The Pulse – April 10, 2015

    Listen

    College students around the country are demanding that their schools divest from fossil fuels. That would mean selling off investments in coal, oil and gas companies from endowments. Endowments are the “savings accounts” of colleges that earn interest and help fund everything from financial aid to keeping the lights on. Students’ efforts succeeded at Stanford, which got rid of its portfolio of coal in 2013. But at the place where this whole national movement began about four years ago, Swarthmore College, students at this school are still struggling to make their voices heard. Reporter Carolyn Beeler met up with student leaders as they staged a sit in.

    The PBS mini series “Twice Born” takes viewers inside an intense surgery unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – where doctors operate on babies still inside their mothers’ wombs. We spoke with some of the main characters featured in this dramatic documentary: Dr. Scott Adzick, Surgeon-in-Chief at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment and a pioneer in this field, and Bobby and Shelly Ross – who used the center’s services after finding out their unborn daughter had a life-threatening birth defect.

    If you’re trying to lose a bunch of weight, chances are you’ll get excited once you’ve lost ten pounds. Nine pounds is not bad at all, but ten pounds? That’s a milestone! We celebrate round birthdays, anniversaries, we buy gift cards for $20, or $50, but not $36. Regular Pulse contributor Christopher Intagliata takes us on a mathematical journey to explain our love affair with round numbers. And wait ’til you hear the very intriguing reason why eggs are still sold by the dozen!

    Autism was first described in 1943, as a very rare condition. Starting in the 1990s, there was a dramatic rise in autism diagnoses. Why remains a million dollar question, but the increase sparked frantic research into the causes and treatments of this developmental disorder. Children born with autism today have more than two decades of intensive research to draw on – there are best practices for early interventions and education. But for the first big cohort of children with autism born in the 90s who are reaching adulthood now, these kinds of resources and roadmaps don’t quite exist. Katie Hiler reports on ways families are trying to forge new paths.

    Have you ever found yourself staring at the tile in your kitchen – and suddenly you see something? A face, perhaps? Elana Gordon brings us an audio exploration of a weird brain phenomenon called pareidolia.

    At the dawn of America, science was not just a passionate pursuit of knowledge – it became a bit of a patriotic hammer. Along with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson was a chief promoter of American science. A new exhibit at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia details his dedication to finding examples of power and strength in nature to make a case for the might of his young nation.

    Finally on the show, this week marked a massive comeback for the only dinosaur to go extinct twice, if you will, the Brontosaurus. Brontosaurus was named in 1879 by famed paleontologist Othniel Marsh who found the specimen. But – in 1903, paleontologist Elmer Riggs proclaimed that Brontosaurus was apparently the same as the Apatosaurus, which had been found first, so it was game over for the Brontosaurus. New research reestablishes the Brontosaurus as its own species – which has thrilled paleontologists and dino fans of all ages alike.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.