April 02, 2004

The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream

Guest: Andrea Rock.

Humans have long been captivated by dreams. Why do they occur? Why do we only remember fractions of them? Why do they induce such intense emotions? Today on Focus, we'll be joined by Andrea Rock, author of The Mind at Night. She'll talk about the questions that scientists are trying to answer in this new field, a fascinating combination of psychology and neuroscience.

March 16, 2004

The Unpredictability of Science and its Consequences

Guest: Sir John Meurig Thomas.

You might expect scientists to have a good idea of where their research will lead—but in fact, says Sir John Meurig Thomas, they are no better than the general public at seeing into the future. Today on Focus, the Cambridge University professor will give us examples of scientific unpredictability in his own field, chemistry, as well as physics, medicine, and biology.

March 08, 2004

Going to the Moon with the Apollo Project

Guest: John Logsdon.

Today on Focus we'll talk about the future of America's space program with expert John Logsdon. He supports further Moon and Mars missions and says that while the technical problems are significant, the Mars project would be a compelling mission that would attract high-quality scientists to NASA, and finally allow the organization to concentrate some of the world's greatest minds on a single exciting task.

March 04, 2004

At Home in the Universe

Guest: Stuart Kauffman.

Our guest today on Focus has become well known for arguing that the laws of complexity in science generate much of the order in the natural world. He says that in his studies of philosophy, medicine, and biology, it is often the most complex and apparently random systems that show spontaneous order. It's a factor at least as important as Darwinian natural selection in producing the life we see all around us. Physician and science writer Stuart Kauffman joins us today to discuss this and more.

February 11, 2004

Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life

Guest: David Grinspoon.

Where do planetary science and philosophy intersect? In one fascinating field: the search for extraterrestrial life. Today on Focus, David Grinspoon speculates about the possibility of life on other planets and in other solar systems, how intelligent life may evolve both on our own planet and in the rest of the universe, and what the philosophical implications of these future discoveries may be.

January 13, 2004

Sojourner: An Insider’s View of the Mars Pathfinder Mission

Guest: Andrew Mishkin.

Sojourner's diminutive size didn't stop it from captivating millions of people when it beamed back the first-ever photos from the red terrain of Mars. But the Pathfinder mission's story goes far back beyond that first contact. NASA engineer Andrew Mishkin joins us today on Focus to give us the details on the massive effort made by the world's best minds to land an artificial intelligence on the surface of Mars.

January 06, 2004

Darwin and the Evolution of “Survival of the Fittest”

Guest: Michael Ruse.

For many people, The Origin of Species marks the end of faith. But professor of philosophy Michael Ruse argues otherwise. He says that, in a way, the ideas of Charles Darwin can be seen as a solution to the loss of faith, rather than its cause. This morning on Focus we'll talk to Ruse about the persistence of Darwinian thinking and his belief that evolutionary ethics is still a thriving part of the lives of Americans, although religion does still play a major role.

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