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SparkDialog Podcasts

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Science, technology, society, our lives, philosophy and religion. This is SparkDialog Podcasts, where it all comes together. Hosted by Dr. Elizabeth Fernandez.
106 Episodes
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What if you could taste climate change, feel it? Today our guest Carolyn Hall explains how she uses storytelling, imagery, and art to educate about the science of climate change. She even takes us on a time traveling adventure to see what New York City will be like 30 years in the future.
AI has enormous promise when being used in healthcare. But to avoid potential problems, misdiagnoses, and bias, we have to understand why these problems occur. Guest Dr. Muhammad Ahmad joins us on the podcast.
Today, Dr. Luisa Cortesi, an environmental anthropologist who witnessed two of the largest floods in India, speaks about climate change.
Pope Francis has taken a special interest in science. Part of his interest is AI – particularly, how to make AI systems more ethical. Today, we are joined by Dr. Brian Patrick Green, the Director of Technology Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. We discuss why ethics in AI systems is important, from suggested videos on YouTube to privacy to how AI algorithms decide who is approved for a loan. We also discuss what exactly morality is, if AI could ever approach human intelligence, and what exactly makes the human mind so special.
Today we are joined by a hospital chaplain who served during COVID to discuss medicine, grief, religion, how sparse medical resources are allocated, how fractured our medical system is, and what it’s like to stand in for family for those dying of COVID.
Quantum entanglement is weird. Two particles can share properties no matter where they are in the Universe. Have they always shared these properties, and they are somehow hidden from us, or do they decide these properties the moment they are measured, and somehow communicate across the vastness of space, instantaneously? Or is something else at work? Can people become entangled? Can we put a human consciousness in a sort of "Schrodinger's Cat" situation, where they are in two states at once? And is your reality the same as my reality? Guest Dr. Eric Cavalcanti addresses these questions and more on this episode of SparkDialog Podcasts.
Gratefulness and COVID feel like they don’t belong in the same sentence. But a year into this pandemic, perhaps there are some lessons we can learn, and some ways that this year has changed us all – maybe for the better.
Today, I am joined by Seth Villegas from Boston University's School of Theology to talk about transhumanism - gradually merging body with machine to become faster, stronger, or even live forever. Why is this movement so appealing? And what does this apparently secular movement have to do with religion?
What similarities do the brains of religious people share? Do these similarities span differences in lifestyle, geography, culture, and religion? I am joined by Dr. Adam Weinberger, a neuroscientist and psychologist at Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Is their life in the Universe? What about within our own solar system? With the recent result of a biomarker on Venus, finding life within our solar system could be a game-changer. I go on a deep-dive with Dr. Niels Ligterink of the University of Bern, Switzerland, one of the designers of the ORIGIN Instrument, a payload that can travel to other worlds to find life. We talk about where life might be hiding in our solar system (even Pluto?!), how we know the icy moons of Jupiter have underground oceans, and how we can find potential life from the clouds of Venus to the underground oceans of Europa.
Can online privacy exist today? What kind of ways does our personal data leak out when we are going about our buisness online, or even in person? I talk to Rob Shavell, co-founder of a privacy company called Abine
We all know that nature is good for us. We know to take care of the Earth, don’t pollute, be mindful of climate change. But how does being in nature affect us personally? How does it change our bodies and our minds, our biology, and our brains? Today I talk to Dr. Peter Kahn, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. We talk about why nature is so good for us, and how much of nature we have lost – and we don’t even realize it.
Environmental racism - it's the term for the fact that communities of color are often hit harder by climate change or pollution than others. This happens both in our country and around the world. What can we do about it? Today, Dr. Gregory Simpson joins us. Gregory is a minister and has a doctorate in organic chemistry. He talks about the situation from Tuvalu to the US to his home of Jamaica, and how education is key in transforming the world.
Why do we see the world as subjective? How is the reality that I see different than from what you see? Does our brain lie to us? Dr. Jorge Morales joins us to talk about the science of the subjective, optical illusions, if we need to be conscious to form a subjective opinion of the world, and when our brain gets it wrong.
The appeal of the Paleo diet is to eat like our ancestors ate. But how do we know what they ate anyways? Today I talk to Dr. Briana Pobiner of the Smithsonian about how we know what our ancestors ate, how it influenced their evolution, and what it's like to be an archaeologist.
We are living in a pressure cooker. With the coronavirus paired with the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the country, how we deal with life and interact with each other is in flux. Part of this is social media and online community. How is online dating changing because of the coronavirus? How is social media being used in the protests? I talk to Dr. Shantel Buggs, a professor Sociology and African American Studies at Florida State University.
Could the western United States be on the cusp of a megadrought - one that could last for decades, even a century? How do scientists know this? And how can giant cities in the west, along with their businesses and population, survive a drought unlike anything the US has seen? I talk to Dr. Kasey Bolles, an interdisciplinary climate scientist, about tree rings, the Dust Bowl, and the potential of the western US entering a megadrought.
When did language originate? How can we figure that out, when brains don't fossilize? Today I talk to neuroscientists Dr. Chris Petkov and Dr. Ben Wilson about the origins of language, and how they found out the origins of language go back much farther than previously thought.
How can we stay connected during this era of COVID-19? I talk to Eric Elnes, who was diagnosed positive with COVID-19 at the start of this outbreak. It is partially due to him that we learned that people can be asymptomatic. We discuss how he keeps his church together through technology during this era of social distancing, how technology can help us all during this time, and why we need each other.
Have you ever been tempted to use one of those pre-generated replies at the bottom of your gmail message? These so-called smart replies may be convenient, but according to our guest Jess Hohenstein, they might be affecting how we interact and how other people think of you.
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