Without having a really good reason for doing so, nobody in their right mind would put a dead fish into a ziploc bag, attach it to wires to an electric stimulator, and release it into a tank with an electric eel. But thankfully, Kenneth Catania had a perfectly good reason for doing all of that. Or maybe he’s not in his right mind. Either way, the result was a revelation about the eel — evidence that eels don’t just use their capacity to stun prey with zaps of electricity to kill, but also to
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Can even a single-celled organism truly learn? In Episode 70, Jeremy Gunawardena with the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School talks with us about his replication of an experiment originally conducted over a century ago, which suggested that at least one single-cell organism – the trumpet-shaped Stentor roeseli – is able to carry out surprisingly complex decision-making behaviors
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Parsing Science: The unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researchers themselves., which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
Rogue waves — enigmatic giants of the sea — were thought to be caused by two different mechanisms. But a new idea that borrows from the hinterlands of probability theory has the potential to predict them all.
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Scientists have grave concerns over ethical and societal impacts of facial-recognition technology. In this surveillance special, we dig into the details.
In this episode:
03:24 Standing up against ‘smart cities’
Cities across the globe are installing thousands of surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition technology. Although marketed as a way to reduce crime, researchers worry that these systems are ripe for exploitation and are calling for strict regulations on their deployment.
17:44 The ethics of researching facial recognition technology
Despite concerns surrounding consent and use, researchers are still working on facial recognition technology. Can this sort of work be justified? We hear some of the debates going on in academia about this field of research.
In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Stacie Williams, a program manager since 2019 in the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, reveals how a lifelong love of optical and photonic phenomena, beginning with fireflies during her childhood, is now unfolding in her stewardship of ambitious light-and-optics-centric programs at DARPA. One of these, the Deformable Mirror (DeMi) program, recently reached a milestone with the placement from the International Space Station of a dime-sized deformable mirror on a loaf-sized CubeSat platform. The goal of DeMi is to deliver cheaper, lighter, smaller telescope mirrors—in the form of a microelectromechanical system (MEMS)—that could open unprecedented options for space-based ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) technology that, in Stacie’s words, “helps us understand what’s going on with a space eyeview.” In another optics-tech effort under Stacie’s wing, researchers are learning how to design so-called metamaterials—with engineered microstructures that manipulate electromagnetic wavelengths—that also could greatly simplify, lighten, and cheapen far more massive, complex, and expensive conventional telescopes. In the podcast, Stacie also recounts her work beyond technology as a champion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for economically disadvantaged communities.
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