NOVA Now

By NOVA NOW

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Description

From the PBS science series NOVA, a biweekly podcast digging into the science behind the headlines. Alok Patel takes you behind the scenes with the people—scientists, engineers, technologists, mathematicians and more—working to understand our world. Now it's more critical than ever to distinguish fact from fiction and find science-based answers to the most pressing questions of our time.

Subscribe, and learn more by visiting pbs.org/novanowpodcast.


Episode Date
The future of food
30:40

Chew on this: Thanksgiving is around the corner and November is Native American Heritage Month. In honor of celebrating nature’s bounty, Host Alok Patel considers the past, present, and future of food. He digs into the world of food science with the resident science guy at America’s Test Kitchen, speaks with an Indigenous community cook, educator, and community organizer about food sovereignty and equitable food systems, and checks in with a scientist who is genetically engineering plants to photosynthesize more efficiently to increase crop yields.

Nov 19, 2020
The statistical science behind polling
21:04

With so much uncertainty on the eve of the U.S. presidential election, one place we look for clarity is in the numbers. Pollsters learned valuable lessons from the 2016 election results that they’ve applied in the current election cycle to try to yield more accurate predictions. Host Alok Patel interviews a pollster and a statistician, delving into a brief history of political polling in the U.S, what went wrong in 2016, and how statistical concepts like data weighting and margin of error make all the difference in the accuracy of the poll.

Nov 02, 2020
The science of fear
31:26

In a year that’s felt like a never-ending horror movie, some might actually find relief in watching thrillers on-screen this Halloween. But why is it that some people love all things spooky on screen while others can only watch through parted fingers?  What makes horror films so scary yet so alluring? And does our fascination with horror media actually help us cope with the horrors of real life? Host Alok Patel zeros in on the science of fear, enlisting the expert guidance of a horror researcher, a neuroscientist, and the Emmy-winning Foley artist behind the tantalizing and terrorizing sounds in movies and shows like Invisible Man and Monsterland.

Oct 22, 2020
Science in the courtroom
29:14

With confirmation hearings set to begin for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to join the Supreme Court, we ask the question that senators probably won’t: Do judges also need to be scientists? Science may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the U.S. court system, but everything from criminal cases’ forensic evidence to intellectual property disputes involve it. Host Alok Patel goes straight to the source for answers, speaking with a sitting federal judge and a lawyer who has worked on many Supreme Court cases.

Oct 08, 2020
Rising health risks from West Coast wildfires
31:26

It's wildfire season—and something about this year is especially sinister. West Coasters experienced days of hazy orange skies in early September as a result of the burning wildfires. As COVID-19 still looms, threatening our respiratory systems, now too does the smoke in the air. What is this smoke made of, and how does breathing it in affect our lungs and bodies? To find out, Host Alok Patel speaks with an atmospheric scientist, a pulmonologist, and a pair of veteran engineers who are experts in effective face masks to learn about the composition of wildfire smoke, what that smoke does to our lungs and bodies, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

Sep 24, 2020
COVID meets CRISPR
27:38

Many agree that we need a fast, accurate, and easy COVID-19 test—yet none of the commonly used diagnostic technologies have been able to meet that need. Enter CRISPR, a gene-editing tool that can also be used to identify viruses. Host Alok Patel follows the story of the two scientists who first discovered this potential for battling the coronavirus, and the biotech company that hopes to use it to revolutionize modern diagnostics. 

Sep 10, 2020
The hidden science of mail-in voting
28:25

With a presidential election rapidly approaching and no indication that the COVID-19 pandemic is going anywhere, a record number of people will likely vote by mail. But what happens when we send that ballot off in the mail? And how do we make sure it gets counted? With the help of a former FBI agent-turned-forensic document examiner and a ballot tracking software insider, host Alok Patel follows the journey of a mail-in ballot from your kitchen counter to the election office.

Aug 27, 2020
Welcome to NOVA Now
02:08

Now is the time to go beyond the headlines and understand the science behind the most pressing questions of our time. From the PBS science series NOVA, a biweekly podcast separating fact from fiction—it’s NOVA Now, hosted by Alok Patel. Visit our website at: http://www.pbs.org/novanowpodcast

Aug 13, 2020