The Pulse – September 12, 2014


    Scientists hold the keys to our future, though few of them succeed at holding our attention long when they’re discussing their work. With a monotone voice and incomprehensible jargon, they manage to bore us on topics ranging from climate to space to medicine. Sure, Neil deGrasse Tyson can captivate an audience, but how come we don’t teach more of our scientists to communicate their ideas better? – doesn’t anybody teach scientists how to present their work? Or is it not really their job to be good communicators? Reporter Susan Phillips looks into the art of talking science.

    We all associate Nobel Prize-winning American author Ernest Hemingway with hard drinking, straight talking, and masterworks of the English language like “The Old Man And The Sea.” But did you know he also dabbled in some marine science? Turns out “Papa” was an avid sport fisherman, and for six weeks in 1934, he hosted two Philadelphians on a scientific expedition on his boat in the Florida Straits. Reporter Carolyn Beeler has a look at the unexpected connection between the author and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

    A new national report from the Audubon Society paints a very grim picture for the country’s bird populations: Global warming and climate change threaten the survival of hundreds of bird species in the continental United States and Canada. Many birds in our region are threatened as well, including the ruffed grouse and the bald eagle—the state bird of Pennsylvania and the national bird of the United States, respectively. Why are bird populations particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change, and what can we do to reverse the trend of shrinking populations? We ask Pennsylvania Audubon’s Keith Russell to walk us through the group’s findings.

    Typically, at a doctor’s appointment, there are two people in the room—the doctor and the patient—they are discussing symptoms and potential solutions. But some doctors say they are convinced that the booming voice of government is crowding out that intimate conversation The Pulse’s Taunya English spoke with some physicians about their concerns over what they call “legislative intrusion.” 

    Atlantic City’s glitzy star seems to be fading. The three big casinos have closed, including Trump’s Taj Majal, and that’s having a big time ripple effect, forcing the layoffs of around 8,000 casino workers. Cooks, card dealers, servers, and cleaners were all casualties of this massive bomb to the local economy. Fortunately, the ACA means the now-unemployed workers have a safety next, but, as reporter Elana Gordon found out, they’re encountering a mix of promise and confusion.

    The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia has attracted the curious and the squeamish for its vast display of pathological body parts, many suspended in jars. WHYY’s Peter Crimmins tells us how this nineteenth century medical science museum is also a magnet for artists looking for inspiration.

    According to the American Nurses Association, between ten and fifteen percent of nurses in the United States have a substance abuse problem. For the general population, that number is around 8 percent. With access to drugs and big responsibilities on the job, when nurses struggle with addictions, the challenges that arise are unique. Laura Benshoff reports.

    And this week in our series Patient Files, we hear from Susan Chase, a ballerina who learned she had breast cancer in her mid-40s. The diagnosis shattered her world, and some years later, she turned her experience into a one-woman performance called “Susan’s Undoing.” It’s part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival this year. Susan joined us to tell her story.

    A quick reminder that you don’t have to be sitting in your car to listen to the pulse…or NPR for that matter. Sure, you can find us on iTunes, and yes, we stream our show on our website, but now there’s a great new way to get your WHYY fix without being stuck in traffic—the new NPR One app for your tablet or smartphone. Convert your phone or your iPad into a mini public radio station and take our show and hundreds of others with you anywhere. And let us know if you like it. Send us an email:

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

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal