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

Rebirth of the Library

This week, we listen back to a show that takes you from pages to pixels, through stories in the stacks, all to get a better idea about what the next chapter has in store for libraries, librarians and the books they hold dear. On this edition of The Pulse, we go to the library to find out how these old-school institutions are reinventing themselves to stay relevant in the modern age. But make sure to keep the volume is the library after all.

Fire And Ice

We're going to take you from the hottest of the hot, to the coldest of the cold on this episode. We explore how cold can save lives, and we take a trip to the coldest tundra on Earth. Then we heat things up again to figure out the science of sweat, plus what climate change will mean for the summer Olympics. Get ready to feel a chill deep in your bones despite the hot summer heat.

By The Numbers

Health and wealth are intrinsically tied together, but how can people fix the things that are making them unhealthy if they don't have the money to change their ways? We delve into the world of health and science by the numbers — a $1,000 pill for a deadly disease, a 750-pound safe full of marijuana, and survivor number three of a rare "brain-eating" amoeba. Plus, a dark family story stemming from a controversial lobotomy, and fates that are considered worse than death itself.


Distance makes the heart grow fonder, just ask an astronaut. About 550 people have gone to space. When they return, many report feeling changed — their perceptions of the earth, their relationships, their approach to life are all fundamentally altered from their time away from the planet. Get ready for takeoff.

Conventions And The Unconventional

As the Democratic National Convention wraps up in Philadelphia this week, we take a look inside what people are saying about the environment. Then, we take a step back in time to another Philadelphia convention 40 years ago that led to a rash of mysterious deaths and an intense investigation to find the killer. Plus, we'll take you into some unconventional hospital rooms — one is like a spa, and the other is home to a celebratory chemo treatment. Subscribe to our podcast to never miss an episode of The Pulse.

The Travel Show

This is a great time of year to hit the road, explore the world, and most importantly, take a vacation. But instead of taking you to places that would make you green with envy, we're going to dig into the science behind the many perils and mishaps involved in traveling. At this time, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position and that your seat belt is correctly's going to be a bumpy ride.

The Power of Touch

Who have you hugged today? Was it a Hollywood hug or a serious bear hug? There's more to those embraces than just affection! We send our least touchy-feely reporter to meet a woman who has been deemed the supreme hugger. Then we meet a scientist who studied tiny gecko feet to figure out what makes these critters stick, and a physician who didn't know of a life he had touched until 50 long years later.

Drilling Down

We're getting to the root of some important questions: why are teeth treated differently than other body parts, when it comes to care and insurance? Why aren't big research institutions reporting study results? What's the best way for doctors to ask patients about assault?

Tune In, Tune Out

What are you hearing right now? Traffic? People? Birds? Maybe a dog barking? All day long, we tune in to and out of the sounds around us. We focus on what we want to hear, and try to not listen to sound that distracts us. For our show today, we dug around in the archives for some stories that center around the concept of tuning in and out. We'll hear about a woman whose sense of hearing suddenly became incredibly acute, so much so that she could hear her own eyeballs move. We'll find out how tuning into soothing harp music can help patients tune out their pain. And, we'll explore how surgeons fine-tune their focus in the operating room.

Two Roads Diverge

On today's show, we look at the history and future of fabric, find out what happens when a Silicon Valley startup tries to make the world a better place.. but falls a bit short, and figure out why so many new doctors are choosing to go into specialties, rather than primary care.

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