Hashtag Activism

Hashtags began as a simple way to categorize social media posts, but soon became a way for people across the world to connect around shared issues and identities, and from there, slowly grew into a potent new form of activism. Brooke Foucault Welles and Moya Bailey join us on this episode to discuss their research […]

The Road Back to Normal

The world has been upended by a novel coronavirus, and all we want to do is to return to normal. But how can that happen, and when? Today on What’s New, an expert on the resilience of societies talks about the long road back after enormous tragedies. Northeastern University Global Resilience Institute’s Covid 19: How […]

Inside the Pop Music World

Making a hit song involves inspiration, talent, and more than a little luck. How are songs created in today’s modern recording studios and streamed around the world? Joining us is Bonzai Caruso, a five-time Grammy-winning recording engineer and producer. Since the 1980s, Bonzai has worked with top reggae musicians as well as dozens of pop […]

Ethics and the Environment

This year is shaping up to be one of the warmest in history, just like last year and the year before that. Climate change is no longer a future worry, but a very present and growing challenge. We want to save our planet, but finding a coherent, ethical approach is hard. Ron Sandler, a professor […]

How Tariffs Made Modern China

Because of President Trump, the United States and China have recently waged a tariff war that has altered the economies and politics of both countries. This push and pull between China and international trade has a long and often hidden history, as tariffs, and the inevitable black market they create, played an essential role in […]

Hacking Life

Millions of people now wear devices to track their daily movements and to analyze and improve their health. But some people take this idea of self-improvement through data a giant, and perhaps troubling, step further. Can you reduce your sleep to two hours, live longer through strange diets, or optimize your work or leisure time […]

Revealing the Human Mind

For centuries, philosophers and scientists have debated whether the human mind is born with ideas and concepts, or instead, as John Locke famously put it, arrives in the world like a blank slate. Now new experiments have uncovered something even more remarkable: that we not only have innate ideas, but that some of those ideas […]

Intellectual Property and Social Values

For centuries, creative works and technical innovations have been protected by intellectual property laws, which grant exclusive rights to creators and innovators. But this system has been challenged by the internet, revealing many fundamental problems and tensions within IP law, leading us to ask whether the traditional concept of intellectual property truly benefits everyone in […]

Self-Knowledge, Nanotech Sensors, and Hospital Flow

On this episode we talk to Summer Harvey, Davoud Hejazi, and Theresa Fuller, the winners of Northeastern Graduate Women in Science and Engineering’s Three Minute Thesis Competition. These graduate students not only are doing incredible, creative work but they have been recognized in this competition for their ability to explain their research to a general […]

Inequality and Mental Health

Americans now recognize inequality as one of the greatest challenges we face. While the news often focuses on the obvious aspects of inequality, such as large disparities in income and wealth, inequality has more hidden, but just as insidious, impacts on other critical aspects of the lives of millions. Although mental health and mental illness […]

How We See

Vision is a miraculous sense that most of us with sight take for granted, and yet it consists of an incredible array of perceptive skills that nearly instantaneously work together to present our mind with a sense of the world and the objects within it. On this episode, we deconstruct human vision and then reassemble […]

The Search For Hidden Particles

In the farmland at the border of France and Switzerland, the massive Large Hadron Collider smashes subatomic particles together at the speed of light, and physicists then interpret the wreckage of those high-speed collisions. This has led to discoveries both strange and wonderful about the building blocks of our universe. Now the Large Hadron Collider […]

Sensing Behavior

Wearable technology like smartwatches and the related digital devices that now populate our homes and workplaces are starting to change the face of medicine, as they produce data that help us diagnose health issues, and capabilities to help treat them. On this episode, we look at the rise of personal health informatics and computational approaches […]

The Challenge of Automation

Factories and the global supply chain have become increasingly automated in the last few decades, changing the way billions of people work and live. But this process is largely hidden from us unless it is disrupted by the unexpected, by politics or weather—or by revelations about working conditions or the effects of massive corporations on […]

The Magic of Human Motion

On The Magic of Human Motion, we give the question of how our brain controls our muscles a second and maybe even a third thought, looking at how we manage to move and acquire new skills. We’re joined by Dagmar Sternad, who is a Professor in the Departments of Biology, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and […]

Auditing Algorithms

Recently the hidden inner workings of internet giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon have been exposed to scrutiny by academics, the press, the public, and now legislators. Northeastern researchers have found clever ways to expose the major problems and biases that are encoded into these systems and are starting to think about how their […]

European Disunion

For the last two years, Brexit has threatened to sever one of Europe’s largest countries from the rest, a divorce that has now become a gigantic crisis. But it is far from the first existential crisis for Europe. The continent and its countries have regularly encountered discord and the threat of dissolution. This episode features […]

Controlling Killer Robots

Science fiction is filled with examples of robots advancing in intelligence enough to become unrelenting killing machines, from the Terminator to Black Mirror’s metalhead. Now with advances in artificial intelligence that frightening imagined future is rapidly approaching, and we humans need to figure out right now how to prevent the worst from happening. Episode 30 […]

The Web at 30

The World Wide Web just turned 30 years old, and so much has changed over those three decades because of this powerful new medium. Books, music, and video are beamed instantly around the globe, and authors, artists, and the giant industries around them have reacted in excited, complicated and sometimes fearful ways. Joining us on […]

How College Students Get the News

Last year on this podcast, we told you about a large study of the news consumption habits of college students that had just gotten underway. Now the results of that study are in and on today’s What’s New you will discover the many often surprising channels, formats, and apps that inform today’s youth and shape […]

Tracing the Spread of Fake News

Two years after a presidential election that shocked so many, we are still trying to understand the role that fake news sources played, and how a swarm of propaganda clouded social media. Now a comprehensive study has looked carefully at the impact of untrustworthy online sources in the election, with some surprising results, and some […]

Seeking Justice for Hidden Deaths

In the United States between 1930 and 1970 there were thousands of racially motivated homicides, a brutal continuation of the gruesome murders that African Americans had endured for decades before, even as the Civil Rights movement began to stir. Many of these homicide cases are cold cases, left unsolved and, too often, forgotten. We’re joined […]

Touch This Page

Reading is one of the most profound things we humans do, a way for our minds to encounter new ideas, and our imaginations to run wild with stories. For many of us, reading means words in black ink on a white page, or pixels on a screen, but for some who have visual impairments, it […]

The Urban Commons

Everyone knows that 911 is the number to call in an emergency, but more recently, cities have set up 311, a number for citizens to call to highlight problems in their neighborhood and to request municipal services. Who calls these numbers and why? And what does the 311 system tell us about the way that […]

The Regeneration of Body Parts

Every year, thousands of graduate students write theses on topics at the frontiers of research. Many of those topics remain obscure, but there’s a new movement to have students explain their complex and exciting research in plainspoken, succinct ways. Joining us on episode 23 are Anastasiya Yandulskaya, Brian Ruliffson, and Alex Lovely who are the […]

Bridging the Academic-Public Divide Through Podcasts

There is something unusual and powerful about hearing someone’s ideas vocalized in an unscripted way. Because informal speech communicates ambivalence, effort, and excitement much better than traditional academic writing and media coverage of research, podcasts present a unique opportunity to show the public how the expertise of the academy is relatable and valuable. This communication […]

Election Day Special: Michael Dukakis

Joining us on Episode 21 is three-term governor, presidential candidate, and public transportation advocate Michael Dukakis. Images of Michael Dukakis provided by FayFoto Collection, Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections (L) and Brooks Canaday, Northeastern University (R) https://repository.library.northeastern.edu/files/neu:cj82sw77j/audio.mp3 Michael Dukakis was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on November 3, 1933. His parents, Panos and Euterpe […]