Gratefulness, Hope, and COVID - with guest John Van Sloten

    Gratefulness and COVID feel like they don’t belong in the same sentence. But a year into this pandemic, perhaps there are some lessons we can learn, and some ways that this year has changed us all – maybe for the better.

    • 29 min
    Ep 92: Merging Man and Machine: Transhumanism and Religion - with guest Seth Villegas

    Ep 92: Merging Man and Machine: Transhumanism and Religion - with guest Seth Villegas

    Today, I am joined by Seth Villegas from Boston University's School of Theology to talk about transhumanism - gradually merging body with machine to become faster, stronger, or even live forever. Why is this movement so appealing? And what does this apparently secular movement have to do with religion?

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

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8 Ratings

8 Ratings

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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.

Natewang19 ,

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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