science roundtable

It's our Monthly Science Roundtable, and we're talking about robots. Specifically, how to make robots more efficient, better at decision-making tasks in complex situations, better at performing tasks with common human motions, better at understanding language. That's all fascinating, but there are many ongoing conversations about whether we should want those things to happen; after all, automation is taking jobs.

Our guests talk about the research, the progress, and what it might mean. In studio:

  • Thomas Howard, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester
  • Jake Arkin, Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Rochester
  • Michael Napoli, Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Rochester

Our Monthly Science Roundtable asks the question, What does it mean to be human? We're not simply talking about the science of evolution -- although we'll talk about that! -- we're asking about culture, and religion, and human nature. It all ties into a new exhibit at the Tompkins County Public Library. Our guests:

Our Monthly Science Roundtable looks at the science of political tweeting. Specifically, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton would be a failed candidate if she were a man, and then tweeted that she was using the "woman card." Clinton's twitter account responded with, "If paying for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in." Who won that social media exchange?

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester has been digging for the answer, using followers and responses. They believe their work shows who has been winning the so-called "gender wars" on social media. Our guests:

  • Jiebo Luo, associate professor of computer science at the University of Rochester
  • Mike Johansson, senior lecturer of communications at RIT, and social media consultant at Fixitology

Our Monthly Science Roundtable takes a look at why conservatives tend not to accept the science behind climate change.

Our guest is perfectly suited to explain: Bob Inglis is a conservative Republican who served in Congress. He admits that when climate science become more prominent, he dismissed it because Al Gore had touted it. He didn't study it. "It was based on ignorance for me," Inglis explains. "All I knew is that if Al Gore was for it, I was against it."

But Inglis listened to his children, who pleaded with him to check out the facts. When he came out in favor of policy that would mitigate climate change, his own party attacked him, and he lost his next primary.

Today, Inglis works on the kind of policy that is market-based. He believes he has the kind of message that can break through to skeptical conservatives. He explains how to crack the code. Our guest:

  • Bob Inglis, former Congressman and executive director of RepublicEn

As Gizmodo recently pointed out, there's an old joke about fusion energy: it's the energy of the future, and always will be. But then the author declares, "Researchers are making progress toward this futuristic energy source, and scientists will eventually solve fusion's immense technical challenges if society can commit to the journey."

How about here, at the University of Rochester? Our guests explain how they've taken a significant step forward in a form of fusion research. So is fusion ever going to become the energy of the present? We discuss it with:

Our monthly Science Roundtable focuses on carbon capture and storage as it relates to climate change. What would carbon capture mean to the fossil fuel industry? Is the technology available and scaleable? How does it work? Our guests will explain:

  • Bill Jones, professor of chemistry at the University of Rochester, and associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society
  • Richard Eisenberg, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Rochester, and editor-in-chief for Inorganic Chemistry

Our monthly Science Roundtable looks at methane in the Great Lakes and how it relates to climate change. 

John Kessler, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester, is leading a new research project that zeroes in on freshwater environments as a source of methane. He discusses the impact this type of research has on understanding and mitigating climate change. Our guests:

  • John Kessler, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester
  • Nicola Wiseman, University of Rochester Class of 2018 

Donald Trump recently said that he doesn't think there is a real drought in California. That came as a surprise to scientists, who have been tracking the water crisis out west for a while now.

Our Monthly Science Roundtable digs in to the science of the drought: how closely tied to climate change is it? And how does it impact us in western New York? Our guests:

  • Josh Goldowitz, professor and undergraduate coordinator for the Environmental Sustainability Health & Safety BS Degree Program in the College of Applied Science & Technology at RIT
  • Matthew Hoffman, assistant professor in the School of Mathematical Sciences at RIT
  • John Stella, associate professor in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management, SUNY-ESF
  • Craig Miller, senior editor of Climate Watch at KQED

Our Monthly Science Roundtable examines the technology behind electric vehicles.

The Tesla Model 3 hits the market in about 18 months. Priced at $35,000, the car is already in high demand: Tesla CEO Elon Musk says there are 400,000 pre-orders.

So what could mass-market, affordable electric vehicles mean for the future of the automotive industry and the environment? What's next for green auto technology? Are self-driving cars, as Musk says, "life-saving," or will they lead to more distracted driving? We discuss all of this and more with our guests:

  • Roger Dube, research professor at RIT and owner of a Tesla Model S
  • Jeffrey Botticello, third year mechanical engineering student at RIT and team manager for RIT’s Electric Vehicle Team
  • Derek Gutheil, fifth year mechanical and computer engineering student at RIT and member of RIT’s Electric Vehicle Team

Our Monthly Science Roundtable looks at an unlikely scientific MVP: no, not the naked mole rat. Yeast!

It turns out that yeast might be the key to creating therapies and drugs that will help us live longer -- or, at the very least, live much better by prolonging some of the worst effects of aging. So how does it work? And what specific therapies can we look forward to? Our guests:

  • David Goldfarb, professor of biology at the University of Rochester
  • Gregory Tombline, research associate in the Department of Biology at the University of Rochester