A podcast for surviving our modern world. With help from UC Berkeley experts, California magazine editors Laura Smith and Leah Worthington explore cutting-edge, often controversial ideas in science, technology, and society. Should you be able to choose your baby’s IQ? Are algorithms really smarter than people? As we face a planet devastated by climate change, what is the future of food? All that and more. A production of California magazine and the Cal Alumni Association. // Reported and hosted by Laura Smith and Leah Worthington; produced by Coby McDonald; artwork by Michiko Toki; original music by Mogli Maureal
#13 Should We Bring Back Woolly Mammoths?
Passenger pigeons. Woolly mammoths. Neanderthals. They’re all extinct. But what if we could bring them back? And if we could, should we? Geneticists are exploring de-extincting extinct and near-extinct species, but ethical and logistical problems abound. Laura and Leah sit down with a genetic engineer and an ecologist to understand how de-extinction works and the unintended consequences of playing god. Life, uh, finds a way.
#12 2021: A Space Hotel Odyssey
Since the first human left Earth’s atmosphere in 1961, few earthlings—and even fewer private citizens—have had the opportunity to “boldly go” there. But, with new advancements from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other spaceflight companies, wealthy tourists could soon be booking rooms in hotels in outer space. As with any new industry, the rise of space tourism raises some new, sometimes uncomfortable, questions: Are we colonizing space? Is this just another exclusive vacation experience for the ultra-rich? Why are billionaires spending so much money on space tourism when there are plenty of humans on Earth without food, housing, or health insurance? Laura and Leah speak with the fifth-ever space tourist and one of the minds behind the universe’s first space hotel.
#11 A Completed Life
Five years after 29-year-old, terminally ill Brittany Maynard makes national news by choosing to end her life early, medically assisted death continues to face enormous legal and social barriers. And yet public support of the practice is high. As life-expectancy and palliative care improve, we face new questions: Under what circumstances are people allowed to choose when and how they die? And how might rethinking the conversation and practices around death change our very conception of it? To find out, Laura and Leah speak with California’s leading end-of-life doctor and a healthy octogenarian who plans to quit while she’s ahead.
#10 A Shroom of One's Own
Half a century after the counterculture movement swept through the Bay Area and “mind altering substances” were banished from the laboratory, researchers at the new Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics are reviving a long-buried field of research. Is this the beginning of a psychedelic renaissance? Are psychedelics the new frontier in both understanding and treating psychological disorders? And what happens when you “shake the snowglobe” of the mind? Laura and Leah speak with a neuroscientist and a BCSP Senior Guide to find out.
#9 You Say Couch Potato, I Say Athlete
How did video gaming, or esports, make it from your parents’ basement to the big leagues? Laura and Leah discuss with student esport “athletes,” an administrator, and a team owner. Also discussed: why Cal is investing in gaming as a career path, whether it should be considered a sport, and the industry’s fraught but promising relationship with women gamers.
After an unsettling encounter with a turkey, Laura resolves to eat less meat and takes Leah on a journey through the alternative meat industry. Will real, flesh and blood meat be obsolete in 15 years, as one industry leader suggests? Laura and Leah discuss with the director of UC Berkeley’s Alt: Meat Lab, Dr. Ricardo San Martin, and a former student who is developing a faux-chicken drumstick. (The question on everyone’s mind is: if it’s vegan, what’s the drumstick bone?) Also on the docket: how to turn plants into burgers, why many meat alternatives on the market aren’t good for you, the cultural and moral implications of meat-eating, and what the food of the future might look like.
Awesome podcast- fun and interesting!
The Edge has consistently interesting and informative stories. They have great guests and Leah and Laura are great hosts and make complex topics fun and approachable!
Outstanding! Keep up the good work.
I am an avid and experienced podcast listener with a fairly large library.
This podcast has :
1)Excellent writing and direction
2)Interesting background music, but not at all as intrusive as other podcasts that are out there.
3) interesting and very important topical content.
4) delightful talent with good banter. Worth a few chuckles.
5) the informational depth of each episode mirrors that same depth of articles one reads in California Magazine whose initiative this podcast is.
Full disclosure, I am a member of the CAA Board of Directors, where I first heard about the Edge, however I swear by the objectivity of this review. Listen for yourself.