Exploradio Origins

Exploradio Origins ponders the biggest questions in the universe in 90 seconds.

Each episode highlights the work of one of the more than 200 fellows at the Institute for the Science of Origins at Case Western Reserve University. Their research examines the origins of life, the universe, and the strands that connect all of science. Host Kellen McGee delivers a distillation of discoveries that touch on the mysteries of dark matter, language, gender, and evolution. 

Exploradio Origins is a collaboration between WKSU and the Institute for the Science of Origins.  Tune-in Thursday afternoons during WKSU’s All Things Considered.

A photo of a bottle of Depo-testosterone.
Wikimedia Commons

How do embryos know how to become male or female? Prof. Mike Weiss, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University, is studying how one protein, known as the sex-determining protein Y, or “SRY,” can program gender.

“SRY is like the light switch. The bulb is this downstream developmental pathway that leads to the formation of the organs,” Weiss said.

A visualization of Einstien's theory of gravitational waves.
NASA / Wikimedia Commons

In 1916, Einstein made a bold prediction- that gravity actually travels in waves. These “gravitational waves” would be ripples in the fabric of space a bit like ripples on a pond, and would slightly stretch and squash the distances between things as they passed.  

“Einstein himself who came up with the theory didn’t think that this would ever really be detected,” Kenyon College professor Leslie Wade said.

NASA

We all enjoy the moon on a clear night, but what if it could do more for us?

Glenn Starkman, professor of physics at Case Western Reserve University wonders if the moon could be a detector for dark matter--the stuff that causes the extra gravity needed to hold galaxies together as they spin.

It turns out that finding it is….hard.

photo of brain painting
ABHIJIT BHADURI / FLICKR/CREATIVE COMMONS

Mark Turner is an Institute Professor and Professor of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University. He studies how our brains can innovate or form new ideas, and one of his methods actually involves digging into our use of language.

DIGITALBOB8 / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Ketones are small molecules your liver makes from fats. They have featured in popular diets recently, but they first drew attention in the 1920s when clinicians found that some children with epilepsy recovered on the zero-sugar ketogenic diet, but nobody knew why.

"The brain ordinarily loves to work on sugar," said Joseph LaManna, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. "But if ketones are available, the brain uses those first."

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