Friday, July 23, 2010

Education is where it's at!

For the July 21st NYSK, we listened to a podcast from Scientific American that featured the upcoming documentary "Whiz Kids". (click here for podcast) This documentary follows teens who are involved in sophisticated scientific research from places like their basements to universities labs. As a college instructor, it brightens my day to know that there are bright and mature students like these just waiting to enroll in university!

In the news...
We listened to lots of tunes to do with education and science. Artists included: Mirah, Daft Punk, The Flaming Lips, Animal Collective, MGMT, Dr. Octagon, Jurassic 5, Blackalicious, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Bran Van 3000.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Photosynthesis rocks my world!

I'm teaching Plant Biology in summer school and I've been bombarding my students with complicated metabolic pathways such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration. It's so easy to get caught up in the details and new terminology - so I was inspired to bring it back to the basics during the July 14th show! (click here for podcast) 

We worked our way musically through the simplified chemical reaction of photosynthesis, beginning with carbon dioxide, water, and light - the necessary ingredients for the process. By the end of the show, we had released oxygen as a byproduct and made sugars, which store chemical energy for later use - whether it be used by the plant or the organisms that eat the plant.

A quick YouTube search led me to some creative songs about photosynthesis - including this one that student, David Levitz set to Britney Spears for extra credit in his Biology class!

In the news...

Artists featured included: Animal Collective, matt pond PA, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Flaming Lips, Big in Japan, Maoi, Feist, Richard Shindell, Akron/Famiy, Fleet Foxes, TV on the Radio, Bloc Party, Frou Frou, Sia, Darko, The Starlight Mints, and Frank Turner.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Expedition Catalog - what new specimens shall we discover?

For the July 7th show (click here for podcast), I strapped on my gear and went exploring deep into the KXUA catalog to find some new-to-me music that was somehow linked to nature - whether it be in a name, in a theme, whatever. I had some interesting finds, including artists such as Papercranes, Wilderness, I See Hawks in L.A., The Bamboos, The Weather Machines, and more! Give a listen to the show to discover this music along with me.

In the news...
For the sound quiz, we heard from some of the "singing" insects whose sounds fill the still, humid air of summer. Visit for all about how a handsome meadow katydid (pictured right) doesn't actually sing, but instead produces sound through stridulation.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our flaws might have been our strengths

In the June 30th show (click here for podcast), we had a laugh going through some of the character flaws of our ancestors that might have led to the success of our species. I read from an article on that suggested things such as poor hygiene, drunkenness, gossip, and depression might have actually given us an evolutionary leg up over our primate relatives. You might be thinking, "Well, that makes no sense!", but you must always remember that natural selection is a curious beast. For example, some suggest that we lost our body hair as a way to foil those pesky ectoparasites, like fleas and lice, that love to munch on us.

In the news...
Music featured included tracks from: Outkast, Death Cab for Cutie, A Tribe Called Quest, The Flaming Lips, J Dilla, G. Love and Special Sauce, Apostle of Hustle, Louis Jordan, The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers, Brush, Devendra Banhart, Radiohead, The Gossip, The Cure, Elvis Perkins, Billy Bragg and Wilco, and The Maybelles.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So you think you can dance?

For the June 23rd show (click here for podcast), we celebrated the dancing animals of the world. I read from an NPR story about Snowball, the Sulfur-crested Cockatoo (pictured left) who has demonstrated his skills on the dance floor. Few animals can actually follow a musical beat, but Snowball truly rocks out to the Backstreet Boys - keeping time even when the bpm are changed (Patel et al. 2009). A recent study of YouTube videos showed that the only animals that had this ability were 33 species of parrots and 1 elephant (Schachner et al. 2009). Check out the NPR link above for videos of all this dancing madness.

Of course we know animals dance in nature all the time, although maybe not to a musical beat. They often do this when they are trying to attract mates. Performing dance moves correctly is important for species recognition and can be a sign of a mate's quality. Sometimes the "dancing" gets so intense, death can result.

As for the news...
In honor of the World Cup currently underway in South Africa, the sound quiz featured the "big five" animals, which are some of the most impressive animals to see while on safari. These include elephants, buffalo, lions, leopards, and rhinos.

We listened to music to get your booty shaking during the show: Jamiroquai, Hot Chip, Bran Van 3000, Sally Shapiro, LCD Soundsystem, Chemical Brothers, Fischerspooner, Basement Jaxx, The Go! Team, Santigold, Röyksopp, Mylo, Sam Cooke, Louis Jordan, Tito Puente, Cut Copy, TV on the Radio.