The Method

The Method is a series that explores the intersection of science and society. In modern journalism, science reporting often repeats the material in press releases or studies without engaging in the critical thinking that defines the scientific method. The Method will look at science through a different lens. How does scientific research affect you and your community? That's the story we hope to share with you. 

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Science and Society
5:00 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

The Method: What's Up On Pluto; Checking Up On Waterway Health

As of this writing, this is mankind's clearest view of Pluto. Really.
Credit NASA

If all you know about the dwarf planet Pluto is that it’s small, cold and very far away, well, you’re not alone. Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has refused to give up much information. Even the best images from the Hubble Space Telescope show little more than a small dot with orange and black smudges on it.

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Science and Society
3:00 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

The Method: Joe Palca Talks Science Reporting; A Candidate For State Microbe

Photorhabdus luminescens bacteria living inside these nematodes glow with an eerie blue light. A class at the University of Tennessee has nominated photorhabdus to be Tennessee's official state microbe.
Credit Scientific American

National Public Radio science correspondent Joe Palca was in Knoxville this week, explaining the universe in just two minutes. He also found a few minutes to come by our studios to speak with WUOT's Chrissy Keuper.

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Science and Society
5:50 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

The Method: The Science and Art of Cartography; College Baseball's Quest for "Pop"

Willem Blaeu's 1643 map, Saltzburg Archiepiscopatus Carinthia Ducatus (The archbishopric of Salzburg and the Duchy of Carinthia).
Credit McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture

Today, a map is something you look at on a tiny smartphone screen, showing where you are and what's within fifty feet. But for most of cartography's history, maps took a broader view, showing not only political and geographic boundaries, but culture and art. Cartography is a melding of science and art, as Matt Shafer Powell learned while looking through the McClung Museum's newest acquisitions.

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Science and Society
5:50 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

The Method: A Focus On Children's Health

Winter's gloomy days and long nights can contribute to seasonal affective disorder in children as well as adults.
Credit National Park Service

The edition of The Method focuses on issues surrounding children’s health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a temporary depression that often shows up in the winter. You may think of it as a problem only for adults. But the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates three percent of children between the ages of 9 and 17 suffer from it. Child and adolescent psychiatrist John Kupfner of Peninsula Lighthouse in East Tennessee says  he believes the condition is under-diagnosed in children.

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Science and Society
5:50 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

The Method: Our 36th Annual Holiday Special

The Skylab 4 astronauts decorated their abode in space with a Christmas tree fashioned out of food cans. Christmas 1973 fell near the middle of their 84-day mission.
Credit NASA

And just like that, another year is in the books. 2014 marked The Method's first full year on the air, and twelve times, Brandon, Chrissy and Matt brought you stories of the ways science affects our lives. In this special look back on the year that was, Brandon and Chrissy share some of their favorite stories from 2014.

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Science and Society
6:00 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

The Method: Talking Turkey And Preventing Cyber Crimes

America's proud national bird. Ben Franklin wishes.
Credit Encyclopedia Britannica

The Department of Energy’s reservation in Oak Ridge is home to a variety of wild animals, including turkeys. But it wasn’t always that way. Matt Shafer Powell talks with a man who helped bring the turkeys back.

And Chrissy Keuper speaks with ORNL researcher Raymond Borges about his work designing cybersecurity systems.

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Science and Society
6:00 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

The Method: Researching Auto Pollution And Protecting Nuclear Plants

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, near Spring City.
Credit Tennessee Valley Authority

Automakers decided to meet fuel economy standards by making new gasoline direct-injected engines. But scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered those engines may be bigger polluters than current motors, generating as much as ten times more particulate matter, or soot. ORNL researcher John Storey talks with WUOT's Chrissy Keuper.

At the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Rhea County, one man is paid to figure out how to destroy the reactors...and then keep it from happening. Brandon Hollingsworth meets him.

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Science and Society
6:00 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

The Method: Peering Into Past Weather And Turning Tires Into Power

Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Here in East Tennessee, our thoughts turn to sunny days and cool nights as autumn sets in. But you might be surprised to learn September is typically the peak month for tropical weather, including hurricanes. Today, meteorologists use all kinds of modern tools to track hurricanes from start to finish. University of Tennessee researcher Kelsey Scheitlin goes a different route.

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Science and Society
6:00 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

The Method: Tracking Disease Using Social Media And Exploring The Teenage Body Clock

Credit Ed Yourdon

In this edition of The Method:

You might use social media to tell your friends what you had for lunch, or share photos of your dog. But scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using social media and other datasets to track infectious and chronic diseases. WUOT’s Chrissy Keuper spoke with Laura Pullum, a senior researcher working on this effort.

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Science and Society
6:00 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

The Method: Exploring Prehistoric Life and Making Fuel From Plants

Students at the McClung Museum's fossil camp identify sample animal tracks.
Credit Heather Fritts, McClung Museum

This month on The Method, Brandon Hollingsworth meets a group of kids studying rocks, fossils and geologic time at the McClung Museum. What's it like to be dinosaur? We'll find out from the children themselves.

Then, Chrissy Keuper speaks with Jerry Tuskan, an ORNL scientist studying ways to extract fuel from eucalyptus plants. He'll tell us how the process might work.

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