DISRUPTIVE: BIO-INSPIRED ROBOTICS features three separate interviews with (1) RADHIKA NAGPAL, (2) ROBERT WOOD, and (3) CONOR WALSH

Written on October 15th, 2015


Welcome to the second episode of my new monthly podcast series produced with Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

DISRUPTIVE: BIO-INSPIRED ROBOTICS features three separate interviews with (1) RADHIKA NAGPAL, (2) ROBERT WOOD, and (3) CONOR WALSH. From insects in your backyard, to creatures in the sea, to what you see in the mirror, engineers and scientists at Wyss are drawing inspiration to design a whole new class of smart robotic devices

In this one, CONOR WALSH discusses how a wearable robotic exosuit or soft robotic glove can assist people with mobility impairments, as well as how the goal to create real-world applications drives his research approach.

In part one, RADHIKA NAGPAL talks about her work Inspired by social insects and multicellular systems, including the TERMES robots for collective construction of 3D structures, and the KILOBOT thousand-robot swarm. She also speaks candidly about the challenges faced by women in the engineering and computer science fields.

In part two, ROBERT WOOD discusses new manufacturing techniques that are enabling popup and soft robots. His team’s ROBO-BEE is the first insect-sized winged robot to demonstrate controlled flight.

The mission of the Wyss Institute is to: Transform healthcare, industry, and the environment by emulating the way nature builds, with a focus on technology development and its translation into products and therapies that will have an impact on the world in which we live. Their work is disruptive not only in terms of science but also in how they stretch the usual boundaries of academia.

– See more at:



Conor Walsh’s interview transcript


Free Forum Q&A – SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does

Written on August 13th, 2013

 Aired: 08/11/13

This week we’re going to talk about happiness. So let’s start with a true-false test. I’ll tell you a supposed fact about happiness, and you decide whether you think it’s true or false.

1. Unexpected pleasures are the most rewarding. True or false?

2. Novelty in a relationship has similar effects on our brain as a high from drugs. True or false?

3. Daily hassles impact our well-being more than major life events. True or false?

4. When it comes to sex, women require more novelty than men. True or false?

5. The genes that underlie who gets divorced are passed down from parents to children. True or false?

6. A smoking habit is not a bigger risk factor for heart disease as a troubled marriage. True or false?

7. Renters are happier than homeowners. True or false?

Okay, let’s see how you did…It turns out, according to today’s guest, all seven statements are true. Yup, renters are happier and women want more novelty in sex than men. Where do I get off making those assertions? All based in science.

Today’s guest, SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, is one of the nation’s top students of happiness, and we’re going to talk today about the findings in her new book, THE MYTHS OF HAPPINESS: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t; What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does.

Originally from Russia, SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY received her A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from Stanford University. Not too shabby. Her research has been awarded a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, a Science of Generosity grant, a John Templeton Foundation grant, and a million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct research on the possibility of permanently increasing happiness. She is author of The How of Happiness, translated and published in 19 countries, and her newest, THE MYTHS OF HAPPINESS.




Q&A w/ author, Carl Hart – HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society

Written on June 18th, 2013
Hart-high price  


 Aired: 06/16/13

This week’s guest, neuroscientist CARL HART grew up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods and, in his first book, HIGH PRICE, he explores how it is that he avoided becoming one of the crack addicts he now studies.

Columbia University’s first tenured African American professor in the sciences, Hart goes beyond disputing myths, falsehoods, and ignorance about drugs, drug users, and drug policy. He has been engaged in cutting edge research since the late 90s, testing individuals with actual drugs. His controversial work is redefining our understanding of addiction. He examines the relationships between drugs, pleasure, choice, and motivation, both in the brain and in society. Hart’s findings shed new light on issues of race, poverty, and drugs, and help explain perhaps more clearly than ever why current policies are doomed to fail.