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Living Lab Radio brings you conversations at the intersection of science and culture. Connect with scientists for fresh perspectives on the week's news - science and otherwise - and a deeper understanding of the world around us.

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Host and producer Dr. Heather Goldstone.
Credit Maura Longueil

Living Lab Radio is produced by Heather Goldstone and Elsa Partan.

Major support for Living Lab Radio is provided by The Kendeda Fund.

That feeling when you can't remember someone's name.
Joe Loong,

It’s happened to all of us. You bump into someone on the street whom you know you know, but you can’t for the life of you remember their name. Worse yet, somebody walks up to you at a party, greets you by name, asks about your kids, and all you can think is – what is their name?

Data for Asian patients had a high error rate, which could lead to inadequate care.
Eduardo García Cruz,

Algorithms and artificial intelligence are playing ever larger roles in our daily lives – from Google searches and Facebook feeds to self-driving cars and sentencing convicted criminals. And it’s increasingly clear that the decisions algorithms make are often biased, even outright racist and discriminatory.

Why We Itch

Dec 10, 2018
Itch has an important function evolutionarily, though we'd rather live without it.

We’re all familiar with an itchy bug bite, maybe the torture of poison ivy or chicken pox. But what if that kind of itching went on and on?

The striped cusk eel makes a woodpecker-like drumming sound.

The sounds fish make can actually be an important tool for scientists attempting to track and manage fish populations. Underwater microphones can identify the presence of invasive species or reveal when and where fish are mating.



Each month, we check in with the writers at Nature News to talk about the stories they've been following. This week we spoke to senior reporter Davide Castelvechi. 

A new study finds changes in the brain after one season of youth football. But many qustions remain.
Wikicommons /

The NFL made headlines recently with $35 million in research funding to study the effects of concussions and repeated head trauma on football players. The past two years have brought intense public attention to professional football players suffering permanent, degenerative brain damage.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans have access to curbside recycling pick up.
Daniel Lobo,

Recycling: we’ve all been told it’s the right thing to do. But the rules are often confusing, which might explain why Americans think we’re recycling 75 percent of recyclable trash when the actual number is closer to one third.

The North Atlantic right whale population has a chance at recovery if entanglement & ship strikes can be avoided.
NOAA Photo Library /

North Atlantic right whales have once again been spotted in New England’s waters, with several sighted south of Nantucket. These iconic large whales are known for gathering in Cape Cod Bay each spring, but their movements have been less predictable in recent years.  

Elsa Partan

This week, Living Lab Radio is sharing three of our favorite interviews from the last year.


The Hallmark version of Thanksgiving involves friends and family gathered around a beautifully set table for a delicious holiday meal, maybe sharing a bite of pie.

When the now-debunked paper by Andrew Wakefield linking vaccines to autism was published in 1998, American vaccine developer Peter Hotez immediately questioned its findings.

“The paper never made much sense to me,” he said. “We already knew that the changes in the brains of kids with autism are pretty pervasive. And I couldn't imagine a mechanism by which a vaccine could cause autism.”

Jenny Hill / unsplash

You might want to consider adding a brisk walk to your Thanksgiving plans. The Department of Health and Human Services has released some guidelines for physical activity and finds that approximately 80 percent of teens and adults fail to get a healthy amount of exercise.

Vadim Kurland,

Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano that stands nearly 14,000 feet above sea level. The highest peak in Hawaii, it is a sacred place for native Hawaiians. It is also a sought-after location for astronomical observatories. There are currently 13 telescopes on the mountain, and there are plans for a fourteenth.

The proposed telescope, called the "Thirty Meter Telescope," would be massive and it’s the focus of intense controversy. Some native Hawaiians are strongly opposed to the project for spiritual, cultural, and environmental reasons. There have been years of protests.

Science fiction is typically viewed as a genre or maybe a sub-culture, but a new book makes the case that science fiction after World War II is one of the most important and most under recognized influences on contemporary pop culture.

We’re about a week from Thanksgiving and the mid-term election is still fresh on the mind. Heck, some races are still being decided. For many, the country's political divide has become intensely personal – dividing families and even breaking up Thanksgiving traditions.