because science is fundamental in the 21st century
My guest in this episode is Dr. Maria-Elena Vorrath, a geologist who studies the history of climate change, who just finished her PhD. Besides her work as a researcher she is a science communicator with Scientists for Future.
My guest in this episode is Dr. Maria-Elena Vorrath, a geologist who studies the history of climate change, who just finished her PhD. Besides her work as a researcher she is a science communicator with Scientists for Future. Her message is clear: we can't stop climate change, but we can slow the temperature rise. Every bit of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions saves lives down the line. And: A low-carbon society cannot rely on low-emission-technologies, only, but it also has to reduce it's overall consumption. We further talk about Elena's background and research, as well as her science communication for Scientists for Future. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! To investigate the climate for the last 17 000 years, Maria-Elena Vorrath took samples from the ocean floor at the coast of Antarctica - sediment cores to be precise. These cores reveal the layers of sedimentation. Each layer correlates with one year.She sampled the different layers and analysed how much of a specific protein they contained; a protein that was produced by algae that live at the bottom side of ice sheets. So, the amount of protein tells her about the amount of ice on the ocean in a given year. Elena began sharing her work with the public around the same time Greta Thunberg gained media attention in late 2018 and joined Scientists for Future shortly after. She gives talks about her work at Science Slams and other events and combines it with her dire warning message about the climate emergency. The entertaining jokes she leaves to the other contestants at the Science Slam. She feels that this is her duty as a climate investigator. Ressources * Maria-Elena Vorrath on Twitter* Maria-Elena's Science Slam talk on YouTube [GER]* Maria-Elena's talk at the "Chaos Computer Club" on YouTube [GER] * Maria-Elena Vorrath's profile at the Alfred-Wegner-Institute* Reports by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)* "Earth Hasn't Warmed this Fast for Tens of Millions of Years" (Scientific American)* "Sea level rise from ice sheets track worst-case climate change scenario" (Science Direct)* Carbon calculator: find out how much CO2 your flight will emit (The Guardian)
One of my favorite topics is artificial intelligence, or - more specifically - what we can learn from neuroscience about artificial intelligence. So, when I was gifted the book "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" by Max Tegmar...
One of my favorite topics is artificial intelligence, or - more specifically - what we can learn from neuroscience about artificial intelligence. So, when I was gifted the book "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence" by Max Tegmark I enjoyed the read thoroughly. But, several scenarios envisioned in the book as paths to human-like artificial intelligence didn't make sense to me, as a neuroscientist. So a bestseller book on artificial intelligence completely ignored the views of neuroscience. This is why invited Dr. Grace Lindsay, host of the podcast "Unsupervised Thinking" about computational neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Grace is a postdoc at University College London, and she is currently writing a popular book about computational neuroscience. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Neuroscience inspired the technology that is currently leading the field in artificial intelligence: artificial neural networks (ANNs); now better known as 'deep networks' as in 'deep learning'. The inventors of ANNs were the first to implement the basic idea of distributing computations across a large number of small processing units - neurons. For decades this method suffered from it's need for large amounts of data and a lack of appropriate hardware. As soon as these prerequisites were met, ANNs really took off. Today, some people are thinking about how progress in neuroscience can further inform the structure of ANNs to improve on their performance - because they still are far behind what a brain can do. Referring to Tegmark's book we discuss scenarios that he writes are proposed to lead toward human-like artificial intelligence. We discuss whether modelling a human brain on different levels, from the molecules of every brain cell up to the behavior of an individual human, would work out - or would even count as intelligence. Could we upload our minds? Would human-level AI be conscious? Will the "singularity" kill us all? We try to answer these questions form the viewpoint of neuroscience. Resources: * Grace Lindsay on Twitter* Grace's upcoming Book “Models of the Mind“ * Grace's Podcast “Unsupervised Thinking” * Grace's Blog "Neurdiness"* Max Tegmark “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” * Mentioned Black Mirror episode: “Be Right Back”
My co-host Bart Geurten and I had a rather spontaneous conversation, again. We talk about remote teaching, how science communication and science journalism could be supported by the public, and speculate about how the political fringe might be missing ...
My co-host Bart Geurten and I had a rather spontaneous conversation, again. We talk about remote teaching, how science communication and science journalism could be supported by the public, and speculate about how the political fringe might be missing a sense of belonging. Following a catch-up about our lives in the pandemic, we talk about taking lectures online. Should we do it? Are there circumstances when it makes sense? Or does it remove important social interactions among students? We then talk about science communication. There was a hearing in the German Bundestag about how the parliament could install a funding mechanism for science communication and science journalism. One of the issues is that journalism is under a lot of pressure to make profits. This, finally, led us to discuss - once more - the plight of populism. Does it provide people with a sense of belonging? Dennis risks his life and hearing to demonstrate the dangerous noise from wind-turbines: https://youtu.be/AOFR4XuClkM Academic Writing Videos by Dennis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgGJBLboYtc&list=PLjZptrQXtspB7c5rAvU_RItVzBqv1JvzE
Postdocs are, besides graduate students, the main workforce in academic research. Following the PhD, the postdoc position is the only way to follow a research career within academia. Many PhDs around the world are advised to go to the USA for a postdo...
Postdocs are, besides graduate students, the main workforce in academic research. Following the PhD, the postdoc position is the only way to follow a research career within academia. Many PhDs around the world are advised to go to the USA for a postdoc - or two - because it is known for its large research output and high-quality research institutes. Around two-thirds of postdocs in the USA are foreign-born. In this episode, I talk to Gary McDowell, a UK born scientist in protein research who, over the last few years, worked with “Future of Research” to investigate the conditions postdocs in the USA are facing. The situation appears to be far from optimal. And this doesn’t just hurt the postdocs and their families; it also impacts research productivity. The extended edition of our podcast appears on Patreon! The goals of Future of Research are to enable PhDs to make better career decisions about whether a postdoc is a good decision, and if so, how to choose the right place to apply to. Another fundamental problem is the disconnect between the lived experience of junior academics and their senior supervisors. At the same time, the data they collected unveil systemic problems with postdocs in the USA, and Future of Research is working to change academia for the better. Postdoc: Advertisement and Reality The postdoc, as advertised, is a sort of apprenticeship position where PhDs develop their independent research projects to become leading scientists heading their own labs. The reality is that postdocs have replaced staff researchers, working on their Principal Investigator’s project, and hardly ever being mentored or trained in leadership and management. Even training in essential day-to-day parts of the work as an academic scholar - like conducting peer review - doesn’t seem to be part of their experience. At the same time, postdocs are still being classified as “trainees” to justify not paying them their worth, and to deny them benefits such as proper health care. Salary Because postdocs are paid below their skill and experience levels, and most are not given the mentoring and training promised, they are exploited as cheap labor by the academic system. A few years ago, Obama tried to change a labor law, which would have affected that institutions would need to give postdocs a raise - or face the issue of having actually to keep track of postdoc working hours. Unfortunately, this change didn’t become active. On the bright side, most universities still implemented the raise - even though some universities were trying to take it back. So this was good news. Future of Research collected salary data from postdocs just after this happened (and continues to do so for a longitudinal study), and found a median income of about $47500. This number clearly could be related to the planned labor law adjustment. So this was a positive finding. However, we should not forget that taking all people with doctorates in the USA, median salaries range from $70 000 to $100 000. Even worse: a postdoc negatively affects income up to 15 years following graduation to a PhD. This seems to come as a surprise to many, including industry representatives. Benefits The USA are infamous for their inadequate health care and labor protection situation. Many PhDs from countries with socialized or mandated benefits, like in Europe, will be surprised that things like basic health care, vacation time of more than two weeks,
For this episode, I spoke with Dr. Jonathan Köhler who studies the transformation of the transportation and mobility sectors using computational models at Competence Centre Sustainability and Infrastructure Systems of Fraunhofer Institute.
For this episode, I spoke with Dr. Jonathan Köhler who studies the transformation of the transportation and mobility sectors using computational models at Competence Centre Sustainability and Infrastructure Systems of Fraunhofer Institute. He discusses how ships and aircraft can become carbon neutral, and answers some common questions on the topic. He then talks about his experience with Scientists for Future and Fridays for Future. In the end, he gives us a vision of how mobility could look like in a climate-neutral city. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Resources: * Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI* Dr. Köhler on KIKA: "Fliegen - muss das sein?" [GER]* More on synthetic fuels / Power to X: 29 Climate Action: Energiewende – with Rüdiger Eichel* Scientists for Future (international)* Scientists for Future (German-speaking countries)
For this episode, Bart and I had a rather spontaneous chat about conspiracy beliefs and science communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide conspiracy myths about SARS-CoV-2 appear to be on the rise,
For this episode, Bart and I had a rather spontaneous chat about conspiracy beliefs and science communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide conspiracy myths about SARS-CoV-2 appear to be on the rise, and conspiracy narrators team up with other cranks in demonstrations - 'hygiene demos' they call it in Germany. And the far right is taking advantage of them. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! At the same time, science communication is at the center of the social discussions surrounding COVID-19. Several virologists have reached a certain celebrity status, which is having a lot of ... interesting ... effects. At the time we recorded this, the juiciest one, had not happened yet, unfortunately. But still, we had some things to say. Disclaimer: as mentioned, this conversation was completely unprepared (usually we at least have some articles at hand). Feel free to fact check us, and let us know! And please take everything we say with a grain of salt. Resources: * How are Germany's coronavirus protests different? (Deutsche Welle)* Coronavirus, ‘Plandemic’ and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking* Streeck, Laschet, StoryMachine: Vom PR-Plan zum Exit-Rush [GER]* Heinsberg Study Results Published (University of Bonn)* 8 Cognitive Biases in Science and Society – with Dr. Bart Geurten
For this episode, Dennis talked to Dmitry Kopelyanskiy, a contest-winning science communicator who gives entertaining science talks on stage – mostly about his own research on tropical diseases. But here, Dimitry also talks about his academic career o
For this episode, Dennis talked to Dmitry Kopelyanskiy, a contest-winning science communicator who gives entertaining science talks on stage – mostly about his own research on tropical diseases. But here, Dimitry also talks about his academic career odyssey (from Russia to Switzerland via Israel and Germany), his path to science communication, and his involvement in “Skills for Scientists” – a career development program at the University of Lausanne. Over the past two years, Dmitry Kopelyanskiy has been quite successful at science communication contests. At FameLab he made it all the way to the international finals in the UK! But he also did rather well at a number of Science Slam events. Last year he had been involved with Pint of Science in Lausanne as an organizer, and he has become a moderator at FameLab. In the contests, the candidates must explain their science in a clear AND entertaining way. This is – as he says - a skill every scientist should have in order to defend their science; be it as a publishing academic, as a graduating Ph.D. student, or as a scientist who finds himself in a heated discussion with an antivax cab driver – as he once did. And if you can make it fun and interesting, even better! Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! But being a successful speaker did not come to Dmitry naturally. He remembers his first presentation as a Master’s student in Germany to be horrible! He mumbled while he was reading directly from his slides; his back turned to the class. When he finally turned around, he found the whole class holding their foreheads with their hands. His professor described the presentation as “not the worst” he had ever heard; which Dmitry thinks meant that it - indeed - had been the worst. Fortunately, he overcame his disheartenment and decided to go out of his comfort zone. Dmitry joined the Toastmaster clubs where people from different backgrounds practice public speaking and learn about storytelling and leadership. He continued working on his presentation skills, and he is still taking every opportunity to go on a stage and demonstrate his growth. To Dmitry, training your skills is one of the most important aspects of developing your career. Thinking about his own career outside academia after graduation, Dmitry wants to combine his best skill (public speaking) with his passion: science. Resources * Dmitry Kopelyanskiy's Website* Slap in the face: How pathogens trick your immune system (Dmitry Kopelyanskiy– Science Slam)* Skills for Scientists, Uni Lausanne* Pint of Science, Switzerland* 15x4 Munich*
During this season, once every 4 weeks, I pick one of the 13 most popular episodes from the first two years and post the original interview. These extended editions contain a couple of parts that didn’t make it into the final cut and give an insight i
During this season, once every 4 weeks, I pick one of the 13 most popular episodes from the first two years and post the original interview. These extended editions contain a couple of parts that didn’t make it into the final cut and give an insight into the underlying conversation. Supporters on Patreon have immediate access to these versions, btw. If you are one of them, thank you very much! If not, think about it! Find the final edition here! Academics are Spoiled. Right? The stereotype of academics is that they live a well-protected life in the ivory tower. But this is not the case for most of them. Maria Pinto from Portugal is a Ph.D. student in marine microbiology in Austria. With the final stages of her work approaching, Maria is beginning to think about the future. Forgoing Salaries, Benefits, and Life Planning Security in your Late 20s to 40s. We talk about the many uncertainties in academia, particularly for early career researchers. In general, the salaries are not good, but in poorer countries, where the salaries are particularly low and may not even include social security, there is also an expectation of students to pay fieldwork trips themselves. Traveling in order to present your work at conferences is important to researchers and their careers, but for many, this is not affordable. Ph.D. students and postdocs are in the typical age for founding families. The academic career, however, demands mobility. For many, this means that they need to move countries several times – a factor that greatly affects life planning security negatively. And all of this is happening in a climate of increasing Ph.D. graduations and stagnating long-term or permanent job openings. Yet, leaving academia is often discouraged. Among early-career academics and their advisers it’s simply expected to try hard for an academic career. This often means that PhDs think about a possible transition outside of academia very late. And then there is always the gnawing question: Do I have any value on the private market? We don’t have an answer to the problems we highlight, but maybe we can work a little bit against the stereotype of the spoiled academic. And maybe we can push some early career researchers to think about plan B, earlier. sources: • YouTube Channel “Sea&me – Marine stuff with Maria”• The Stagnating Job Market for Young Scientists• Why a postdoc might not advance your career• These studies offer a realistic view of postdoc life—and guidance for making career decisions that work for you• How Ph.D.s Romanticize the ‘Regular’ Job Market
The initial statement of Scientists for Future in support of Fridays for Future came out just at the right time. In the public debate, it was a swift response to politicians who were trying to mute the student strikes by telling them to "leave it to th...
The initial statement of Scientists for Future in support of Fridays for Future came out just at the right time. In the public debate, it was a swift response to politicians who were trying to mute the student strikes by telling them to "leave it to the experts". In reality, scientists who had been concerned about the climate and the ecological damages human activities for decades had been working on the statement for a while. Among the authors was our guest Thomas Loew. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Thomas Loew is a German researcher who started his own Institute for Sustainability. He studies how companies can and should respond to the risks posed by ecological damages - on a management level. These studies are usually for the German federal government. Besides academic articles, the outcomes of his research are published in the shape of guidelines or recommendations to company managers. He finds that companies are ready for a change in order to address climate change. What is holding them back is that regulators hesitate to create market conditions to incentivize change and to decrease the economical risks of investing in new products and production lines. Understanding that climate action is too slow due to lacking regulation is what brought Scientists for Future together. And they quickly outgrew the initial statement. While not planned as such, some of the more than 26 000 signatories decided to continue and become more active for the cause. Today, Scientists for Future consists of many local groups that are loosely organized. Although Thomas Loew is officially an organizer of the movement across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Northern Italy, he usually learns about the activities of local groups through the news. However, to uphold consistency across the movement, Scientists for Future set up a kind of "Carta" that regulates which types of activities conform with the agreed-upon role of science in society: to research, to inform, and to consult. Resources * Scientists for Future (international)* Scientists for Future (German-speaking countries)* Thomas Loew's Institute for Sustainability* YouTube video "The Destruction of the CDU" by Rezo (GER)
In this episode, Bart and I invited Ph.D. candidate Daniela Buchwald from the German Primate Center. We compare how the University of Göttingen and the German Primate Center responded to the impending shutdown of most research activities - with a focus
In this episode, Bart and I invited Ph.D. candidate Daniela Buchwald from the German Primate Center. We compare how the University of Göttingen and the German Primate Center responded to the impending shutdown of most research activities - with a focus on how the animals are being cared for. The conversation was recorded on Tuesday, March 17, just after the German local government began to take serious action to reduce public life in order to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Remember, that when we talk about news reaching us on Monday, we mean “yesterday” at the time of recording. Listen to the Full Conversation on Patreon! Resources * Daniela Buchwald on Twitter