June 19, 2007

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Impossible

Guest: Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Today on Focus, we're joined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, an expert in the sciences of uncertainty, to discuss what Taleb calls "Black Swans": rare events with extreme impacts that occur well outside the realm of probability, but are quickly explained away in a way that makes them seem obvious and predictable. These events explain almost everything in our world, and yet, says Taleb, we remain blind to them if they are not explicitly pointed out to us.

May 17, 2007

Shattered Nerves: How Science is Solving Modern Medicine’s Most Perplexing Problem

Guest: Victor D. Chase.

Around the world there are countless people with neurological disorders that disrupt their ability to move or communicate. Injury or disease can create a gap between a functioning brain and the parts of the body meant to receive its signals. Today on Focus, we'll look at the effort to develop medical devices to bridge that gap with guest Victor D. Chase, author of Shattered Nerves.

May 16, 2007

Almost Human: Making Robots Think

Guest: Lee Gutkind.

At least as far back as da Vinci, people have imagined—and feared—the creation of machines that could perform like human beings. That day may be yet to come, but some say that the advances of the past decade have exceeded all expectations. Today on Focus, we'll explore the cutting edge of robotic technology with author Lee Gutkind.

April 06, 2007

The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product that Defined America

Guest: Allan M. Brandt.

Few products have been as heavily promoted or as deeply entrenched in the American consciousness as the cigarette. The tobacco industry has long operated under one goal: casting doubt on the potential harm of smoking. Today on Focus, we'll explore the 50-year effort to mislead a country with Allan M. Brandt, author of The Cigarette Century.

March 27, 2007

The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God

Guest: David Linden.

At first glance, the human brain would seem to be one of the most beautifully engineered things in nature. In fact, says neuroscientist and Johns Hopkins professor David Linden, the brain is a cobbled-together mess—but this flawed design has led to some features of human experience that help us define life itself. Today on Focus, the author of The Accidental Mind takes us on a grand tour of the brain.

March 20, 2007

Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space

Guest: Chris Jones.

In November 2002, two American astronauts left Earth for a routine mission to the International Space Station. In February 2003, six of their colleagues boarded the space shuttle Columbia to return to the planet. Then came the bad news—Columbia had disintegrated only minutes away from landing, leaving the two still in space without their ride home. Today on Focus we'll get the full story from Chris Jones, author of Too Far from Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space.

February 20, 2007

Ethanol: The Fuel Of Tomorrow

Guest: Brian Jennings.

The price of oil has driven the rise of ethanol as a potential alternative, but some still remain skeptical, questioning the environmental impact of ethanol production. Today on Focus we'll have the second of two programs looking at the pros and cons of ethanol with guest Brian Jennings, Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

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