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Device is a monthly book discussion with a science-based twist. In each episode, we discuss a novel that uses science to drive the story’s action, and dissect the plot device for scientific plausibility.

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Introducing Rad Scientist

We want to tell you about an exciting new season of KPBS Explore podcast, "Rad Scientist."

Recent events involving the killing of unarmed Black people have brought discussions about racism to the forefront, including at scientific institutions. This season of ... Read more →

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Cyclical Row

California's sardine fishery crashed in the late 1930s, much like how Mack and his gang crashed Doc's labortory in John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. Device heads to sea to speak with the biologists and oceanographers on how the sardine bounced back.

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Presence Mechanism

Ragle Gumm discovers he’s living in a simulated reality, and is pretty sure he’s starting to "go sane." In "Time Out Of Joint," author Phillip K. Dick envisioned a future where we would be walking on distant planets by the ... Read more →

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Ants, Ants, Revolution

In "The Poisonwood Bible," author Barbara Kingsolver takes us to 1950s Belgian Congo via the Prices, a missionary family. While this novel is great historical fiction, it’s embellished scientifical fiction when a horde of driver ants attack an African Village. ... Read more →

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Loom Moon

Shane Haggard and Lisa Will from San Diego City College discuss what would happen to the Earth if a meteor knocked the moon closer to us, and what happens to Miranda Evan's family in "Life As We Knew It" by ... Read more →

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Once Bitten

A cultural legend, the great white shark’s reputation as a man-eater is directly linked with the blockbuster story "Jaws." That's something its author Peter Benchley heavily regretted, and spent most of the decades after the book's success trying to overcome. ... Read more →

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Cat's Climate

In Kurt Vonnegut's “Cat's Cradle,” the mysterious polymorph ice-nine freezes the world’s oceans. If something like that really happened, how would it impact our climate? Meteorologist Alex Tardy from the National Weather Service discusses Vonnegut’s lofty claims, our region’s non-weather ... Read more →

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Introducing 'Device'

“Device” is a monthly book discussion with a science-based twist. Frequently, authors incorporate scientific phenomena as a plot device in their fictional stories. This can create thrilling tension, progress the plot, and/or provide the foundation for a philosophical debate. Often ... Read more →