Japanese Zen Garden, photo by Andreas Øverland Japanese Zen Garden, photo by Andreas Øverland

Meditation Under Investigation

Silicon Valley CEOs, scruffy hippies, and Tibetan monks alike describe meditation as blissful and life-changing, but what does the science say? Can it reduce stress, increase your attention, and improve mental health — or is all this focus on breathing just a bunch of hot air? Sit back, get comfortable, focus your mind and let the experts to sort it out for you. Among them are Tim Ferriss, Professor Gaelle Desbordes, Dr. Clifford Saron, and Dr. Britta Hölzel.

Science Vs

Breaking Bad Habits

How we can regain control of our impulses – whether it’s a compulsion to constantly check social media, binge eating, smoking, excessive drinking, or any other behaviors, we may find ourselves uncontrollably repeating – explained by an associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at UMass Medical School, Dr. Judson Brewer. He has spent more than 20 years researching addiction and recently published “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.”

KERA’s Think

Human Guinea Pigs

Explore the world of clinical drug trials and human guinea pigs. The testing is normally handled by private outfits to keep it at arm’s-length from the pharma companies. It also lets drug companies off the hook from the messy business of working with human test subjects. When things go sideways in these trails, it can turn out really badly. Rob Oldfield describes a near death experience after a violent drug reaction, and Robert Helms gives us a glimpse into the life of a professional guinea pig.

On Drugs

Talking Bodies

Modern medicine, personal health tracking, and why health journalism is broken. Jody Avirgan talks to James Hamblin, the doctor-turned-journalist and a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Hamblin, the author of “If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body”, draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners.
Illustration by Ski

What’s The Point

The Male Contraceptive Pill: How Close Are We?

Male contraceptive jab. Can you get one? Professor Richard Anderson talks about a recent World Health Organisation funded trial. Dr. Diana Blithe explains the progress being made Stateside using gels instead of jabs.  And finally, we hear about non-hormonal alternatives in development from Aaron Hamlin, executive director of the Male Contraception Initiative.

The Guardian’s Science Weekly

Overcoming Mental Illness

Jobs - Small Factory Clandestine Ties (1972) - Cruzeiro Seixas

When Zack McDermott was 26, he woke up believing he was the star of a reality show dedicated to him. That was the first of many adventures his bipolar disorder would take him on. He talks about how he ultimately got his life back on track with the help of his mother, which he writes about in “Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love”

KERA’s Think

Left Out: Living In A Right-Handed World

About one of every 10 people is left-handed. That can be profitable if you’re a pitcher – and a pain if you’re an average Joe living in a right-handed world. Howard Kushner – a historian of medicine and neuroscience – explains why so few people are lefties; and about the many ways cultures worldwide discriminate against them. His new book is called “On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History”.

KERA’s Think

Making it Work: Affordable Medical Equipment in India

In India around one fifth of the population still live below the poverty line, according to the most recent World Bank estimates. Businesses selling to this market need to keep prices low. In the famous tech city of Bengaluru, south India, we visit a veterinary clinic for pets, the unlikely home of a surprising young start-up, which is set to revolutionise one of the most common medical devices on the planet – the stethoscope. In a village in Mathura, about three hours drive from New Delhi we take a look at the installation of a new affordable solution to providing solar energy. We then meet a young entrepreneur in Kenya who is looking at the success of firms like Amazon and has developed his own similar internet based delivery system for Kenya’s low-income customers.

The Compass – BBC World Service

Angles of a Hack

Photo by dustball / CC BY-NC

Sixty years ago, when hacking meant nosing around the telephone network, it seemed innocent enough. And not all modern hacking has criminal intent. Today, there are biohackers who experiment with implanted electronic devices to improve themselves, and geoengineers who propose to hack the climate. But in our efforts to cool an overheated planet, might we be going down a dangerous path?

Big Picture Science