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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If Bilbo Baggins had an environmental school

After growing up in a remote corner of Alaska, marine biologist Zach Brown wants to start a school to teach future scientists about environmental sciences and sustainability.  Zach tells producers Mike and Leslie about his vision for the Inian Islands Institute (nicknamed “The Hobbit Hole”) and how experiential education is perhaps the best way to clearly see the lost connections between human systems and the natural world.  Zach also remembers what it’s like growing up with only a single television channel, and how often the signal would drop out… with some interesting results.

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