Short Wave


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Subscribers: 1456
Reviews: 5

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

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

 Nov 9, 2019
awesome. quick, accurate and entertaining.

 Nov 6, 2019

e moore
 Nov 5, 2019
Barely servicable, not much hard science. Host has an annoying habit of giggling when technical explanations are presented


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
Can Taking Zinc Help Shorten Your Cold?
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
Feb 18, 2020
Is This Love? Or Am I Gonna Fight A Lion.
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
Feb 14, 2020
The Weedkiller That Went Rogue
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
Feb 13, 2020
Does Your Cat Really Hate You?
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
Feb 12, 2020
A Tiny Satellite Revolution Is Afoot In Space
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
Feb 11, 2020
There's A Plan To Drive Down Global Insulin Prices. Will It Work?
Diabetes is a growing global problem, especially in low and middle income countries. Half of the 100 million in need of insulin lack reliable access. 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
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 Also, we're looking for a summer intern! Apply here.
Feb 07, 2020
Service Animals In The Lab: Who Decides?
Joey Ramp's service dog, Sampson, is with her at all times, even when she has to work in a laboratory. 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.

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
Feb 06, 2020
Discovering 'Stormquakes'
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
Feb 05, 2020
Sepsis Is A Global Killer. Can Vitamin C Be The Cure?
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
Feb 04, 2020
From Stream To Sky, Two Key Rollbacks Under The Trump Administration
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
Feb 03, 2020
The Surprising Origin Of Some Timely Advice: Wash Your Hands
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
Jan 31, 2020
Where The 2020 Democrats Stand On Climate Change
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
Jan 30, 2020
A Decade of Dzud: Lessons From Mongolia's Deadly Winters
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
Jan 29, 2020
A Brief History (And Some Science) Of Iran's Nuclear Program
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
Jan 28, 2020
Archaeology...From Space
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
Jan 27, 2020
China's Coronavirus Is Spreading. But How?
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
Jan 24, 2020
The Comeback Bird: Meet the Ko'Ko'
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
Jan 23, 2020
Can A Low-Carb Diet Prevent A Plague Of Locusts?
Swarms of locusts can destroy crops and livelihoods. Right now, countries 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
Jan 22, 2020
Mighty Mice Return From Space
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
Jan 21, 2020
2020 So Far: Fires, Floods, And Quakes
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
Jan 17, 2020
Can A 100-Year-Old Treatment Help Save Us From Superbugs?
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
Jan 16, 2020
In Mozambique, Meteorologists Can't Keep Up With Climate Change
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
Jan 15, 2020
Your Brain On Storytelling
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, Plus, do some #scicomm with Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia.
Jan 14, 2020
Space Junk: How Cluttered Is The Final Frontier?
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
Jan 13, 2020
Animal Slander! - "Blind As A Bat" And "Memory Of A Goldfish"
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
Jan 10, 2020
The Link Between Kitchen Countertops And A Deadly Disease
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
Jan 09, 2020
What's Behind Australia's Historic Fires
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
Jan 08, 2020
Food Waste + Poop = Electricity
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
Jan 07, 2020
A Star In Orion Is Dimming. Is It About To Explode?
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
Jan 06, 2020
Short Wave Presents: Life Kit Tips For Dealing With Anxious Kids
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
Jan 03, 2020
Compost Your Loved Ones
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
Jan 02, 2020
Happy New Year!
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
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
Dec 31, 2019
The Decade In Science
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
Dec 30, 2019
Sci-Fi Movies Of The Decade (Sort Of)
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
Dec 27, 2019
One Of The Germiest Places In The Airport
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
Dec 26, 2019
Happy Holidays!
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 Follow Maddie and Emily on Twitter, @maddie_sofia and @emilykwong1234. Email the show at
Dec 25, 2019
A Shortwave Christmas Carol
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
Dec 24, 2019
Iridium's Pivotal Role In Our Past And ... Maybe Our Future?
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
Dec 23, 2019
What Happened To The American Chestnut Tree?
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
Dec 20, 2019
The First African American Face Transplant
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
Dec 19, 2019
And The Winner Is...Science!
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
Dec 18, 2019
The Science Behind Whakaari/White Island's Eruption
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 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
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
Dec 16, 2019
A Polar Expedition To The Top Of The World: Part 1
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
Dec 13, 2019
Invasive Species: We Asked, You Answered
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
Dec 12, 2019
The Congolese Doctor Who Discovered Ebola
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
Dec 11, 2019
Aluminum's Journey From Precious Metal To Beer Can
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
Dec 10, 2019
Getting Closer To The Sun Than Ever Before
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
Dec 09, 2019
If You Give An Orangutan A Kazoo...
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
Dec 06, 2019
Is CBD Safe? The FDA Can't Say
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
Dec 05, 2019
The Evolution Of HIV Treatment
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
Dec 04, 2019
An Interstellar Wanderer Is Coming Our Way
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
Dec 03, 2019
Does Your Dog REALLY Love You?
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
Dec 02, 2019
The Science Of Smell And Memory
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
Nov 29, 2019
Happy Thanksgiving!
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 Follow Maddie and Emily on Twitter @maddie_sofia and @emilykwong1234. Email the show at
Nov 28, 2019
One Small Step For Cookie Baking
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
Nov 27, 2019
The Nightmare Of Sleep Paralysis
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 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
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
Nov 25, 2019
The CDC, Its 'F-Word' (Firearms) & Suicide Prevention
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
Nov 22, 2019
Solving The Sleep & Alzheimer's Puzzle
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
Nov 21, 2019
That Revolutionary Gene-Editing Experiment? So Far So Good.
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
Nov 20, 2019
Saving Water One Flush At A Time
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
Nov 19, 2019
Bye Bye, Bei Bei: Giant Panda Heads to China
The Smithsonian's National Zoo is bidding farewell to Bei Bei. The 4-year-old giant panda will be sent to China on Tuesday, Nov. 19. 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
Nov 18, 2019
An Eyewitness to Extinction
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
Nov 15, 2019
You Asked About The Flu
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
Nov 14, 2019
SpaceX's Satellite Swarm: Could It Hurt Astronomy?
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
Nov 13, 2019
Most U.S. Dairy Cows Come From 2 Bulls. That's Not Good.
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
Nov 12, 2019
Can Global Shipping Go Zero Carbon?
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
Nov 11, 2019
The Mind-Bending Ascent Of Helium — And Why It's Running Low
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
Nov 08, 2019
Life After Whale Death
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
Nov 07, 2019
Fighting An Insect Invasion With... An Insect Invasion
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
Nov 06, 2019
The U.S. Wants Out Of The Paris Agreement
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
Nov 05, 2019
A Revolutionary Experiment To Edit Human Genes
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
Nov 04, 2019
When A Listener Calls...
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
Nov 01, 2019
The Zombies That Walk Among Us
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
Oct 31, 2019
Crows Don't Forget
Crows have gotten a bad rap throughout history. Think about it. A group of them is called a "murder." 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."

In an earlier version of this episode, we used the word "spooky" to describe crows. Because that word has a history of being used as a racial slur, we chose to replace it with the words "scary" and "creepy." Thanks to our listeners who helpfully pointed this out to us, and we apologize. You can learn more about this from our friends at Code Switch.
Oct 30, 2019
Wildfire Season Is Here To Stay
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
Oct 29, 2019
Meet Two MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Scientists
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
Oct 28, 2019
Seen Any Nazi Uranium? These Researchers Want To Know
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
Oct 25, 2019
Adversarial AI
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
Oct 24, 2019
Logging 'The Lungs' of North America
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
Oct 23, 2019
Finally, An All-Female Spacewalk
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
Oct 22, 2019
Randall Munroe's Absurd Science For Real-World Problems
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
Oct 21, 2019
Exploring The Rainforest With 'TreeTop Barbie'
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
Oct 18, 2019
The Squishy Science Behind ASMR
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
Oct 17, 2019
What We Know (And Don't) About The Dangers Of Vaping
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
Oct 16, 2019
Kicking The Habit With 'Shrooms
Magic mushrooms — they're not just for getting weird with your friends. Researchers are increasingly looking at psychedelics to treat conditions such as depression and addiction.
Oct 15, 2019
Introducing Short Wave
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