Monday, May 4, 2009
Jonah Lehrer is the editor of Seed magazine and the author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist. His newest book examines how the human brain makes decisions. All decisions are made in the context of the real-world. Lehrer uses examples from professional “deciders” — quarterbacks, poker players, serial killers and pilots —- to help explain what’s happening in the brain when it’s trying to make up its mind. The book is called How We Decide.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin posthumously named American-born George Koval a Hero of the Russian Federation, the highest honorary title awarded to a Russian citizen. Putin revealed that Koval, who worked at the U.S. military research center in Oak Ridge Tennessee, passed along nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Journalist Michael Walsh writes about George Koval for Smithsonian Magazine’s May edition in “Iowa-Born, Soviet-Trained.” Then, Sally Ride was not the first woman in space, two Soviets beat her. But as the first American woman in space, Ride inspired a generation of young girls to get interested in science. In 2001, the astronaut founded Sally Ride Science, a company that creates entertaining science programs and books for kids, with a particular focus on girls. Ride’s latest books - Mission: Planet Earth and Mission: Save the Planet - teach kids about global warming and how to become responsible energy consumers.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Writer Arthur Phillips uses our modern culture’s preoccupation with iPods, cell phones, and the internet to question whether we are actually closer as a society or further apart in his new novel The Song Is You. Phillips is also the author of Angelica, The Egyptologist and Prague.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Bernd Heinrich is one of those biologists who leaves his lab, goes out to the woods and starts taking notes. He has written captivating, highly-readable books about bumblebees, ravens, insect thermoregulation, and even whole seasons. Summer World: A Season of Bounty is the follow up to his earlier best-seller Winter World. Then, Phoebe Snetsinger was one of the most famous bird watchers of the 20th century. When she died in 1999, Snetsinger’s “life list” - a tally of each kind of bird she’d seen – included 8,398 species of the 9,700 thought to exist at the time. No other birder in the world had ever topped 8,000. Olivia Gentile writes about Snetsinger’s life in a new book called A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds.
Friday, May 8, 2009
David Broder of The Washington Post joins Bob to talk about the latest news from the capital and beyond. Next, Frances Perkins was FDR’s Secretary of Labor and his moral conscience. The very first woman to hold a cabinet level position, it was Perkins who created and guided many of the New Deal programs. Perkins’ ideas became some of the country’s most important laws. Journalist Kirstin Downey has written the very first biography about Perkins. It’s titled The Woman Behind the New Deal. Then, This I Believe executive director Dan Gediman talks with Bob about the essay from Edward R. Murrow, who hosted the original series from 1951 to 1955. The newsman gained acclaim for his CBS Radio broadcasts during World War II. Later, his television series tackled subjects ranging from Joseph McCarthy to farm worker rights. In his essay, Murrow describes the fear and uncertainty Americans felt in the early 1950s. (And he admits that his own personal beliefs are not certain, saying, “It would be easier to enumerate the items I do not believe in, than the other way around.”)