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The Pulse – WHYY

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WHYY serves the community by contributing to the quality of life through education, information, entertainment and inspiration.


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Recent Episodes

Challenging the Norm
Every culture, workplace, group, and family has its norms — its standards, the way things are done. Norms govern everything from relationships to driving to making coffee. But how does something become the norm? On this episode, we explore how things and behaviors become “normal,” and what happens when we challenge those norms. We hear stories about dog crates and why they are embraced in the U.S., but reviled in other countries; why sleeping through the night isn’t as standard as you might think; and how conservation efforts are challenging America’s lobster fishermen to change how they do their work. Also heard on this week’s episode: Sleeping through the night might be ideal — but historians and scientists say it’s probably not natural. Reporter Steph Yin explores how our sleeping habits have changed, and a small subculture that’s exploring alternative ways of getting some shuteye. Pediatrician Harvey Karp talks about what got him thinking about infant sleep, and prompted him to write his best-selling book “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” The North Atlantic right whale will go extinct if we don’t change our ways, but proposed conservation efforts could put New England’s lobstermen out of business.
Fake vs. Real — And When It Matters
There was a time when seeing was believing — but that’s changing, thanks to new technology that’s elevating fakery to a whole new level. In an ever-growing world of synthesized realities, how do we tell what’s real from what’s fake? And when and why does it matter? We explore that question on this episode, with stories about deepfakes — a new kind of fake video, powered by artificial intelligence; lab-grown meat in our pets’ food; and fake laughter. Also heard on this week’s episode: Reporter Susie Armitage explores fake laughter in its natural habitat — comedy open mics. We hear about how up-and-coming comics learn to tell real laughter from fake, and how our evolutionary past explains that ability… along with our tendency to chuckle when things aren’t remotely funny. What happens when a piece of information shatters everything we believe to be true? Reporter Molly Schwartz explores that question with the story of Austin Lane Howard, a devout Jehovah’s Witness whose doubt eventually pulled him away from the church. We talk with Lydia Pyne, author of “Genuine Fakes,” about everything from lab-grown diamonds to replicas of famous historical sites.
Hair and our Health
Hair can be our crowning glory, a big part of our identity, and a tool for self-expression. We shave it, style it, cut it, dye it — and sometimes, hope for it to come back. We obsess over its texture and length. While products help, how our hair looks is related to DNA, to hormones, and to our immune system. On this episode, we look into the connection between our health and our hair. We hear stories about the chemicals in hair dyes, treatments for baldness, and certain aspects of hair that can become an obsession. Also heard on this week’s episode: We’ve put a man on the moon — so why can’t we cure baldness? The Pulse’s Jad Sleiman explores why baldness so difficult to treat … and what could finally work. Erin Wall is one of opera’s most sought-after classical sopranos. But when she lost her iconic blond locks to cancer treatment, Wall had to get comfortable with a new onstage persona. KUOW’s Eilis O’Neill tells the story of Geneva “Gigi” Myhrvold, who started pulling out her hair as a child. Gigi explains how she deals with trichotillomania, and what helps her get the urge to pull under control. Internist Neda Frayha says female baldness comes up in her practice a lot, but she cautions patients to be careful with expensive vitamin products that promise relief. WOSU’s Paige Pfleger on why public health officials in Columbus, Ohio are making use of barbershops to help spread the word about infant mortality. When Amy Silverman’s daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Amy had many questions — and one of them was whether her daughter would ever have curly hair.
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Podcast Details
Dec 6th, 2013
Latest Episode
Oct 11th, 2019
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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