stbym interview

An interview with Radiolab's Jad Abumrad

I like to think that anyone who follows this blog or listens to the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast probably listens to WNYC's Radiolab as well. The show tackles an array of cranium-expanding topics, so I thought it fitting to interview one of the show's hosts, Jad Abumrad. Here's how the interview went down:

"Parasites: A User's Guide" Tackles Helminthic Therapy

Parasites compose some of the more fascinating and successful organisms on the planet, but it's hard not to focus on the yuck factor when there's a botfly larva squirming inside a dude's head. So it's pretty cool to see a short documentary with a different approach hitting festivals around the country: Sharon Shattuck's "Parasites: A User's Guide." Lets watch the extended trailer and interview the artist behind it all, shall we?

Space Music: Space Mixes with DJ Food

If anyone knows his way around some space music it's NinjaTune artist Strictly Kev, aka DJ Food. As a resident DJ, he's been dropping cosmic noise, robotic bleeps and alien hip-hop on Solid Steel Radio Show listeners for 17 years. The man weaves sonic tapestries and, if you haven't heard Kev take to the decks, then I highly recommend you check out his SoundCloud page. Kev recently took time away from his busy schedule to chat with me about his use of space and sci-fi sounds, his philosophy behind crafting a mix and the work of other star-gazing DJs. I have to admit, I was very excited to hear him thumbing through his legendary album collection on the other end of the line.

Noel Sharkey: Robotics vs. Sci-Fi vs. Anthropomorphism

Last week I had the privilege to chat with Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the U.K.'s University of Sheffield. Noel is the co-founder of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) and has presented his thoughts on the matter to everyone from British Parliament to "The Daily Show." He's exactly the guy you want to talk to for 35 minutes about killer robots. I conducted the interview for the Discovery News article "Are Terminators Real?" and couldn't squeeze in everything Noel had to say. So I thought I'd share some more of his thoughts here -- specifically those related to the anthropomorphizing of machines and how science fiction alters our expectations of robotics.

Space Music: Space Mixes with DJ Cheeba

Outer space features prominently in quite a few DJ mixes. To explore the connection between the cosmos and the turntables, I decided to reach out to two of the hottest DJs on the decks today. Up first, it's the U.K.'s DJ Cheeba, a regular contributor to NinjaTune's Solid Steel Radio and creator of its 2008 mix of the year, "DJ Cheeba Investigates." Strap on your headphones and prepare for a mini-interview full of sci-fi geekery and killer beats.

Terraforming Mars for the Greater Good

Is it right to terraform another planet and turn it into a second Earth? To some, such an act would be a ghastly, intentional infection -- the worst aspects of colonialism and environmental recklessness rolled out on a planetary scale. Yet for some cosmologists, bringing dead worlds to life is mankind's destiny and a necessary step toward the long-term survival of the human race. Back in February, I attended a speech by Vatican astronomer Guy J. Consolmagno on the ethics of planetary exploration and colonization. The Jesuit brother argued that terraforming a planet might either erase evidence of past life or prevent the world from evolving its own life. Last week, I interviewed Mars Society founder and terraforming advocate Robert Zubrin. Here's what he had to say on the issue.

Space Music: The Artist Behind SolarBeat

We live in a musical universe. The waves and patterns are all there; we have but to translate them into sound. Such was the case with the recording made by Voyager I and II, and the latest example can be found online in the form of SolarBeat, a flash-based musical tool with a cosmic twist. Created by UK musician, artist and graphic designer Luke Twyman, SolarBeat takes the movements of the sun's orbital bodies and merges it with the concept of an old-timey music box. As each planet completes a revolution, it "rings" an imaginary metal tine. In this post, SolarBeat creator Luke Twyman of Neverest Songs takes a moment to answer a few questions about this little slice of Space Music .