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

The Brain

Let's explore the most complex computer system on Earth: the brain. On this episode, we'll examine this wondrous organ — what we're learning about it, how it works, and what we can do when things go wrong. We'll look back at the dark reputation of one of the most controversial mental health treatments, electroconvulsion therapy, dig deep into the brain to pull out blood clots of stroke victims, and even look up to the sky to try to understand how groups of animals can move as if they have one brain. Putting your thinking caps on.

From The Heart

Love is in the air, so we thought it would be the perfect time to talk about the a health and science sort of way! On this episode, we listen back to stories of people who turned difficult times into brand new careers, we hear about revolutionary treatments in the cardiology world, and we learn why we associate hearts with our emotion in the first place.

Genetic Engineering

Scientists say that the field of genetics is making progress at an exponential pace, but with great genetic power comes great responsibility. On this episode, we'll examine some of the questions that come up as scientists explore the amazing promise of genetics. We'll talk about human health and the serious work of trying to eradicate disease, and we're also going to geek out about non-human aspects of this research like the innovations that could bring us cuter dogs and better chocolate. We'd love to hear what you think of the show, so be sure to express yourself on our Facebook or Twitter.

Rock and a Hard Place

Sometimes you're faced with a decision in which both of your options have drawbacks. You're stuck between a rock and a hard place. We look at these moments of decision, and what is at stake. Should pregnant mothers stop taking their anti-depressants, risking their own mental health, in favor of the health of their baby? Should scientists try and capture a species of tiny porpoises to save them from extinction, even if the attempt to save them could potentially kill them? Plus, should we get rid of old industrial dams in hopes of restoring natural waterways, even though it could damage the existing ecosystem? On this episode, you're dam-ed if you do, and dam-ed if you don't.

Change Of Guard

Obama is out. Trump is in. What does it all mean? Some people can't wait for the Affordable Care Act to go away, while others are stocking up on medication that their insurance is still paying for. Many scientists are afraid of the future of climate change research — will it be defunded? Others are excited about Trump's positive stance on genetically modified foods. On this show, we break down the health and science issues that are on the cusp of really big changes. We meet a doctor who put his life on the line researching insurance plans that could replace Obamacare, and a coal miner in Alabama who is looking forward to changes in energy policy that might bring back his way of life. Only one thing is certain — change.

Challenging Our Assumptions

We have so much information stored in our brains that helps us sort everything and every person we encounter. It's amazingly helpful, but sometimes that information steers us wrong, and we jump to conclusions and side with stereotypes without even knowing it. On this week's show, we challenge our assumptions — we meet male nurses who are a growing minority in their field, we talk to a philosopher who searches for minds like ours in animals that aren't like us at all, and we examine how race impacts the way doctors prescribe medications.

Signs of Things to Come

Sometimes the signs of things to come are right before our eyes, but the question is: do we notice them? And if so, how do we interpret them? During this episode, we'll take a closer look at some of those signs. We'll explore an underwater ghost forest that holds important information for predicting the impact of climate change, we'll trek to weedy urban lots to examine what's happening with wild bee populations, and we'll find out why people who are paralyzed are finding hope in a new generation of prosthetic limbs.

The Pulse's Best of 2016

With an exciting year in the world of health and science winding down, we're listening back to some of our favorite moments from our 2016 shows as chosen by our reporters and producers. Host Maiken Scott is joined in the studio by reporters Irina Zhorov, Taunya English and Elana Gordon, plus our engineer Charlie Kaier, executive producer Meg Pinto, editor Joel Patternson and producer Paige Pfleger. Come for the quality reporting, stay for the blooper reel! We wish you a happy and healthy new year!


On today's show, we'll talk about the emotions we really want to feel during the holiday season - not stress and panic, but wonder, awe and joy. We'll talk about an amazing study of astronauts who describe how magnificent moments of awe during space travel has changed their lives. We'll also hear from an astrophysicist who is searching for a signal from the very beginning of the universe, and we'll find out if a magic moment between strangers can create a lasting connection.

The Mouth Show

The mouth is the window to the soul. It's prime real estate in your body, and every biological system that you have puts up a flagship store there — from the digestive system, nervous system and even the immune system. On this week's show, we examine the dentist's role in the opioid crisis, talk about a decision many parents face when their child is tongue-tied, and we look back at the long history of mouth decor. Plus, we take a trip to the aquarium to look into one of the most feared and revered mouths on our planet. Open wide and say, "ahhhhhh!"

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