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The Undark Podcast
24 minutes | May 31, 2021
Ep. 55: In Pursuit of Climate-Friendly Refrigerants
In December of last year, Congress passed legislation that gives the Environmental Protection Agency authority to phase out most hydrofluorocarbons — potent greenhouse gases that keep refrigerators cool — over the next 15 years. But there's no perfect alternative to replace them.
29 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Ep. 54: Translating Portugal’s Approach to Drugs and Addiction
Twenty years ago Portugal decriminalized all drugs as part of a bigger national strategy to fight addiction. Last month Oregon became the first U.S. state to do the same, in a policy modeled off Portugal’s approach — but many questions about how success may translate remain unanswered.
31 minutes | Feb 26, 2021
Ep. 53: ‘Mainstreaming’ Psychedelic Drugs to Treat Mental Health
Amid a worldwide mental health emergency, the discovery of new pharmaceuticals to treat conditions like depression has stalled. But researchers and therapists are showing that when paired with therapy, psychedelic drugs like LSD and magic mushrooms are a new class of promising treatments.
32 minutes | Jan 29, 2021
Ep. 52: In India, Mismanaging the Monkey Menace
In India, macaque monkeys are a menace — attacking people for food, breaking into offices, and in one state, damaging at least 54 million dollars worth of crops. A sterilization program aimed to curb the population, but some experts and locals question if it’s working or even the right approach.
30 minutes | Dec 23, 2020
Ep. 51: A Scramble to Define ‘Habitat’ — and the Future of Conservation
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the dusky gopher frog now has conservationists and developers squaring off over the legal definition of the term ‘habitat.’ The accepted meaning will guide American lawmakers in designating protected areas for endangered species across the country.
29 minutes | Nov 29, 2020
Ep. 50: Studying and Surviving the Pandemic's Collective Trauma
In South Africa, trauma researchers are studying — and working to ease — the psychological toll of Covid-19, while trying to endure the pandemic themselves. They warn the widespread and long-lasting impacts of this collective trauma could span generations and cross national borders.
26 minutes | Oct 28, 2020
Ep. 49: When Wildfires and a Pandemic Collide
As smoky summers resulting from wildfires have become the new normal across much of the West Coast, communities have tried to put better systems in place protect their most vulnerable residents. But this year, they didn’t plan on dealing with a smoke wave in the middle of a pandemic. How are they coping?
27 minutes | Sep 22, 2020
Ep. 48: Capturing the Songs of a Changing Climate
This month: Acoustic ecologists are racing to record Earth’s shifting soundscapes before they disappear. Some researchers are using their recordings to answer questions about how the environment and its inhabitants are changing, while others are sounding the alarm on pressing conservation issues.
26 minutes | May 30, 2020
Ep. 47: The Toll of the Culture of Silence in Animal Research
This month: Communicating about animal research with the public can open early career scientists up to social stigma and even campaigns that threaten careers. But working with animals can be an emotionally taxing job — and the silence could isolate scientists further and strengthen public misconceptions.
27 minutes | May 6, 2020
Ep. 46: A Debate on the Dregs of Asbestos Mining
This month: Ground-up waste leftover from asbestos mining still lines the landscape of Quebec. Now, a number of companies are eager to transform that waste into profitable product — but health officials worry this new industry might reawaken an old problem the province finally seemed to be moving away from.
31 minutes | Mar 31, 2020
Ep. 45: Making Precision Medicine a Reality
This month: Tailoring medicine to each individual patient could make health care more affordable and effective. But that reality won’t come to fruition unless researchers, industry, the government, and the public reach a consensus on issues like patient privacy, data bias, and sharing of medical records.
30 minutes | Feb 27, 2020
Ep. 44: Confronting Knowledge Gaps in Intersex Health Care
This month: The impulse to “fix” intersex infants with invasive surgeries is facing increased and, some would argue, long overdue scrutiny. As doctors, parents, and intersex people face decisions that may affect their long-term health, researchers grapple with defining and measuring outcomes.
29 minutes | Jan 31, 2020
Ep. 43: A Reality Check on Regenerative Agriculture
This month: A new farming method has been touted as better for the earth and for struggling farmers. Some are putting these claims to the test.
35 minutes | Dec 30, 2019
Ep. 42: Screening Illicit Drugs to Prevent Fentanyl Deaths
This month: Harm reduction organizations take a controversial step in checking illicit drugs for fentanyl.
27 minutes | Nov 26, 2019
Ep. 41: India's Battle to Control Forest Fires
This month: The story of a devastating wildfire in India reveals how a complex tangle of law, policy, and science are hindering the country's efforts to contain and prevent forest fires.
34 minutes | Oct 30, 2019
Ep. 40: The Struggle to Change an HIV Narrative
This month: The history of a destigmatizing message about HIV transmission and how it finally made it to the public.
24 minutes | Sep 23, 2019
Ep. 39: Solving the Deadly Transplantable Organ Shortage
This month: A penetrating look at the trials of patients with kidney failure, and the doctors working to make more lifesaving transplants possible.
36 minutes | May 1, 2019
Ep. 36: Fighting the Flu, Green Burials, and Teen Vaccinations
This month: the quest for a universal flu shot, the trend of low-carbon burials, and understanding medical consent laws for minors.
36 minutes | May 1, 2019
Ep 37: Crisis Mapping, Tracking Citations, and Sexual Harassment in Science
This month: using social media in search and rescue, developing a more accurate way to track citations, and tackling sexual harassment in science.
39 minutes | May 1, 2019
Ep. 38: Mosquito Music, Wildlife Poaching, and Imaging a Black Hole
This month: testing the effect of Skrillex on mosquitos, addressing poaching in Uganda, and public response to the first image of a black hole.
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