A Day in the Half-Life

A Day in the Half-Life

A podcast about the surprising ways that science evolves. Through conversations with scientists, we trace the technology, theories, and products we see around us today back to early discoveries in the lab, while also imagining where future breakthroughs could take us. Hosted and produced by Aliyah Kovner at Berkeley Lab, aka Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Episodes

July 25, 2022 55 min

What is photosynthesis? Oh, no big deal, just the key to life on Earth as we know it! Join me as I take a deep dive into this amazingly sophisticated chemical process. Hear fascinating details they didn't teach you in school and get a crash course on how natural photosynthesis inspires the development of renewable energy technologies that could someday replace all petroleum products.

Featuring Jan F. Kern, from Berkeley Lab'...

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A Day in the Half-Life explores what working in STEM is really like, and that means conversations about inclusion. So to celebrate Pride Month, we're releasing a special episode about making research & academia culture more inclusive for transgender scientists.

Publications are an essential part of career growth for scientists. But what if you no longer use the name on past work? How can you claim your intellectual labor? Tr...

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April 21, 2022 55 min

For decades, scientists have been able to predict future Earth conditions, like rainfall and temperature, with impressive accuracy using computer programs called climate models. These models are helpful at telling us what might happen to our weather depending on how much we curb greenhouse gases emissions now, and they can be used to study how much human-driven climate change plays a role in big events such as Hurricane Harvey or l...

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February 9, 2022 48 min

The race to make smaller and smaller electronic chips is coming to an end, after many decades of creative engineering. Individual transistors are now just a few nanometers (that’s billionths of a meter) in length, so there’s not much more shrinking to be done. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. The 20th century effort to pack transistors onto tiny silicon wafers transformed clunky, heavy early electronics into the sl...

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Have you ever wondered how electricity is available all the time? That’s the seemingly magical science of energy storage. In this episode, we speak to a policy leader and a researcher about the history of piggy-banking power to spend it later, and how this field is evolving to help us prevent extreme weather-related blackouts, adopt more renewable energy, and build bigger, better, more environmentally responsible batteries.

Featurin...

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June 30, 2021 52 min

In 1935, the famous physicist Erwin Schrödinger was debating with his friend Albert Einstein about the nature of a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics – a field that was, at the time, still very new. To illustrate his point, Schrödinger proposed a thought experiment wherein a (rather unfortunate) cat sealed in a box is both alive and dead simultaneously – up until the moment someone opens the box. Decades later, that abstract ...

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What do advanced medicines, renewable fuels, vegan burgers, smart fabrics, petroleum-free plastics, and cruelty-free cosmetics have in common? They're all produced with specially engineered microbes! Yep, microbes. 

In episode three, we explore the fields of science making this 21st century industrial revolution possible: synthetic biology and biomanufacturing.

Our guests discuss how humans first developed the tools and knowled...

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March 9, 2021 34 min
Twenty years ago, scientists were surprised to discover that the universe’s expansion is accelerating. The unknown and invisible force causing this acceleration was named “dark energy,” and in the years since, researchers learned more about what the phenomenon is not — but have yet to crack the puzzle of what it actually is. Physicists say it could be an as-of-yet undetected form of energy permeating the cosmos, or it could be an u...
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February 8, 2021 41 min

A Day in the Half Life is a podcast from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) about the incredible and often unexpected ways that science evolves over time, as told by the researchers who led it into its current state and those who are going to bring it into the future.

In our very first episode, we discuss machine learning. First developed about 80 years ago, machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligenc...

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