February 25, 2015

Stories in Rocks

Into the Earth: Episode #1

In his rock deformation laboratory here at Washington University in St. Louis, Phil Skemer applies huge amounts of heat and pressure to rock samples. Crushing rocks may sound just like fun, but he and his team are seeking answers to fundamental questions about how Earth works. Why does our planet have plate tectonics, when neighbors like Venus do not? To look for clues, Skemer uses - and builds - instruments that replicate the intense conditions found deep in the interior of the Earth. 


 

February 11, 2015

Physics of the Heart

Valentine's Day 2015

Mentioning the word "physics" brings to mind things like gravity, relativity, mass and volume, or even dark matter. Rarely do we think about how these principles affect the inner workings of our own bodies. This week, Jim Miller, professor of physics, medicine, and biomedical engineering at Washington University, talks about the 'physics' of 'physiology' and explains how cardiologists and doctors use physics in their every day work.

February 5, 2015

The Legal Mind of Thomas Jefferson

Presidents' Day 2015

Before becoming the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was a successful lawyer in Virginia. His legal training influenced the way he thought about government and politics, yet this earlier part of his career has largely been ignored by historians. David Konig, professor of history and law, has spent years analyzing the complex legal notes and papers that tell the story of Jefferson's time as an attorney. He is currently writing a biography that will shed light on this fascinating and neglected aspect of Jefferson's life and mind.
 

January 22, 2015

Theater for Health

People, Places, and Ideas to Explore

According to some estimates, just 6 percent of mothers in Peru wash their hands before preparing food. Is it possible that theater could help change this statistic? Art can surely offer personal comfort and emotional healing, but can it influence public health? By helping to develop the Arts for Behavior Change (ABC) program in Lima, Peru, Boston University music professor André de Quadros sought to answer these questions. In his research, teaching, and performances around the world, de Quadros emphasizes using the arts for social change. He spent time with the music department at Washington University this past fall as part of the Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program.

 

January 14, 2015

Faith and Protest in Ferguson

Religion & Politics: Episode #8
Five months after the death of Michael Brown, the community of Ferguson, Missouri, continues to work toward healing and define common goals - in many cases, with the help of religious leaders and institutions. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, professor of religion and politics, reflects on the role of faith and church leadership in social and political movements, both in Ferguson and throughout American history.
 
 
December 23, 2014

Predicting Eclipses

From the Cutting Room

Dr. Michael Friedlander, professor emeritus of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, describes how using historical writings to calculate when future eclipses will take place has revealed new questions about the earth's rotation, which scientists are still puzzling over.

December 17, 2014

Digging into Archaeoastronomy

Winter Solstice 2014

The Winter Solstice is on December 21 and marks the shortest day of the year, which was once a very important day to many cultures across the world. In fact, there are thousands of structures, including the impressive Stonehenge, built by our early ancestors to predict the equinoxes and solstices. So why did they make all this effort? Michael Friedlander, a professor emeritus of physics, and John Kelly, a senior lecturer in archaeology, both at Washington University in St. Louis, introduce us to the field of archaeoastronomy, which they use to examine one of the greatest pre-Columbian civilizations in the United States: Cahokia.

December 11, 2014

Anarchism and Dissent in Medieval Islam

Religion & Politics: Episode #7

Hayrettin Yücesoy, professor of Islamic and Arabic studies, takes us back to the political and theological debates of 9th-century Baghdad. Scholars later claimed that in the medieval Islamic world, religion and politics fit neatly together. However, as Yücesoy explains, the historical reality was much more complicated. Religious scholars, political leaders, and even elite anarchists all had competing ideas about the relationship between Muslim faith and politics.

 

December 4, 2014

Does Religion Always Cause Political Intolerance?

Religion and Politics: Episode #6

Should fringe groups, even offensive groups like the Ku Klux Klan, be allowed to have a voice in American politics? Since the 1950s, social scientists have recognized that very religious people are more likely to answer "no" to this type of question. In other words, religion and political intolerance often go hand-in-hand. But why is this the case? Political scientist James Gibson discusses the intersections between faith and intolerance and explains why, though these ideas can often connect, having faith does not make a person less tolerant.