UnDisciplined

Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

Each week, UnDisciplined takes a fun, fascinating and accessible dive into the lives of researchers and explorers working across a wide variety of scientific fields.

Undisciplined: Women And Wikipedia

Jul 29, 2021

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, is one of the first sources Google provides for many different searches. From notable figures to new technology, historical events to horror films, Wikipedia is the initial place countless people look to get quick information. Despite the extensive numbers of articles Wikipedia provides, there is a large gap in gender when it comes to notable figures. Articles about notable women are far more likely to be flagged for deletion regardless of accomplishment, despite many editors’ best efforts.

How much do your personal choices affect climate change? Does promoting the use of energy efficient light bulbs take away from pushing for bigger policy changes like a carbon tax? A new study suggests that reflecting on our individual sustainability efforts might actually make us more likely to support ambitious policy proposals.

There are few things sweeter than a puppy staring back at you. But how does the puppy understand what you're saying, and when exactly do they start picking up on our cues? A new study by University of Arizona researchers shows that puppies as young as two months old can recognize when people are talking to them and look where they're pointing.

Undisciplined: Police Violence And Public Schools

Jul 10, 2021

The frustration over police use of force has been simmering for years in the United States. A new study, published in the February 2021 issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, focused on how police-involved killings affect the inner-city high school students in Los Angeles. The study found that a range of issues, including students' academic performance and psychological wellbeing can be impaired by such incidents, particularly for Black and Hispanic students.

Lab Science Career, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Despite calls for increasing diversity, scientific researchers are still predominantly white. One of the main reasons: a substantial disparity in research funding between black and white researchers. This can affect scientists' careers in important ways. We'll dig into a new report by the National Institutes of Health, which promises to address structural racism within the scientific community, and we'll talk to a scientist who's fighting for change.

Undisciplined: Movie Magic

Jun 24, 2021

Could watching your favorite movie be a successful form of therapy? Researchers are looking into the ways that movies influence their viewers, and they're finding a positive influence on the audience's behaviors and their overall well-being. 

Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

We all know about cyber bullying. We know how pervasive it is. We know how damaging it can be. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about this relatively new phenomenon. For instance: how often are children engaged in cyberbullying of themselves? Well, according to one new study, the answer is a lot.

It’s no longer revolutionary to point out that bacteria can be beneficial in many ways. But until recently, we haven’t had a good handle on the role microorganisms play in plant growth. Now, researchers at Utah State University are starting to ask that question — and the answers may change the way we think about farming.

Jamesêking-holmes

Political scientists Erika Allen Wolters and Brent Steel have written that the United States is experiencing a political era in which facts are fluid and the truth is subjective, and that the consequences of ideology trumping science can be devastating. And they wrote that back in 2017. This week we’ll talk to them about how their fears have shifted in the past four years.

When Athena Castro thinks about the makeup of research spaces, she sees a paradox. Asian women are simultaneously overrepresented in one way and under represented in another. This week, we’re talking to Castro about the intersectional challenges faced by Asian women in science.

Photo by Julia M Cameron

A recently published study has confirmed what a lot of people have long suspected: increasing social media use is correlated to suicidal thoughts among some adolescents. But before you go pull the plug, the nuances here are important. Researchers have identified specific patterns of use that may be dangerous. This week we’ll talk about who is at risk, and what can be done.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic there was a lot of misinformation about vaccines floating around on social media. Public health agencies have been trying to figure out what to do. It turns out that one of the most powerful remedies is also one of the simplest.

Photo by Mattwl, https://flic.kr/p/2SytAZ

There is nothing more damaging to a nation’s economy than a war on its own soil. But the way we think about the long-term economic consequences of war is often tied up in political instability and reconstruction and the cost of care for veterans. That’s all correct, but my guest this week says we’ve overlooked something: The long-term damage to agriculture.

As a counselor and a researcher, Stacey Litam had focused her career on helping victims of sex trafficking to work through their trauma. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and while Litam’s previous work didn’t become less important, she began seeing a growing need for trauma counseling — just about everywhere.

Even if you’re a judge, a prosecutor or a police officer, you might not have given a lot of thought to the question of why we punish people. You might simply conclude that we punish people when they need to be punished. Developmental psychologist Julia Marshall isn’t satisfied with that sort of simplicity. We’ll talk to her about when and why we punish.

Photo provided by Amos Guiora

What is your responsibility when you see injustice being done? For Amos Guiora, this is a deeply personal question stemming from his family’s experiences in one of the greatest atrocities in human history. And now he’s sharing that story.  

Daniel Mennerich, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

The last time the United States Capitol was breached was in 1814, when British troops burned the building using furniture and books from the Library of Congress as fuel. Last week, the capitol was breached again – and that’s raising a lot of questions about the state of our nation. We’re going to work through some of those questions with former CIA analyst Jeannie Johnson.

There are a lot of ways 2020 is going to be remembered and, to be honest, a lot of us will probably remember it as a pretty terrible year, for very obvious reasons. But here at Utah Public Radio, we’re also going to remember 2020 as a year in which we learned some amazing things about our world.

Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA

No human has ventured farther than 250,000 miles from earth. So what we know about what lies beyond us is limited to what we can see through data collection. But why limit the potential of understanding data to what we can see in images? Why not turn it into something we can touch or something we can hear?

Julie Schumacher

In philosophy, the absurd refers to the conflict between the human desire to find meaning in life and the fact that the more you search, the harder it is to find. This is what makes universities such absurd places. And through the use of a fictional college called Payne University, author Julie Schumacher puts that absurdity on full display.

Have you ever found it strange that one of the ways that we let people know we care about them is by gently making fun of them? Teasing is a weird sort of thing – a combination between aggression and play. And researchers from UCLA wanted to know where it came from. This week, we’re going to talk about what they learned.

This week on Undisciplined, we’re talking about monarch caterpillars, ancient big-game hunters, and of course we’ll be talking about the biggest news in science this month — two apparently effective vaccines for COVID-19.

Health in Harmony

Stopping the decimation of rainforests is unquestionably important to slowing climate change. But simply protecting forests often excludes and disenfranchises local communities. This week we’re talking about a different way of addressing this problem — a pairing of ecology with healthcare.

gordonramsaysubmissions, creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Without having a really good reason for doing so, nobody in their right mind would put a dead fish into a ziploc bag, attach it to wires to an electric stimulator, and release it into a tank with an electric eel.

But thankfully, Kenneth Catania had a perfectly good reason for doing all of that. Or maybe he’s not in his right mind. 

Either way, the result was a revelation about the eel — evidence that eels don’t just use their capacity to stun prey with zaps of electricity to kill, but also to sense the world around them.

 

Mike Boswell, creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

2020 has been rough. I don’t know about you, but there were a lot of times this year that I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up a few months later. Well, it turns out that someday we might be able to do that. Some scientists think humans might, in the future, be able to hibernate. And while that’s a long ways off, there’s a lot we can learn from hibernating species in the meantime.

Ghedo, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Although the national election and COVID-19 pandemic continue to dominate the news cycle, there is other news out there — and the worlds of science, exploration and research are moving along with fascinating new discoveries.

We’re discussing ancient hibernation, tiny robot surgeons, a new kind of thermometer, and the world-changing power of CRISPR.

About 150 years ago, Jacob Davis went into business with Levi Strauss, and the era of blue jeans was underway. Today, at any given moment, about half of the world’s population is wearing jeans and other denim garments. But nothing that successful comes without an environmental consequence, and a new study puts those costs into context.

Baranidharan Raman

Since the dawn of agriculture, locusts have been a scourge for farmers around the world. But a new study suggests that while we’ve long been focused on the harms locusts can cause, we might be missing out on the benefits. For instance, and this is just one example, locusts are really good at detecting explosives.

For millions of years, evolution has shaped our behavior — we do what we’re designed to do. Or, at least, we did. Because today’s world stresses and confuses our bodies in ways that we are simply ill-adapted for. Now, the psychologist Erik Peper says it’s time for reckoning.

Andrew Brooks, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

We’re talking about fires and fossils, sea butterflies and stonehenge, and parasitic plants and saving the planet — well, saving ourselves, anyway. Our guests are researchers from across the nation with a diversity of expertise.

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