Professor Dave Debates
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You know him from Professor Dave Explains, now it's time for Professor Dave to debate! Each episode features an expert in a particular field, with whom Dave will debate opposing views, or at least play devil's advocate, regarding a specific topic. A rotating comedian guest will sometimes moderate the heavier episodes just to keep things light. Whether Dave and the expert end up in agreement or disagreement, there'll be plenty to learn, and much fun to be had!

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    What is Consciousness? (Featuring Joel Frohlich)

    There are a lot of things in this universe that we understand very well. But the thing that is understood the least might be human consciousness. Despite our intimate knowledge of brain structure and function, we still don't quite understand how the brain produces the subjective reality that we label consciousness. Well neuroscientist Joel Frohlich specifically studies consciousness, and he is here to tell us all about exactly what we know, how we know it, and what we have left to learn! Also check out the website Knowing Neurons for lots more information on the brain.

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    What's the Deal With Vaccines? (Featuring Kimberly Harrison)

    Anti-science mentality rears its head in many sectors of daily life, but none more so than in medicine. One ramification of this is the anti-vaccine movement. Thousands of people insist that vaccines are harmful, that they are linked to autism, and are clearly to be avoided. Is there any validity to this? Where did this sentiment originate? To help us talk through this is Kimberly Harrison. With multiple degrees in biology and research experience in the field, she can definitely help clear up this mess. She also operates the YouTube channel "Socratica" which is filled with a variety of educational tutorials, so if you're a fan of mine, check that one out too!

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    Does Science Belong in Music? (Featuring Ray Hedgpeth)

    A lot of educators and YouTubers try to make science-themed music. Whether for entertainment or educational purposes, is this effective? Is it good practice in some other context? Ray Hedgpeth of the nerd-rock band The Amoeba People is an expert in this subject, and I'm no slouch either, being a lifelong musician. Fair warning, there is a lot of nerdy music talk in this one, but also a lot about our personal musical histories and so forth. It's a fun one!

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    GMO: Friend or Foe? (Featuring Ian Street)

    There has been a pretty huge public backlash against genetic modification. Not just of crops, but of anything. But what is genetic modification? Is it dangerous? Is it important? What organisms have been modified so far? Let's get into this with Ian Street, a PhD biologist with a background in plant development. He knows his stuff, and after this episode you will too!

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    Does Alien Life Exist? (Featuring Xinnan Du)

    Are there any life forms out there, in our galaxy, or beyond? If so, are any of them intelligent and capable of communicating with us? If so, what are they like? And why haven't we heard from them? All of this is encapsulated by the field of astrobiology, and to help us navigate this speculative terrain is postdoctoral researcher and NASA program manager in the department of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside. We will talk about the requirements for abiogenesis, for subsequent evolution, the Drake equation, the Fermi paradox, you name it! This is my absolute favorite thing to talk about, so I hope you'll have as much fun as I did.

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    Can Fusion Solve the Energy Crisis? (Featuring Peter Heuer)

    We've gotta find some new energy sources. Fossil fuels are in short supply, and they are causing devastating climate change. Renewables like wind and solar are on the rise, but what about nuclear fusion? I dunno, isn't that dangerous? What about all the disasters in the past? Well those were fission plants. What's the difference? What is fusion? How does it work? Are we close to mastering it? All these questions will be answered and more in today's episode! To help us with this is Peter Heuer, a PhD student in the UCLA High Energy Density Plasma group. Let's hear what he has to say!

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    Einstein vs. Bohr: Quantum Quarrels (Featuring Adam Becker)

    The history of quantum physics is absolutely fascinating. In the early 20th century, brilliant minds did incredible work to bring about the greatest paradigm shift in the history of science, but they didn't always see eye to eye. Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr were colossal figures in this movement, and they had a number of amicable disagreements about quantum mechanics and what it said about reality. What were these debates all about and who was right? Our guest, Dr. Adam Becker, just published a book about precisely this subject, so let's hear what he has to say. And pick up a copy of "What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics" wherever books are sold!

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    Can Art Help Teach Science? (Featuring Rachel Ignotofsky)

    There are a lot of ways to teach science, but where does art fit into the mix? Can art be effective in not just inspiring people to learn science, but also in conveying scientific information? The short answer is yes, it definitely can, because that's precisely what Rachel Ignotofsky has done. Rachel is a New York Times best selling author and illustrator, and her books "Women in Science" and "The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth" show precisely how effective art can be in organizing and displaying scientific information in a palatable yet efficient way. Rachel stopped by for a chat regarding her process, as well as the challenges we face as science communicators. Take a listen!

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    Is Hunting Ethical? (Featuring Jason Goldman)

    There are various schools of thought when it comes to the treatment of animals. Some believe we shouldn't eat or kill them under any circumstance. Some believe we can eat animals, but should not mistreat them or hunt for sport. Some say screw it all, let's do what we want. How do ethics come into play? Is there any moral high ground when it comes to hunting? Let's hear what wildlife reporter and hunter Jason Goldman has to say about it!

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    American Politics: Getting Better or Worse? (Featuring Jack Michelle and Brandon Burkhart)

    These are tumultuous times! The country is divided, and no one has any idea what's going to happen next. It's not just about the presidency, there's too much money in politics, and a new crisis every week, it seems. In this episode we will ask one simple question: are things getting better, or are they getting worse? Listen in on my discussion with Jack Michelle and Brandon Burkhart so we can get to the bottom of this!

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