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Joseph Polchinski explores the battle in physics: either quantum mechanics must break down, or our understanding of spacetime must be wrong. The latest is the 'firewall' paradox: if quantum mechanics is to be saved, then an astronaut falling into a black hole will have an experience very different from what Einstein's theory predicts. This has led to many new ideas that may lead to the unification of these two great theories. Recorded on 07/15/2015.

Cellular modeling may hold the key to unlocking some the most important questions about autism. Alysson R. Muotri, PhD joins William Mobley, MD, PhD to explain how his work is shedding light on not only the pathology of autism but potential new drugs.

2016 was a good and bad year for efforts to tackle climate change. The good news is that 120 parties have ratified the Paris Convention; the bad news is the emergence of post-truth politics and the associated denial of the evidence that climate change is a threat to our future. Leading environmentalist and Member of UK House of Lords John Krebs discusses the trends and their implications for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Recorded on 01/25/2017.

In the last decade, the scientific foundations of a number of traditional forensic methods have come under increasing criticism by the scientific community, leading to their discontinuation or reduced effectiveness in criminal prosecutions. These challenges raise questions about the admissibility of certain type of evidence in current cases and the validity of previous convictions. We will discuss the basis of these issues and describe some of the work ongoing at LLNL to try and address some of them. In particular we will describe an entirely new science-based approach to human identification.

Exploring the life of musical savant Derek Paravicini, severely developmentally disabled from complications at birth, and how understanding his condition provides evidence for the existence of musical intelligence and the roots of creativity in the human mind. Recorded on 05/05/2017.

Our neurons talk to each other but the language they use can change depending on what is happening in the environment around them. If the brain can adapt to our world in this way, what are the bigger implications? Nick Spitzer, Division of Biological Sciences, UC San Diego, explains neurotransmitter switching and how that process impacts our physical abilities, disease processes, and more.

It's not often that the California State Treasurer makes national news, but that's exactly what happened when John Chiang suspended ties with Wells Fargo last year over the bank's creation of some two million fraudulent accounts. With its $75 billion portfolio, Chiang describes how California sets the example for holding partners to high ethical standards and for public investing in policies that lead to better lives for its residents, reductions in income inequality, and effective responses to climate change. Chiang is the 2017 speaker for Michael Nacht Distinguished Lecture in Politics and Public Policy presented by the Goldman School of Public Policy and the Berkeley Forum at UC Berkeley. Recorded on 09/18/2017.
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