11/22/2005 08:00:00

Caltech and 89.3 KPCC to Kick Off Funny One-Minute Science Radio Program

PASADENA, Calif.- Can 'funny' and 'science' be used in the same sentence? The California Institute of Technology and 89.3 KPCC think so. Starting Monday, Dec. 5, Caltech and 89.3 KPCC will kick off a witty one-minute daily program designed to give you your recommended daily allowance of science...along with a healthy dose of humor. Even if--especially if--you don't know the difference between a quark and a quasar, barely got a C in trigonometry, or blew up the high school chemistry lab, it's OK, you'll enjoy this new program.

It's called "The Loh Down on Science" and it's hosted by writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh. The show marries Loh's hard-earned 1983 bachelor's degree in physics from Caltech with her talents for humor and the performing arts. It will air at 9:19 a.m. and 7:04 p.m. on 89.3 KPCC, and will be available to download or podcast at http://KPCC.org.

Loh was a recipient of the highest honor the Institute bestows upon alumni, the Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2001. She also became the first alumna to be a Caltech Commencement speaker.

Of her college experience, Loh reminisces, "By the time I graduated, I had a Caltech diploma entirely made of partial credit. Yes--my degree was glued together, faintly pulsing with radioactivity, graded less on a curve than on a kind of wild hyperbola asymptotically approaching some imaginary actual answer."

Loh has a national monthly radio commentary on the public radio business program "Marketplace," from American Public Media. She has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and Public Radio International's "This American Life" with Ira Glass. She currently provides a weekly commentary on life in Southern California, "The Loh Life," that has aired on 89.3 KPCC since 2004.

Loh is also a solo performer and writer and her new one-woman show, "Mother on Fire," has been running since September 30 at the 24th Street Theatre in Los Angeles. She is also a contributing editor to the Atlantic Monthly and the author of the books A Year in Van Nuys, Depth Takes a Holiday: Essays from Lesser Los Angeles, Aliens in America, and If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now. The last was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one on the 100 best fiction books of 1998. She won a Pushcart Prize for her short story "My Father's Chinese Wives," which has also been featured in the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction.

Loh's family has been associated with Caltech for many years. Her father, Eugene Loh, earned a master's degree in physics in 1953 and a PhD in mechanical engineering in 1954, and her brother Eugene received a bachelor's degree in physics in 1980.

A world-leading scientific institution, Caltech is a place where faculty and alumni have won an extraordinary 32 Nobel Prizes. It is also an institution that would like to raise the science IQ of the general public. It has done this through outreach programs in which its students volunteer to tutor and mentor local children; through the Caltech Precollege Science Initiative, in which elementary-through-high-school teachers across the nation are trained to teach science in a captivating way; through television programs like The Mechanical Universe, which aired on PBS and is distributed to schools; and through lectures and performances on campus that reach out to children and adults.

The "Loh Down" is a new avenue to bring science to those who don't consciously encounter it on a daily basis. According to Loh, "We believe even the intellectually nervous deserve to explore the wonders of science and technology in all their infinite variety. But not too infinite. To fit today's busy multitasking schedules, like some strange new franken-vitamin (which we know all about), 'The Loh Down on Science' is a convenient, easily digestible one minute a day."

The writers for the program have written for Nature, Science, and Discover magazines and even for comedian Bob Hope. They have uncovered science facts as far-ranging as artificial meat grown in petri dishes and hairs from bugs' behinds that can be used to help people hear.

For more details about the program, go to: http://pr.caltech.edu/public_relations/lohdown/. This web site includes a description of the program, a script archive, and background on the host. There is also a link to the 89.3 KPCC "Loh Down" web site http://www.scpr.org/programs/perspectives/loh.html as well as the KPCC podcast page http://www.scpr.org/help/podcasthelp.html.

89.3 KPCC is the flagship station of Southern California Public Radio. 89.3 KPCC broadcasts more NPR news programming than any other station in Southern California. In the past three years 89.3 KPCC has won more awards for excellence in journalism than any other radio station in Southern California. 89.3 KPCC is also the fastest-growing public radio station in the country, airing signature public radio news programs from NPR and American Public Media, as well as "AirTalk" with Larry Mantle, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and "Talk of the City" with Kitty Felde, weekdays from 2 to 3 p.m. The program is sponsored in its first year by TIAA-CREF, a national financial services organization and the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. With more than $360 billion in combined assets under management, TIAA-CREF is ranked one of Fortune magazine's 100 largest U.S. companies. Further information can be found at http://www.tiaa-cref.org. ###

Contact: Jill Perry, Caltech (626) 395-3226 jperry@caltech.edu

Nat Katz, Southern California Public Radio (213) 621-3430 Nkatz@scpr.org

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Web site at: http://pr.caltech.edu/media

Written by Jill Perry