Short Wave

By NPR

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Category: Life Sciences

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Subscribers: 2253
Reviews: 8


 May 31, 2020

RL Hall
 May 19, 2020
Great podcast! Just listened to the pandemic time warp - so very interesting. Keep up the good work.

matt
 May 13, 2020
I really tried with this one for a while... The host and guests have awkward relationships. It is difficult to take seriously. They might be lovers.

z_eos
 Dec 5, 2019
light, fresh, substantial, interesting, short-spoken just what I neen while going to the office in the morning

Kyle
 Nov 12, 2019
A great short podcast to start your day off.

Description

New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes, every weekday. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join host Maddie Sofia for science on a different wavelength.

Episode Date
The Congolese Doctor Who Discovered Ebola
851
Encore episode. Jean-Jacques Muyembe is a Congolese doctor who headed up the response to the recent Ebola outbreak in Congo. Back in 1976, he was the first doctor to collect a sample of the virus. But his crucial role in discovering Ebola is often overlooked. NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta helps us correct the record.

Follow Eyder on Twitter — he's @eyderp and Maddie's @maddie_sofia.

You can always reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
Jul 09, 2020
This NASA Engineer Is Bringing Math And Science To Hip-Hop
799
Encore episode. NASA engineer Dajae Williams is using hip hop to make math and science more accessible to young people of color. We talk with Dajae about her path to NASA, and how music helped her fall in love with math and science when she was a teenager.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jul 08, 2020
Honeybees Need Your Help
720
Encore episode. A deadly triangle of factors is killing off U.S. honeybees. Last year, forty percent of honeybee colonies died in the U.S., continuing an alarming trend. Entomologist Sammy Ramsey tells host Maddie Sofia about the "three P's" and what listeners can do to help our fuzzy-flighted friends.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jul 07, 2020
The Importance Of Black Doctors
871
Though Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, they represent only 5% of physicians. How does that lack of diversity in the physician workforce impact Black patients' health and well-being? Dr. Garrick Owen, the CEO and President of Bridge Clinical Research, wanted to know.
Jul 06, 2020
Typhoid Mary: Lessons From An Infamous Quarantine
2610
A special episode from our colleagues at NPR's history podcast Throughline.

When a cook who carried typhoid fever showed no symptoms and refused to stop working, authorities forcibly quarantined her for nearly three decades. Was she a perfect villain? Or a woman scapegoated because of her background?

Throughline hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei tell the story of Typhoid Mary — a story about journalism, the powers of the state, and the tension between personal freedom and public health.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jul 03, 2020
Backyard Birding 101
591
If you pay attention to what's going on in your own backyard, ornithologist Viviana Ruiz Gutierrez says the birds among us have been putting on a great show. Gutierrez provides a primer on migration, mating dances, nesting, and tips on how to be hospitable to the birds in your neighborhood.
Jul 02, 2020
One Way To Slow Coronavirus Outbreaks At Meatpacking Plants? A Lot Of Testing
734
Meatpacking plants have been some of the biggest COVID-19 hot spots in the country. Thousands of workers have been infected, dozens have died. As plants reopen, one strategy has helped slow the virus's spread: large-scale employee testing. NPR food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles explains how this approach could be a lesson for other industries as well.
Jul 01, 2020
Octocopter Set to Explore Titan, Saturn's Very Cool Moon
779
NASA is on a mission to explore Titan — the largest moon of Saturn. To do that, scientists are building a nuclear-powered, self-driving drone (technically an octocopter) called Dragonfly. Scheduled to launch in 2026 and arrive on Titan in 2034, Dragonfly could provide clues about how the building blocks of life started here on Earth.
Jun 30, 2020
Meet The Climate Scientist Trying to Fly Less for Work
716
A few years ago, climate scientist Kim Cobb had a brutal realization about how much she was flying for conferences and meetings. Those flights were adding lots of climate-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Host Maddie Sofia talks with her about her push to get scientists to fly less for work, and what happened when the pandemic suddenly made that idea a reality.
Jun 29, 2020
A COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need To Know
686
Approximately 200 COVID-19 vaccines are being actively developed, a process that health officials are expediting to help end the pandemic. Today on the show, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca walks us through the latest in vaccine development — from how a coronavirus vaccine would work to the challenges of distributing it to the world.
Jun 26, 2020
Minneapolis' Bold Plan To Tackle Racial Inequity And Climate Change
763
Racial discrimination shaped the map of Minneapolis. Then city zoning locked many of those patterns into place. Maddie talks with NPR climate reporter Lauren Sommer about Minneapolis' bold plan to tackle housing disparities — and climate change. The new rules went into effect earlier this year. Community groups are calling on the city to follow through.
Jun 25, 2020
The Science Behind That Fresh Rain Smell
663
Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery... until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.
Jun 24, 2020
Tech Companies Are Limiting Police Use of Facial Recognition. Here's Why
869
Earlier this month, IBM said it was getting out of the facial recognition business. Then Amazon and Microsoft announced prohibitions on law enforcement using their facial recognition tech. There's growing evidence these algorithmic systems are riddled with gender and racial bias. Today on the show, Short Wave host Maddie Sofia and reporter Emily Kwong talk about algorithmic bias — how facial recognition software can discriminate and reflect the biases of society.
Jun 23, 2020
There Is No 'Second Wave'
536
America is still stuck in the first one. Maddie and Emily examine how the idea of a 'second wave' of coronavirus might have taken hold.

NPR science correspondent Nurith Aizenman's report on why the first wave isn't over.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 22, 2020
A Kazoo And The Evolution Of Speech
760
Encore episode. If you give an orangutan a kazoo, will it produce a sound? Researchers discovered that this simple instrument could offer insights into the vocal abilities of orangutans — and the evolution of human speech. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong talks with primatologist Adriano Lameira about a growing body of evidence that humans may not be the only great apes with voice control.

Read the paper he published last year about active voicing in orangutans.

P.S. Sign up for our trivia night this Tuesday, June 23, at 8 pm EDT!

Follow Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 19, 2020
The Inseparable Link Between Climate Change And Racial Justice
771
Marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson wrote a Washington Post op-ed about the ways the fight around climate change and racial justice go hand in hand. Host Maddie Sofia talks with her about that and how Ayana says the fight against climate change could be stronger if people of color weren't being constantly exhausted by racism.
Jun 18, 2020
How Many People Transmit The Coronavirus Without Ever Feeling Sick?
632
It's called asymptomatic spread. Recently a scientist with the World Health Organization created confusion when she seemed to suggest it was "very rare." It's not, as the WHO attempted to clarify.

NPR science reporter Pien Huang explains what scientists know about asymptomatic spread, and what might have caused the WHO's mixed messages.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 17, 2020
We Don't Know Enough About Coronavirus Immunity
747
Does getting the coronavirus once make you immune to it or could you get it again? Many are looking to antibody tests for answers. The logic is: if I have antibodies for the coronavirus, I must be immune.

Well, turns out ... it's complicated, as Katherine Wu writes for the Smithsonian Magazine. We invited her onto the show to explain.

Between episodes, you can catch up with Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Plus, we always want to hear what's on your mind — coronavirus or otherwise. Tell us by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 16, 2020
The Fight Over A Weedkiller, In The Fields And In The Courts
739
A federal court recently ordered farmers to stop spraying one of the country's most widely used herbicides, dicamba. NPR's food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles tells us the ruling has turned the world of Midwestern agriculture upside down. Then the Environmental Protection Agency came out with its own order.
Jun 15, 2020
Coronavirus 'Long-Haulers' Have Been Sick For Months. Why?
872
That's what they call themselves: long-haulers. They've been sick for months. Many have never had a positive test. Doctors cannot explain their illness any other way, and can only guess at why the virus appears to be with them for so long.

Ed Yong of The Atlantic explains what might be going on, and why their experience mirrors that of other sufferers with chronic illnesses who battle to be believed. We also spoke with Hannah Davis, a long-hauler from New York City.

Read Ed's story on long-haulers here.

Read more about the long haulers' research group here, read their report here, and join their support group here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 12, 2020
Spinosaurus Makes Waves
870
We chat with National Geographic Explorer and paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim about his team's discovery of the Spinosaurus, the first known swimming dinosaur. The years-long journey to uncover the fossilized remains is like something out of a movie, beginning with a mustached Moroccan man wearing white. Read more on National Geographic's website. Tweet Maddie your dinosaur facts @maddie_sofia. Plus, email the show your dinosaur-themed episode ideas at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 11, 2020
How Tear Gas Affects The Body
749
In protests around the country, law enforcement agencies have used tear gas to disperse crowds. But is it safe? ProPublica environment reporter Lisa Song speaks with Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong about the potential dangers of that practice, especially in the middle of a respiratory pandemic.
Jun 10, 2020
People Are Volunteering To Be Exposed To The Coronavirus...For Science
650
In this episode, Maddie Sofia talks with Invisibilia's Alix Spiegel about the bioethics of conducting human challenge trials with the aim of producing a viable coronavirus vaccine. We hear from James Kublin, a clinical health professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington, and from Lehua Gray, a 32-year-old woman interested in participating in a trial.
Jun 09, 2020
Science Is For Everyone — Until It's Not
861
Encore episode. Brandon Taylor's story has a happy ending. Today he's a successful writer whose debut novel 'Real Life' received glowing reviews earlier this year. But his success only underscores what science lost when Brandon walked away from a graduate biochemistry program in 2016. He tells host Maddie Sofia why he left, and what he misses.

Read his essay in BuzzFeed, 'Working In Science Was A Brutal Education. That's Why I Left.'

Find and support your local public radio station at donate.npr.org/short.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 08, 2020
Code Switch: A Decade Of Watching Black People Die
1398
The last few weeks have been filled with devastating news — stories about the police killing black people. So today, we're turning the mic over to our colleagues at NPR's Code Switch. Now, as always, they're doing really important work covering race and identity in the United States. In this episode, they spoke with Jamil Smith, who wrote the essay "What Does Seeing Black Men Die Do For You?" for The New Republic. Thank you for listening.
Jun 06, 2020
Coronavirus And Racism Are Dual Public Health Emergencies
885
Across the country, demonstrators are protesting the death of George Floyd and the ongoing systemic racism that is woven into the fabric of the United States. The protests come in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic that is disproportionately killing people of color — particularly black Americans. We talk to public health expert David Williams about how these two historic moments are intertwined.
Jun 05, 2020
#BlackBirdersWeek Seeks To Make The Great Outdoors Open To All
729
Happy #BlackBirdersWeek! This week, black birders around the world are rallying around Christian Cooper, a black man and avid birder, who was harassed by a white woman while birding in Central Park. We talk with#BlackBirdersWeek co-founder Chelsea Connor about how black birders are changing the narrative around who gets to enjoy nature and the challenges black birders face.
Jun 04, 2020
Meet The 'Glacier Mice.' Scientists Can't Figure Out Why They Move.
682
In 2006, while hiking around the Root Glacier in Alaska, glaciologist Tim Bartholomaus encountered something strange and unexpected on the ice — dozens of fuzzy, green balls of moss. It turns out, other glaciologists had come across before and lovingly named them "glacier mice."
Jun 03, 2020
The Key To Coronavirus Testing Is Community
933
In San Francisco, the coronavirus has disproportionately affected Hispanic and Latinx communities. This is especially true in the Mission District — a neighborhood known for its art and food culture. To understand more about how the virus has penetrated the neighborhood, a group of collaborators known as Unidos En Salud carried out a massive testing initiative focused on community and collaboration.

Follow Maddie on Twitter for more coronavirus coverage. Her Twitter handle is @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 02, 2020
The World Is Constantly Running Out Of Helium
804
Encore episode. Helium is the second-most common element in the cosmos, but it's far rarer on planet Earth. As part of our celebration of the periodic table's 150th birthday, correspondent Geoff Brumfiel shares a brief history of helium's ascent, to become a crucial part of rocket ships, MRI machines, and birthday parties.

Read more of Geoff's reporting on helium here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jun 01, 2020
What We Will ⁠— And Won't ⁠— Remember About The Pandemic
747
There's no doubt we're living through a Big Historic Event, but that doesn't necessarily mean we'll remember it all that well. Shayla Love, a senior staff writer for VICE, explains what memory research and events from the past say we will and won't remember about living through the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, why essential workers may remember this time differently from people who are staying home.
May 29, 2020
The Pandemic Cut Down Car Traffic. Why Not Air Pollution?
878
An NPR analysis of a key air pollutant showed levels have not changed dramatically since the pandemic curbed car traffic in the U.S. NPR science reporter Rebecca Hersher and NPR climate correspondent Lauren Sommer explain why — and what really makes our air dirty.

Here's their story.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 28, 2020
What Would It Be Like To Fall Into A Black Hole?
865
Black holes are one of the most beguiling objects in our universe. What are they exactly? How do they affect the universe? And what would it be like to fall into one? We venture beyond the point of no return with Yale astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, into a fascinating world of black holes — where the laws of physics break down.

Talk the mysteries of our universe with Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show your biggest cosmological questions at shortwave@npr.org.
May 27, 2020
Space Launch! (It's Tomorrow And It's Historic.)
802
Tomorrow, two NASA astronauts are set to head up into space on a brand new spacecraft, built by the company SpaceX. The last time NASA sent a crew up in an entirely new vehicle was in 1981 with the launch of the Space Shuttle. Maddie talks to NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce about tomorrow's launch and how it compares to that earlier milestone. We'll also look at how this public-private partnership is changing the future of space exploration.
May 26, 2020
A Short Wave Mad Lib
177
We're off for Memorial Day, so Maddie and Emily have a special Short Wave mad lib for you. Back with a new episode tomorrow.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 25, 2020
How to Correct Misinformation, According to Science.
840
The World Health Organization has called the spread of misinformation around the coronavirus an "infodemic." So what do you do when it's somebody you love spreading the misinformation? In this episode, Maddie talks with Invisibilia reporter Yowei Shaw about one man's very unusual approach to correcting his family. And we hear from experts about what actually works when trying to combat misinformation.
May 22, 2020
Science Movie Club: 'Contact'
773
Yes, there actually are astronomers looking for intelligent life in space. The 1997 film adaptation of Carl Sagan's 'Contact' got a lot of things right ... and a few things wrong. Radio astronomer Summer Ash, an education specialist with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, breaks down the science in the film.
May 21, 2020
What You Flush Is Helping Track The Coronavirus
734
More than 100 cities are monitoring sewage for the presence of the coronavirus, and public health officials think wastewater could provide an early warning system to help detect future spikes. NPR science correspondent Lauren Sommer explains how it works, and why scientists who specialize in wastewater-based epidemiology think it could be used to monitor community health in other ways.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 20, 2020
The Squishy, Slimey Science Of ASMR
670
Encore episode. The science is nascent and a little squishy, but researchers like Giulia Poerio are trying to better understand ASMR — a feeling triggered in the brains of some people by whispering, soft tapping, and delicate gestures. She explains how it works, and tells reporter Emily Kwong why slime might be an Internet fad that is, for some, a sensory pleasure-trigger.

Read more about Emily's reporting on ASMR on the NPR Shots Blog.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 19, 2020
The Pandemic Time Warp
667
The pandemic has upended every aspect of our lives, including the disorienting way many of us have been perceiving time. It might feel like a day drags on, while a week (or month!) just flies by. We talk with Dean Buonomano, a professor of neurobiology and psychology at UCLA, about his research into how the brain tells time. We'll also ask him what's behind this pandemic time warp.
May 18, 2020
What Did Earth Look Like 3.2 Billion Years Ago?
698
The surface of the Earth is constantly recycled through the motion of plate tectonics. So how do researchers study what it used to look like? Planetary scientist Roger Fu talks to host Maddie Sofia about hunting for rocks that paint a picture of the Earth a few billion years ago, in the early days of the evolution of life.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 15, 2020
The Coronavirus Is Mutating. Here's What That Means.
792
Ed Yong of The Atlantic explains how a viral article led to headlines about a possible coronavirus mutation. All viruses mutate — it doesn't necessarily mean the virus has developed into a more dangerous "strain."

Read Ed's recent piece on coronavirus mutations here, and more of his reporting on the pandemic here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 14, 2020
Kids' Books Where Science Is The Adventure
669
Maddie talks with author and neuroscientist Theanne Griffith about her new children's book series, The Magnificent Makers, which follows two intrepid third graders as they race to complete science-based adventures.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 13, 2020
Making Music Out Of The Coronavirus
801
When Markus Buehler heard about the coronavirus, he wanted to know what it sounded like. Today on the show, Maddie speaks with Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong about how Markus Buehler, a composer and engineering professor at MIT, developed a method for making music out of proteins, and how music can potentially help us hear what we have trouble seeing at the nanoscale level.
May 12, 2020
We Need More Coronavirus Testing. Are Antigen Tests The Answer?
636
There's a difference between diagnostic, antibody, and antigen tests. All provide different levels of reliability and speed.

NPR health correspondent Rob Stein breaks down the differences and explains why public health officials are especially hopeful about antigen testing.

Find out how your state is doing on overall testing.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 11, 2020
Here's The Deal With 'Murder Hornets'
718
Reports of so-called 'murder hornets' have been all over the news this week. (Even though they were first spotted in the United States late last year.) We talk with entomologist Samuel Ramsey who explains how much of a threat the Asian giant hornet could be to honeybees throughout the country. And, he shares his own encounter fighting these insects while researching bees in Thailand.
May 08, 2020
What We're Missing, By Missing Strangers Now
708
With a lot of us stuck at home, trying to physically distance from each other, one part of daily life has largely disappeared: bumping into strangers. On today's show, Maddie talks with Yowei Shaw, a reporter from NPR's Invisibilia, about the surprising benefits of stranger interactions. And Short Wave tries out QuarantineChat, a workaround to our current strangerless existence.
May 07, 2020
Scientists Think The Coronavirus Transmitted Naturally, Not In A Lab. Here's Why.
817
The Trump administration has advanced the theory the coronavirus began as a lab accident, but scientists who research bat-borne coronaviruses disagree. Speaking with NPR, ten virologists and epidemiologists say the far more likely culprit is zoonotic spillover⁠—transmission of the virus between animals and humans in nature. We explain how zoonotic spillover works and why it's more plausible than a lab accident.
May 06, 2020
What Is Dark Energy? Physicists Aren't Even Sure
902
Dark energy makes up almost 70% of our universe and is believed to be the reason the universe is expanding. Yet very, very little is known about it. To figure out what we do know — and what it could tell us about the fate of the universe, we talked to astrophysicist Sarafina Nance. She studies cosmology, a field that looks at the origin and development of the universe.
May 05, 2020
Letters From The 1918 Pandemic
767
The 1918 flu outbreak was one of the most devastating pandemics in world history, infecting one third of the world's population and killing an estimated 50 million people. While our understanding of infectious diseases and their spread has come a long way since then, 1918 was notably a time when the U.S. practiced widespread social distancing.
May 04, 2020
How An Early Plan To Spot The Virus Fell Weeks Behind
765
In several major cities, public health officials work every year to monitor the flu. It's called sentinel surveillance. And as early as mid-February, the government had a plan to use that system to find early cases of the coronavirus, by testing patients with flu-like symptoms.

But NPR's Lauren Sommer reports the effort was slow to get started, costing weeks in the fight to control the spread of the virus. Read more from Lauren's reporting here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
May 01, 2020
How Bears Come Out Of Hibernation Jacked
802
Spring is in the air — and so are black bears coming out of hibernation. Rae Wynn-Grant, a large carnivore biologist, explains there's a lot more going on during hibernation than you might expect.
Apr 30, 2020
Can Optimism Be Learned? (Like Right Now?)
817
Optimism is often thought as a disposition, something you're born with or without. So can it be learned? On today's show, Maddie talks with Alix Spiegel, co-host of NPR's Invisibilia, about "learned optimism." We'll look at what it is, the research behind it, and how it might come in handy in certain circumstances, like maybe a global pandemic?
Apr 29, 2020
The Lightbulb Strikes Back
732
Humans have a long history of inventions: electricity, telephones, computers, music — the list goes on. It's clear we're shaping the world around us.

But as Ainissa Ramirez explains in her new book, The Alchemy of Us, those inventions are shaping us, too.
Apr 28, 2020
The Hard Truth About Ventilators
684
During the pandemic, ventilators have been considered a vital medical tool to treat critically-ill COVID-19 patients. But more and more evidence is suggesting that those who go on a ventilator — don't end up surviving. NPR Science Desk correspondent Jon Hamilton tells us about how these machines work, and how, for patients who do survive, recovery can be a long road.
Apr 27, 2020
Contact Tracing Is Key To Reopening. We're Not There Yet
766
The U.S. may need 100,000 people trained in the public health practice of contact tracing — tracking and isolating people who've been in contact with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus. NPR health policy reporter Selena Simmins-Duffin explains how it works, and why it's a key part of the fight against the pandemic.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 24, 2020
How Infectious Disease Shaped American Bathroom Design
737
We're all spending more time these days at home — including our bathrooms. But why do they look the way they do? From toilets to toothbrush holders, bioethicist and journalist Elizabeth Yuko explains how infectious diseases like tuberculosis and influenza shaped American bathroom design. And, we explore how the current pandemic could inspire a new wave of innovation in the bathroom.
Apr 23, 2020
Animal Slander! Debunking 'Birdbrained' And 'Eat Like A Bird'
820
Welcome back to "Animal Slander," the series where we take common expressions about animals and debunk them with science. Today on the show, we tackle "birdbrained" and to "eat like a bird" with biologists Corina Newsome and Alejandro Rico-Guevara.

Follow Maddie and Emily on Twitter. Their usernames are @maddie_sofia and @emilykwong1234. Plus, send us your animal slander—and questions and praise—by emailing the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 22, 2020
On Earth Day, What You Can Do For The Environment
718
Happy (early) Earth Day, Short Wave listeners. We've received many questions from you about climate change, specifically what can individuals and households do to reduce their carbon footprint. So, we consulted two folks who have been thinking about this deeply and developing strategies for over a decade: Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, two architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Apr 21, 2020
Coronavirus Models Aren't "Wrong." That's Not How They Work.
809
Scientific models of disease don't predict the future. They're just one tool to help us all prepare for it. NPR global health correspondent Nurith Aizenman explains how scientific models of disease are built and how they're used by public health experts. We also look at one influential model forecasting when individual states might begin to reopen.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 20, 2020
When The Military Fights A Pandemic At Home
853
Last Tuesday, the military helped evacuate dozens of critically ill COVID-19 patients from overwhelmed hospitals in Queens. NPR's Rebecca Hersher says what happened that night shows how training for war does — and does not — prepare members of the armed services for a pandemic at home.
Apr 17, 2020
Every Moon, Ranked
749
Science writer Jennifer Leman did it. She ranked all 158 moons in our solar system. The criteria? Interviews with NASA scientists, astronomers, and her own moonpinions. She talks to host Maddie Sofia about some of her favorites. Here's her full list for Popular Mechanics.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 16, 2020
Where Did The Coronavirus Start? Virus Hunters Find Clues In Bats
743
Bats are critically important for ecosystems around the world. But they also harbor some of the toughest known zoonotic diseases, and are the likely origin point for this coronavirus. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong talks about leading theories on where this coronavirus came from, the work of virus hunters, and the rise of emerging zoonotic diseases.
Apr 15, 2020
The Science of Making Bread
672
Social distancing has some of us taking up bread baking for the first time, including host Maddie Sofia. Chemist and baker Patricia Christie explains the science of making bread, including a few tips for when things go wrong with your bread dough. And she offers some advice for first-time bakers everywhere.
Apr 14, 2020
How To Talk About The Coronavirus With Friends And Family
644
Liz Neeley, science communication expert and executive director of The Story Collider, shares some advice for how to talk to your friends and family about the coronavirus. Here's her article for The Atlantic: 'How To Talk About The Coronavirus.'

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 13, 2020
The "7 Day COVID-19 Crash"
775
Some patients with COVID-19 are experiencing a crash after about a week of showing symptoms of the disease. The cause?

Well, as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel explains, doctors are starting to think it might not be the virus.

For more reporting on the coronavirus and other science topics, follow Maddie and Geoff on Twitter. They're @maddie_sofia and @gbrumfiel.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 10, 2020
Science Is For Everyone. Until It's Not.
870
Brandon Taylor's story has a happy ending. Today he's a successful writer whose debut novel 'Real Life' received glowing reviews earlier this year. But his success only underscores what science lost when Brandon walked away from a graduate biochemistry program in 2016. He tells host Maddie Sofia why he left, and what he misses.

An earlier version of this episode incorrectly stated the college where Brandon was a graduate student: it was the University of Wisconsin-Madison, not the University of Madison-Wisconsin.

Read his essay in BuzzFeed, 'Working In Science Was A Brutal Education. That's Why I Left.'

Find and support your local public radio station at donate.npr.org/short.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 09, 2020
Science Movie Club: 'Twister'
577
No, tornadoes do not sound like a roaring lion. The 1996 drama 'Twister' got a lot of things wrong...and a few things right. Meteorologist Ali Burgos, an analyst at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, breaks down the science in the film.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Apr 08, 2020
Puerto Ricans Are At Risk From The Coronavirus And A Lack Of Information
757
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has the most older Americans per capita, making their population especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. A vital tool in preventing its spread there? Timely and culturally relevant public health information in Spanish. Maddie talks with Mónica Feliú-Mójer of the group CienciaPR about their science communication efforts.
Apr 07, 2020
The Peculiar Physics Of Wiffle Balls
832
Wiffle Balls are a lightweight alternative to baseballs, better suited for backyards then sports stadiums. The design of the Wiffle Ball guarantees you don't need a strong arm to throw a curve ball. But how does that happen? Engineering professor Jenn Stroud Rossman explains.
Apr 06, 2020
How The Coronavirus Could Hurt Our Ability To Fight Wildfires
625
Now is when we'd normally be getting ready for fire season. And this upcoming one could be tough for states like California, which had an especially dry winter. The spread of the coronavirus however is complicating preparation efforts. Maddie talks with Kendra Pierre-Louis, a reporter on the New York Times climate team, about how the crisis we're in could hurt our response to another crisis just around the corner.
Apr 03, 2020
Honeybees Need Your Help, Honey
715
A deadly triangle of factors is killing off U.S. honeybees. Last year, forty percent of honeybee colonies died in the U.S., continuing an alarming trend. Entomologist Sammy Ramsey tells host Maddie Sofia about the "three P's" and what listeners can do to help our fuzzy-flighted friends.
Apr 02, 2020
Is This Real? Loss of Smell And The Coronavirus
719
Doctors around the world are sharing stories of patients losing their sense of taste or smell — and testing positive for the coronavirus. Is it a real symptom of COVID-19? There isn't scientific evidence for that. But the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery is gathering anecdotal information to find out more. Short Wave's Maddie Sofia and Emily Kwong talk about science during a pandemic.
Apr 01, 2020
Seen Any Nazi Uranium? Researchers Want To Know
849
Encore episode. NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel shares the story of Nazi Germany's attempt to build a nuclear reactor — and how evidence of that effort was almost lost to history. It's a tale he heard from Timothy Koeth and Miriam Hiebert at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park. Read more on their original story in Physics Today.

Find and support your local public radio station here.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 31, 2020
Lessons In Being Alone, From A Woodland Snail
807
Bedridden with illness, Maine writer Elizabeth Tova Bailey found an unlikely companion — a solitary snail a friend brought her from the woods. Elisabeth spent the following year observing the creature and it was the inspiration for her memoir, "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating."
Mar 30, 2020
No, The Coronavirus Isn't Another Flu
780
President Trump has compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu. NPR reporter Pien Huang speaks to host Maddie Sofia about why the coronavirus appears deadlier and more transmissible — and why it poses such a risk to our healthcare system.

Here's Pien's story.
Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 27, 2020
Stay Home And Skype A Scientist
617
The spread of the coronavirus has led many to stay home in recent weeks. During that time, the non-profit Skype A Scientist has seen a surge in demand for its service of virtually connecting students to scientists. Maddie talks to Sarah McAnulty, executive director of the group and a squid biologist, about bringing science to kids and, at the same time, confronting stereotypes about who can be a scientist.
Mar 26, 2020
Exploring The Canopy With 'TreeTop Barbie'
825
Encore episode: Pioneering ecologist Nalini Nadkarni takes us up into the canopy — the area above the forest floor — where she helped research and document this unexplored ecosystem. Plus: the story of her decades-long effort to get more women into science, and how she found a surprising ally in the fight — Barbie. Video and more from Maddie's trip to the canopy is here. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 25, 2020
Why Is The Coronavirus So Good At Spreading?
780
Ed Yong rounds up some theories in a recent article for The Atlantic. He tells host Maddie Sofia one reason the virus spreads so well might have to do with an enzyme commonly found in human tissue.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 24, 2020
It's Okay To Sleep Late (But Do It For Your Immune System)
627
Dr. Syed Moin Hassan was riled up. "I don't know who needs to hear this," he posted on Twitter, "BUT YOU ARE NOT LAZY IF YOU ARE WAKING UP AT NOON." Hassan, who is the Sleep Medicine Fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, speaks to Short Wave's Emily Kwong about de-stigmatizing sleeping in late, and why a good night's rest is so important for your immune system.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 23, 2020
Keep Your Distance
825
It's a phrase we're hearing a lot now, social distancing. Practicing it is essential to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. But what does it really mean? NPR's Maria Godoy gives us advice on what good social distancing looks like in our daily lives - from socializing with friends to grocery shopping to travelling.
Mar 20, 2020
Yep. They Injected CRISPR Into An Eyeball
524
It's no exaggeration to say the gene-editing technique CRISPR could revolutionize medicine. We look at a new milestone — a CRISPR treatment that edits a patient's DNA while it's still inside their body. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein explains how, if this treatment works, it could open up new avenues of treatment for diseases, like a genetic form of blindness, that were previously off limits to CRISPR.
Mar 19, 2020
Coronavirus Can Live On Surfaces For Days. What That Really Means
646
It actually behaves much like other viruses in that regard. NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey has more on what we know, what we don't, and tips on how to keep surfaces clean. More from her reporting is here. Following all of NPR's coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 18, 2020
Coronavirus Is Closing Schools: Here's How Families Can Cope.
870
As schools across the U.S. shutter for weeks at a time, Short Wave looks at the science behind the decision. Plus, tips from a psychologist on how to cope with long, unexpected periods at home.
Mar 17, 2020
Is Failure To Prepare For Climate Change A Crime?
708
That's the central question of an unprecedented lawsuit against a company whose chemical plant flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Containers and trailers there caught fire, sending up a column of black smoke above the facility for days. Now Arkema (the company), an executive, and the local plant manager are facing criminal charges — recklessly emitting air pollution, and a third employee with assault.

Rebecca's latest reporting on the case is here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 16, 2020
Coronavirus Latest: Testing Challenges And Protecting At-Risk Elderly
988
There's a lot going on with the coronavirus. To keep you up to speed, we'll be doing more regular updates on the latest about the pandemic. Today, NPR science correspondents Jon Hamilton and Nell Greenfieldboyce discuss challenges in testing for the virus and how COVID-19 affects the elderly.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 13, 2020
Humble Pi: When Math Goes Awry
694
Pi Day (3/14) approaches. To help honor the coming holiday and the importance of math, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker unspools a common math mistake known as the off-by-one-error. His new book is called 'Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong In The Real World.'

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 12, 2020
As Coronavirus Spreads, Racism And Xenophobia Are Too
783
Coronavirus is all over the headlines. Accompanying the growing anxiety around its spread, has been suspicion and harassment of Asians and Asian Americans. For more on this, we turned to Gene Demby, co-host of NPR's Code Switch podcast, and his conversation with historian Erika Lee. We talk about how this wave of stigma is part of a longer history in the United States of camouflaging xenophobia as public health and hygiene concerns.
Mar 11, 2020
Freshwater Mussels Are Dying And No One Knows Why
646
In 2016, biologists and fishermen across the country started to notice something disturbing. Freshwater mussels were dying in large numbers. NPR National Correspondent Nathan Rott tells us about the unsolved mystery surrounding the die-off, the team racing to figure it out, and why mussels are so important for the health of our streams and rivers.
Mar 10, 2020
Creating Antimatter: Matter's "Evil Twin"
752
Physicists have done the math and there should be as much antimatter as matter — but that hasn't been the case so far. NPR Correspondent Geoff Brumfiel explains what's up with matter's "evil twin," antimatter.
Mar 09, 2020
The U.S. Doesn't Use The Metric System. Or Does It?
741
From currency and commerce, food labels to laboratories, the metric system is the foundation of many science and math fields. To mark our 100th episode (a multiple of 10, which is the basis for the metric system!), we spoke with Elizabeth Benham, Metric Program Coordinator at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, about the presence of the metric system in our everyday lives.
Mar 06, 2020
Mouse Vs Scorpion: A Mind-Blowing Desert Showdown
771
This one doesn't end the way you'd expect. Inspired by the Netflix documentary series "Night On Earth," we learn everything we can about a mouse and scorpion who do battle on the regular — from two scientists who study them: Ashlee Rowe at the University of Oklahoma and Lauren Esposito at the California Academy of Sciences.

If you have Netflix, you can watch the critters clash about 18 minutes into the episode 'Moonlit Plains' here.

Read more about Lauren's work with scorpions here, and Ashlee's work with grasshopper mice here. And you can learn more about grasshopper mouse vocalizations from Northern Arizona University's Bret Pasch here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 05, 2020
Coronavirus Is Here. Will Quarantines Help?
718
Despite quarantines and other measures, the novel coronavirus keeps popping up. What makes it so hard to control?
Mar 04, 2020
When The Tides Keep Getting Higher
622
As sea levels rise from climate change, coastal communities face a greater risk of chronic flooding. Climate scientist Astrid Caldas and her colleagues have looked at where it's happening now and where it could happen in the future as the tides keep getting higher. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 03, 2020
A Tale Of Two (Very Different) Drug Prices
739
NPR Pharmaceuticals Correspondent Sydney Lupkin joins us to talk about a dad who learned his daughter needed an expensive drug — but there was a nearly identical one that was thousands of dollars cheaper. It's part of NPR's Bill of the Month series, which is done in partnership with Kaiser Health News. Follow Emily and Sydney on Twitter. They're @EmilyKwong1234 and @slupkin. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Mar 02, 2020
Short Wave Presents: Life Kit's Tips To Prepare For The Coronavirus
954
How can you protect yourself and your family as the coronavirus spreads around the globe? Today we're featuring an episode from our friends over at NPR's Life Kit. They'll walk you through what you need to know to prepare for and prevent the spread of the disease. To hear more from Life Kit, check out npr.org/lifekit.
Feb 29, 2020
A Short Wave Guide To Good — And Bad — TV Forensics
700
Raychelle Burks is a forensic chemist AND a big fan of murder mysteries. Today, we talk pop culture forensics with Raychelle and what signs to look for to know whether or not a tv crime show is getting the science right.

Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 28, 2020
Vaccines, Misinformation, And The Internet (Part 2)
814
In the second of two episodes exploring anti-vaccine misinformation online, Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory explains why the Internet is so good at spreading bad information, and what big tech platforms are starting to do about it. Listen to the prior episode to hear more from Renee, and the story of pediatrician Nicole Baldwin, whose pro-vaccine TikTok video made her the target of harassment and intimidation from anti-vaccine activists online.

You can see Dr. Baldwin's original TikTok here.

Renee DiResta has written about how some anti-vaccine proponents harass, intimidate, and spread misinformation online here and here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 27, 2020
Vaccines, Misinformation, And The Internet (Part 1)
790
In the first of two episodes exploring anti-vaccine misinformation online, we hear the story of what happened to Cincinnati-area pediatrician Nicole Baldwin when her pro-vaccine TikTok video made her the target of harassment and intimidation from anti-vaccine activists online. Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory explains their tactics and goals.

You can see Dr. Baldwin's original TikTok here.

Renee DiResta has written about how some anti-vaccine proponents harass, intimidate, and spread misinformation online here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 26, 2020
This NASA Engineer Is Bringing Math And Science To Hip Hop
739
NASA engineer Dajae Williams is using hip hop to make math and science more accessible to young people. We talk with Dajae about her path to NASA, and how music helped her fall in love with math and science when she was a teenager.

Follow Maddie on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 25, 2020
Australia's Next Danger: Mudslides
626
With many of Australia's hillsides stripped bare by fire, scientists are rushing to predict where mudslides could be triggered by rainfall. NPR science reporter Rebecca Hersher and photographer Meredith Rizzo traveled to Australia to learn how they're doing it. More of their reporting (with photos) is here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 24, 2020
A Board Game Where Birds (And Science) Win
720
Wingspan is a board game that brings the world of ornithology into the living room. The game comes with 170 illustrated birds cards, each equipped with a power that reflects that bird's behavior in nature. Wingspan game designer Elizabeth Hargrave speaks with Short Wave's Emily Kwong about her quest to blend scientific accuracy with modern board game design. As always, you can follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Emily @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 21, 2020
Foldscope: Science From Curiosity And A Little Paper
736
Manu Prakash is the co-inventor of the Foldscope, a low-cost microscope aimed at making scientific tools more accessible. We chat with him about why he wants to change how we think about science, and what it'll take to make science something everyone is able to enjoy. Follow Maddie on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 20, 2020
Harvard Professor's Arrest Raises Questions About Scientific Openness
828
Harvard chemist Charles Lieber was arrested in January on charges he lied about funding he received from China. Some say the case points to larger issues around scientific collaboration in an era of geopolitical rivalry, as well as the racial profiling of scientists. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 19, 2020
Can Taking Zinc Help Shorten Your Cold?
695
It's possible — but it depends on a few key factors. NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey explains, and tells the story of the scientist who uncovered the importance of zinc for human health in the first place.

Follow Allison on Twitter @AubreyNPRFood and host Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 18, 2020
Is This Love? Or Am I Gonna Fight A Lion.
687
Ever wonder what's causing all those reactions in your body when you're falling in love with someone? We certainly did. So, we called up Adam Cole, who gathered up all the science and wrote "A Neuroscience Love Song" for NPR's Skunk Bear back in the day. Follow Maddie Sofia and Adam Cole on Twitter. Email love letters to the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 14, 2020
The Weedkiller That Went Rogue
738
A few years ago farmers started noticing their crops were developing damaged leaves. Turns out the culprit was dicamba, a weedkiller being sprayed by other farmers. Now a trial is underway to decide who's responsible. The farmer behind the lawsuit is pointing the blame, not at other farmers, but two big companies, Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) and BASF. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 13, 2020
Does Your Cat Really Hate You?
729
It's the latest installment of our series, "Animal Slander," where we take a common phrase about animals and see what truth there is to it. The issue before the Short Wave court today: "Do cats deserve their aloof reputation?" We look at the evidence with cat researcher, Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University. Follow Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 12, 2020
A Tiny Satellite Revolution Is Afoot In Space
640
Meet the CubeSat: a miniaturized satellite that's been growing in sophistication. In the last 20 years, over 1,000 CubeSats have been launched into space for research and exploration. We talk about three CubesSat missions, and how this satellite technology ventured from college campuses to deep space. Tweet to Emily Kwong at @emilykwong1234 and talk #scicomm with Joe on @joesbigidea. Plus, you can always reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 11, 2020
There's A Plan To Drive Down Global Insulin Prices. Will It Work?
674
Diabetes is a growing global problem, especially in low and middle income countries. Half of the 100 million people living with diabetes lack reliable access in insulin. The World Health Organization wants to do something about it. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong tells host Maddie Sofia about the WHO's pre-qualification program, a two-year plan to pave the way for more insulin manufacturers to enter the global market.
Feb 10, 2020
A Coronavirus Listener Q&A Episode
710
How does the coronavirus spread? Does wearing a face mask actually help? And why is the virus getting so much media coverage? This episode, we answer your coronavirus-related questions with the help of NPR global health and development reporter Pien Huang.

Follow Pien on Twitter @Pien_Huang and host Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org. Also, we're looking for a summer intern! Apply here.
Feb 07, 2020
Service Animals In The Lab: Who Decides?
805
Joey Ramp's service dog, Sampson, is with her at all times — even when she has to work in a laboratory. But it wasn't always easy to have him at her side. Joey tells us why she's trying to help more service animals and their handlers work in laboratory settings together.

We first read about Joey in The Scientist. See pictures of Joey and her service dog Sampson here, and learn more about the work she does with service animals and their handlers here.

Follow Sampson on Twitter @sampson_dog and host Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 06, 2020
Discovering 'Stormquakes'
700
Seismologist Wenyuan Fan explains the accidental discovery — buried deep in seismic and meteorological data — that certain storms over ocean water can cause measurable seismic activity, or 'stormquakes.' He says this phenomenon could help scientists better understand the earth below the sea.

The original paper Wenyuan co-authored on stormquakes is here.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 05, 2020
Sepsis Is A Global Killer. Can Vitamin C Be The Cure?
670
Every day, approximately 30,000 people die globally of sepsis. The condition comes about when your immune system overreacts to an infection, leading potentially to organ failure and death. There is no cure. But then in 2017, a doctor proposed a novel treatment for sepsis, a mixture that included Vitamin C, arguing it saved the lives of most of his patients. NPR's Richard Harris has been reporting on this treatment and how it's divided scientists from around the world. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 04, 2020
From Stream To Sky, Two Key Rollbacks Under The Trump Administration
805
The Trump Administration has rolled back dozens of environmental regulations, which it regards as a burden to industry. Today on Short Wave, NPR National Desk correspondents Jeff Brady and Nathan Rott break down two — governing how the federal government regulates waterway pollution and emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Follow reporter Emily Kwong on Twitter @EmilyKwong1234, Nathan Rott @NathanRott, and Jeff Brady @JeffBradyNews. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Feb 03, 2020
The Surprising Origin Of Some Timely Advice: Wash Your Hands
652
Today we know that one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to protect yourself from the cold, flu, and other respiratory illnesses (including those like the novel coronavirus) is to wash your hands. But there was a time when that wasn't so obvious. Dana Tulodziecki, a professor at Purdue University, tells the story of Ignaz Semmelweis, the scientist who's credited with discovering the importance of handwashing. We'll hear how he figured it out and why there's more to the story. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 31, 2020
Where The 2020 Democrats Stand On Climate Change
681
With the Iowa caucuses around the corner, we give you a Short Wave guide (with some help from our friends at NPR Politics) to where the top-tier Democratic presidential candidates stand on climate change and the environment. Political correspondent and NPR Politics Podcast co-host Scott Detrow breaks it down for us. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Scott @scottdetrow. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 30, 2020
A Decade of Dzud: Lessons From Mongolia's Deadly Winters
563
Mongolia has a many-thousand year history of herding livestock. But in the past two decades, tens of thousands have left the countryside because of a natural disaster you may have never heard of. "Dzud" kills animals en masse during winter. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong brings host Maddie Sofia this story from the grassland steppe, capturing how an agrarian community has adapted to environmental change. Follow host Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and reporter Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234 on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 29, 2020
A Brief History (And Some Science) Of Iran's Nuclear Program
726
With the Iran nuclear deal in further jeopardy, we take a look at how the country's nuclear program began with NPR's Geoff Brumfiel. (The United States has a surprising role.) We'll also hear how the 2015 agreement, putting limits on that program, came about, and what it means now that the deal is on life support. For more on Geoff's reporting on nuclear weapons, follow Geoff on Twitter — he's @gbrumfiel. Plus, you can email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 28, 2020
Archaeology...From Space
637
Sarah Parcak explains how she uses satellite imagery and data to solve one of the biggest challenges in archaeology: where to start digging. Her book is called 'Archaeology From Space: How The Future Shapes Our Past'. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 27, 2020
China's Coronavirus Is Spreading. But How?
649
A deadly virus believed to have originated in China was found in the US this week. NPR global health correspondent Jason Beaubien explains what we know and don't know about the disease — and the likelihood it will continue to spread.

Follow Jason on Twitter @jasonbnpr. More of NPR's reporting on the virus can be found here.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 24, 2020
The Comeback Bird: Meet the Ko'Ko'
659
For nearly forty years, the Guam Rail bird (locally known as the Ko'Ko') has been extinct in the wild — decimated by the invasive brown tree snake. But now, after a decades-long recovery effort, the Ko'Ko' has been successfully re-introduced. It is the second bird in history to recover from extinction in the wild. Wildlife biologist Suzanne Medina tells us the story of how the Guam Department of Agriculture brought the Ko'Ko' back, with a little matchmaking and a lot of patience. Follow host Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and reporter Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234 on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 23, 2020
Can A Low-Carb Diet Prevent A Plague Of Locusts?
570
Swarms of locusts can destroy crops and livelihoods. Right now, counties in East Africa are dealing with the threat. At a lab in Tempe, Arizona, researchers are trying to figure out how to minimize the crop damage these voracious pests can cause. The answer, NPR's Joe Palca tells us, might be looking at what locusts like, and don't like, to eat. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 22, 2020
Mighty Mice Return From Space
685
Some very unusual mice with big muscles are back on Earth after a month on the International Space Station. NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton shares the story of the two researchers behind the experiment. What they learn could help people with disabling bone and muscle diseases and another group with muscle problems, astronauts. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 21, 2020
2020 So Far: Fires, Floods, And Quakes
737
Already this year, natural disasters have wreaked havoc in Australia, Indonesia, and Puerto Rico. We look at some science behind the wildfires, floods, and earthquakes in those places with NPR reporters Rebecca Hersher and Jason Beaubien.

You can find more of Jason's reporting on Australia here and follow him on Twitter @jasonbnpr. Follow NPR's Adrian Florido on Twitter @adrianflorido and find his reporting from Puerto Rico here. Rebecca Hersher is @rhersher and here's her story about wildfire embers in Australia.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 17, 2020
Can A 100-Year-Old Treatment Help Save Us From Superbugs?
721
In 2015, Steffanie Strathdee's husband nearly died from a superbug, an antibiotic resistant bacteria he contracted in Egypt. Desperate to save him, she reached out to the scientific community for help. What she got back? A 100-year-old treatment that's considered experimental in the U.S. Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, tells us how it works, its limitations, and its potential role in our fight against superbugs. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 16, 2020
In Mozambique, Meteorologists Can't Keep Up With Climate Change
736
Accurate weather forecasting can be a matter of life or death. So countries with less money like Mozambique face a big challenge. They can't build and maintain their own weather radar or satellites. Instead, they rely on weather maps created by wealthier countries, like the U.S. NPR climate reporter Becky Hersher tells us what that means for Mozambique, a country where the weather's gotten worse as the climate changes. Reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 15, 2020
Your Brain On Storytelling
759
Storytelling can be a powerful tool to convey information, even in the world of science. It can also shift stereotypes about who scientists are. We talked to someone who knows all about this - Liz Neeley, the Executive Director of Story Collider, a nonprofit focused on telling "true, personal stories about science." You can tell us your personal science stories by emailing, shortwave@npr.org. Plus, do some #scicomm with Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia.
Jan 14, 2020
Space Junk: How Cluttered Is The Final Frontier?
680
Since the dawn of Sputnik in 1957, space-faring nations have been filling Earth's orbit with satellites. Think GPS, weather forecasting, telecommunications satellites. But as those have increased, so, too, has space junk. On today's show, we talk about the first mission to clean up space junk and the problem debris poses to sustainability in space. Follow Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. E-mail the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 13, 2020
Animal Slander! - "Blind As A Bat" And "Memory Of A Goldfish"
574
Host Maddie Sofia and reporter Emily Kwong evaluate what truth there is to the popular phrases "blind as a bat" and "memory of a goldfish." Hint: The phrases probably weren't born out of peer-reviewed science. Tweet Maddie at @maddie_sofia and Emily at @emilykwong1234. Plus, encourage our editor to make this a series by sending fan mail to shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 10, 2020
The Link Between Kitchen Countertops And A Deadly Disease
768
It's called silicosis, and it's been known about for decades. So why is it now emerging in new numbers among workers who cut kitchen countertops? NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce explains. More of her original reporting on silicosis is here. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 09, 2020
What's Behind Australia's Historic Fires
671
Biologist Lesley Hughes from Macquarie University in Australia explains why the recent bushfires there could change the country forever. Hughes is a former federal climate commissioner, and has been the lead author on two reports for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 08, 2020
Food Waste + Poop = Electricity
579
Some dairy farmers in Massachusetts are using food waste and manure to create renewable energy. Each farm produces enough to power about 1,500 homes. Not only does this process create electricity, NPR Science Correspondent Allison Aubrey tells us it also prevents the release of methane, a greenhouse gas. Follow Short Wave's Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 07, 2020
A Star In Orion Is Dimming. Is It About To Explode?
644
Okay, it wouldn't technically be an explosion. And if it's "about" to happen, it already happened. About 650 years ago. We'll explain, with astronomer Emily Levesque, who studies massive stars at the University of Washington. Follow Short Wave's Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 06, 2020
Short Wave Presents: Life Kit Tips For Dealing With Anxious Kids
702
When is your kid just scared of the dark and when are they dealing with a larger anxiety disorder? On today's Short Wave, we're featuring our friends over at NPR's Life Kit. They'll teach you how to help a child with anxiety and how to reach them in stressful moments. This episode was adapted from an earlier Life Kit. To hear the full version, check out npr.org/lifekit.
Jan 03, 2020
Compost Your Loved Ones
500
There aren't that many options for putting your loved ones to rest. There's burial. There's cremation. Now, later this year in Washington state, it'll be legal to compost a human body. Soil scientist Lynne Carpenter-Boggs tells us how the process works and why she describes it as "beautiful." Carpenter-Boggs is also a research advisor at Recompose, a human composting company in Washington. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Jan 02, 2020
Happy New Year!
80
We're back with a new episode tomorrow! Hope you had a safe and happy orbit around the sun.
Jan 01, 2020
Tennessine's Wild Ride To The Periodic Table
585
There are rare chemical elements, and then there is tennessine. Only a couple dozen atoms of the stuff have ever existed. For the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca shares the convoluted story of one of the latest elements to be added.

Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the team at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 31, 2019
The Decade In Science
661
As 2019 draws to a close, we enlisted the help of two NPR science correspondents — Nell Greenfieldboye and Joe Palca — to look back on some of the biggest science stories of the past 10 years. Follow host Maddie Sofia on twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 30, 2019
Sci-Fi Movies Of The Decade (Sort Of)
701
Astrophysicist Adam Frank is a big fan of science and movies. He's even been a science adviser to Marvel's "Doctor Strange." So we asked Adam to give us his sci-fi films of the decade - movies that tell us about striking the right balance between science and storytelling. Here are the movies we couldn't get to in the episode: 'Annihilation' (2018), 'Coherence' (2013), 'Gravity' (2013) and 'Looper' (2012). Plus, Adam's favorite TV show of the decade was 'The Expanse.' | Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 27, 2019
One Of The Germiest Places In The Airport
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Hint: it's not the bathroom. Niina Ikonen and Carita Savolainen-Kopra from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare studied high-traffic areas in the Helsinki airport to identify where germs were most prevalent. Also, tips on how to stay healthy during your holiday travel. Here's their original paper in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 26, 2019
Happy Holidays!
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Maddie and Emily wish you Happy Holidays and share some science facts you can show off at your next holiday party. Plus, a little reminder of how you can show your support for the show. Find and donate to your local public radio station at donate.npr.org/short. Follow Maddie and Emily on Twitter, @maddie_sofia and @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 25, 2019
A Shortwave Christmas Carol
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On Christmas Eve, scientists at field stations across Antarctica sing carols to one another...via shortwave. On today's episode, the Short Wave podcast explores shortwave radio. We speak with space physicist and electrical engineer Nathaniel Frissell about this Antarctic Christmas Carol tradition and his use of shortwave radio for community science. Follow Host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 24, 2019
Iridium's Pivotal Role In Our Past And ... Maybe Our Future?
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The story of how a father and son team - one a physicist, one a geologist - helped solve a big scientific mystery. What brought the reign of dinosaurs to an end? NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris tells us how they turned to an element, iridium, for answers. Plus, how iridium could help prevent another potential future global catastrophe. It's our celebration of 150 years of the periodic table of elements. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the team at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 23, 2019
What Happened To The American Chestnut Tree?
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In the early 20th century, a blight fungus wiped out most of the 4 billion American chestnut trees on the eastern seaboard. The loss was ecologically devastating. Pod reporter Emily Kwong tells us how scientists are trying to resurrect the American chestnut tree — and recent controversy over a plan to plant genetically modified chestnuts in the wild. Follow Host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 20, 2019
The First African American Face Transplant
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In 2013, Robert Chelsea was hit by a drunk driver and sustained third-degree burns on more than half of his body. Nearly six years later, he became the first African American recipient of a full face transplant. We talk with Chelsea and Jamie Ducharme, a Time staff writer who followed his journey, about the procedure and how his story could help encourage organ donation by African Americans. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 19, 2019
And The Winner Is...Science!
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Camille Schrier, a 24-year-old pharmacy student, competed in the Miss Virginia pageant over the summer with a "talent" that caught our attention. It put her love of science center stage. On today's episode, we tell you how she won her state crown. This Thursday, Camille may have a chance to show off that talent again under a much bigger spotlight, Miss America 2020. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 18, 2019
The Science Behind Whakaari/White Island's Eruption
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The volcano of Whakaari or White Island in New Zealand erupted just over a week ago. More than a dozen people were killed, including tourists to the popular attraction. Volcanologist Alison Graettinger explains the science behind this particular eruption, a hydrothermal eruption and why they can be especially difficult to predict. Reach out to the show at shortwave@npr.org. Plus, keep the conversation going with host Maddie Sofia on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia.
Dec 17, 2019
A Polar Expedition To The Top Of The World: Part 2
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Our journey continues on MOSAiC: the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate. Physicists, chemists, and biologists are all working to understand more about why Arctic ice is diminishing, and what it means for the planet. In this episode, Reporter Ravenna Koenig introduces us to some scientists, what they're studying, and life aboard a floating research center. You can find photos from her trip here. Follow Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia or Ravenna @vennkoenig. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 16, 2019
A Polar Expedition To The Top Of The World: Part 1
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A massive scientific mission is underway in the Arctic. Physicists, chemists, and biologists are studying the changing region, so they can better predict what might be ahead for the Arctic...and the planet. But first, they had to find a patch of ice suitable to get stuck in, so they could freeze in place and study it for an entire year. Reporter Ravenna Koenig was along for the journey. You can find photos from her trip here. Follow Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia or Ravenna @vennkoenig. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 13, 2019
Invasive Species: We Asked, You Answered
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We couldn't stop at the spotted lanternfly! (We covered that invasive species in an earlier episode.) We wanted to hear about the invasives where you live. You wrote us about cane toads in Australia, zebra mussels in Nevada; borers, beetles, adelgids, stinkbugs, and so many more. From your emails, we picked three invaders to talk about with NPR science correspondent Dan Charles. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 12, 2019
The Congolese Doctor Who Discovered Ebola
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Jean-Jacques Muyembe is a Congolese doctor heading up the response to the current Ebola outbreak in Congo. Back in 1976, he was the first doctor to collect a sample of the virus. But his crucial role in discovering Ebola is often overlooked. NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta helps us correct the record. Follow Eyder on Twitter — he's @eyderp and Maddie's @maddie_sofia. You can always reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 11, 2019
Aluminum's Journey From Precious Metal To Beer Can
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We've been celebrating 150 years of the Periodic Table. This episode, the rise of aluminum! The element is incredibly common, but was once hard to extract. That made it more valuable than gold in the 19th century. NPR's Scott Neuman gives us a short history of aluminum. Or is it aluminium? (We'll also give you the backstory behind the confusion.) Follow Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 10, 2019
Getting Closer To The Sun Than Ever Before
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An ambitious mission to get a spacecraft close to the sun has revealed a strange region of space filled with rapidly flipping magnetic fields and rogue plasma waves. Science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce explains how the Parker Solar Probe may help answer one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the sun. Follow Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 09, 2019
If You Give An Orangutan A Kazoo...
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If you give an orangutan a kazoo, will it produce a sound? Researchers discovered that this simple instrument could offer insights into the vocal abilities of orangutans — and the evolution of human speech. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong talks with primatologist Adriano Lameira about a growing body of evidence that humans may not be the only great apes with voice control. Follow Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 06, 2019
Is CBD Safe? The FDA Can't Say
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Use of CBD — cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component in cannabis — has exploded in the last few years. But while it's marketed as a solution for stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain, the Food and Drug Administration can't say it's safe. NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey helps parse the science behind a new set of government warnings about CBD. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 05, 2019
The Evolution Of HIV Treatment
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A lot has changed since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981. Globally, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by more than 55% since 2004, the deadliest year on record. But, the road to effective treatment for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was long. Maggie Hoffman-Terry, a physician and researcher who's been on the front lines of the epidemic for decades, explains how treatment has evolved, its early drawbacks, and the issue of access to medications. Follow Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 04, 2019
An Interstellar Wanderer Is Coming Our Way
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Comet 2I/Borisov will reach its closest approach to the sun on December 8, 2019. We talk to planetary astronomer Michele Bannister about where the heck this comet came from, and what it tells us about our galaxy. Follow Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 03, 2019
Does Your Dog REALLY Love You?
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Clive Wynne, founding director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, draws on studies from his lab and others around the world to explain what biology, neuroscience, and genetics reveal about dogs and love. His new book is called Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Dec 02, 2019
The Science Of Smell And Memory
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Why can a smell trigger such a powerful memory? Biological anthropologist Kara Hoover explains what's going on in the brain when we smell, how smell interacts with taste, and why our sense of smell is heightened in the winter. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 29, 2019
Happy Thanksgiving!
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Maddie and Emily wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and explain how you can support the show. Find and donate to your local public radio station at donate.npr.org/short. Follow Maddie and Emily on Twitter @maddie_sofia and @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 28, 2019
One Small Step For Cookie Baking
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Imagine having your Thanksgiving meal in microgravity? That's the reality for the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Today, we look at the evolution of astronaut food and a planned attempt to bake chocolate chip cookies in space. Follow Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 27, 2019
The Nightmare Of Sleep Paralysis
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As a teenager, Josh Smith was plagued by sleep paralysis. Now he's afraid his kid might be experiencing it too. In this listener questions episode, Josh asks what the science says about this sleep disorder and what he can do to help his son. Submit your questions to shortwave@npr.org. Plus, you can keep the conversation going by using #NPRShortWave and following Maddie (@maddie_sofia) and Emily (@emilykwong1234) on Twitter.
Nov 26, 2019
Uganda's Solution For Treating Extreme Pain
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Uganda has come up with a low-tech solution to treat patients in a lot of pain: drinkable liquid morphine. Nurith Aizenman tell us how this model works and how other African countries are taking inspiration. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 25, 2019
The CDC, Its 'F-Word' (Firearms) & Suicide Prevention
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Congress prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using any of its funding to promote or advocate for gun control. NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce looked into how that makes it difficult for the CDC to talk frankly about the role guns play in suicide.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 22, 2019
Solving The Sleep & Alzheimer's Puzzle
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We know that people with Alzheimer's often have sleep problems. But does it work the other way? Do problems with sleep set the stage for this degenerative brain disease? Jon Hamilton introduces us to some scientists looking into that connection. In a recent study, researchers observed a key role deep sleep potentially plays in maintaining brain health and protecting the brain against Alzheimer's. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 21, 2019
That Revolutionary Gene-Editing Experiment? So Far So Good.
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Earlier this month NPR health correspondent Rob Stein introduced us to Victoria Gray, the woman at the center of a groundbreaking medical treatment using CRISPR, the gene-editing technique. This week, Rob reports exclusively for NPR on the first results of that closely-watched experiment. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 20, 2019
Saving Water One Flush At A Time
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Happy World Toilet Day! Flushing toilets can consume a lot of water, so Tak-Sing Wong, a biomedical engineer at Penn State University, is trying to minimize how much is needed. Wong developed a slippery coating for the inside of a toilet bowl. It can potentially move human waste more efficiently, leaving a cleaner bowl and using less water. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 19, 2019
Bye Bye, Bei Bei: Giant Panda Heads to China
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The Smithsonian's National Zoo is bidding farewell to Bei Bei. The 4-year-old giant panda will be sent to China on Tuesday, November 19th. While born in captivity at the zoo, Bei Bei is the property of China. Reporter Emily Kwong tells us about Bei Bei's elaborate departure plans, why he's leaving now, and what it would take to ensure the survival of giant pandas in the wild. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and reporter Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 18, 2019
An Eyewitness to Extinction
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While doing field work in Central America in the 1990's, biologist Karen Lips noticed the frogs she was studying were disappearing. Scientists in other parts of the world had documented the same thing - frogs and amphibians dying at an alarming rate. For years no one knew what was killing the animals until, finally, a bit of good luck helped solve the mystery. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 15, 2019
You Asked About The Flu
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How can you tell if you have the flu, or the common cold? Why does your arm hurt after you get the flu shot? And can getting the flu shot actually give you the flu? This episode, we answer your flu-related listener questions with the help of Dr. Nicole Bouvier at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and reporter Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 14, 2019
SpaceX's Satellite Swarm: Could It Hurt Astronomy?
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The private space company run by Elon Musk launched 60 satellites into orbit this week. Science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel explains why astronomers worry that kind of traffic — if it continues unabated — could permanently alter their ability to observe the night sky. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 13, 2019
Most U.S. Dairy Cows Come From 2 Bulls. That's Not Good.
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NPR science correspondent Dan Charles explains why most of the dairy cows in America are descended from just two bulls, creating a lack of genetic diversity that can lead to health problems. He also visits a lab at Penn State University where scientists are trying to change that. Follow reporter/host Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 12, 2019
Can Global Shipping Go Zero Carbon?
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A lot of the stuff we buy in the U.S. comes by ship — ships that use a particularly dirty kind of fuel. Now a big shipping company says it wants to go zero carbon. Climate reporter Becky Hersher tells us how some old tech might play a role and where that tech falls short. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 11, 2019
The Mind-Bending Ascent Of Helium — And Why It's Running Low
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Helium is the second-most common element in the cosmos, but it's far rarer on planet Earth. As part of our celebration of the periodic table's 150th birthday, reporter Geoff Brumfiel shares a brief history of helium's ascent, to become a crucial part of rocket ships, MRI machines, and birthday parties. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 08, 2019
Life After Whale Death
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What happens after a whale dies? Their carcasses, known as "whale falls," provide a sudden, concentrated food source for organisms in the deep sea. Biologist Diva Amon is our guide through whale-fall ecosystems and the unique species that exist on the bones of these fallen whales. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and reporter Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 07, 2019
Fighting An Insect Invasion With... An Insect Invasion
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The spotted lanternfly is eating its way through trees and crops in eastern Pennsylvania. NPR science correspondent Dan Charles explains how scientists hope to stop the spread of this invasive pest by importing a natural enemy from its home in China. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 06, 2019
The U.S. Wants Out Of The Paris Agreement
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It's official, but not a surprise. The U.S. has told the United Nations it wants to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the global accord to fight climate change. President Trump announced his intention to leave it back in 2017. Climate reporter Becky Hersher tells us what the Paris Agreement is, why the Trump Administration wants out and what it means now that the U.S. has made it official. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 05, 2019
A Revolutionary Experiment To Edit Human Genes
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Victoria Gray has sickle cell disease, a painful and debilitating genetic condition that affects millions of people around the world. But an experimental gene-editing technique known as CRISPR could help her — and, if it does, change the way many genetic diseases are treated. Correspondent Rob Stein tells her story, an NPR-exclusive, and explains the science behind her treatment. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 04, 2019
When A Listener Calls...
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It's our first-ever listener questions episode! On this Short Wave, Andy from Grand Rapids, Michigan, asks why some people seek out scary experiences. We reached out to Ken Carter, a psychology professor at Oxford College of Emory University, for answers. Turns out, some of us may be more wired to crave the thrill. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Nov 01, 2019
The Zombies That Walk Among Us
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The idea of human zombies probably seems pretty far-fetched. But there are real zombies out there in the animal kingdom. Ed Yong of The Atlantic creeps us out with a couple of examples. Hint: they involve fungus. Follow Maddie on Twitter - she's @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 31, 2019
Crows Don't Forget
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Crows have gotten a bad rap throughout history. Think about it. A group of them is called a "murder" of crows. To get some insight into crows and perhaps set the record straight, we talked to Kaeli Swift. She's a lecturer at the University of Washington and wrote her doctoral thesis on crow "funerals." Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter: @maddie_sofia. Or email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 30, 2019
Wildfire Season Is Here To Stay
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Californians face a terrible new normal as wildfire season grows longer and more intense. Jennifer Montgomery, head of the California's Forest Management Task Force, explains three key factors at the heart of why the state is now at such high risk. It turns out, one of them goes all the way back to Spanish colonization. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter: @maddie_sofia. Or email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 29, 2019
Meet Two MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Scientists
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We meet two scientists working on opposite sides of the world, both thinking creatively about rising sea levels and our changing oceans. Andrea Dutton, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Stacy Jupiter, a marine biologist and Melanesia Director with the Wildlife Conservation Society, were awarded MacArthur Fellowships this fall. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter: @maddie_sofia. Or email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 28, 2019
Seen Any Nazi Uranium? These Researchers Want To Know
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NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel shares the story of Nazi Germany's attempt to build a nuclear reactor — and how evidence of that effort was almost lost to history. It's a tale he heard from Timothy Koeth and Miriam Hiebert at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park. Read more on their original story in Physics Today. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 25, 2019
Adversarial AI
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Artificial intelligence might not be as smart as we think. University and military researchers are studying how attackers could hack into AI systems by exploiting how these systems learn. It's known as "adversarial AI." Some of their experiments use seemingly simple techniques. Dina Temple-Raston has been looking into this for her special series, I'll Be Seeing You. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter: @maddie_sofia. Or email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 24, 2019
Logging 'The Lungs' of North America
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The world's largest intact temperate rainforest is in a place you may not expect: southeast Alaska. The Trump administration wants to eliminate a longstanding rule protecting the Tongass National Forest from logging and road construction. Why? And what might this mean for one of the top carbon sinks in the world? Maddie talks with reporter Emily Kwong about the Tongass. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 23, 2019
Finally, An All-Female Spacewalk
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NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir completed the first all-female spacewalk last week. The historic moment came 35 years after Kathryn Sullivan became the first American woman to spacewalk. We hear from Koch, Meir, and Sullivan. And former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan tells us why she says this moment is long overdue. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 22, 2019
Randall Munroe's Absurd Science For Real-World Problems
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Randall Munroe, the cartoonist behind the popular internet comic xkcd, finds complicated solutions to simple, real-world problems. In the process, he reveals a lot about science, and why the real world is sometimes even weirder than we expect. His new book is called How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 21, 2019
Exploring The Rainforest With 'TreeTop Barbie'
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Pioneering ecologist Nalini Nadkarni takes us up into the canopy — the area above the forest floor — where she helped research and document this unexplored ecosystem. Plus: the story of her decades-long effort to get more women into science, and how she found a surprising ally in the fight — Barbie. Video and more from Maddie's trip to the canopy is here. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 18, 2019
The Squishy Science Behind ASMR
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The science is nascent and a little squishy, but researchers like Giulia Poerio are trying to better understand ASMR — a feeling triggered in the brains of some people by whispering, soft tapping, and delicate gestures. She explains how it works, and tells reporter Emily Kwong why slime might be an Internet fad that is, for some, a sensory pleasure-trigger. Follow Maddie on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 17, 2019
What We Know (And Don't) About The Dangers Of Vaping
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Amid an outbreak of lung injury cases, there's a new spotlight on the dangers of vaping, a practice that's been marketed as an alternative to smoking. NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey explains, with the story of one teenager whose vaping habit landed her in the ER. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
Oct 16, 2019
Kicking The Habit With 'Shrooms
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Magic mushrooms — they're not just for getting weird with your friends. Researchers are increasingly looking at psychedelics to treat conditions like depression and addiction.
Oct 15, 2019
Introducing Short Wave
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Short Wave, NPR's new daily science podcast, starts October 15th. Join host Maddie Sofia for new discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines – all in about 10 minutes, Monday through Friday. Subscribe now.
Oct 06, 2019