The Takeaway A fresh alternative in daily news featuring critical conversations, live reports from the field, and listener participation. The Takeaway provides a breadth and depth of world, national, and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.
The Takeaway

The Takeaway

From Public Radio Exchange -- PRX

A fresh alternative in daily news featuring critical conversations, live reports from the field, and listener participation. The Takeaway provides a breadth and depth of world, national, and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

Most Recent Episodes

The Science of the Hijacked Brain

The human mind is awe-inspiring. Its complex, yet coordinated, web of 86 billion neurons all fire together to help us breath, talk, walk, and experience everyday life. But the mind is also vulnerable. It takes only a few microscopic molecules out of place to completely disrupt our personalities, shift our perception of reality, and dramatically alter our ability to think and reason. We spoke with Sara Manning Peskin, assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, about her book "A Molecule Away from Madness: The Hijacked Brain." She shares the discoveries and diagnoses that have significantly advanced neuroscience while also illustrating the human component behind the mind's diseases that affect us all.

Getting Existential with a Physicist

Could there be infinite versions of us, spinning off into their own universes from every choice we make? Is all of time happening all at once? Do we have free will? "When we try to answer such big questions about our existence, we basically have three options. That's religion, philosophy and physics," Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder told The Takeaway. "And of those three, I think physics has made the biggest progress in the past century." Sabine Hossenfelder, a physicist at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany, has made it her mission to make physics engaging to the public. She's the creator of the YouTube show, "Science without the Gobbledygook," and her newest book is "Existential Physics: A Scientist's Guide to Life's Biggest Questions." She plumbs the depths — and limitations — of the best knowledge physicists currently have about our universe, where it overlaps with some of our biggest spiritual and existential questions, and the possibilities they present.

The Radical History of Abortion Rights in Kansas

Last Tuesday, voters in Kansas rejected a proposal to amend the state's constitution to say there is no right to abortion. Kansas is one of the most solidly Republican states in the union, having chosen the Republican candidate in all but one presidential election since 1940. But data from the Kansas Secretary of State's office shows that more people voted in the abortion referendum than in any primary election in state history, and the margin of victory was substantial: 59% voted against amending the constitution to ban abortion. For many, the outcome was surprising. But those who know Kansas more intimately understand that the roots of this outcome are deeply ingrained in the history and politics of the state. The Takeaway spoke with Thomas Frank, author of the 2004 book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" about how the state's political history is reflected in this outcome. The Takeaway also was joined by Representative Stephanie Clayton, House Minority Whip in the Kansas State Legislature. Clayton discussed how a more conservative framing for the state's ballot measure on abortion rights ended up being a winning strategy for Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Poet and Activist Naomi Ortiz Talks About Ecojustice and Self Care

At the end of July, the Ford Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced a new cohort of Disability Futures Fellows. The fellows are supported by a grant designed to spotlight a group of visual and performing artists and writers who live with disabilities. We spoke with one of the new fellows, Naomi Ortiz, who is a poet, writer, and visual artist whose intersectional work focuses on self-care for activists, disability justice, climate action, and relationship with place. They are also the author of the book, "Sustaining Spirit: Self-Care for Social Justice" and the forthcoming book, "Rituals for Climate Change: A Crip Struggle for Ecojustice."

Abortion is on the Ballot

There are a record number of abortion measures on the ballot for the November midterm elections. Voters in Vermont, California, Kentucky and Montana will decide on respective abortion measures in their states. A proposed Constitutional amendment in Kentucky would amend the state constitution to explicitly ban the right to abortion. Proposals in Vermont, California, and likely in Michigan, would have the opposite effect, enshrining abortion rights in their state constitutions. And a ballot measure in Montana would establish personhood for infants born alive after attempted abortions. We speak with Vox politics reporter, Nicole Narea, for more on the various measures.

Understanding Underground Fungi May Help Mitigate Climate Change

Fungi under the soil plays an important role in forestry growth and capturing carbon, and it turns out understanding unknown territory of underground fungi networks could be critical for climate change mitigation efforts. We spoke with Colin Averill (AiVE-rall), lead scientist at the Crowther lab at ETH Zurich and Co founder of The Society for the Protection of Underground Networks to understand why we should adopt a "fungi first" approach to climate change.

Spreading the Research on Monkeypox

Last week, the Biden administration declared a public health emergency over the spread of the monkeypox virus in the United States. There are currently more than 7,500 known cases in the country, with more than 90% occurring among men who reported recently having had sex or other intimate contact with other men. After the public health emergency declaration, Alondra Nelson, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and several of her colleagues published a statement in partnership with leaders from twenty other countries calling for research around monkeypox to be shared openly among academics from different nations. We speak with Deputy Director Nelson about the importance of sharing this research.

Can Dimming the Sun Prevent Climate Catastrophe?

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the earth's temperature will rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040 if we don't curb our greenhouse gas emissions. But what if there was another way — what if we could simply shade the planet from the sun's hot rays? It sounds like something right out of a science fiction movie, but research into making it a reality has recently won some powerful financial backers. Solar geo-engineering, as the idea is called, doesn't just pose environmental and technological challenges, but also questions of international cooperation and governance. Dr. Alan Robock, Distinguished Professor of climate science in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, joined us to explain the research, the technology, and the unintended consequences.

Political Roundup: The Midterms are Three Months Away

Primaries were held last week in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. On the Republican side, many of the races were close, making it hard to say definitively whether former President Trump had a strong sway on these votes. But overall, a number of the candidates he endorsed won, meaning that in several prominent midterm races the GOP nominee will be a candidate who has backed Trump on his 2020 election lies. At the same time that the primary season is moving along, Congressional Democrats do have some momentum back, passing a bill granting more benefits to veterans affected by toxic burn pits and garnering the votes necessary to pass federal climate change legislation. We speak about all of these developments with Joel Payne, Democratic strategist, host of the podcast Here Comes the Payne, and CBS News political contributor and Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, co-host of podcast FAQ NYC, and author of the book Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream.

Is Artificial Intelligence Alive?

In July, Google put software engineer Blake Lemoine on administrative leave after he claimed that the Google's chatbot system he was working with had become aware of its own existence. Google dismissed his claims and denied that the application called LaMDA, or Language Model for Dialogue Applications, was sentient. We speak with Dr. Karina Vold, assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology about the feasibility of sentient artificial intelligence.