Solar Power, Computational Creativity, Teenage Brain
Top of Mind with Julie Rose - Radio Archive, Episode 14
- Feb 26, 2015 10:00 pm
- 1:44:04 mins
Solar Power (1:03) Guest: Dr. Gregory Reed, Director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Energy and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Pittsburgh Oil, coal, and natural gas are the world’s chief sources of energy. Many refer to those resources as “fossil fuels,” because they are the remnants of organic matter that existed on the planet millions of years ago. As earth’s human population grows, we’ll hear—with increased frequency—about how fossil fuels are finite resources, and that their use damages the planet. One alternative fuel source with seemingly limitless potential is solar energy. We are going to examine some of the factors that might enable us to become more efficient in our use of solar power. “In the long term, mixes of renewables with the continued use of the cleaner developed fossil energy is going to be a big part of what our future looks like,” says Reed. Computational Creativity (21:56) Guest: Dan Ventura, Professor of Computer Science at BYU PIERRE stands for Pseudo-Intelligent Evolutionary Real-Time Recipe Engine and he was developed in the computational creativity lab of BYU professor Dan Ventura. “Creativity is sort of an inherently contestable idea. There are people that argue that that is exactly what it is and it’s not meant to be agreed upon,” says Ventura. The Teenage Brain (38:21) Guest: Frances Jensen, Chari of the Department of Neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Teenagers are more impulsive, moody, and susceptible to addictions. That’s not just folk wisdom—that’s hard science about which medicine has shown us a great deal in recent years. Dr. Frances Jensen has synthesized our current knowledge about the nature and limitations of the teenage brain aptly called The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults. “You know that there is biology at work. It certainly doesn’t give them a free pass for all they’re doing but it makes you understand them,” says Jensen. “This generation still has issues with distraction. They may be better at some things but the brain has its limits, it has its thresholds,” says Jensen. Great Salt Lake Institute (51:43) Guest: Bonnie Baxter, Director of the Great Salt Lake Institute We as earthlings have made some really remarkable advancements in space exploration over the past year. A manned balloon reached the stratosphere. 3-D printing took place on the International Space Station, and the European Space Agency landed a satellite on a comet. Even as we imagine using resources from beyond our own planet, some scientists focus their efforts on earth's unexplored possibilities. Dr. Bonnie Baxter us a Utah-based scientist whose research focuses on a geographic landmark that many people have avoided due to its pungent odor and its seemingly barren ecosystem. Dr. Baxter studies the Great Salt Lake and she sends water samples to other researchers around the world. Dr. Baxter is director of the Great Salt Lake Institute, which is based out of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. “Some cells \[pulled out of the lake] can grow right on top of salt crystals,” says Baxter. “\[Sunburns] cause direct DNA damage.” Halophiles at the Great Salt Lake may have characteristics that will help us develop more effective sunscreens. eSight Glasses (1:21:02) Guest: Taylor West, Director of outreach for eSight According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 20 million Americans have vision problems, ranging from those who are legally blind to people who wear corrective lenses but still struggle to see well. To this point, the legally blind population has had limited options for enhancing their sight. Traditionally, glasses can only do so much. But digital eyeglasses? That's another story. A Canadian company called eSight has patented an eyeglass that incorporates a digital video camera and LED screen and the results so far are pretty remarkable. “\[After using eSight] I am able to go to the library and read any book I want,” says Demers.