Biology

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.

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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.

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.

NOAA OKEANOS EXPLORER Program, Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition

All across the world’s oceans, you can find creatures known as larvaceans – free-swimming invertebrates with a superpower, of sorts. 

They make huge structures out of snot. 

And that might sound gross, but it turns out that there’s a lot we can learn from these animals, and this week we’ll talk to a researcher who has just made a breakthrough in our ability to do just that.

Tony Iwane, creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

This week on Undisciplined, we’re talking about one of the world’s most poisonous creatures. Now, maybe right now you’re thinking of a snake. Or a jellyfish. Or a little yellow frog. And those are all good guesses. But the toxin that Charles Hanifin is studying might be even more powerful than the toxins that come from any of those animals. And its source might surprise you.  

Woman with net stands in high elevation grassland with green hills in the background
Joan Meiners

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about bee biodiversity, blood platelets, genetic engineering, environmental journalism, the fast-changing world of medicine, and the future of our planet. 

InChemistry

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about risk and, as we like to do, we're coming to that idea from two very different directions. One of our guests studies aquatic predators, like sharks, in an effort to better understand their role in the global ecosystem. The other creates transgenic organisms, like goats with spider genes, in an effort to build new knowledge and solve old problems. 

Heiko Kiera / Fotalia

This week on the show, we're talking about the science behind Hurricane Dorian, a "rat-pocalypse," a new human ancestor, and poison dart frogs. Everybody on the show is an expert on something, but none of them is an expert on those things. 

Lifespanbook.com

What if aging wasn't inevtiable? What if being 90 felt pretty much the same as being 40, just with a few extra decades of life experience? And what if the science that gets us to that point in human history wasn't the subject of speculative fiction — what if it was real? 

Andrew Sutton / Shutterstock via BBC Earth

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about movement. Our first guest is a scientist whose research is helping us understand the ways the world's largest animal moves its body. Our second guest is a researcher whose recent studies uncover the ways animals are moved as part of complex global trafficking networks. 

Phys.Org

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about the shape of the Milky Way Galaxy, life on the Moon, a poorly-timed tweet, and the potential impact of artificial intelligence on Hollywood. That's right, it's time for the monthly science news roundup! 

Jurgen C. Otto (via ScienceNews.Org)

Today on UnDisciplined, we'll be joined by a scientist who is searching the world for the blackest of black. Next, we'll talk to a researcher who is trying to get a handle on how superstitions spread.

Getty Images

Do you know what kills more women during and after pregnancy than anything else? The answer is probably going to surprise you. And do you have a pretty good understanding of how evolution works? If so, we might have another surpirse for you. 

Cleveland Clinic

This week on UnDisciplined, we're going to talk about the factors that influence our moods. How do the institutions around us inspire us to take action? And how do the things we put into our bodies impact the way we see the world?

Pharmaceutical Journal

This week on UnDisciplined, we're going to chat with a scientist who is trying to solve a big challenge: engineering blood vessels for transplantation into human bodies. After that, we'll talk to a researcher who is trying to solve a challenge that might be even bigger: reducing gender pay disparities in corporate America. 

WebMD

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking to researchers on two sides of a huge scientific challenge. Our first guest researches climate — that means she only has one test subject to work with: the Earth. Our second guest studies cancer, which presents differently in humans and other organisms. That means she has endless test subjects. 

Robert Snow / Ocearch

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about artificial intelligence, great white sharks, illegal pollution, snail genes, and new rules for leaders at the National Institutes of Health. That's right, it's the May Science News Roundup. 

University of Utah

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about scientific puzzles. For instance, why is it that hundreds of tree species can exist within a single acre of rainforest, but the same species is almost never found next to itself?

Or, here's another one: Why is it that individual animals from the same species — dogs, for instance — can exhibit such tremendously different traits when it comes to aggressiveness?

University of Oxford

Our world often seems to be really divided, particularly across cultures in which everyone seems to play by different rules. But today we're going to hear from a researcher who believes there are actually seven universal moral rules that have been embraced by pretty much every society.

UnDisciplined: Superlatives And Survival

Apr 19, 2019
Animal Ark

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about big things and small things, loud things and fast things, things that kill and things that survive being killed — but we're doing it a little differently than normal. 

Emanuele Biggi via Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about some pretty scary things. 

UnDisciplined: Making A Scientific Match

Mar 10, 2019
Getty

Every week on UnDisciplined, we put to researchers from completely different fields together and see what connections they can make. 

The Indian Express

This week on UnDisciplined, we're gathering up a motley gang of science geeks to talk about some of the biggest stories in science over the past few weeks. 

Gail McCormick / Penn State

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about stress, but from two very different scientific points of view. 

Patrick Alexander / Flickr

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about the intersection of science and personal decision-making — and, of course, we're looking at it from two very different perspectives. 

Genetic Literacy Project

This week on UnDisciplined, we're joined by a scientist who helped create a transgenic mouse that can help us understand the human relationship with a vital molecule. We'll also chat with a researcher who just announced the discovery of nearly 50 new species right here in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. 

Chris Bunker / The Daily Universe

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about really small things, like cell cultures and their effect on research, and really big things, like our planet's climate and its effect on human movement. 

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