This Week In Science

5 09 2008

This article first appeared in The W Weekly in Lexington, Kentucky in 2005.

I’m sure by now you’ve already heard the news about the University of Rochester scientists who made light travels backwards. No?

What about the tiny human-like hobbit fossils found in Inodnesia? Nothing?
I assure you, this n ot from The National Enquirer, but from KDVS’ very own podcast, This Week In Science.

What once began as a “pipe dream” of founder Kirsten Sanford over drinks six years ago, has now evolved into This Week In Science (T.W.I.S.). The result is a science program designed to reach a wide range of listeners, from science experts to those who may have even “failed science in High School.” Along with co-host Justin Jackson, the duo turns otherwise esoteric science news into a palatable and entertaining experience.

The most appealing part of T.W.I.S. is its blend of science and entertainment and no where else is this more evident than in the diverse backgrounds of the hosts themselves. Kirsten, a soon-to-be doctor of Neurophysiology, takes the reins when interviewing guests and offers her real-world experience on the more confusing topics. While Justin, a one-time washing machine salesman and self-proclaimed “alcoholic and gift to all women,” provides comedic relief and ensures that the conversation stay grounded in understandable language.

Typically, the hour-long shows are divided into two sections. The first discusses recent developments in science from archaeological finds to space expeditions, with the latter featuring interviews with today’s top authors and scientists. Aside from the occasional attempts by Justin to tie in a government conspiracy, the news is unbiased and often more accurate than “traditional” media outlets. When discussing gloomy topics such as global warming, they’re quick to lighten up the mood by jokingly proclaiming “This Week In The End Of The World.” Even the guests on the show are quite interesting. Listeners can expect to hear everything from sexy Quantum Physics expert Lisa Randall discussing the possibility of alternate universes to “Backyard Ballistics” author William Gurstelle informing listeners about how to blow stuff up in the comfort of their own home.

Another nice touch that T.W.I.S. offers is that the hosts are genuinely interested in communicating off-the-air with their audience, notably through their forums, available at http://www.twis.org. Here, fans can discuss everything from evolution to animal behavior with fellow listeners and the show’s hosts. Both Kirsten and Justin are frequent posters in every area of the forum. On the air, listeners can call-in, email the hosts to receive a “shout-out,” and even submit their own science related music to be played on the air.

As if that wasn’t enough, listeners can also leave comments on their Myspace page and pick up T.W.I.S. merchandise through the website as well.

New listeners need not worry about the week-long wait between shows. Their podcast feed in iTunes boasts over 50 episodes, with streaming audio archives dating back to the show’s origin in 2000, all available on their website, www.twis.org. It is also available live every Tuesday at 8:30am PST at www.twis.org.

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