- Current, Upcoming & Past Workshops
From ancient conjurers, to quick-witted con artists, to big ticket Las Vegas illusionists, magicians throughout the ages have been expertly manipulating human attention and perception to dazzle and delight us (or steal our watches). Most of us know that magic isn't "real" so why does it still work? Is the hand truly quicker than the eye? Discover how magic exploits our mind's natural cognitive "shortcuts" and attentional pitfalls to create the illusion of the impossible.
Most scientists are passionate about what they do. But when deciding on what is true or not, passion has to take a back seat to the fundamental process of scientific discovery - the scientific method. In grade school, I was taught the scientific method like one might explain the steps of a formal dance: first form a hypothesis, second test the hypothesis, third revise the hypothesis, and so on. Sounds pretty boring. In reality, pursuing a deep understanding of the world through scientific discovery is often far from measured and elegant. Experiments are done on a hunch. Inspiration strikes in the shower. Experiments don't quite confirm or disprove a hypothesis, or published data doesn't fit with your favorite interpretation. So what is really true? In this talk, I will describe my experience with the scientific method as a researcher, teacher, and every day citizen. A key point I hope to convey is that the scientific method is a way of understanding the world that is not restricted to the laboratory but can be useful from the halls of Congress to the door of your kitchen. And as important as it is to know when the scientific method is needed, one must also know when it is not.
The frontier of modern biomedical research requires a basic understanding of the structure and function of cells and genes. This talk, designed to introduce the topic or as a refresher, will cover the essentials of cell biology, what genes are and how they work, and current issues in genetics and medicine.
Scientific topics can be dense and abstract, and scientists often provide lackluster interviews, but that doesn’t mean your story has to be dull. Writing a strong radio science story begins with a well-thought-out structure. David Baron, health and science editor for PRI’s The World and former science correspondent for NPR, shares tips on finding the narrative thread that will create a clear and compelling story – even if all you have to work with are ax & trax.
Stem cells hold the promise of revealing fundamental information about human development, and could ultimately be used to illuminate and treat a broad range of diseases and disorders from heart disease, Parkinson's disease and diabetes, to birth defects and cancer. The cells could be used to replace damaged tissues. They could be used as vehicles to deliver drugs into the brain, to test drugs in the culture dish, or to create precise models of human disease in human cells.
Already, stem cells from patients with various diseases are being studied in the culture dish, and are being studied as a cause of some cancers. Stem cells could also cause serious side effects and lead to cancer.
This session will review the state of embryonic and adult stem cell research, and where the field is heading. Particular attention will focus on making stem cells from skin and other tissues and whether embryonic stem cells are still needed. It will also put the research in context of the current political climate, providing an overview of the impact of the recent change in federal stem cell policies, and the impact on stem cell research in California of the $3 billion funding initiative that California voters passed under Proposition 71 in 2005.
Although organic evolution is considered a basic organizing principle of biology, there is a long history of public opposition to the idea that humans shared common ancestors with other organisms. The current, more subtle manifestations of creationism are best understood in this historical context. Understanding the origin and history of this opposition will better prepare journalists to more effectively report on evolution. The public has many misconceptions about evolution, which reporters can correct, or at least not reinforce.
Most students find chemistry to be overly difficult and tedious, with no connection to their lives. Understanding the concept of electronegativity and how it relates to the unequal sharing of electrons in chemical bonds turns chemistry into an intuitive science that can be used to explain any number of complex phenomena such as why water is a liquid at room temperature and how drugs work. Brent Iverson will reveal these and other simple truths about chemistry and discuss common misconceptions about how modern science works.
Mary C. Comerio
When an earthquake happens (most recently in Haiti and Chile), reporters focus on the dramatic damage and the human suffering. What causes earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters? How can we understand what happened and why?
Does a science reporter primarily explain, expose or simply interest? What are the traps that lie in wait for even a well-seasoned pro? How does our work influence social perceptions and perhaps even the scientific process itself? Join in an exploration of our role and discuss ways to take your reporting to a deeper level with examples from genetics, biotechnology and other disciplines.
This talk will explore how to use story structures, sound design and conversation in science reporting. We will address audience and story telling problems that are unique to the context of science reporting. Together, we will consider some simple design elements for engaging people and explaining complex ideas, think about how to apply those elements to pieces you are working on, and discuss the constraints and advantages of different story and news formats.
David Baron and Soren Wheeler lead a listening session of participants' work.
David Baron and Soren Wheeler lead a constructive listening session of participants' work.
Data do not come with meaning. Statistics is a collection of techniques whose basic goal is to extract meaning from data. Two basic challenges are involved: (1) organizing, describing and summarizing a collection of data when we know all the pertinent data; and (2) inferring a picture of the whole data set when all we know is a sample of the data. Statistical analysis has the potential to open our eyes to insight and refinement in our view of the world. Statistics also contains potential pitfalls that can distort our view. Ultimately, statistics is a refinement of common sense and common sense needs to be part of any appropriate use of statistics.
Much has been discussed about the consequences of continuing reliance on fossil fuels for more than 85 percent of our energy. The projected effects on climate of relentlessly accelerating combustion of fossil fuels are cause for alarm. And the use of fossil fuels is so obviously unsustainable, and yet so hard to replace with alternatives that can reach the scale of fossil fuel consumption, that there is some urgency to explore alternatives. The Energy Biosciences Institute is an organization that investigates all aspects of the field of energy biosciences – and in particular, the pathway to a cellulosic biofuels-based energy economy. This talk will provide an overview of the international search for sustainable, renewable, affordable and environmentally responsible transportation fuel, and in particular, how the EBI is taking a holistic approach to the challenge.
Meet the Scientist Lunch: Stuart Russell
Stuart Russell will talk about his research in artificial intelligence and give an overview of the field. He will also offer a heads-up on anticipated developments, and let us know what might make news.
This lecture/discussion will focus on both the theoretical structure of evolution and the evidence, ranging from classical comparative anatomy and development to modern genomics. The goals include understanding evolutionary biology as a science, and addressing the often shaky relationship between the public and science.
Mary Beth Kirchner
Complicated concepts come to life when there’s a compelling human story to draw the listener in. That’s the premise of this session and the driving force behind producer Mary Beth Kirchner’s two decades of reporting about neuroscience for radio and television. When the viewer or listener “cares” about the subject – that presents a “teachable moment” where complicated ideas pop out of the TV/radio and resonate long after in the audience’s thinking.
Mary Beth Kirchner and Margo Melnicove lead a listening session of pariticipants' work.
Mary Beth Kirchner and Margo Melnicove lead a constructive listening session of participants' work.
KQED QUEST staff
During this session we will hear from staff at QUEST, the largest multiple-media project in KQED's history. QUEST staff will talk about current media buzzwords such as convergence, multimedia and social networking. They will discuss how station-based producers are changing their thinking to embrace new media. What does a multiplatform model look like and how does a public broadcaster transition to a multimedia producer? They will also explore the pitfalls and possibilities of a new way of working, how science coverage benefits from this new model, and ask: What are the big science topics to watch out for in the coming year? Pick up best practices for making online content – from quick Web extras to more advanced interactive projects. Also, some tips on taking good video and stills on the run and how to incorporate pictures and other info into a Google map.
On this day, participants will tour the California Academy of Sciences, considered the "greenest" museum in the world with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and four-story rainforest all under one roof. The San Francisco-based CAS is housed in a 400,000 square-foot structure in Golden Gate Park. Its mission is to explore, explain and protect the natural world. In addition to the exhibits, the museum is also home to a team of scientists, an education department, and one of the world’s largest collections of science specimens and artifacts. Participants will go behind-the-scenes to see some of the ongoing research being conducted in the fields of evolutionary biology, biodiversity and conservation. Dr. Norm Penny and Moe Flannery will showcase the Academy's collection of insects, birds and mammals, and explain how collections such as these are of immense value in studying evolution and the sustainability of life on Earth. Dr. Brian Simison will give a tour of the in-house laboratory for DNA sequencing and talk about the importance of sequencing to modern evolutionary biology.
There is a bewildering amount of science information available on the Web. This hands-on session will outline a strategy for comprehensive and systematic searches to find the most important sources for science topics. Freely available resources will be primarily utilized.
Access to journal literature and other scholarly publications has changed extensively in the past few years. This session will focus on the changes in scholarly communication and in scientific publishing. We will go over how to access material in both peer-reviewed and popular open access journals, and how to identify the most accurate and relevant information.
Imke de Pater
Our Solar System is comprised of bodies varying in size from the giant planet Jupiter, 12 times larger than Earth, down to bodies less than a few kilometers in size, and further down to microscopically small dust grains. The planets and their satellites are now known to us as individual worlds, some of which show similarities to Earth (e.g., Titan, Mars), whereas others exhibit such extreme volcanism that even the largest volcanoes on Earth are dwarfed in comparison (Io, Enceladus).
Although the problem of drug resistance has always been a major clinical and public health concern in infectious diseases, it has become a crisis of global importance in the 21st century. In the past, drug-resistant infections have been largely confined to settings or institutions that utilize large amounts of antimicrobial agents, such as hospitals in developed countries like the United States, Japan, and Western Europe. With the rise of BRIC nations, globalization of food trade, medical tourism, and other human economic activities, drug resistant infections are no longer confined to healthcare settings. Multi-drug and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis, drug resistant HIV, drug resistant malaria, as well as community-acquired food-borne diseases, urinary tract infections, pneumonias, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have now become a pandemic that has yet to be recognized as such. Finally, drug resistance determinants (genes) themselves are causing a silent epidemic among pathogens, spread by nonpathogenic bacteria serving as a Trojan horse. Molecular epidemiology studies have revealed new understanding of the transmission dynamics of this global public health problem.
How to turn science into rich, compelling and accessible radio, including:
* identifying the story
* finding the tension
* getting the right tape
* making it personal
Alison Richards and Margo Melnicove lead a constructive listening session of participants' work.
Free-form discussion on any issues you want to talk about in the group setting.
Alison Richards and Margo Melnicove
Each participant will pitch a story to science editor Alison Richards and non-science editor Margo Melnicove, and get feedback from them as well as from other members of the group who want to weigh in.