“Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life” with Professor Timothy Jorgensen

Spark Book Review at Bridging the Gaps

When we think about electricity, we most often think of the energy that powers various devices and appliances around us, or perhaps we visualise the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But there is more to electricity and “life at its essence is nothing if not electrical”. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Professor Timothy Jorgensen and we discuss his recent book “Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life ”. The book explains the science of electricity through the lenses of biology, medicine and history. It illustrates how our understanding of electricity and the neurological system evolved in parallel, using fascinating stories of scientists and personalities ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk. It provides a fascinating look at electricity, how it works, and how it animates our lives from within and without.

We start by discussing the earliest known experiences that humans had with electricity using amber. Amber was most likely the first material with which humans attempted to harness electricity, mostly for medical purposes. Romans used non-static electricity from specific types of fish. Moving on to Benjamin Franklin, we discuss how he attempted to harner the power of electricity and we discuss the earliest forms of devices to store electric charge. We then discuss experiments conducted by Luigi Galvani on dead frogs and by his nephew on dead humans using electricity. As interest in electricity grew, many so-called treatemnts for ailments such as headaches, for bad thoughts and even for sexual difficulties also emerged that were based on the use of electricity; we discuss few interesting examples of such treatments. We then move on to reviewing the cutting edge use of electricity in medical science and discussed medial implants, artificial limbs and deep stimulation technologies and proposed machine-brain interfaces. This has been a fascinating discussion.

Complement this discussion by listening to he Spike: Journey of Electric Signals in Brain from Perception to Action with Professor Mark Humphries and then listen to On Public Communication of Science and Technology with Professor Bruce Lewenstein

By |March 17th, 2022|Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Future, Podcasts, Research|

On Public Communication of Science and Technology with Professor Bruce Lewenstein

From the museums of the fifteenth century, to the public lectures of Michael Faraday in the nineteenth century, and to various science fairs & festivals of the twenty-first century, public engagement of science has evolved immensely. Public engagement of science in this age of hyper connectivity is “a multidimensional and multi-directional activity”. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with professor Bruce Lewenstien, a widely-known authority on public communication of science and technology.

Bruce Lewenstein is a professor of science communication at Cornell University. He has done extensive work on how science and technology are reported to the public and how the public understands complex and sometimes contested scientific issues. He studies and documents the ways that public communication of science is fundamental to the process of producing reliable knowledge about the natural world.

We begin by discussing the “multidimensional” and “multidirectional” nature of science communication. We then focus on the evolution of science communication from the early days of science to present time. We touch upon the huge impact on the public understanding of science that few books published in the mid-twentieth century had. We discuss in detail documentaries such as “The Ascent of Man” and “Cosmos” and the emergence of the phenomenon of “celebrity scientists”. The effectiveness of science communication in the age of information overload and in the age of misinformation and disinformation is an important topic that we discuss. We then discuss the challenges faced by the process of science communication and the societal challenges that effective science communication can help us to deal with.

Complement this discussion with A Passion for Ignorance” and for Denials and Negations with Professor Renata Salecl and then listen to “Philosophy of Information” and “Ethics of Information”.

By |February 12th, 2022|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts, Research, Technology|

History of Information with Professor Paul Duguid

Over centuries “information has shaped and been shaped by human society”, writes professor Paul Duguid at the start of the book “Information: A Historical Companion”. Duguid is one of the editors of this book that reconstructs the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. The book is organised in thirteen long-form chapters and more than hundred short-form entries in a list of thematic objects, tools and concepts that are critical for our understanding of information. Each long-form chapter discusses the role of information at an important point in time in the history, at a particular geographical setting. Written by an international team of experts, “Information: A Historical Companion” is a wide-ranging, deeply immersive and a large publication. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with Paul Duguid, a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the editors of this book.

We start our discussion by exploring the concept of “information age” and addressing the question: has every age been an information age or is this title unique to this present time. We then discuss the significance of viewing history through the lens of information and viewing information through the lens of history. We also discuss our over reliance on information in the present time and the impact of increased volume and velocity of misinformation and disinformation on society. Professor Paul Duguid then discusses few entries in the list of thematic objects, concepts and tools. This has been a fascinating discussion, particularly for those who are keen to study our obsession with an informed existence.

Complement this podcast with the fascinating discussion with Professor Luciano Floridi on the Philosophy of Information and then listen to Professor Jürgen Renn on the Evolution of Knowledge and Rethinking Science for The Anthropocene.

By |April 19th, 2021|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts|