On my new podcast, I talk to Martin Blaser of New York University about Helicobacter pylori, best known as the microbe that causes ulcers. It’s also an ancient passenger in our stomachs, and has evolved a delicate balance with its human hosts. In fact, Blaser is worried by the disappearance of H. pylori from the modern world, thanks to antibiotics and hygiene. We may have to pay a price for its extinction, in the form of higher rates of asthma, esophageal cancer, and perhaps even obsesity. Check it out.
With this episode, the American Society for Microbiology is bringing the Meet the Scientist podcast series to a close. In the coming year, they’re going to be focusing their online efforts on some new projects you can look forward to on the Microbe World web site. (And they’ll be keeping all the episodes of Meet the Scientist on the site.) I’ve had a wonderful time over the past year hosting the podcast, and I’d like to thank all the scientists who shared their work with me and all the people at ASM who made this experience possible.
On my latest podcast, I talk to Jeff Gralnick of the University of Minnesota about electricity and life. In particular, we talk about how some bacteria generate electric currents as they feed–and how we might harness their power. Check it out.
On my latest podcast, I explore the invisible ocean of life through which we swim every day: the air. I talk to Jessica Green of the University of Oregon about life in the clouds, in our houses, and everywhere in between. Gee-whiz science at its finest. Check it out.
On my latest podcast, I talk beer–that marvel of microbiology that people have been swilling for thousands of years. My guide to the brewing cosmos is Charles Bamforth, a professor of brewing science at the University of California, Davis. Check it out.
On my latest podcast, I take a look at dengue fever, a viral disease that’s infecting some 50 million people a year and is even turning up in the United States. I talk to Thomas Scott of UC Davis about how this cunning virus takes advantage of human networks to spread its aches, pains, bleeding, and death. Check it out.
On my latest podcast, I talk to Charles Ofria, a computer scientist who helped build Avida, one of the most intriguing examples of artificial life around. I wrote about Avida when it first hit the news back in 2005 in this cover story for Discover. Five years on, I caught up with Ofria for the podcast. I learned that the Avidians are evolving to be cleverer and cleverer–clever enough, in fact, to control robots. When they show up in my town, I plan on waving the magazine cover so they’ll spare me. Check it out.
On my latest podcast, I talk to David Baker of the University of Washington about a remarkable new way of studying biology: turn a problem (protein-folding) into a game, and get 57,000 people to play. Check it out.
On my latest podcast, I talk to Forest Rohwer, a San Diego State University scientist, about those rain forests of the sea, coral reefs. Rohwer studies the criss-crossing partnerships that keep corals alive–the animals that build the reefs, the algae that harness sunlight for them, the bacteria that make compounds and recycle waste, the fish that scrape off parasitic algae, and on and on. When you consider the hundreds of microbe species that live in each reef, corals and our own bodies become surprisingly similar. Have a listen.
The first is a conversation with Nancy Moran, a Yale biologist who studies microbes that become essential to the survival of their hosts. In some cases, these symbionts lose just about all their DNA except for the genes that they use to be useful to their host–leading to the smallest genomes in nature.
The second is a conversation with Susan Golden of UCSD on the subject of time. We humans have a body clock, of course, but so do some bacteria. Why does a microbe need to know the time of day, when its lifespan can be far shorter? That would be like our body clock running a cycle of 1,000 years. Listen to find out.
Princeton biologist Bonnie Bassler studies the chemical conversations bacteria use to work together and (sometimes) to make us sick. She joined me for my latest podcast, bringing her trademark enthusiasm and rare skill at telling a good scientific story. Check it out.
And if you crave more, check out her excellent TED lecture last year.