The Pulse Go on an adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with award-winning host Maiken Scott. The Pulse takes you behind the doors of operating rooms, into the lab with some of the world's foremost scientists, and back in time to explore life-changing innovations. The Pulse delivers stories in ways that matter to you, and answers questions you never knew you had.
The Pulse
NPR

The Pulse

From NPR

Go on an adventure into unexpected corners of the health and science world each week with award-winning host Maiken Scott. The Pulse takes you behind the doors of operating rooms, into the lab with some of the world's foremost scientists, and back in time to explore life-changing innovations. The Pulse delivers stories in ways that matter to you, and answers questions you never knew you had.

Most Recent Episodes

Bodies for Science

If you're training to become a physician, your first patient is usually dead. In fact, "first patient" is what med students call the human cadavers that they work on in anatomy class — when they first learn to make careful incisions, and lay eyes on the beautiful intricacies of bone, muscle, blood vessels, and organs that make our bodies work.

Bodies for Science

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586640/1233006003" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

All the Rage

You can feel it coming on — your face flushes hot, maybe your fists clench, your heartbeat speeds up and blood pressure rises. It's rage — and it can go from zero to red-hot in a matter of seconds. Best-case scenario, it disappears just as fast. Worst-case scenario — it completely takes over. It's normal to feel angry when you or somebody else has been wronged, mistreated, or hurt. But even justified rage can become destructive, like a wrecking ball ruining careers and relationships. So, how do we handle these fiery emotions when they erupt? On this episode — how to deal with anger and rage. We learn about healthy ways of expressing our ire; the rise of "rage rooms" and what psychologists have to say about them; and what causes toddlers to throw such terrible tantrums.

All the Rage

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586626/1231519599" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Mysteries of Attraction

It can show up as a spark or a lightning bolt; a glance or a touch; an easy rapport or butterflies in your stomach. Attraction — it's a feeling we know when we experience it, but we're often not sure exactly what fuels it. Is it about looks or personality? Psychology or chemistry? Instant fireworks or long-term compatibility? On this episode, we explore the mysteries of attraction — what kindles it, what kills it, and why we're often totally wrong about who we might be attracted to. We talk with a leading attraction researcher about the factors that determine attraction, and why he often advises people to follow their gut. We find out what dating apps — and the massive amounts of data they gather — are teaching researchers about who we're drawn to and why. And we hear the story of a couple whose mutual attraction changed over time — and why that turned out to be a good thing.

The Mysteries of Attraction

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586588/1229871149" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Setting the Medical Record Straight

Medical records are an important part of health care. They create a history of past issues, test results, and medications. They paint a picture of somebody's general health. Patients now have more access than ever before to their records, and these changes have come with some growing pains — like receiving test results straight from the lab, before their doctor can review them, or discovering mistakes. On this episode, we crack open those medical records to get a better sense of how they can help and hinder care. We'll hear about how physicians struggle to access different parts of the record to create a cohesive picture of a patient's health. We dig into issues around law enforcement accessing these records, and why they're so valuable to hackers.

Setting the Medical Record Straight

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1196552889/1228223431" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Inside Facebook: A Conversation with Jeff Horwitz

After covering the 2016 U.S. presidential election, reporter Jeff Horwitz knew that "something really weird was going on," that social media sites, especially Facebook, had played a role in shaping the election. But how — exactly? In his new book, "Broken Code: Inside Facebook and the Fight to Expose Its Harmful Secrets," Horwitz details his chase to crack open this notoriously secretive black box that is Facebook. Host Maiken Scott talks to Horwitz about the powerful algorithms that favored engagement above all else, that not just amplified specific content, but started to shape everything from what we see, to what we post, to how politicians design their campaigns. Horwitz covers technology for The Wall Street Journal and was one of the reporters on the award-winning series "The Facebook Files."

Inside Facebook: A Conversation with Jeff Horwitz

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586586/1227882122" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Facebook at 20

Twenty years ago, a group of college sophomores created a website that would end up changing the world — fundamentally altering how we connect with other people, how much we know about each other, and how we curate our existence. That website was Facebook.

Facebook at 20

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586540/1227189279" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

When Healing Happens But We Don't Know Why

More than a third of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine, ranging from acupuncture to herbalism, Ayurveda to homeopathy. But despite its growing popularity, complementary and alternative medicine remains, for the most part, outside the Western medical mainstream — regarded by some as fringe, and by others as straight-up quackery. Despite that, many researchers and supporters have been trying to gain a deeper understanding of medical practices from around the world, and to incorporate them into our health care system. And that's led to more questions: Which practices work, and for what conditions? How do they work? And how do we measure and standardize treatments when they're removed from their cultural contexts? On this episode, we step outside the boundaries of Western medicine to explore those questions. We hear stories about a mysterious Vodou treatment, the struggle to bring acupuncture into the medical mainstream, and answers to Western skeptics.

When Healing Happens But We Don't Know Why

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586534/1224991550" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

How to Live with Uncertainty

Humans crave certainty — in science and politics, in our lives and our leaders, in our decisions and our futures. We find comfort in knowing the facts, and we fear the murky unknown. In the age of information, we've grown increasingly unnerved by uncertainty and do everything we can to mitigate that anxiety. We do research online, play out scenarios in our heads, make plans A, B, and C — imagining that if we can just prepare well enough, everything will be OK. But in her latest book, "Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure," author and journalist Maggie Jackson makes the case for an opposite way of being — embracing the unknown as an invitation to pause, an opportunity for growth and innovation. On this episode, we talk with Jackson about her book, and what science teaches us about living — and even thriving — amid uncertainty. We also hear stories about one reporter's quest to make a life-changing decision while filled with doubt, and how saying "yes" to the unknown changed an introvert's life.

How to Live with Uncertainty

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586532/1224053335" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Virtual Worlds, Virtual Lives

We're in a major technological revolution where artificial intelligence, gaming, and virtual reality allow us to create and enter totally new spaces and have new experiences there.In these virtual worlds, we can reinvent ourselves, connect with people around the world, or take on new challenges and adventures. But as these worlds grow bigger, more intense, and consuming, they're also raising questions about what this new future will look like.We all know things are going to be different — but how? Will we soon have entirely new and far more fabulous lives in the virtual realm? Or will things feel surprisingly similar and mundane? How will a computer-generated life intersect with real life?On this episode: virtual worlds, virtual lives, and how they're changing our reality. We hear stories about Second Life — and the surprising political power structures that have emerged there; what happens when romantic relationships with AI go bad; and how increasingly realistic gaming worlds have led to the emerging discipline of archaeogaming.

Virtual Worlds, Virtual Lives

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586530/1222523917" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Why We Love and Hate Exercising — And How to Do It Either Way

We all know that exercise is good for us — for both our bodies and our minds — but motivating yourself to hit the gym, take a run, or even go for a walk sometimes feels like the hardest thing in the world. There are constant rebuttals that arise in our minds: We're too busy. We're too tired. We need a break — we'll start next week. At the same time, we're bombarded by messages from people who are all about fitness — influencers with seemingly perfect bodies and a healthy glow, who convince us that we too can get into shape. It's a habit that many of us try to cultivate — yet often seem to hit a wall. On this episode, we look at the science of fitness, the evolution of cultural messages surrounding exercise, and how we can overcome inertia to start fitting it into our lives. We'll hear about how exercise affects our mood and overall health, different approaches to getting in shape, the real-life struggle of becoming an Instagram fitness influencer, and one couch potato's reluctant journey to getting active.

Why We Love and Hate Exercising — And How to Do It Either Way

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1200586522/1220628173" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
or search npr.org