News & Information

Sykes-Picot, Gang Depression, Aerodynamic Trains

Top of Mind with Julie Rose
  • May 23, 2016 11:00 pm
  • 1:42:17

The Mythology of Sykes-Picot in the Middle East Guest: Henri Barkey, PhD, Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars You've probably heard talk recently of how a 100-year-old agreement called Sykes-Picot still drives conflict engulfing the Middle East today. But Henri Barkey of the Woodrow Wilson Center says that's giving too much credit - or blame - to the agreement. Here's the history: In mid-May of 1916, a British diplomat named Mark Sykes and a French one named Francois Georges-Picot were assigned to meet secretly and carve up the weakening Ottoman Empire. This was two years before the end of World War I, but the empires of Britain and France were hoping for victory and eager to stake their claim to the vast land and resources of what we now call the Middle East. The lines that Sykes and Picot drew on a map – blue for French territory, red for British – didn’t pay any attention to the religions, ethnicities or languages of the people living on the land they were divvying up.   So that’s where Sykes-Picot gets its bad name, as an example of classic imperial diplomacy: “We’re the conquerors, we’re going do what we want with you.” The thing is, the Sykes-Picot agreement was never adopted. But, the rough shape of what Britain and France would eventually claim for themselves as colonial powers did bear some resemblance to the map Sykes and Picot drew.  Gangs Make Young People Depressed Guest: Chris Melde, PhD, Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University Gang membership had been declining in the US over the last decade, but recently it’s bounced back to levels on par with the mid-90s. The Department of Justice says gangs are a “stubbornly persistent” problem with current membership at about 850,000. In addition to the violence and drug trafficking that come with gangs, a study in the journal “Criminal Justice and Behavior” says there are also mental health consequences: Young people who join gangs end up with higher levels of depression and suicide.  Making Trains Aerodynamic Guest: Wayne Kennedy, Director of Fuel Conservation at Union Pacific Railroad; Aaron Terry, Recent Graduate of BYU's Engineering Program  Most of what’s in your house took quite a journey to get to you. It likely arrived in a shipping container full of electronics or clothes or furniture at a port somewhere in the US. That container was loaded right onto a train – probably stacked two-high like giant LEGOs – for a cross-country trek, before transferring to a truck for the final leg. The fuel required to power that journey is a large expense factored into the final cost you pay for the product. So this next conversation is about how Union Pacific Railroad has relied on teams of engineering students here at BYU to improve its fuel efficiency by making its trains more aerodynamic. The end result is something called the Arrowedge. It sits on the top of the first shipping container in that long line of double-stacked containers and has a pointed nose to cut down on drag that slows the train. Factory Workers Often Rely on Welfare Programs Guest: Ken Jacobs, PhD, Chair of the Labor Center at UC Berkeley The days when a job in a factory meant lifelong employment and a ticket to the middle class are long gone. While presidential candidates debate how to bring the American manufacturing industry back, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education shed some light on just what it means to work in manufacturing today. They find that, increasingly, a day’s work on the frontline of a factory is not enough to pay for basic necessities. As a result, a third of the families of those workers are enrolled in public safety net programs like food stamps or Medicaid. When you look only at the factory workers hired through temporary staffing agencies, the rate is even higher – on par with fast-food workers and their families leaning on public assistance.  Parent Previews: Angry Birds Guest: Rob Gustafson, Film Reviewer at The box office winners over the weekend were the Angry Birds and their archenemies – the Green Pigs. Yep, that annoyingly addictive smart phone game is now a full-length feature. Parent Previews critic Rob Gustafson joins us to go over the newest movies. Preventing Nuclear Meltdowns Guest: Matt Memmott, PhD, BYU Nuclear Engineering Professor; Spencer Rogers, BYU’s Technology Transfer Office Nuclear reactors generate a fifth of all the electricity we use in the United States – and the percentage is much, much more if you live in certain parts of the country – like the Southeast. When I lived in North Carolina for a number of years, I was shocked to learn there were three nuclear plants within 20 miles of my home. Growing up in the Intermountain West, we only heard about nuclear in reference to fallout from bomb testing that happened in Nevada years ago or radioactive waste from nuclear plants stored in the Utah desert. Or disasters like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima. In other words, nuclear meant danger. What I’ve since learned is that the danger of a nuclear meltdown at the 100 power plants operating in the US is very remote. And yet, disasters like the tsunami that spurred Fukushima can happen. So reactors re built with emergency systems in place to prevent meltdown. BYU engineering professor Matthew Memmott has come up with a way to improve on those systems.