The Pulse

The Pulse The Pulse brings you stories about the people and places at the heart of health and science. Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or listen at whyy.org/thepulse

Heard weekly on WHYY, The Pulse focuses on stories at the heart of health, science and innovation. At any moment, you can almost hear the hum of thousands of brains — powering research, innovation, investment and better medical care. At hundreds of universities, research centers, hospitals and think tanks, people perform world-class work each day. They prevent disease, preserve energy, stall deat

Heard weekly on WHYY, The Pulse focuses on stories at the heart of health, science and innovation. At any moment, you can almost hear the hum of thousands of brains — powering research, innovation, investment and better medical care. At hundreds of universities, research centers, hospitals and think tanks, people perform world-class work each day. They prevent disease, preserve energy, stall deat

Operating as usual

For many Americans, 9/11 is a distinct marker in their lives. There is “before 9/11” and there is “after 9/11.” It’s the...
09/11/2021
In New York 20 years on, O’Hara’s honors 9/11 and first responders

For many Americans, 9/11 is a distinct marker in their lives. There is “before 9/11” and there is “after 9/11.” It’s the same for O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub. Before 9/11, the Irish pub mostly served professionals working nearby and the local firehouse next door. Now, 20 years on, O’Hara’s has become, in part, a place to remember Sept. 11, 2001, and honor first responders.

Owner Mike Keane was at the bar the day the towers came down just two blocks away. He works to keep the memory alive.

The passing of 20 years since the 9/11 terror attacks has meant that some of the wounds cut by that day have closed — ot...
09/10/2021
The Lessons of 9/11 - WHYY

The passing of 20 years since the 9/11 terror attacks has meant that some of the wounds cut by that day have closed — others have not. Thousands of families lost loved ones in the attacks, and their grief became part of a national tragedy. Many more have since gotten sick or even died from illnesses related to exposure to dust and debris. The attacks changed how we think about the long-lasting impact of environmental hazards, what we know about grief and trauma, and how we build. On this episode, we explore some of the lasting effects of the 9/11 attacks, and what we’ve learned from them.

The passing of 20 years since the 9/11 terror attacks has meant that some of the wounds cut by that day have closed — others have not. Thousands of families lost loved ones in the attacks, and their grief became part of a national tragedy. Many more have since gotten sick or even died from illness...

The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks gave way to a very defined period of sudden violence and discrimination against Arab a...
09/10/2021
In the six months after 9/11, Arab women had increased risk of preterm births

The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks gave way to a very defined period of sudden violence and discrimination against Arab and Muslim Americans. One epidemiologist wanted to know: Did this acute period of violence have any negative impact on Arab women’s birth outcomes?

Research has shown a link between exposure to racism and birth outcomes. The terror attacks offered a unique window on the effects of anti-Arab racism.

One question that emerged quickly after the 9/11 attacks was: What would make skyscrapers safer? How could more people e...
09/10/2021
What 9/11 taught us about fire engineering, and the lessons that got lost

One question that emerged quickly after the 9/11 attacks was: What would make skyscrapers safer? How could more people escape in case of an emergency? From fireproofing to alarms to stairway width — what changes should have been made in the aftermath of the attacks and where are we 20 years later?

From fireproofing to alarms to stairway width, building codes cost lives at the Twin Towers. But in the aftermath, not that much has changed.

Working from home has become commonplace because of COVID-19 — but for years, people with disabilities have been asking ...
09/03/2021
Will remote work become more of a long-term option for workers with disabilities?

Working from home has become commonplace because of COVID-19 — but for years, people with disabilities have been asking to do exactly that, only to be turned down again and again. Will the pandemic change how employers think about such requests in the future?

Employers typically resisted alternatives for workers with disabilities. But the pandemic turned the idea from special accommodation into everyday practice.

Sometimes, work can feel like Groundhog Day — different variations of the same thing, day after day. Same commute, same ...
09/03/2021
The Evolving Nature of Work - WHYY

Sometimes, work can feel like Groundhog Day — different variations of the same thing, day after day. Same commute, same hours, same people, same conversations, same cubicle, same complaints. But then, everything changed because of COVID-19.

On this Labor Day edition of The Pulse, we look into the evolving nature of work. We dig into some of the big changes that are happening right now, and ask what might follow over the next few years.

Featuring: California State University, Dominguez Hills
Perpetual Guardian @snarkbat

Sometimes, work can feel like Groundhog Day — different variations of the same thing, day after day. Same commute, same hours, same people, same conversations, same cubicle, same complaints. But then, everything changed because of COVID-19.

Has work from home got you noticing how long you actually work? If we have to go back to working at the office, do we ha...
09/03/2021
What if we worked just four days a week?

Has work from home got you noticing how long you actually work? If we have to go back to working at the office, do we have to go back to working five days a week?

A New Zealand estate planning firm adopted a shorter workweek yet paid everyone the same. Could that experiment inform post-pandemic workplaces?

Psychologist J. William Worden said that in the wake of a loss, we try to complete four tasks: 1. Accept the reality of ...
08/20/2021

Psychologist J. William Worden said that in the wake of a loss, we try to complete four tasks:
1. Accept the reality of the loss
2. Experience the pain of grief and process it
3. Adjust to an environment without the person who has passed away
4. Find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life

Psychologist J. William Worden said that in the wake of a loss, we try to complete four tasks:
1. Accept the reality of the loss
2. Experience the pain of grief and process it
3. Adjust to an environment without the person who has passed away
4. Find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life

We’ve heard it thousands of times — kids are resilient. But they’re also sensitive, with social and emotional needs ever...
08/20/2021
Kids and Mental Health - WHYY

We’ve heard it thousands of times — kids are resilient. But they’re also sensitive, with social and emotional needs every bit as complex as adults’. They’re still figuring out how the world works, and they depend on structure and stability — along with love and support — to feel safe and confident as they learn to navigate the world. Which is why the pandemic and the lockdowns have been especially tough for many kids, taking a major toll on their mental health.

On this episode, we look at kids and mental health, asking how they’ve made it through the past year-and-a-half, and what lessons they’ve learned.

Featuring:
Montefiore Health System
Nationwide Children's Hospital Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

We’ve heard it again and again — kids are resilient. But they’re also sensitive, with social and emotional needs every bit as complex as adults’. They’re still figuring out how the world works, and they depend on structure and stability — along with love and support — to feel safe and ...

“We often see those Black youth who are suicidal, but we don't see them as suicidal ... we see them as deviant. We see t...
08/20/2021
‘We are in a state of emergency’: What's behind the rising su***de rate among Black kids

“We often see those Black youth who are suicidal, but we don't see them as suicidal ... we see them as deviant. We see them as angry. We see them as fill-in-the-blank in how we pathologize and label them ..."

Today, su***de is the second-leading cause of death among Black children ages 10 to 19. And that rate is rising faster for them than for any other racial or ethnic group.

What happens if someone's appearance changes dramatically in just a few months?  For people who undergo bariatric surger...
08/13/2021
When the world treats you differently after weight loss

What happens if someone's appearance changes dramatically in just a few months? For people who undergo bariatric surgery and experience significant weight loss, navigating those social shifts can be difficult.

For those who have bariatric surgery, changes in appearance happen quickly, creating new social situations to navigate.

Appearance can be an anchor for our sense of self, or a catalyst for transformation. It can make us love ourselves, hate...
08/13/2021
Changing Appearances - WHYY

Appearance can be an anchor for our sense of self, or a catalyst for transformation. It can make us love ourselves, hate ourselves, find ourselves, and lose ourselves. Check out our latest episode, where we explore the many ways appearance affect people's lives.

Featuring:
Penn State Department of Anthropology
@snuggleyoga
@AskDr_Rachel

We’ve all heard the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The problem is that’s not how the world works. Just about everything, from the way people treat us, to the opportunities we have in life, is affected in some way by our appearance. That’s especially true when it comes to how ...

The wig was itchy, it never fit right. And one day, at a music festival, Karen Gardner decided to just rip it off, and k...
08/13/2021
Going wig-less — learning to live with alopecia

The wig was itchy, it never fit right. And one day, at a music festival, Karen Gardner decided to just rip it off, and keep dancing.

“When I stopped wearing wigs, I was self-conscious in a different way, but it changed and I felt freer after a while because now people see what they see,” she said. “They see that I don't have hair. I know they see that. So I'm aware of it, but I forget about it sometimes. And I just don't care as much because I know that they see what they see. I'm not trying to cover up who I am or how I am.”

In movies, bald women are portrayed as strong; in real life, they’re seen as odd. One woman gradually decided to just go with it.

We understand that race is a social construct and not a biological category.But still, there are cases where race is tak...
07/30/2021
How a clinical tool meant to predict kidney function could be hurting Black patients

We understand that race is a social construct and not a biological category.

But still, there are cases where race is taken into account when important treatment decisions are being made.

Is an equation most commonly used to predict kidney health unintentionally contributing to health disparities — and reinforcing racist thinking?

Why do we still ask about race and ethnicity in medicine and research? When and where does it matter — and how should th...
07/30/2021
The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Medicine - WHYY

Why do we still ask about race and ethnicity in medicine and research? When and where does it matter — and how should this information be used?

On this episode, we dive into the changing conversation about race and ethnicity in medicine.

Featuring:

- Otis Brawley, oncologist and researcher at Johns Hopkins University, Amaka Eneanya, nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Andrew S. Levey, professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, David Jones, medical historian at Harvard University, and Neil Powe, chief of medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General.

- Jaya Aysola, physician and the Assistant Dean of Inclusion and Diversity at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Stella Yi, assistant professor of population health at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Every time you go to see a new doctor, you have to fill out forms that ask your name, your age, your family history — and your race and ethnicity. You have to check a box — pick a category.

Language apps like Babbel or Duolingo promise users that they can learn a foreign language fast.But do these apps actual...
07/23/2021
Can you actually learn a new language through an app?

Language apps like Babbel or Duolingo promise users that they can learn a foreign language fast.

But do these apps actually work? And if so, how?

Definitely maybe, research suggests. What doesn’t help: conjugation, and odd bits of practice conversation no one ever uses.

After a stroke, a person may suffer aphasia - an inability to communicate speech. What does this condition reveal about ...
07/23/2021
Following a stroke, finding the words can be a lifelong endeavor

After a stroke, a person may suffer aphasia - an inability to communicate speech.

What does this condition reveal about how language works?

Science owes a lot to aphasia and what it reveals about how language works. But many worry it has been widely misunderstood, leading to missed recovery opportunities.

Why do some species have language, and others don’t? What can bird whistles teach us about the mechanics of language? Wh...
07/23/2021
The Building Blocks of Language - WHYY

Why do some species have language, and others don’t? What can bird whistles teach us about the mechanics of language? What happens when a person loses their ability to communicate?

On this episode, a look at what scientists are learning about language.

Featuring:

- Erich Jarvis, professor at The Rockefeller University and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Karen Cohen, speech language pathologist at the
Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute - MRRI, Roy Hamilton, neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania, linguist Gretchen McCullough, Shawn Loewen, professor at Michigan State University, Zach Sporn, researcher at Babbel and Kara Morgan-Short, professor of linguistics at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Language is how we connect — to each other, to the past, to the future — how we create culture, communicate ideas, and make decisions. Scientists are keen to discover more about how language works, and how we actually learn to talk. On this episode — why do some species have language, and othe...

Some are cured, others die knowing they helped science advance. An inside look at clinical trials on cancers caused by H...
07/16/2021
How a clinical trial cured cancer — in some cases

Some are cured, others die knowing they helped science advance. An inside look at clinical trials on cancers caused by HPV.

A researcher’s experience as a patient motivated him to find cures. He focused on cancers caused by the human papillomavirus.

The past few decades have seen tremendous victories in the fight against cancer — new discoveries, new medications, new ...
07/16/2021
New Developments in Cancer Treatment - WHYY

The past few decades have seen tremendous victories in the fight against cancer — new discoveries, new medications, new hopes for a cure.

On this episode, we look at some of the latest breakthroughs in cancer treatment and the stories behind them.

Featuring:

- Christian Hinrichs, clinical researcher at National Institutes of Health (NIH), Scott Norberg, research physician at National Cancer Institute, Dan Gorenstein, host of the podcast Tradeoffs, Gerard Silvestri, professor at MUSC Health, Ella Kazerooni, radiologist at University of Michigan, Lisa Carter-Harris, scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Otis Brawley, professor at Johns Hopkins University, and Cherie Erkmen, surgeon at Temple University Hospital - Jeanes Campus.

It seems like every week, we hear about new breakthroughs in cancer treatment — new discoveries, new medications, new hopes for a cure. The war on cancer has been a slow and steady grind, with incremental progress that’s been built one study, one breakthrough at a time.

New in your podcast feeds:The secret history of Mars exploration.
07/06/2021
The Secret History of Mars Exploration - WHYY

New in your podcast feeds:

The secret history of Mars exploration.

Humans have been obsessed with Mars for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that we began to have actual breakthroughs in our journey to Mars. In July of 1965, NASA’s Mariner 4 captured high-definition pictures of Mars. It was at this point that we began to better observ...

How do engineers on Earth fix the problems that rovers encounter on Mars - millions of miles away?
07/02/2021
How NASA repairs its rovers on Mars, without ever touching them

How do engineers on Earth fix the problems that rovers encounter on Mars - millions of miles away?

NASA's rovers are labs on wheels, doing work on Mars, while being directed by scientists and engineers here on earth. How do they repair rovers from millions of miles away?

For years Mars has inspired wild fantasies about distant civilizations. It’s put a spell on many observers, who hope to ...
07/02/2021
Destination: Mars - WHYY

For years Mars has inspired wild fantasies about distant civilizations. It’s put a spell on many observers, who hope to unlock its mysteries.

On this episode, we explore what scientists are learning about Mars and their efforts to one day set foot on the red planet.

Featuring:

- Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at The Franklin Institute, and Jordan Bimm, research fellow at the Stefanovic Institute on the formation of knowledge at The University of Chicago and Guggenheim fellow at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

- Megan Lin and Evan Graser, engineers at NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Ed Guinan, professor of astrophysics and planetary sciences at Villanova University.

For thousands of years, humans have obsessed over Mars from afar. At first, maybe it was the fact that Mars stands out in the night sky because of its reddish color. But as we learned more about Mars and the conditions there, it was the possibility of life on this distant planet that captured our co...

Jumping at the slightest little thing can be annoying and embarrassing. Why do some people startle so easily, and can th...
06/25/2021
Can you tamp down your over-the-top startle response?

Jumping at the slightest little thing can be annoying and embarrassing.

Why do some people startle so easily, and can they do anything about it?

Jumping at the slightest little thing can be annoying and embarrassing. Why do some people startle so easily, and can they do anything about it?

For many Americans, pandemic life has been marked by anxiety. There’s been a constant feeling of uneasiness, just a low-...
06/25/2021
How to stop worrying and learn to love the unknown

For many Americans, pandemic life has been marked by anxiety. There’s been a constant feeling of uneasiness, just a low-level buzz of discomfort in the background of their lives for the last nearly year and a half.

Is there a way to rethink our relationship with uncertainty?

People can reframe their relationship with uncertainty and that can help relieve some of their anxiety.

During the pandemic working from home has been exhausting for a lot of people. Many people feel isolated and stressed — ...
06/25/2021
A work-from-home surprise: For some, solitude just feels better

During the pandemic working from home has been exhausting for a lot of people. Many people feel isolated and stressed — as if there's no distinction between "the office" and home.

But some people have found unexpected relief working from home — relief from something they hadn’t even known was draining them.

Everyday social stressors at the office quietly sapped these workers pre-pandemic — creating anxiety they didn’t realize they had.

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