John Ballentine
February 01, 2013

The Future of Space Travel

Ten years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on re-entry over Texas, killing seven astronauts; in the years that followed, state-funded space flight dwindled. Today on Focus, we'll talk the future of space exploration with a former astronaut, an aerospace engineer and a businessman who wants to make human settlements in space a reality. Join our conversation at 10 or on Facebook and Twitter


November 13, 2012

Why Does the World Exist?

It’s hard to pass up any book that promotes itself as an “existential detective story.” That’s the subtitle of author Jim Holt’s new book “Why Does the World Exist?” In it, Holt traces efforts to grasp the origins of the universe, and suggests along the way that many discussions revolving around the classic question “why are we here?” are simply too narrow – that there are many more possible answers than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. Holt talks with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk, among others, as he seeks big answers to the biggest of questions.

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, September 07, 2012, 10 am.


November 12, 2012

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Related Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of anxiety disorder -- obsessions can consist of images or unwanted thoughts that cause anxiety or distress and compulsions can be mental and or physical actions. The line between personal habits or rituals and OCD is whether or not and how much these interfere with one's ability to function in daily life.

Diagnoses of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have been on the rise over the past two decades as more attention is being paid to the disorder in clinical research. But because the symptoms can be very subtle, the time between onset of OCD symptoms and treatment is often very long, years or even decades if it is treated at all.

We'll talk about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and related anxiety disorders with Shayla Parker, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with Kevin Elliot Counseling in Champaign. Parker has 11 years of experience in counseling and has treated a wide variety of mental health issues while working at inpatient and outpatient levels of care.


Wikimedia Commons
October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Ed Kieser, Meteorologist

Kelly Formoso, Volunteer and Youth Coordinator, American Red Cross, Champaign IL

Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist

Host: Craig Cohen

“Super storm” Sandy continues to wreak havoc over the eastern seaboard and mid-Atlantic states. New York’s subways are flooded. The stock exchange closed for two days – the first time that’s happened for a weather emergency since 1888. A blizzard has blanketed portions of West Virginia and nearby states. The death toll continues to rise as a result of the storm, millions are without power, and the cost of damage to homes and businesses from the storm, its high winds, and subsequent flooding, is projected to be in the billions.

While the impact on the Midwest is significantly less, we are feeling Sandy’s effects. Loved ones are stranded, workers and volunteers from the two state region are headed to, or in the states affected.

While we all continue to monitor the damage caused by Sandy, we thought you might like an opportunity to understand, a bit deeper, exactly what happened to cause this “super storm.” So, our old friend, meteorologist Ed Kieser will join us. He’s been monitoring the storm from the moment it developed, and he’ll take your questions about Sandy, how it compares to other storms, and what conditions are necessary to create it. We’ll also be joined by Illinois’ State Climatologist, Jim Angel, to talk about the climate conditions necessary for such a storm, and whether we can characterize Sandy, amid more violent weather conditions of recent years, as a collective demonstration of our changing climate. We will also talk with Kelly Formoso, Volunteer and Youth Coordinator of the American Red Cross in Champaign about local relief efforts and ways to get news about friends and loved ones in the affected areas.


September 07, 2012

Why Does the World Exist?

Jim Holt, Essayist and contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the New York Review of Books.

Host: Craig Cohen

It’s hard to pass up any book that promotes itself as an “existential detective story.” That’s the subtitle of author Jim Holt’s new book “Why Does the World Exist?” In it, Holt traces efforts to grasp the origins of the universe, and suggests along the way that many discussions revolving around the classic question “why are we here?” are simply too narrow – that there are many more possible answers than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. Holt talks with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk, among others, as he seeks big answers to the biggest of questions.


August 28, 2012

Cricket Radio: Tuning In the Night-Singing Insects

Guest: John Himmelman.

Today on Focus, award-winning writer John Himmelman seeks to reconnect us with the sounds of the night that so often slip our notice. He'll explain the purposes and meanings of the sounds made by various crickets and katydids. He also offers instructions on how to attract these insects to our own back yards.


Wikimedia Commons
August 23, 2012

Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions

Guest: Mark W. Moffett, Ph.D.

Of all the creatures to exhibit strikingly human behaviors, the ant is perhaps the most unexpected. But ants are merchants, construction workers, and farmers that deal with everything from recycling and hygiene to warfare. Today on Focus, entomologist Mark Moffett shares stories from a global journey to learn more about the various species.


August 21, 2012

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Guest: Rebecca Skloot.

She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—would become one of the most important tools of modern medicine, used to develop the polio vaccine, gene mapping, cloning, and more. Today on Focus, Rebecca Skloot joins the show to tell the story of Henrietta Lacks, the medical revolution that she unknowingly launched, and the ethics one must consider when it comes to our bodies and medicine.


August 10, 2012

Long for This World: The Strange Science of Immortality

Guest: Jonathan Weiner.

In the twentieth century alone, the human life expectancy has increased by more than thirty years. Some scientists believe that it's time for the next big leap—this time into complete immortality. Today on Focus, science writer Jonathan Weiner joins the show to explain some of the science behind this heart-pounding research and the dramatic tale of how aging may be conquered once and for all—even in this lifetime.


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