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Undisciplined: The Science Storyteller

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John Englart, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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This week on the program, we’re going to solve a puzzle. Or, we’re going to try, at least. And here’s the challenge: how do you communicate the depth and gravity and overwhelming scientific consensus on the changes that are coming for our world without making people throw their hands up in despair?  

Rob Davies is a physicist whose career has taken him through atmospheric physics, surface physics and quantum optics. He has taught at three universities, worked as a project scientist for Utah State University’s space dynamics laboratory, and played a role as a technical liaison for NASA’s international space station. His primary focus for the past decade has been on what he calls critical science communication, principally focused on global environmental change. 

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including Inheritance with geneticist Sharon Moalem and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His forthcoming book, Superlative, will look at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways.