The Pulse – May 1, 2015

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    Every morning, countless masses of fitness buffs dutifully record their breakfast menu, their exercises, and other health metrics, in apps like My Fitness Pal. They’ve created detailed digital archives of what they eat, how they exercise, and even what they suffer from. But when this info is recorded digitally, the question remains: who else can see it? And who exactly has access to all that health information? For our series “Bit By Bit: How data is shaping our health,” Carolyn Beeler investigates.

    The death toll from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal last weekend continues to rise, and millions of people are without shelter. Rebuilding efforts for Kathmandu will have to get underway quickly, but what could be done to prevent similar devastation in future quakes? We are joined by geophysicist Ross Stein to discuss why earthquakes are becoming more and more deadly and what we can do about it.

    If you drink tap water, you’re getting a daily dose of fluoride—that’s something public health officials consider one of their top achievements of the 20th century. But this past week, the federal government lowered its recommendations on how much fluoride should be in the water. Reporter Taunya English investigates why.

    Think about a time when you had a bad interaction with a doctor. Maybe they seemed cold, distracted, not interested in what you had to say. Does that make them a jerk? Maybe, but consider that burnout is a big problem in medicine, as doctors repeatedly are confronted by the most bleak of human conditions. An experiment is underway at a Philadelphia medical school to inoculate students against this loss of empathy with the help of theater. Yep, theater. Elana Gordon explains.

    There was a time in America when your cheese choices were pretty much limited to yellow and white…and they tasted about the same. But specialty stores kept the flame for variety in food alive. Among those gourmet establishments is Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where chef Julia Child was a loyal customer. These days the wonderfully stinky cheeses also attract scientists from Harvard and Tufts searching for answers. Reporter Alison Bruzek takes us below ground for some smelly research.

    Also on this week’s show: a climate change educator trained by Al Gore explains how his job can be downright dangerous, the air pollution we unknowingly create in our homes when we clean them, the promise of local honey to help allergy sufferers, and the winner of our Philadelphia Science Festival Challenge is crowned.

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