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Video Highlights from Distinctive Voices events

Distinctive Voices has hosted hundreds of lectures and events featuring some of the best minds in the world—including members of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine—all who volunteer their time to promote public science programs. Below are some samples of the videos of previous lectures. See the full selection of lectures available on the Distinctive Voices YouTube Channel.



Paul Dawson
Double-Dipping and Other Food Peculiarities

Have you ever eaten food after it has been dropped on the floor or double-dipped a chip? What about the cleanliness of restaurant menus or how sanitary it is to play beer pong. Paul Dawson will talk about what the research says on these and other topics related to the bacterial transfer on and around food. We’ll look at the ways bacteria live and move around the surfaces where we eat, drink and celebrate. Ice, lemon slices, sharing food, and even blowing out birthday candles will be placed under the microscope for close examination. So if you are still wondering who was correct, George Costanza (the infamous double-dipper from Seinfeld) or Timmy (the dip protestor), then come out on September 12th to hear some trivia and find the answer to these and other questions about food and bacteria.
» Paul Dawson, Clemson University



Alex Stone
The Science of Magic and the Art of Deception

“Magic takes place not in the hands of the magician but in the mind of the spectator.” —magician’s adage

Magic is dramatized deception, lying as performance art, cons as theatre. Magicians trick our brains into seeing what isn’t real, and for whatever reason our brains let them get away with it. Turns out, you can learn a lot about how the mind works—and why it sometimes doesn’t—by looking at how magicians distort our perception. Through a mix of psychology, storytelling, and sleight-of-hand, Stone explores the cognitive underpinnings of misdirection, illusion, scams, and secrecy, pulling back the curtain on the many curious and powerful ways our brains deceive us—not just when we’re watching a magician stage his swindles, but throughout our daily lives.
» Alex Stone, writer and entertainer, New York City



Wendy Rogers
Robots to Support Successful Aging: Potential and Challenges

There is much potential for robots to support older adults in their goal of successful aging with high quality of life. However, for human-robot interactions to be successful, the robots must be designed with user needs, preferences, and attitudes in mind. The Human Factors and Aging Laboratory is specifically oriented toward developing a fundamental understanding of aging and bringing that knowledge to bear on design issues important to the enjoyment, quality, and safety of everyday activities of older adults. Our research does not emphasize loss of function associated with aging; rather, we wish to understand how to enhance a person's ability to function well in later life, perhaps through technology. In this presentation, I will describe our research with robots: personal, social, telepresence. We focus on the human side of human-robot interaction, answering questions such as, are older adults willing to interact with a robot? What do they want the robot to do? To look like? How do they want to communicate with a robot? Through research examples, I will illustrate the potential for robots to support successful aging as well as the challenges that remain for the design and widespread deployment of robots in this context.
» Wendy Rogers, University of Illinois



Podcasts from Distinctive Voices events

Below are some podcasts of previous lectures. See the full selection of lectures available on the Distinctive Voices Podcast Channel. New podcasts every Wednesday.

s02e05: Anthony James: La Zanzara Vitruviana: Synthetic Biology and Malaria

New technologies hold great promise for sustainable control of malaria parasite transmission by mosquitoes. The science of these technologies has advanced so quickly that the public understanding of their benefits and risks lags far behind. The challenge is to develop these new disease control methods while at the same time recruiting public support for the efforts.

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s02e04: Michael M. Merzenich: Brain Power and Brain Health

Neuroscience research over the past several decades has revolutionized our understanding of the change processes in the brain that underlie the development and elaboration of our skills and abilities in younger life, and that account for their predictable, progressive decline at an older age. Neuroplasticity studies also provide us with important new insights into strategies for overcoming those losses, and for managing our brain health all across the span of our lives. Our goal is to explain how this science relates to YOUR health--and to explain how the great personal endowment of "brain plasticity" contributes to YOUR potential for continuous personal growth.

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S02E03: Emily Chew: Nutrition, Genetics and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. The most common factor that increases the risk of AMD is increasing age. However, environmental factors including cigarette smoking and nutrition also play important roles in the development of AMD. This lecture will discuss specifically how researchers examined the role of diets and the use of nutritional supplements for the treatment of AMD. Unlike other medical conditions, nutritional supplements are effective in reducing the risk of progression to vision-threatening AMD. While the role of genetics may be important in AMD but the use of genetic testing in the treatment of AMD is not warranted. These recommendations of nutritional supplements and genetic testing for AMD will be discussed.

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S02E02: Jonathan P. Stewart: Earthquake Resilience of California’s Water Distribution System

California relies on a network of dams and aqueducts to store and transport water from the primary source areas (e.g., Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills) to usage areas (e.g., Central Valley farms and coastal urban regions). Southern California, in particular, relies on this infrastructure for 60% of its water, with the primary supply aqueducts importing from Owens Valley (eastern Sierra), Colorado River, and the California Bay-Delta Region. In this seminar, the presenter will define the meaning of resilience as applied to water systems. He will provide examples of stressing events in which the subsequent response demonstrated resilience (Los Angeles water system following Northridge earthquake) and did not (communities in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina). He will then describe seismic threats to California’s water systems and opine upon critical system components with and without suitable resilience.

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S02E01: Alex Stone: The Science of Magic and the Art of Deception

Magic is dramatized deception, lying as performance art, cons as theatre. Magicians trick our brains into seeing what isn’t real, and for whatever reason our brains let them get away with it.Turns out, you can learn a lot about how the mind works—and why it sometimes doesn’t—by looking at how magicians distort our perception.Through a mix of psychology, storytelling, and sleight-of-hand, Stone explores the cognitive underpinnings of misdirection, illusion, scams, and secrecy, pulling back the curtain on the many curious and powerful ways our brains deceive us—not just when we’re watching a magician stage his swindles, but throughout our daily lives.

Right mouse click and save to download Mp3


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