Science and Creativity from Studio 360: the art of innovation. A sculpture unlocks a secret of cell structure, a tornado forms in a can, and a child's toy gets sent into orbit. Exploring science as a creative act since 2005. Produced by PRI and WNYC, and supported in part by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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Imaginary Friends Forever

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lots of kids have imaginary friends. Marjorie Taylor, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, has been looking at imaginary friends and the children who have them. “They tend to be more social, less shy, and do better on tasks which require you to take the perspective ...

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Faking It: Photoshop Dissolves Reality

Friday, November 16, 2012

Professional photographers have always tweaked their images. But the ubiquity of image manipulation tools like Photoshop has brought us to a new place: for the first time, we no longer assume that a photograph documents real life. Maneesh Agrawala, a MacArthur “genius” ...

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Why Do We Blush? and Other Scientific Mysteries

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What is antimatter? Why do we age? How do migrating animals find their way back home? These are some of the 75 questions answered in The Where, the Why, and the How. More than a technical Q&A, the answers in this book come from both scientists and artists. ...

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Undoing Creativity: The Hidden Hazards of Control-Z

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Zack Booth Simpson — a computational molecular biologist at the University of Texas in Austin, a software engineer, and a digital artist — uses the undo button all the time. But he sometimes wonders whether it’s helping his creativity or hindering it. One of Booth Simpson’s most well known ...

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Why Is Pop Music So Sad?

Friday, September 07, 2012

Pop music's not what it used to be. That’s what every generation of grown-ups says about what the kids are listening to, but fogey cliches aren’t necessarily wrong. A recent study in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts tracked the mood of pop ...

Graphic: How pop has become sadder since the 1960s

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They’re Made Out of Meat

Friday, August 31, 2012

We humans are pretty hot stuff — the most highly evolved species on the planet, or so we like to think. Terry Bisson’s science-fiction parable “They’re Made Out of Meat” suggests otherwise. To some space aliens who think they’ve seen it all, we’re not just primitive. We’re gross ...

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Greg Stock: Humans 2.0

Friday, August 31, 2012

Greg Stock tells Kurt Andersen he thinks technology may allow humans to break free of their natural life span. “We are like a dying animal,” he says, “we are stuck to our bodies and yet our minds can soar.” Stock believes therapeutic interventions to treat diseases like cancer ...

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The Posthuman Future

Friday, August 31, 2012

Everything we’re able to do today to enhance humans — from genetic engineering to artificial limbs — simply improves on the base model we were born with. But for some, that doesn’t go far enough. They think we shouldn’t be stuck with the factory-installed settings in our DNA ...

Slideshow: Transhumanist Art

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Becoming the Bionic Man

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hugh Herr is a leading bionics developer at MIT and a double amputee following a mountain-climbing accident. Herr has developed legs that allow him to climb better than he could previously. With a generation of young injured veterans needing prostheses, the need to build ...

Video: iWalk PowerFoot Gait Animation

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Making Memories with a Microchip

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ted Berger is trying to build a microchip that can remember things for us. He teaches biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, and his goal is to create a device that can take over for the hippocampus of the brain, translating thoughts into long-term memories ...

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Greg Stock: Redesigning Humans

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nearly a decade after the human genome was decoded, scientists are only now beginning to understand its implications. One of the leading thinkers in this field is the biotech entrepreneur Gregory Stock. His 2002 book Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future ...

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Neil Harbisson, Cyborg

Friday, August 31, 2012

Neil Harbisson is a painter, a musician, and a cyborg. Born with a rare form of colorblindness, Harbisson can only see the world in grays. In 2004, he collaborated with a scientist to create a device called the Eyeborg, which he wears everywhere — even in his passport picture ...

Video: Neil Harbisson's Sonochromatic Portrait #1

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Object Breast Cancer

Friday, August 03, 2012

The pink ribbon has been an incredibly successful piece of marketing for breast cancer research. For cancer survivor Leonor Caraballo, though, it's supremely annoying. Caraballo is a sculptor who collaborates with her husband, Abou Farman. The couple came up with a new ...

Slideshow: Tumor as Sculpture

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Can Art Spark a Discovery in the Lab?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Andre Fenton didn’t want his new neurobiology lab at New York University to look like the traditional research space: a mishmash of drab office furniture and cluttered lab benches harshly lit by rows of fluorescent lights. That’s why its core holds a 15-foot-long, one-inch-thick slab of glass. The ...

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Artists and Scientists Riff on Water

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Drink local. The artist Colin Hart has created a public art piece that lets the bravest New Yorkers sample water from the Hudson River (transformed from mucky brown to crystal clear). It's part of an exhibit called Surface Tension that focuses on water: its movement, its growing scarcity ...

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Smart Programs Read Shakespeare

Friday, July 06, 2012

Patrick Winston is Principal Investigator at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. He believes that creating better artificial intelligence is not a matter of more powerful processing: we have to teach computers how to think more like humans. “We are a symbolic species,” he ...

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Lisa Randall: Knocking on Heaven's Door

Friday, July 06, 2012

Harvard physicist Lisa Randall is at the forefront of the search for new theories about how the universe works.  She’s especially interested in dark matter and is involved in work at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  And although her work requires complex math and work on the theoretical ...

Bonus Track: Kurt's extended conversation with Lisa Randall

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Eve Sussman's Algorithmic Noir

Friday, July 06, 2012

A new film premiered last year that is truly one of a kind. whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir was made by Eve Sussman and her collaborators, known as the Rufus Corporation. They shot most of the footage in Kazakhstan, improvising the script and taking advantage of the Soviet Union’s ...

Video: Watch the trailer

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DARCI: A Computer With Great Taste

Friday, July 06, 2012

To make art, a computer first needs to understand what art is. A group of computer scientists at Brigham Young University is attempting this by feeding their program images by the thousands and describing those images. Digital Artist Communicating Intent (she goes by DARCI) recognizes ...

Slideshow: DARCI evaluates art

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Robopainter

Friday, July 06, 2012

AARON is the world’s first cybernetic artist: an artificially intelligent system that composes its own paintings. Incredibly, the system is the work of one man, Harold Cohen, who had no background in computing when he began the effort. Cohen was a prominent painter; he represented ...

Quiz: Was this art made by a human or a computer?

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