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Members of the Makkah congregation - men half-bowing in a room with a tiled floor
Jonathan Young/Nutopia/PBS

Beginning tomorrow, PBS will premiere the first of a four-part series, co-hosted by Steven Johnson titled Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer. The series and the companion book are set in the context of today’s COVID-19 crisis and explores the lessons learned from previous global pandemics and reveals how a public health revolution was launched.

Johnson looks at the milestones of this progress from the discoveries of vaccines and antibiotics, to the introduction of things that are now commonplace.

Johnson also turns his keen analytical eye to the present: Do we risk regressing in life expectancy as our public health systems face unprecedented challenges such as the one we’re living through? Are we overlooking any current technologies or field of research that will enable us to live even longer than we do now?

Book Cover for "Outside Looking In" and author photo of T.C. Boyle
Author Photo - Jamieson Fry

T.C. Boyle's novel, "Outside Looking In," takes readers back to the 1960s and to the early days of LSD.

The book tells the story of Harvard Ph.D. students whose lives veer out of control after they are drawn into the orbit of renowned psychologist and LSD enthusiast Timothy Leary.

Lake George
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Researchers have been studying Lake George for decades and a new report takes a look at 37 years of work.

Petina Gappah is an award-winning and widely translated Zimbabwean writer. She is the author of two novels and two short story collections. Her work has also been published in, among others, The New Yorker, Der Spiegel, The Financial Times, and the Africa Report. For many years, Petina worked as an international trade lawyer at the highest levels of diplomacy in Geneva where she advised more than seventy developing countries from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America on trade law and policy. Petina has also been a DAAD Writing Fellow in Berlin, an Open Society Fellow and a Livingstone Scholar at Cambridge University. She has law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University in Austria, and the University of Zimbabwe.

In her latest novel, "Out of Darkness, Shining Light," she imagines the captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England.

Patricia S. Churchland is the author of "Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition" and "Touching a Nerve: Our Brains, Our Selves." She is professor emerita of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.

In "Touching a Nerve," Churchland, the distinguished founder of neurophilosophy, drew from scientific research on the brain to understand its philosophical and ethical implications for identity, consciousness, free will, and memory. In "Conscience," she explores how moral systems arise from our physical selves in combination with environmental demands. All social groups have ideals for behavior, even though ethics vary among different cultures and among individuals within each culture.

Recent events have turned the spotlight on the issue of race in modern America, and the current cultural climate calls out for more research, education, dialogue, and understanding. "Race and Social Change: A Quest, A Study, A Call to Action" focuses on a provocative social science experiment with the potential to address these needs.

Author Max Klau explains how his own quest for insight into these matters led to the empirical study at the heart of this book, and he presents the results of years of research that integrate findings at the individual, group, and whole system levels of analysis.

Safi Bahcall received his BA summa cum laude in physics from Harvard and his PhD from Stanford. After working for three years as a consultant for McKinsey, he co-founded a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led its IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama's council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.

In "Loonshots," Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs.

The dawn of genetic engineering has opened new doorways of possibility for both medical researchers and patients once thought long beyond help. But there is a dark side to the radical frontiers of science.

In his new medical thriller, "Pandemic," Robin Cook proves once again why he is the master of medical suspense with a timely, terrifyingly believable novel of great suspense.

Doctor and writer Robin Cook started his medical career as a general surgical resident and finished with an ophthalmology residency at Harvard. He is the author of thirty-four bestsellers including: "Coma," which was published 40 years ago, and most recently: "Host," "Cell," "Death Benefit," "Cure," and "Charlatans."

Joselin Linder has been on a quest to uncover the truth about her likely fatal genetic disorder that opens a window onto the explosive field of genomic medicine. Linder’s new book is “The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance into a Hopeful Future.”

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center's Out of This World Festival features the first speaker series on the SPAC Stage. Attendees will sit in the orchestra chairs on the main stage of the SPAC amphitheater while renowned guest speakers lead captivating talks from the conductor’s podium on a variety of topics that bridge the worlds of art, science, and nature.

Speakers @ SPAC: Earth and Other Worlds is presented in cooperation with the Academy of American Poets. Science writer Dava Sobel ("Galileo’s Daughter;" "The Glass Universe") will be in conversation with poet, science writer, and author Diane Ackerman ("A Natural History of the Senses;" "The Human Age;" "The Zookeeper’s Wife"). Dava Sobel joined us.

Rachel Kadish’s new novel The Weight of Ink is set in London. It is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect – one an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; the other an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

Using a trove of footage unearthed from the National Geographic archives, the new documentary film "Jane" tells the true story of Jane Goodall as a young woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world.

Filmmaker Brett Morgen joins us. Dubbed the “mad scientist” of documentary film by the New York Times, Brett Morgen has been directing, writing, and producing ground breaking documentary films for the past 15 years.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

A company based in the Capital Region has been awarded a $9.1 million federal contract to develop a new generation of living building materials.

Dr. Tasha Eurich is an organizational psychologist, researcher, New York Times best-selling author. She is also the founder of the Eurich Group, where she’s helped thousands of leaders and teams improve their effectiveness through greater self-awareness. Dr. Eurich contributes to The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine and has been featured in outlets like ForbesThe New York Times, CNBC, Fast Company, and Inc..

Research shows that self-awareness – knowing who we are and how others see us – is the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships. Without it, it’s impossible to master the skills needed to succeed in business and life: skills like emotional intelligence and empathy, influence and persuasion, communication and collaboration.

Dr. Tasha Eurich's new book is Insight: Why We're Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life.

Students at poster session during UVM Student Research Conference
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The University of Vermont held its ninth Student Research Conference on Thursday, showcasing the work of students through poster sessions, oral presentations and creative presentations.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
MILLER MOBLEY / REDUX

  Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is director of the Hayden Planetarium, hosts Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and is the former host of NOVA ScienceNOW on PBS. On April 24 he returns to Proctors with an all-new show: "The Cosmic Perspective."

There is no view of the world as emotionally potent as the one granted by a cosmic perspective. It's one that sees Earth as a planet in a vast empty universe. It profoundly influences what we think and feel about science, culture, politics, and life itself.

To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every breath of air is loaded with information. In fact, what every dog—the tracking dog, of course, but also the dog lying next to you, snoring, on the couch—knows about the world comes mostly through his nose.

In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a research scientist in the field of dog cognition and the author of the runaway bestseller Inside of a Dog, unpacks the mystery of a dog’s worldview as has never been done before. 

  In his new book, The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, challenges us to grasp the profound political and cultural consequences of a new reality—that America is no longer a majority white Christian nation.

For most of our nation’s history, White Christian America (WCA)—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national policy and shaped American ideals. But especially since the 1990s, WCA has steadily lost influence, following declines within both its mainline and evangelical branches. Today, America is no longer demographically or culturally a majority white Christian nation.

  Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence.

In his new book, he offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

Frans de Waal is the C. H. Candler Professor in Emory University’s Psychology Department and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. His new book is: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

  Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, “abortion” is still a word that is said with outright hostility by many, despite the fact that one in three American women will have terminated at least one pregnancy by menopause. Even those who support a woman’s right to an abortion often qualify their support by saying abortion is a “bad thing,” an “agonizing decision,” making the medical procedure so remote and radioactive that it takes it out of the world of the everyday, turning an act that is normal and necessary into something shameful and secretive.

In Pro, Katha Pollitt takes on the personhood argument, reaffirms the priority of a woman’s life and health, and discusses why terminating a pregnancy can be a force for good for women, families, and society. The book is out in paperback.

    The new book, The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does, isolates the major turning points of adult life, looking to both achievements and failures to reveal that our misconceptions about the impact of such events is perhaps the greatest threat to our long-term well-being.

The Democratic leadership in the Massachusetts House has
unveiled a bill to promote job growth.  The proposals would help launch
new innovative businesses, and also expand the state's manufacturing
sector.  WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.