March 25, 2015

High-School Students Should Study Earth Science. Here's Why.

Into the Earth: Episode #4

Ever wonder why some subjects are taught in high school while others are not, or why students spend so much time memorizing facts? According to geophysicist Michael Wysession, science curricula in the US is based on standards that are more than 120 years old, and being stuck in the past has had serious consequences. Wysession, the Earth and space science writing team leader for the Next Generation Science Standards, believes in a new approach to science education.

March 20, 2015

A Volcanic Mystery

Into the Earth: Episode #3

Aubreya Adams, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, describes the Cameroon Volcanic Line as "one of the most interesting features in Africa that most people have never heard of." These volcanoes are something of a mystery, even to geologists - nobody knows exactly how they were created. However, Adams' research is shedding light on the mystery. Here she discusses her findings and shares some of the process behind seismology fieldwork.

March 5, 2015

Discovery in the Lau Basin

Into the Earth: Episode #2

Deep under the ocean, enormous tectonic plates push against one another and spread apart. Shawn Wei, a doctoral student and McDonnell Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, wants to understand what's really going on down there. Deep in the Pacific Ocean, how do rock, magma, and water interact? To find out, Wei analyzed data collected at the famous Lau Basin, one of the most geologically active places on Earth - and his results surprised all the experts. Here, Shawn describes his discovery, his methods, and how science isn't always like what you seen in the movies.

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 29, 2015

How to Write a Bad Poem

People, Places, and Ideas to Explore

In 1913, Poetry magazine published Ezra Pound's "A Few Don'ts by an Imagiste." The piece offered would-be poets such memorable advice as "don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music" and "don’t retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good prose." A hundred years later, acclaimed literary scholar Marjorie Perloff, the recipient of the 2014 International Humanities Medal, put her own spin on Pound's famous guidelines. Perloff shares her five additional "don'ts" and reflects on her early childhood in Vienna.

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.