Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, authored by Mary Ellen Hannibal, attempts to rekindle the notion that science is available to all citizens, not just the experts. Charles Darwin, was a so-called citizen scientist, with no degree or training, he is now considered the ‘father’ of Evolution.
With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to collect data and share it with anyone on the planet to create mass collections of data. Hannibal says we are currently in a mass extinction of plants and animals, and argues it’s crucial that citizens come together to share their observations. She explains observing and recording different species of plants and animals, like Darwin did, can lead to the same kind of groundbreaking analysis that led to the theory of Evolution.
The director of Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, Geoff LeBaron, says average citizens can be the eyes and ears of big data collection. LeBaron shares many scientist were apprehensive to use data collected by citizens, but because of the techniques created scientists now accept the findings of studies like the Christmas Bird Count. If you’re interested in getting involved in citizen science, go to the Nature’s Notebook webiste: https://www.usanpn.org/nn/become-observer to become part of an observational science team.
Mary Ellen Hannibal, author, Citizen Scientist: Searching for heroes and hope in an age of extinction
Geoff LeBaron, director of Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count
Jack London is known for the adventure and intrigue of his writings. Lesser known are the struggles London faced before he became a published author. He was well acquainted with manual labor under terrible working condition for minimal wages. The plight of laborers and the injustice they felt is woven into his fast paced plots.
Cecelia Tichi, Professor of English and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, as well as author of Jack London: A Writer’s Fight for a Better America, went back and reread all of London’s writings with social activism in mind. She found that London made a habit of commenting on social topics, specifically poverty and exploited workers.
Tichi explains Call of the Wild, London’s breakout work, contrasts American ideals with poverty and exploitation. She argues London deserve to be recognized as a forward political thinker, not just an author of exciting plot twists. Learn more at Tichi’s website: jacklondonbook.com
Cecelia Tichi, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and professor of American Studies at Vanderbilt University, author, Jack London: A writer’s fight for a better America.
During the holidays, many parents fret over the materialistic messages their children are exposed to. We talk to a mom and an author who together have created a children’s book and game designed to make giving back to others a fun pursuit.
Sarah Linden and Tyler Knott Gregson, co-authors, North Pole Ninjas: Mission: Christmas
At the beginning of the 20th century, W.E.B. Du Bois revolutionized scientific sociology, but was denied accolades because of his race. Now, we talk to scholars about what exactly Du Bois did to improve the study of sociology and what his impact truly was.
Aldon D. Morris, professor of sociology and African-American studies at Northwestern University, author of the book, The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. Du Bois and the birth of modern sociology
Over 95 years ago, New York City was the target of a terrorist attack that has yet to be solved. No suspects have ever been named in the attack that killed or injured over 400 Wall Street bystanders. In contrast to the attacks of September 11th, which occurred just around the corner from the 1920 bombing, this deadly event has been all but erased from the collective American consciousness.
Jed Rubenfeld’s work of historical fiction, The Death Instinct, brings the 1920 bombing back to life. Although some characters and plot elements are fictionalized, Rubenfeld carefully matches historical details and events to accurately convey the context and sentiment surrounding what at the time was the deadliest terrorist attack in the world.
World War I had ended and the Depression was taking form, creating a society of lawlessness. Rubenfeld contends that there was further reasoning behind the bombing than just spreading terror. There was a billion dollars in gold being transferred from one vault to another at the exact time the attack took place, but authorities deny this was anything more than coincidence. At this point, the 1920 attack will likely never be solved, but Rubenfeld explores his own resolution in The Death Instinct.
The technology used to catch criminals is constantly being invented and then reinvented. From fingerprints to DNA, advancements in technology have allowed authorities to more accurately and efficiently locate and apprehend criminals. Now, what may be the largest addition to the tool belt of the criminal justice system yet is the technology we all carry in our pockets daily.
Cellphones have long been used to find and convict criminals, mainly through call logs and cell tower triangulation, but mobile devices now serve as de facto personal GPS trackers with extreme accuracy. Oxygen Forensics Inc. creates software that allows investigators to extract and interpret data from practically any digital device. Lee Reiber, COO for the company, says there now exists more mobile devices than people on this Earth, and the uses for our mobile data are infinite.
Even if a suspect refuses to talk, their mobile data can serve as evidence of location, communication history, and proximity to others. It also holds records of all documents and information that many of us wrongly assume is private. Pressing delete doesn’t mean information can’t be recovered and, even in cases where no mobile phone is involved, Reiber says any ‘smart’ device that collects data (and they all do) can be utilized.
What else can the data being collected around us be used for? Jerry Ropelato is the CEO of White Clouds, a large scale 3D printing technology company. He says virtually any set of information can be transformed to a physical object using 3D printing.
Whether it’s used to create medical materials or to build a exact model of an object, the possibilities are endless. Recently, White Clouds aided a defense attorney by replicating a residential crime scene to better convey their side of the story to the jury. No matter the use of these technologies, one thing is clear. This is only the beginning phase of the possible applications and only time will tell the true impact.
It’s no secret: American students are way down the international list when it comes to math scores. Why is this? Is there something we could be doing to make learning math a simpler task? Our guests say yes, and have suggestions for kids- and adults- struggling to master mathematics.
Bob Sun, inventor of The 24 Game and First in Math
Jason Wilkes, author, Burn Math Class: And reinvent mathematics for yourself