July 08, 2004

The Big One: The Enormous Earthquake that Rocked Early America and Helped Create a Science

Guests: Jake Page and Charles Officer.

The three largest earthquakes in American history took place in the early 1800s—not along the San Andreas Fault as one might expect, but in Missouri. The gargantuan tremors rent apart a region the size of Texas and killed some 1,500 people. Could a disaster like this happen again? Today on Focus, we're joined by writer Jake Page and author Charles Officer to discuss the likelihood of a repeat event and how seismologists are working to be able to predict it.

June 29, 2004

The Commercialization of Space

Guest: Robert Zimmerman.

Last week, test pilot Michael Melville became the first person to reach space in a privately funded program. The designers of the craft, called "SpaceShipOne," have their sights set on a prize offered to anyone who can put a crew of three into space, bring them back safely, and repeat the feat within two weeks. Many people believe that Melville's flight, and the presence of contests like these, are opening the doors to space tourism. Today on Focus we'll explore the commercialization of space with award-winning sicence writer Robert Zimmerman.

June 01, 2004

The Hype About Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate

Guest: Joseph Romm.

In his State of the Union address last year, President Bush called for the development of hydrogen as an energy source. This morning on Focus we'll talk with former Department of Energy official Joseph Romm about whether hydrogen could be powering our world in the near future. Romm says he doubts that hydrogen-powered cars will become available anytime soon—but hydrogen fuel cells could power our homes and businesses. He'll also discuss his recent book, The Hype About Hydrogen.

May 10, 2004

Descartes’ Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human

Guest: Paul Bloom.

Babies are born with inherent knowledge in two areas: the physical and the emotional. They are surprised when things disappear or defy gravity; they are able to read emotions and react with their own. Today on Focus, we're joined by psychologist Paul Bloom. He'll talk about how these two methods of thought give rise to the traits that we consider most uniquely "human," from humor to art to religion.

May 06, 2004

Current Developments in Nanotechnology

Guests: Brenda Wilson, Thomas Mackin, and David Kellner.

Many scientists believe that nanotechnology has great potential to change both our economy and the way we live. This morning we'll look at recent developments in the field with University of Illinois microbiologist Brenda Wilson, Thomas Mackin from Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and David Kellner, the CEO of a company that uses nanoscale technology in environmental monitoring.

May 05, 2004

Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness

Guest: Gerald Edelman.

Scientists and philosophers across the ages have speculated on the nature of consciousness. Even today, with our knowledge of brain function, we still wonder how the activity seen in the brain results in our subjective thoughts and emotions. One of America's leading neuroscientists, Gerald Edelman, has spent his career trying to understand the origins of consciousness. He joins us today on Focus 580 to explain what recent advances in biochemistry and evolutionary biology can tell us about the connections between mind and body.

April 20, 2004

Touring the Summer Sky

Guest: Jim Kaler.

When you look up at the sky at night, what do you see? Today on Focus, University of Illinois Professor of Astronomy Jim Kaler joins us to tell you exactly what to look for this summer.

April 09, 2004

Why Undergraduate College Students Leave the Sciences

Guest: Elaine Seymour.

Between 40 and 60 percent of students entering college planning to major in science, math, or engineering end up switching to other majors before graduation. Sociologist Elaine Seymour surveyed hundreds of students in an effort to find out why so many initally motivated undergraduates abandon science and engineering majors early in their college careers. She joins us on Focus today from the University of Colorado to share her findings.

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