Episode 76: GDP and Unemployment

• June 3rd, 2016

An introduction to the economic concepts of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and unemployment, including a discussion of how these concepts are defined, how they are measured, their relevance to understanding economic activity, and some limitations of these concepts as they are currently employed. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 65: Inflation and Interest Rates.

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Episode 75: Cellular Respiration

• May 7th, 2016

An overview of the processes involved in the generation of energy in cells, including a discussion of the role of ATP in energy storage, glycolysis, the krebs cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, and ATP synthase. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 18: Biochemistry Basics.

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Episode 74: Minerals and Rocks

• December 31st, 2015

A discussion of minerals, including their main properties such as crystal structure, habit, cleavage, lustre, and hardness, followed by a brief overview of some of the major mineral classes, with a focus on the various types of silicate minerals. I also discuss the rock cycle and the relationship between the three major types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. 

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Episode 73: Introduction to the Immune System Part 2

• June 30th, 2015

Continuing on from the previous episode, I discuss the role of antibodies and antigens in mediating adaptive immunity, and follow with a discussion of the functions and roles of B-cells and T-cells. I conclude the episode with an overview of the many components of the immune system and a discussion of how they interact to protect the body from pathogens. Recommended prelistening is Episode 72: Introduction to the Immune System Part I.

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Episode 72: Introduction to the Immune System Part 1

• February 28th, 2015

An overview of the human immune system, beginning with some basic anatomy of the lymphatic system, and proceeding through a discussion of the distinction between the innate and adaptive immune systems, the role of skin and mucus membranes in providing barriers to pathogen entry, the inflammatory response, an overview of the different types of leukocytes, and an initial foray into the workings of the complement system. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 10: The Cell.

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Episode 71: Political Ideologies

• January 30th, 2015

A social scientific discussion and comparison of some of the major political ideologies in the world today, beginning with an overview of the origins, meaning, and limitations of the 'left-right' political spectrum, and continuing with an analysis of the historical origin and key beliefs of conservatism, liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, fascism, and other nationalist movements.

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Episode 70: Animal Diversity Part 2

• December 31st, 2014

Continuing from Episode 69, I explore the diversity of the mammals, looking at all the mammalian orders and their major families. Special focus is given to primates and particularly hominids, which are discussed at the species level.

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Episode 69: Animal Diversity Part 1

• December 30th, 2014

In this episode we explore the diversity of the animal kingdom. I first discuss the history of taxonomy and give an overview of some key concepts such as morphological similarity, phylogenetic analysis, systematics, cladistics, binomial classification, and the taxonomic hierarchy. Then follows an explanation of the diversity of and relationships between the major animal phyla, including arthropods, echinoderms, molluscs, and many others, with special emphasis is given to the classes and orders in the phylum of chordata (vertebrates).

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Episode 68: Protein Structure and Function

• November 30th, 2014

An overview of the structure and function of proteins. Beginning with a discussion of some key research methods for studying proteins, including column chromatography, electrophoresis, and x-ray crystallography, we then discuss the structure of proteins, with a focus on secondary structure, motifs, structural domains, and quaternary structure. The episode concludes with a look at protein function, including protein folding, denaturation, enzymatic function, and allosteric regulation. Recommended pre-requisites are Episode 18: Biochemistry Basics, and Episode 10: The Cell. Episode 32: Light and Optics may also be helpful for the crystallography portion.

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Episode 67: An Overview of Language Part 2

• November 24th, 2014

Concluding the brief exploration of language begun last time, this episode examines semantics, including the distinction between sense and reference and different types of utterances, pragmatics, including conversational maxims and implicatures, and sociolinguistics, including prestige dialects and speech acts. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 66: An Overview of Language Part 1.

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