Science And Creativity From Studio 360


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.


  • Artists and Scientists Collide at CERN

    Artists and Scientists Collide at CERN

    09/02/2016 Duración: 10min

    On any given day, 2,000 scientists and engineers work at the European Nuclear Research Center (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. They’re analyzing data coming out of the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator, which is trying to recreate the Big Bang in a series of tunnels underground.It's not the kind of place where you would expect to find artists. But since 2011, dancers, musicians, and filmmakers have spent time at CERN through a program called Collide@CERN.

  • Virtual Reality Starts Getting Real

    Virtual Reality Starts Getting Real

    26/01/2016 Duración: 10min

    Until recently, virtual reality has been the stuff of science fiction. But last year, Facebook placed a large bet on the future of the medium when it bought Oculus Rift, the leading virtual reality technology company. Oculus VR will start selling its affordable, state-of-the-art setup early next year. Samsung has just released a $99 version of its Gear VR headset. And Google has even made a low-end cardboard device that wraps around your smartphone to turn it into a virtual reality viewer — and, if you subscribe to The New York Times, you recently got one in your Sunday paper. Kurt Andersen visited Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, a pioneer in virtual reality research and development, to test drive an experience that’s more realistic than any movie or video game. Now that virtual reality is within months of becoming a consumer product that costs less than a smartphone or video game console, what will that mean for the future of storytelling? Obviously there will be markets for gaming — and

  • The Tommy Westphall Universe

    The Tommy Westphall Universe

    21/12/2015 Duración: 10min

    When Tom Fontana was a producer on the show “St. Elsewhere” in the 1980s, he loved to push the boundaries of weirdness that he could get away with on network TV. For instance, he staged a crossover with “Cheers” — a sitcom — but they shot the sequence like a drama. And he pulled one of the strangest trick endings in TV history. In the series finale of “St. Elsewhere,” we learn that the entire show had been a fantasy of a boy with autism named Tommy Westphall. These shenanigans didn’t go unnoticed by fans like Keith Gow, a writer in Melbourne, Australia. He wondered if every show that Tom Fontana produced or staged a crossover with could be connected back to the finale of “St. Elsewhere.” In other words, did Tommy Westphall — the kid who dreamed up the characters on “St. Elsewhere” — dream up all these other shows as well?

  • Microbial Videogames

    Microbial Videogames

    30/11/2015 Duración: 08min

    Ingmar Riedel-Kruse runs a biophysics lab at Stanford University, but he spends about half his time tinkering with videogames. He’s not playing World of Warcraft. Riedel-Kruse creates his own videogames using living microbes. The most playable is Pacmecium, inspired by classic Pac-Man, in which the player guides a host of paramecia around obstacles and targets. The four-button controller shifts a weak electrical field, which the paramecia are attracted to. To test the game, our reporter enlisted Scott Patterson, the world record holder on several versions of Pac-man, for a pixilated showdown in the lab. Patterson was impressed, noting subtle differences in game play: “It’s more like I’m guiding them, rather than instructing them.” Who will win the title — the inventor, or the champ?

  • Smart Programs Read Shakespeare

    Smart Programs Read Shakespeare

    16/11/2015 Duración: 08min

    Patrick Winston is a researcher at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. He believes that creating better artificial intelligence is not a matter of more powerful processing. First, he thinks, we have to teach computers how to think more like humans. To this end, he has created a computer program that takes in text — for example, a synopsis of "Macbeth" — and extracts patterns and themes, such as the concept of revenge. 

  • Library of Dust

    Library of Dust

    02/11/2015 Duración: 07min

    For over twenty years the Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital stored the cremated remains of patients in copper containers. Photographer David Maisel found them, and shows the beautiful — and bizarre — chemical reactions that took place as the canisters corroded in his exhibit, "Library of Dust." Produced by Sarah Lilley.

  • Robopainter


    19/10/2015 Duración: 12min

    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. 

  • Making Portraits Out of DNA

    Making Portraits Out of DNA

    05/10/2015 Duración: 08min

    Everywhere we go, we leave a trail of personal information — in the stray hairs that land on park benches, or saliva on the edges of coffee cups. And artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg may be collecting that information, whether you like it or not. Using equipment and procedures now easily available, she extracts the DNA from strangers’ hair or fingernail clippings, and uses it to makes life-like models of people’s faces — people she’s never met or seen. She calls the project Stranger Visions.

  • The Art and Science of De-Extinction

    The Art and Science of De-Extinction

    21/09/2015 Duración: 08min

    Bringing extinct animals back has usually been left to the world of science fiction. But a group of biologists is attempting it in the real world. The organization Revive & Restore, a project of the Long Now Foundation, held a day-long TEDx conference on de-extinction at the National Geographic Society. This is not quack science; some of the research involves Harvard University, UC Santa Cruz, and Wake Forest University, among other institutions. Painter Isabella Kirkland, who is also a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences, opened the event with an image of her painting Gone. It looks like a Dutch master’s oil painting, depicting 63 extinct New World species arrayed on a table elegantly: the Carolina parakeet, the golden toad, and in the central place of honor, Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who died in 1914. The passenger pigeon is the preoccupation of Revive & Restore’s Ben Novak, a genetic biologist. “It’s my job to bring the bird back to life.” 

  • Hollywood Know-How Makes Good Medicine

    Hollywood Know-How Makes Good Medicine

    31/08/2015 Duración: 07min

    A Louisiana physician (and amateur filmmaker) teamed up with a cinematographer to invent a system that they say improves the quality and reliability of photos used in medical records — using some basic Hollywood technology.  

  • Drone Art

    Drone Art

    17/08/2015 Duración: 09min

    If just reading the word “drone” makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Americans have been uneasy – fascinated but nervous – ever since unmanned aerial vehicles entered our consciousness about a decade ago. We talked to some artists who are exploring how we think and feel about UAVs, from “Stealthware” burqas and hoodies that make the wearer invisible to surveillance, to drones that dance instead of spying.

  • A Neuroscientist Throws Science Overboard for Art

    A Neuroscientist Throws Science Overboard for Art

    10/08/2015 Duración: 06min

    Neuroscience is a vast field. Here’s how Greg Dunn describes it: “It’s as if in New York, there’s like a little neighborhood for electro-physiologists, there’s a little neighborhood for the behaviorists and for the cellular specialist. It’s quite a labyrinth.” When he was studying in grad school, Dunn’s neighborhood of neuroscience was epigenetics. “It’s how your body learns,” he says. For example, if a skinny person gains 100 pounds — will their future offspring be prone to obesity? Or if you experience a traumatic event, will your future offspring have anxious dispositions? Our traditional understanding of genetics and inheritance says an individual’s experience doesn’t get passed down to the next generation. But epigenetics studies the ways that our parent’s experiences do affect us.

  • A Quantified Artist Turns Her Data Into Sculpture

    A Quantified Artist Turns Her Data Into Sculpture

    24/07/2015 Duración: 08min

    Take a look at Laurie Frick’s artwork, made up of colorful wooden blocks mounted to the gallery wall, and the first thing you think of is a childhood playroom strewn with building blocks. But Frick’s artwork is actually a complex response to the growing trend of self-tracking. She takes data collected by tracking her daily activity and turns it into hand-crafted visualizations in materials like wood and leather. Frick calls her art "data selfies" — abstract self-portraits that reveal volumes about their subjects. But they aren't creepy. They're cheerful and optimistic, because that's how Frick sees the future of data. In her art and in frequent talks, she spreads her mantra: “Take back your data. Turn it into art.”

  • Bringing Female Heroes to the LEGO Universe

    Bringing Female Heroes to the LEGO Universe

    13/07/2015 Duración: 08min

    The LEGO brick as we know it was released in 1958. But it wasn’t until 20 years later that the company made its first minifigure, or “minifig.” It was a little modular man with a yellow face: just two dots for eyes and a black curve for a smile. But the humble minifigure populated the LEGO world and gave it heart. It was a very smart move. LEGO has since made a fortune creating Star Wars and Harry Potter sets. There are now hundreds of different minifigures. But one thing has not changed. It’s truly a man’s world when it comes to LEGOs. Very few minifigures are female — and they’re often relegated to being sidekicks. Maia Weinstock is hoping to change that. She’s a LEGO provocateur, rearranging these stock minifig parts to challenge the company to create more options for girls.

  • Synthetic Biology In Pop Culture

    Synthetic Biology In Pop Culture

    29/06/2015 Duración: 05min

    Synthetic biology sounds like a field inaccessible to the layperson, but Kurt Andersen has been seeing these ideas play out in pop culture for decades. Screenwriters are fond of two basic archetypes. First, there's the lone scientist –– Dr. Frankenstein meets Dr. Moreau –– who has been exiled from the scientific community because his or her ideas are "too extreme." Then there's the other archetype –– the loyal scientist who works within a corporation and has an ethical blind spot to the dangers of mixing science and business. When mayhem ensues it's not their fault: they were just doing their job.

  • Blood Music

    Blood Music

    22/06/2015 Duración: 07min

    Actor Steven Kearney reads excerpts from Greg Bear's 1985 novel Blood Music. Bear was one of the first sci-fi authors to delve deep into the possibilities of synthetic biology. In this section, a biologist named Michael Bernard is infected with a killer virus that has wiped out most of North America. The virus is made up of tiny biological computers called “noocytes,” where were intended to improve the human body — giving it routine maintenance and maximizing human potential. Instead, it wiped out most of North America. Bernard is under quarantine in a lab in Europe, while being monitored by his friend Paulson-Fuchs. Bernard starts hearing voices in his head. The noocytes have become self-aware, and they're full of questions for him. Bernard has his own questions — leading to a very unusual dialogue.

  • The Ethics of Synthetic Biology

    The Ethics of Synthetic Biology

    15/06/2015 Duración: 16min

    We usually praise art for sparking a conversation and even making us uncomfortable — but does that mean anything bio-artists do is totally cool?

  • Bio Art

    Bio Art

    08/06/2015 Duración: 11min

    Few artists have embraced bio-hacking as much as Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr. They’re a husband and wife team who run SymboticA, a lab for biological art at the University of Western Australia. Their first big buzzed-about project in 2004 was a "victimless" leather jacket, which was so small, Catts jokes it would only be suitable for a mouse. But it was created out of living cells from human and mouse DNA. When the piece was shown at MoMA in New York, the jacket grew too quickly, clogging up the bioreactor where it was growing and the work of art had to be "killed." 

  • A Crash Course in Designing Life

    A Crash Course in Designing Life

    01/06/2015 Duración: 07min

    The innovations that are happening in synthetic biology will change life on Earth. But most of the decision-makers in the field are at large research institutions and corporations. In the past few years, there’s been a growing movement around the world working to democratize biotech and put these high tech tools into the hands of bio-hackers, artists, hobbyists –– and now public radio reporters. Reporter Julia Wetherell took a three-day crash course in designing life at Genspace, the world’s first community biolab in downtown Brooklyn.

  • Understanding Creative Savants

    Understanding Creative Savants

    26/05/2015 Duración: 09min

    We all know the Thomas Edison line: genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. But there are those who don't seem to perspire at all. Their extraordinary gifts seem to come from no where. We often call those people savants. And some neuroscientists are trying to understand where their talents come from.

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