This Week in Science (TWIS) is a weekly, hour-long web and radio show presenting an humorous, often opinionated, and irreverent look at the week in science and technology. In each episode, TWIS discusses the latest in cutting-edge science news on topics such as genetic engineering, stem cells, cybernetics, epigenetics, space exploration, neuroscience, microbiology, the end of the world, and a show favorite – Countdown to World Robot Domination.
TWIS broadcasts weekly at 8:00pm Pacific Time on Wednesdays in live streaming video from Google+ Hangouts On-Air, YouTube, and our live broadcast page. TWIS audio is rebroadcast from KDVS, 90.3 FM in Davis, CA.
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Dr. Kiki (Kirsten Sanford, PhD)
Before coming to Earth, Kirsten was stuck in a dead-end job as a space medic in charge of routine bloodwork in a M*A*S*H unit during the Clone Wars. With most of her hours spent doing midi-chlorian counts of sick and injured Jedi, the work quickly became boring for an active scientific mind like Kirsten’s. Nothing is more annoying than a Knight of the Force who can’t stop whining, and hearing nothing but that day in and day out, she just up and quit one day after reading a want-ad put out by the ICCX looking for scientists to be sent to Earth. Once on the job, Kirsten skillfully nosedived her AstroPod deep in some thick jungles near the planet’s equator. She named the region Burma, in memory of her beloved pet space monkey that she was forced to leave behind on her homeworld. Initially mistaking elephants for the dominant sentient species of Earth, Kirsten spent several hundred years before realizing that it was humans she was meant to study. Once that minor error was rectified, however, she wasted little time and soon was hired as chief brain surgeon to the King of Siam, under whose patronage she was able to catalog the entire extant taxonomy of Southeast Asia’s bacterial phyla (a great many centuries later, the events of this period in Kirsten’s earthly tenure would inspire the musical “The King and I” starring Yul Brynner). In time, her scientific research led her to roam the world. She walked the steppes of ancient Russia, inadvertently inventing Tartar sauce, and at length arrived in Europe toward the end of the Dark Ages. Here she documented flora and fauna, instructed local healers on the use of vitamin C in treating the Black Death, and compiled many handwritten herbals, parchment documents penned in her flowery native alien script. Some of these can still be found in rare bookshops today; the inscrutable “Voynich Manuscript” is an example of Kirsten’s early biological fieldwork on this planet. Kirsten helped bring the life sciences into the modern age when, in the mid-19th Century, she took work as a pest controller in the pea garden of an Augustinian monastery in Moravia. Here she helped a monk named Gregor Mendel develop his theories of trait heredity that would eventually grow into the science of genetics. Using her special powers, Kirsten then was able to command a flock of African swallows to carry her to the Americas, setting her down in California’s fertile central valley. Pursuing her work with birds, Kirsten enrolled in a major human research institution and studied the effects of hormones on memory formation in zebra finches. During a hiatus from school, she found work in a prominent San Francisco research hospital working on scientific experiments in which willing human test subjects were given large doses of recreational drugs. Kirsten returned to school to finish her doctorate program in Neurophysiology, enjoying a special brand of masochism by choosing do both her undergrad as well as graduate work at the University of California at Davis. Apparently she loves the smell of cow poop in the morning. It smells like victory.
Kirsten’s Science: Neuroscience and Cognition; Life Sciences
Special Power: Able to cause cellular senescence with a stern look; can speak with the birds
An anarchistic utilitarian mystic by birth, he converted to extroverted existentialism around the age of four. By age seven he had founded “The Institute of Reason”, a common sense think tank of like minded seven year olds working to improve the world they had inherited, over which he presided as Director until an unfortunate oversight in the bylaws of the institute forced him to resign on the eve of his eighth birthday. On the walls of Justin’s office hang several PHD diplomas from top U.S. universities, including (Yale, Harvard, Stanford and UC Davis). None of them bare his name, a fact that, when confronted with, is defended by him countering “Want a drink?.” Or the possibly more sinister… “They’re just trophies. (followed by a maniacal laugh)” A self-described delusional and gift to all womankind, Justin has little tolerance for the delusional behavior of others, as is evident in his ongoing attempts to lobby members of congress to have himself installed as the nations first Religion Czar. When first approached by Kirsten to be a minion co-host of TWIS, he believed her to be a figment of his imagination, and so agreed to do the show. Feeling the stings of Kirsten’s wrath after not showing up to the first show, he began to take his imagination more seriously.
Favorite Scientist: Nikola Tesla
Vision: excellent at 20/10
Best word used to describe: Candid
Education: All older women that knew what they wanted and how to teach it.
Blair Bazdarich is an odd mix of brilliant intelligence, mutant ability and nightmare fuel all rolled into one power-packed package. She was raised in a variety of wilderness settings across Africa, Eurasia, and California, where she learned to fight off rampaging attacks from pandas as squirrels, respectively. Though the panda “attacks” were easily defeated since pandas are inherently lazy, she retains a deep resentment towards both species to this day.
Once she settled her wandering ways, she enrolled in Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and discovered she possessed powerful superhuman mutant abilities. By performing the dance of the peacock spider, she can incapacitate foes via hypnosis, or imbue allies with amazing science trivia facts, at her whim. Of course the science facts she prefers are often horrific enough to scare off her allies as well, but nobody ever said science is always pretty.
She used these abilities all over the world, from the San Francisco Zoo to Jerusalem to the Aquarium of the Bay, but it wasn’t enough. She turned her gaze upon the Internet, where she can now be found casting a spell over fans of This Week in Science.