The Pulse

The Pulse


Go on a sonic adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with host Maiken Scott. Created by WHYY in Philadelphia, the NPR member station that brought you Fresh Air with Terry Gross.More from The Pulse »

Most Recent Episodes

Leap of Space

On July 29th, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act and soon we sent men where only our imaginations had taken us. The Pulse celebrates major advancements in space travel and considers the challenges that have — so far — kept us from building a community on Mars. We visit a lab hoping to produce the power source that will fuel tomorrow's space missions. An analysis of the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" suggests how the filmmakers got the future so wrong. Also, squashing coworker squabbles in space and why it's so hard to bake a decent loaf of bread in microgravity.

In Short Supply

Shortages can bring minor inconveniences, like expensive avocados or almonds. In healthcare, they can mean the difference between getting the care you need when you need it - or not. On this episode, we look at the dire shortage of child psychiatrists and how it's affecting families across the country. We'll explore why blood bank managers despise summer, and why so few hospitals have specially trained nurses to deal with rape victims. Also, shortages in our food supplies – and what we can do to get around them.

The Quest for Sleep

Sleep is the new skinny. Americans are obsessed with a good night's rest — after decades of viewing sleep as a waste of time for people who have nothing better to do. We'll explore how sleep impacts our health, and the multimillion dollar industry trying to sell us better sleep. Also; insomnia, working the night shift, nightmares, and what we can learn from the sleeping habits of primates.

Science and the Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, America! From the very beginning, science has shaped this country. Many of the Founding Fathers — Madison, Jefferson, Washington — were science geeks, and their methodical way of thinking is reflected in the Declaration of Independence. To celebrate the holiday, we dig into the science that makes fireworks sparkle, flags durable, and hot dogs delicious. Plus, what brain researchers are learning about the pursuit of happiness and feelings of patriotism.

We'll Be Back!

We're going to take the next two weeks off to work on a bunch of new episodes for you! We'll be back in your feed on June 30 with a special episode: "Science and the Fourth of July". Subscribe so you don't miss it!

People vs. Problems

Some problems are so big, so entrenched and complicated, you can start to feel like Sisyphus - condemned to roll a boulder up a hill for eternity. But still, we try to solve them. On this episode, we meet people who are finding ways to tackle massive problems. They're working to slash high drug prices, slow the spread of HIV, and eliminate smoking.

The Meat Show

Steaks are delicious. Bacon is tasty. Americans eat a ton of meat, and consumption is on the rise. And, there are serious implications in our diet choices. Eating too much meat can impact your health, meat production takes a lot of resources and has a big effect on the environment. And, of course, there are ethical concerns to ponder. How were those animals treated? We take a closer look at the meat we eat.


What's in your backyard, in your water, in your food? On this episode, we hunt for the hidden poisons and find them everywhere — even in our medical treatments. In Alabama, residents say an expanding landfill threatens their way of life. Out West, we profile a toxic plant that's killing big game. And a history lesson: a government researcher who intentionally poisoned people to ultimately make out food supply safer.

Do It Yourself

Gene editing is quickly moving from high-tech labs into middle school classrooms and even people's kitchens. Will this finally bring us spicy tomatoes and vanilla basil, or dangerous super bugs? On this episode, we explore all kinds of DIY approaches in health and science. Tinkering with genes, ordering your own medical tests, detoxing from drugs by yourself, creating a gigantic online map for birders. And - your stories of DIY success and failure.

Follow the Money

We follow the money as it drives decisions and changes the game in health and science. How does investment dictate which drugs end up on our shelves? Could diminished funding push climate science out of the US? Can you make a living eating radioactive egg sandwiches? Would you pony up thousands of dollars for an extremely rare pet fish? And, you can cash in too - by spitting in a cup.

Back To Top