This week's show

DNA is Not Destiny
Oct 15, 2018

DNA is Not Destiny
How behavior can change genes

Heredity was once thought to be straightforward.  Genes were passed in an immutable path from parents to you, and you were stuck – or blessed – with what you got.  DNA didn’t change. 

But now we know that’s not true.   Epigenetic factors, such as your environment and your lifestyle, control how your genes are expressed.  Meanwhile, the powerful tool CRISPR allows us to tinker with the genes themselves.  DNA is no longer destiny.

Hear the results from the NASA twin study and what happened to astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA after a year on the International Space Station.  Plus, whether there’s evidence that epigenetic changes can be passed down.  And, if we can wipe out deadly malaria by engineering the mosquito genome for sterility, should we do it?

Guests:

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Creature Discomforts
Oct 08, 2018
Creature Discomforts
Our animal prejudices corrected.

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Okay you animals, line up: stoned sloths, playful pandas, baleful bovines, and vile vultures.  We’ve got you guys pegged, thanks to central casting. 

Wonder Women
Oct 01, 2018
Wonder Women
Challenging science culture

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(Repeat) We’re hearing about harassment of, and barriers to, women seeking careers in politics and entertainment. But what about science? Science is supposed to be uniquely merit-based and objective. And yet the data say otherwise. A new study reveals widespread harassment of women of color in space science. 

Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself
Sep 24, 2018
Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself
Do we still need doctors?

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Do we still need doctors?  There are umpteen alternative sources of medical advice, including endless and heartfelt health tips from people without medical degrees.

DNA: Nature's Hard Drive
Sep 17, 2018
DNA: Nature's Hard Drive
What surprises are in storage?

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(Repeat) The biotech tool CRISPR lets us do more than shuffle genes.  Researchers have embedded an animated GIF into a living organism’s DNA, proving that the molecule is a great repository for information.  This has encouraged speculation that DNA could be used by aliens to send messages.