Art courtesy of Scott Barnett
By Alex Mosher
How would “Breaking Bad” star Walter White have killed Brock with a microgram of Ricin? Does taking 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C really help fight off a cold? Was Adolf Hitler right to believe that humans are genetically superior when they reproduce with the same race?
These are a few of the many questions answered on the University of Nevada, Reno student-run podcast, “Beta Sandwich.”
“Nobody takes really cool science that’s going on out there and boils it down so it’s digestible for people who just enjoy science for science’s sake,” said Scott Barnett, the founder of “Beta Sandwich.”
The idea for “Beta Sandwich,” which is named after a shape that proteins in the body form, came to Barnett two years ago when he was listening to one of his favorite science podcasts, “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.”
“The information is coming so fast and so hard that people, even if you’re interested in it, don’t even have an opportunity to digest it or hear about it. It’s just like these big waves coming in and you just get run over by them,” Barnett said. “You really don’t absorb any of it.”
“So the podcast is just another opportunity to listen to what some really cool science people are doing in the community without it being overwhelming.”
Aired once a week on Mondays, the 60-minute podcast begins with friendly banter between hosts Barnett, Christian Copley-Salem, Karolina Balkenbush and Delbert Jackson.
Barnett and Chris Copley-Salem are both pursuing their Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology, Balkenbush is a registered dietitian, and Jackson recently received his Ph.D. from UNR in Biomedical Engineering.
The show transitions into current events happening in the science community. Last week the crew discussed how scientists have altered trees to make them more easily broken down into paper products.
Each week the four rotate among who chooses what Barnett titles, “the meat of the sandwich.” Topics have varied from 3D printing of human organs, to the science of alcohol, to why people can’t tickle themselves.
The show ends with what Barnett refers to as a, “passion project,” of one of the hosts. On episode 38, Balkenbush, who’s passion is nutrition, talked about the importance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids and what foods are dense in these nutrients.
“The reason fish have so much omega 3 in them is because fish eat algae. And algae is actually a great source of EPA and DHA (an Omega-3 fat),” said Balkenbush.
Having earned his Ph.D., Jackson’s passion project is discussing how students can get into graduate school and what working in the field is like.
Barnett said his passion is chemicals in the environment and how they affect the body.
“I’m one of those guys that looks at the ingredients list on the back of a box, and I’m always like ‘what are these things?’” Barnett said. “Like niacin. What’s niacin, why is that possibly in here?”
Copley-Salem said he hopes people take something away from the podcast that they can use in their everyday lives.
“Everything that we do, that we interact with, that we think about, the way the world works is all science,” Copley-Salem said.
And for those who are interested in science, but are on the fence about whether or not to pursue a career in the sciences, he hopes the show motivates them to go for it.
Copley-Salem didn’t become motivated to pursue science until his 30s. Barnett said that although he has been interested in science since he was a child — recalling his excitement when he received a telescope and chemistry set for Christmas one year — it wasn’t until his second degree that he pursued biochemistry and molecular biology.
“I basically went the next 25 years never doing real science again because there was nothing there to get me in the right direction,” Barnett said.
He hopes Beta Sandwich can be that push in the right direction for students by reminding them why science is exciting.
But at the core, Barnett said he wants the show to be fun, not another science lecture, because he knows students are already bombarded with information in their classes.
“If you’re interested in science, this is an opportunity to learn about what people are doing without it feeling like you’re doing something that requires a lot of brain power,” Barnett said.
Alex Mosher can be reached at amosher@ sagebrush.unr.edu.
Kappa Sigma becoming official
82nd session begins with speaker elections controversy
By Alex Mosher
On April 16, the convening of the 82nd session of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada Senate began with multiple comments from the public that spoke to the controversy surrounding the speaker of the senate elections.
Some comments were congratulating the session, some were helpful reminders, but many of the comments were students endorsing either Senator-elect Caden Fabbi or Senator-elect Nick Beaton for the speaker of the senate position.
The public comments began with former Vice President Elliot Malin, who urged senators to press the candidates with questions.
“Find the best candidate for the job,” Malin said. “That being said, find one that is professional and that is easy to talk to, that will be the best speaker for you. I will additionally endorse Senator-elect Beaton for the position. I think he will be the best person for the job.”
Additional endorsements for Beaton continued with comments from unidentified students such as:
“I just wanted to say I’ve heard nothing but great things about Senator candidate Nicholas Beaton. He’s very approachable and makes himself very available to a lot of students.”
Some students spoke out against Fabbi.
“My understanding of Senator Fabbi, honestly I don’t think he’s the right man for the job because during the last term he did personally attack vice president Malin, which from my understanding, (Malin) did nothing wrong,” said an unidentified student during public comment. “It was just a waste of senate’s time, a waste of university’s time, and that’s all I have to say.”
Daniel Coffey, a senator from the 80th session, spoke at the