The Largest Mass Poisoning in History

In the mid-1980s, a small problem began to surface in a relatively obscure corner of the world.  In 1994, just about a decade later, the World Health Organization published a statement that this little problem had developed into “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history.”  On today’s show, we speak to the doctors, epidemiologists, and geologists who helped hunt down the origin of this tragic event.  Join us as we venture through the human body and through geologic time to uncover the twists and turns and remarkable coincidences responsible for this ongoing epidemic.


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The mouse brain detective

What does brain science have to do with the Anthropocene? We’re not entirely sure. But the Generation Anthropocene team is venturing into the world of the brain with the co-editor of the NeuroBlog to talk about it anyways. Neuroscientist Nick Weiler discusses powerful new techniques used to map the brain at the molecular scale and how the manipulation of mouse whiskers can teach us how the brain changes as we learn. Nick also takes a moment to explain why the concept of consciousness is best left to the philosophers rather than the neuroscientists… but that won’t stop him from commenting on it too. [correction: Nick has corrected a statement he mentioned in the interview regarding the size of a mouse brain.  He previously said it was 50x smaller than a human brain when in reality, it is 2500x smaller.]

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The dawn of de-extinction

Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life.  As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems.  While discussing some potential side effects of this new process, Hank and Jake recall how a man obsessed with William Shakespeare transformed the ecosystem of New England, and how de-extinction might do the same.

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