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Device

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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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 1990s, as NASA did when the U.S. Spaceflight Program was created in 1958. The San Diego Air & Space Museum ... 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. David Holway from UC San Diego gives us the rundown on local ant species while Michael Wall from the San ... 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 Susan Beth Pfeffer.

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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.

Wendy Benchley, Peter’s wife, called in to give us the rundown on the greatest threats sharks are facing today, ... 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 and the city of San Diego’s ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions. And from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Osinachi ... 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 a caricature of science is described; it isn't always realistically plausible.

In each episode, we discuss a story that ... Read more →