Exploradio Origins Exploradio Origins ponders the biggest questions in the universe in 90 seconds.
Exploradio Origins

Exploradio Origins


Exploradio Origins ponders the biggest questions in the universe in 90 seconds.

Most Recent Episodes

Exploradio Origins: Lucy's Ancient Cousin Ardi

" People always want to know where they came from, right? They get excited by new discoveries of dinosaurs, but they become curious by the discovery of early human fossils. " Yohannes Haile-Selassie is a curator at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and is a paleoanthropologist studying human evolution. As a graduate student in 1994, he was part of a group searching for fossils in Ethiopia's Middle Awash region, and found a small, delicate fragment of a hand bone. This fragment lead to the

Exploradio Origins: The Birth of Cancer Immunotherapy

Each time our cells grow and divide, they have to perfectly copy out almost a billion elements of genetic code. Of course, perfect almost never happens. So as soon as there was a genetic code, life had to evolve a way to fix DNA mismatches. But sometimes people inherit mutations in those DNA mismatch repair genes, and then you have really challenging cancers. But, at the bottom of this, there lies some hope in our own immune systems. "Very recently, we realized that those cancers have a ton of

Exploradio Origins: How Modern Cells Communicate

In order to function, the cells in our bodies need to coordinate and pass information, say, if we need a burst of energy to flee a threat. But, without eyes, ears, or even radios, how do they signal this information reliably? "The only way to communicate, and this is actually a big challenge for biology, is by basically sending out groups of molecules which then can interact with other molecules," said Professor Mike Hinczewski, a biophysicist at Case Western Reserve University . "There's going

Exploradio Origins: Echoes of Colliding Neutron Stars

Scientists have spent centuries studying how matter works. They've boiled it, they've frozen it, and they've even thrown it into particle colliders and smashed it up. They've learned a lot about what matter does in these conditions, but--that's just what we can do on Earth. "A neutron star is basically the densest object aside from a black hole. When they collide, the matter itself is deformed in such a way that we can probe densities inaccessible to laboratories on Earth," Leslie Wade said.

Exploradio Origins: How Magnets Can Detect Malaria

When Dr. Robert Brown started teaching physics at Case Western Reserve University, he had no idea he'd be using his expertise in magnetic fields to hunt malaria. The earlier malaria is diagnosed, the more likely you are to survive, but most lab techniques can't be used in rural villages. "We wanted to diagnose malaria with something fast, portable, and cheap and accurate, which sounds challenging, but in fact we were able to really do it," Brown said. Brown, his physics team, and his colleague

Exploradio Origins: Taming The Wild Marama Bean

What if I described a plant that has nutrient-rich beans, protein-rich roots, produces high quality oil, and, grows in desert regions where rural communities desperately need a drought-resistant crop? Sound too good to be true? Maybe not. I've just described the wild Marama bean, native to Africa. "It has never been grown as an organized crop, it's just collected out of the bush. The idea is can we find ways of developing a set of lines that give you decent yield which we can give to farmers,"

Exploradio Origins: How to See Gravity Waves

In 1916, Einstein made a bold prediction- that gravity actually travels in waves. These "gravitational waves" would be ripples in the fabric of space a bit like ripples on a pond, and would slightly stretch and squash the distances between things as they passed. "Einstein himself who came up with the theory didn't think that this would ever really be detected," Kenyon College professor Leslie Wade said. Anything with mass can make gravitational waves by moving around, but they're so small, the

Exploradio Origins: Ketones and Human Brain Function

Ketones are small molecules your liver makes from fats. They have featured in popular diets recently, but they first drew attention in the 1920s when clinicians found that some children with epilepsy recovered on the zero-sugar ketogenic diet, but nobody knew why. "The brain ordinarily loves to work on sugar," said Joseph LaManna, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. "But if ketones are available, the brain uses those first." LaManna was studying

Exploradio Origins: South America's Evolutionary Experiment

"Well, I think one of the real big questions for evolutionary biology is how do the small scale evolutionary processes, genetics and things like that, function over large spans of time?" Darin Croft is a professor of anatomy at Case Western Reserve University . He teaches head and neck anatomy to medical students, but, he's also a world-renowned expert on South American paleontology and paleo-mammals. "South America's a really neat place if you're interested in mammals because for most of the

Exploradio Origins: Mining Properties of Gold to Treat Cancer

Gold's gleam has fascinated humans for millennia. Giuseppe Strangi, professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University, wants to use gold's special relationship with light in the fight against cancer. It started centuries ago, when people melted gold into stained glass. Strangi describes the unexpected discovery. "If you go in France and look at the cathedrals, you see that this color is not coming from any pigment, but is coming from gold, coming from the fact that gold is absorbing light

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