Science Friday

By Science Friday and WNYC Studios

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A Podcast Republic user
 Jul 27, 2018

kapow
 Jul 16, 2018
Ira Flatow is an excellent host, and they cover a variety of topics. I always come away having learned something.

Description

Brain fun for curious people.

Episode Date
Parch Marks, Wildfires, The Beatles. August 10, 2018, Part 1
46:41
<p>The Mendocino Complex fire in northern California has spread to more than 300,000 acres—a swath of land bigger than New York City. The blaze is the state’s largest wildfire in recorded history, edging out last year's record-setting Thomas Fire, which devastated communities north of Los Angeles. While climate change is certainly to blame in fanning the flames of wildfires (by boosting temperatures, parching landscapes, and causing more erratic rainfall) there's another factor that's making today's fires increasingly dangerous: a nearly 1,400 percent increase in the number of people building homes in harm's way since the 1940s. <span>Stephen Strader of Villanova University, Jon Keeley of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Erin Questad of Cal Poly Pomona join Ira <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/one-force-driving-deadlier-wildfires-people/">to talk about people in the way of fire</a>—and how we can nurse those ecosystems back to health.</span></p> <p>If you had a number one hit song, you would probably remember writing it. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote over 200 songs together over 50 years ago. So it’s no surprise that memories have gotten a little fuzzy when it comes to who wrote which Beatles song. Mark Glickman, senior lecturer in statistics at Harvard University and Beatles super-fan, developed an algorithm<span> to determine the authorship of “In My Life” and several other contested Beatles songs. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/who-wrote-that-beatles-song-this-algorithm-will-tell-you/">He (and his guitar) join Ira to discuss his findings.</a></span></p> <p><span>Plus: It’s been hot in the United Kingdom this summer. </span>But as lawns parch and grasses turn brown, the landscape is also revealing <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/revealing-the-ruins-below/">the buried remains of valuable archaeological finds</a>. Aerial archaeologist Robert Bewley, at Oxford University, describes how “parch marks” can reveal hidden treasures.</p> <p>And Vox staff writer Umair Irfan joins Ira to discuss what the researchers discovered about the benefits—and downsides—of a future geoengineered climate, and other science headlines <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-good-and-bad-of-a-geoengineered-climate/">in this week’s News Round-up</a>.</p> <p><span> </span></p>
Aug 10, 2018
The Story Of Sand, Science And Dance. August 10, 2018, Part 2.
47:15
<p>When you think of sand, thoughts of the ocean and sand castles probably come to mind. But sand can be found in much more than beachfronts. Sand is a key ingredient in concrete for skyscrapers, silicon for computer chips, and the glass for your smartphone. Vince Beiser, journalist and author of the book <em>The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization</em>, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/from-skyscrapers-to-sand-thieves-digging-into-the-world-of-sand/">tells Ira more</a>.</p> <p><span>How would you choreograph the heft of the Higgs boson, the plight of an endangered species, or the battle between the body and tumors? For marine conservationist Lekelia Jenkins, dance has been as important a part of her life as a scientist; she’s created dances about the success of devices that can keep sea turtles out of fishing nets, and is working on researching the ways dance can enhance learning. And a Yale University duo, dancer Emily Coates and particle physicist Sarah Demers, are working beyond interpretive dance to create works where dance informs physics just as much as physics can inform dance.  They all join Ira to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/science-in-motion/">discuss the intersection of science and dance</a>.</span></p>
Aug 10, 2018
Bacteria Extinction, Facial Recognition, Solar Probe. August 3, 2018, Part 2
46:46
<p><span>Long before we walked the Earth, bacteria took it over. They’re in every ecosystem on the Earth, and researchers have hopes to someday find them on other planets. The tiny cells have even helped make our atmosphere </span><span>oxygen-rich and liveable</span><span>. But do bacteria—numerous and adaptable as they are—ever go extinct? New research <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/not-even-the-smallest-are-spared-extinction/" target="_blank">suggests they do. </a></span></p> <p><span>Facial recognition systems—the type of technology that helps you tag your friends on Facebook—is finding its way offline and into real world environments. Some police departments are using the technology to help identify suspects and companies are marketing face-identifying software to schools to increase security. But a study</span><span> found that facial recognition algorithms <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/is-facial-recognition-ready-for-the-real-world/" target="_blank">lacked in accuracy when it came to assessing different genders and skin tones. </a></span></p> <p><span>If you want to study something, the best way to do it is to go straight to the source. That goes for bodies in our solar system as well. Over the last several decades, NASA has sent space probes to study Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Pluto, and the objects beyond them. And on </span>August 11th, NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe, the latest mission to study our nearest star—<a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/why-is-the-suns-corona-hotter-than-its-surface/" target="_blank">and every other star in the universe.</a></p>
Aug 03, 2018
"Lost in Math," Alan Alda, A Radical Brain Surgery, New Jersey Floods. August 3, 2018. Part 1
46:33
<p><span>For decades, physicists trying to uncover the large and small structures of the universe have been coming up empty—no evidence of supersymmetry at the Large Hadron Collider, no dark matter particles, no new evidence explaining dark energy. That’s the main conundrum in theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder’s book, </span><em><span>Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray</span></em><span>. </span><span>She talks with Ira about <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-physics-beauty-may-be-overrated/" target="_blank">the problems facing physics, and where new ideas could come from.</a></span></p> <p><span>This week, Alan Alda spoke publicly <span>about living with Parkinson’s Disease for the first time since his diagnosis three and a half years ago. He’s known for his work as an actor, author, and science communicator. He joins Ira to discuss <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/alan-alda-opens-up-about-his-parkinsons-disease/" target="_blank">his life since his diagnosis.</a></span></span></p> <p><span><span>A six-year old Pittsburgh area boy underwent radical surgery in an attempt to treat a seizure-causing brain tumor. The boy’s entire occipital lobe and and much of his temporal lobe were removed—material that added up to about one-sixth of his total brain matter. Now, researchers report that the boy is <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-a-radical-brain-surgery-a-normal-life/" target="_blank">living a surprisingly normal life despite the missing brain matter.</a></span></span></p> <p> </p> <p><span>It’s a common tale. Homeowners affected by flooding receive insurance money and rebuild their homes, only to have yet another flood strike and damage the property again. In recent years, however, New Jersey has modified an open-space program to allow the state to offer buyouts to some homeowners in flood-stricken areas, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-new-jersey-floods-rebuild-or-retreat/" target="_blank">offering the pre-flood assessed value of the property. </a></span></p>
Aug 03, 2018
Ant Socialization, Smoky Skies, Dust Storm, Mars Lake. July 27, 2018, Part 2
46:31
<p>Many ant species have a queen, the member of the colony that lays eggs. The rest of the ants are divided into different roles that support the queen and the colony. So what ants become queens versus workers? Scientists found that the gene ilp2 that regulates insulin played a role in determining what ant becomes the queen. Biologist Ingrid Fetter-Pruneda <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-genetics-of-becoming-an-ant-queen/">talks to John Dankosky</a> about how this gene works in determining a queen.</p> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The Rocky Fire and the Jerusalem Fire <span>scorched nearly 100,000 acres in northern California in July and August of 2015… and when the prevailing winds were right, smoke drifted all the way down into the San Francisco Bay Area. </span>That’s when locals began tweeting their observations. <span>Now, scientists at the U.S. Forest Service </span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/tracking-tweets-to-forecast-smoky-skies/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span>have analyzed 39,000 tweets</span></a><span> like these from the 2015 wildfire season, and found that social media data can be a reliable way to augment existing air quality monitoring data in predicting the extent—and the public health effects—of wildfire smoke. Sonya Sachdeva joins <em><span>Science Friday</span></em><span> to talk about how tweets can be <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/tracking-tweets-to-forecast-smoky-skies/">a useful tool in tracking wildfires</a>.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"><span><span>Plus: </span></span>Earlier this month, a cloud of dust rolled into the atmosphere above Texas and the Gulf Coast. It was a remnant of a storm blown over from the Saharan desert. <span>But, according to a new study, that Saharan dust also brings with it a silver lining—it suppresses the formation of major storms. Bowen Pan joins John Dankosky to explain why a dusty atmosphere could mean <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/this-dust-cloud-has-a-silver-lining-fewer-hurricanes/">a less severe hurricane season</a>.</span></p> <p>Researchers have been scouring Mars for water since the early 1970s. Since then, they’ve found frozen water in the poles of Mars as well as trace amounts locked up in Martian soil, but nothing liquid—until this past week. A team of scientists from Italy’s National Institute of Astrophysics announced in Science they found liquid water underneath the glaciers of the planet’s south pole. <span>Angel Abbud-Madrid joins John <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/liquid-water-under-the-martian-surface/">to talk about how the researchers found the liquid water</a> and what this discovery means for future Martian water research, and Bonnie Meinke tells SciFri the <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/liquid-water-under-the-martian-surface/">best ways to see Mars</a> as it will be the closest it’s been to Earth in 15 years.</span></p> <p> </p>
Jul 27, 2018
PFAS, Urban Evolution, Science Diction. July 27, 2018, Part 1
46:11
<p>If you thought city life was stressful, imagine being a wild animal trying to outlive speeding cars, toxic chemicals and heavy metals, or even the unnaturally bright nights and din of traffic. Why stick around at all? Yet our urban areas still teem with wildlife. Pigeons, mice, lizards, moths, and plants all eke out their livelihoods in sidewalk cracks, subway tunnels, and building ledges. But how is city living affecting how these organisms evolve? Evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen, author of <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/adapt-or-die-in-the-urban-jungle/"><em>Darwin Comes to Town</em></a>, tells guest host John Danksosky <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/adapt-or-die-in-the-urban-jungle/">tales from the front lines of urban evolution research</a>.</p> <p>Plus: Did you know the word robot was only coined in 1922? And that quark was inspired by Finnegan’s Wake?Words like these weren’t just plucked from thin air… behind each one is a fascinating origin story. Scientists use words and language just like us, and encoded in the language they use are etymologies, histories, and stories that often stretch back centuries—some even bleeding into the words we use in our everyday life. SciFri digital producer Johanna Mayer joins John to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-lesson-in-science-diction/">talk about our project "Science Diction."</a></p> <p>States across the country are holding public hearings on what to do about contamination with a class of persistent chemicals known as PFAS. New Hampshire Public Radio environmental reporter Annie Ropeik <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/onetime-miracle-ingredient-now-an-environmental-problem/">tells us more in "The State of Science."</a></p> <p>And Tanya Basu, science editor at <em>The Daily Beast</em>, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/was-our-moon-once-habitable/">explains the top science headlines</a> in the News Round-up.</p> <p><br><br></p>
Jul 27, 2018
Heredity, Oldest Bread, Jupiter's Moons. July 20, 2018, Part 2
46:02
<p><span>Have you ever taken a peek at your family tree? If you trace back along those branches, you might discover some long ago celebrities, kings, and philosophers among your ancestors. </span>But what does it even mean to be “related” to an ancient queen when it’s hard to know what’s lurking inside our own DNA? <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/tracking-what-we-know-and-dont-know-about-human-heredity/" target="_blank">It turns out even one generation back, the question of who we are gets made complicated</a>. “We’re primed to think of our genomes as some kind of magical book. We just understand so little about genetics. Period.” says Carl Zimmer, author of the new book <em>She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity</em>. Zimmer joins Ira to discuss Mendel’s Law, the history of eugenics, the power of CRISPR and the boundaries of what we understand of human heredity today.</p> <p>Bread is a staple food today. You can find dozens of varieties at the supermarket—tortillas and pita, naan and focaccia, rye bread and wonder bread and baguettes too. Bread is so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine it was once a rare commodity, a labor-intensive specialty that could be made only by husking the seeds of wild grasses, hand-pounding and grinding them, then mixing the resulting flour with water and scorching on a hearth. Archaeologists working at a 14,000-year-old site in Jordan have now found evidence of an early bakery in the form of burned crumbs, similar to the ones at the bottom of your toaster. After analyzing the crumbs’ structure with a scanning electron microscope, the researchers were able to characterize the crumbs as the charred remains of a flatbread, similar to pita, baked with ingredients like wild einkorn wheat, barley, oats, and the roots of an aquatic plant similar to papyrus. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/following-the-burnt-crumbs-to-the-rise-of-bread/" target="_blank">They also determined that the crumbs predate the dawn of agriculture</a>.</p> <p><span>When Galileo first saw Jupiter through a telescope, he also discovered “stars” that would orbit around the planet in the night sky. While Galileo named them the </span><span>Medicean stars—after his future patron Cosimo II de’ Medici—we know them today as</span><span> Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Since Galileo’s initial discovery, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/jupiter-wins-the-moon-lottery/" target="_blank">astronomers have found dozens more moons around Jupiter</a>, and this week, researchers announced an additional 12 moons, bringing the total number up to a whopping 79.</span></p>
Jul 20, 2018
Yeast Superbug, Dino Dinner, Toxic Algae. July 20, 2018, Part 1
46:57
<p>If you hear the word “superbug,” you’re likely to think about drug-resistant bacteria or even viruses. But in a case that’s been unfolding since 2009, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-dangerous-fungal-superbug-in-hospitals-worldwide/" target="_blank">a drug-resistant yeast is increasingly worrying epidemiologists</a>. The yeast, Candida auris, has popped up in 27 countries so far, with 340 cases in the United States. It has a mortality rate of 60 percent. Unlike other kinds of fungal infection, C. auris seems able to hop from person to person and persists on sterile surfaces. Inconveniently, the yeast’s spores are unusually resilient against standard hospital cleaning solutions. On top of that, it’s already resistant to most of the anti-fungal drugs in existence—there weren’t many of those to being with. <span>Science writer Maryn McKenna and CDC Chief of Mycotic Diseases Tom Chiller</span><em><span> </span></em><span>joins Ira</span><span> to discuss the underestimated risks of fungi and how health systems can combat them.</span></p> <p>One-hundred fifty million years ago, long-necked sauropods roamed the planet munching on plants and trees. Some of the largest herbivorous dinosaurs could grow up to 115 feet and weigh 80 tons. A team of scientists wanted to see how much nutrition this vegetarian diet provided for the dinosaurs. The group grew horsetails, ginkgos, and other plants similar to Mesozoic vegetation under high levels of carbon dioxide to mimic the atmosphere of the era. Paleontologist Fiona Gill, who is an author on that study, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-much-food-would-a-dino-eat-for-dinner/" target="_blank">talks about what we know about dinosaur digestion and how this could be used to model other ancient ecosystems</a>.</p> <p>Mary Radabaugh peers over her mask at the toxic algae spread across Haney Creek off of the St. Lucie River in Florida. “You can see the flies that are on the top of it. They’re eating the rot so that’s like the sewage that is out there. You can see the big brown spots that look like sewage.” Here boats bob sadly in the blue-green algae that if ingested can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting and even can affect the liver and nervous system. But for Radabaugh that hardly is the worst of it, which is why she wears the paper mask over her mouth and nose. “The smell is comparable to a Port-O-Let that’s been sitting in the hot sun for about three months. It’s really probably the worst smell you’ve ever smelled.”  The toxic algae bloom is <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/massive-toxic-algae-bloom-stinks-up-florida-towns/" target="_blank">the worst in modern history</a> here where the Indian River Lagoon, St. Lucie River and Atlantic Ocean converge. Some 160 billion gallons of polluted water have been flushed from a rain-swollen Lake Okeechobee to the area since January, triggering the widespread bloom that has prompted emergency declarations in three counties.</p>
Jul 20, 2018
Nerve Agents, Straws, Soccer Flops, Happiness. July 13, 2018, Part 2
46:39
<p><span>Four months ago, an ex-Russian spy and his daughter were hospitalized in the U.K. They came into contact with a substance known as Novichok—a nerve agent developed by Soviet scientists during the Cold War. And recently, two U.K. citizens were hospitalized. One died after apparent exposure to Novichok. Russia has so far denied any involvement in the attacks. </span><span>The nuclear arms race wasn’t the only focus for the U.S. and Soviets during the Cold War. The proliferation of chemical weapons—nerve and blister agents like mustard gas—was also high on their priorities. The first nerve agent was the result of 1930’s German chemists’ experiments to develop new insecticides. The substance was toxic to insects but also, at certain doses, to animals and humans as well. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-chemistry-behind-nerve-agents/" target="_blank">Luckily, a brush with a nerve agent isn’t always fatal</a></span>. Dr. Rick Sachleben joins Ira to discuss how nerve agents interact with our body chemistry and what can make a difference between life and death for someone who’s come into contact with the deadly substance.</p> <p><span>This week, coffee giant Starbucks announced that it was phasing out the use of plastic straws in its stores, instead using what some are calling “adult sippy cup” lids. Other restaurants have also made the move to scale back use of the ubiquitous plastic drinking straw, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/not-the-last-straw-but-a-different-one/" target="_blank">while some municipalities have considered total straw bans</a>. </span><em>New York Magazine</em><span> food business reporter Clint Rainey joins Ira to talk about some of the alternatives companies are considering to plastic straws, from compostable paper straws to pasta tubes to reusable metal straws, and about the challenges restaurants need to address—from durability, to price, to usability by people with disabilities.</span></p> <p><span>In late April, FIFA announced that they would be adding four more referees to each soccer match. These refs won’t be running alongside players. Instead, they’ll be in a control room watching the match closely on computer monitors. The video assistant referees will be scanning instant replay for the typical fouls like hand balls and offside goals—but they will also be monitoring soccer dives. </span><span>Soccer players are notorious for dives, or faking injuries. If players can successfully convince a referee they are temporarily injured, their team can get rewarded with a free kick, a yellow card for the opposing team, or the coveted penalty kick. If they get caught faking it, referees don’t really punish them. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-scientific-strategy-of-soccer-dives/" target="_blank">But there is a strategy to these flops</a>. </span><span>One study showed</span><span> that players flopped when they were closer to referees and twice as much when the score was tied. Vox reporter Umair Irfan joins Ira to discuss some of the science, strategies, and behavior economics behind these soccer dives.</span></p> <p><span>What really makes a person happy? What is “the good life”?  Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos spends her research hours studying primate and canine cognition for clues to how humans think and learn. She also teaches Yale University’s most popular course (also </span><a href="https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span>available free online</span></a><span>), </span><span>“PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life.” <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/what-makes-your-brain-happy/" target="_blank">She joins Ira to discuss her work and the psychology of happiness</a>.  </span></p>
Jul 13, 2018
Neutrinos, Book Club, Air Conditioning. July 13, 2018, Part 1
47:01
<p><span>In 1988, physicist Stephen Hawking’s wildly popular </span><em>A Brief History of Time</em><span> introduced general audiences around the world to scientists’ questions about the Big Bang, black holes, and relativity. Many of those questions remain unanswered, though the science has advanced in the 30 years since the book was first published. Hawking, who passed away this spring, was known not just for this book, but for his enthusiastic and persistent communication with the public about science. And this summer, the Science Friday Book Club celebrates his legacy on the page, and off. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/read-a-brief-history-of-time-with-the-scifri-book-club/" target="_blank">Join Ira and the team at Science Friday</a></span><span> as we read </span><em>A Brief History of Time</em><span> and ponder the deep questions about matter, space, and time. We’ll read the book and discuss until late August. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/read-a-brief-history-of-time-with-the-scifri-book-club/" target="_blank">And we want to hear from you</a>! </span></p> <p><span>Neutrinos are particles that are constantly raining down in the universe. They are created from nuclear reactions in places like our sun, distant stars, and even on Earth. But the source of higher-energy cosmic neutrinos formed deeper in the universe is still a mystery. </span>Researchers have built telescopes to detect these low and high energy neutrinos as they pass through the Earth. One of these telescopes is IceCube, which is buried deep beneath the ice in the Antarctic. In September, IceCube <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/following-a-neutrinos-four-billion-light-year-journey/" target="_blank">detected one of these cosmic neutrinos</a> and alerted the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope and other observatories. These telescopes were able to trace the source of the neutrino to a flare up in a blazar—a black hole at the center of a galaxy—4 billion light-years away.</p> <p><span>When the mercury soars dangerously high, air conditioning can help save lives that might otherwise be lost to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other stresses brought about by heat waves. But there’s a downside: it can take a lot of electricity to keep you cool. </span><span>New research</span><span> published in </span><em>PLOS Medicine</em><span> earlier this month assesses <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/under-climate-change-the-ac-giveth-and-the-ac-taketh-away/" target="_blank">what happens when the demand for air conditioning rises with the temperature</a>, and why saving those lives might also cost lives. Senior author Tracey Holloway, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains.</span></p>
Jul 13, 2018
19th-Century Surveyor, News Roundup, Eagles' Nests. July 6, 2018, Part 1
45:54
<p>In the 19th century, the American West was an arid climate yet to be fully explored. But surveyors like geologist John Wesley Powell, the second director of the United States Geological Society, would chart out the natural wonders that lied beyond the Mississippi. While at the USGS, Powell would lead a project to create the first map of the country to integrate geographical features and some of the first survey expeditions along the snaking Colorado River and Grand Canyon. But he also proposed radical ideas about developing the West that took the climate and ecology into account. One of Powell’s theories stated that the U.S. was divided down the middle along the “100th Meridian”—between the dry West region and moist East. In two recent studies, climatologist Richard Seager and his team confirmed this dividing line. Seager joins Ira to explain how this ecological division has changed due to climate change.</p> <p>Shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Congress chose the bald eagle—a symbol of freedom—as the national bird. There were an estimated 100,000 eagles at that time. But the birds were nearly driven to extinction in the 1960s, with only with only 487 breeding pairs out in the wild. After the endangered species list was created and targeted conservation efforts began, eagle populations recovered. Researchers have found that one of the keys to recovery is protecting the nest of breeding pairs of eagles.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Jul 06, 2018
Jurassic World, Rhino Comeback, Uranus Collision. July 6, 2018, Part 2
46:45
<p>It’s the 25th anniversary of the debut of <em>Jurassic Park</em>. And with <em>Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom</em> currently at the top of the summer movie food chain, its progeny continue to dominate the box offices. But even as the original <em>Jurassic Park</em> gave viewers the latest in paleontological science in dino looks, the <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/science-goes-to-the-movies-jurassic-world-2/" target="_blank">research has progressed</a> to include feathers and wildly different body shapes for old favorites like <em>Tyrannosaurus</em> and <em>Velociraptor</em>. Even newer research into dinosaur vocalization suggest they would have sounded more like modern birds than roaring lions. Paleontologists Julia Clarke and Ken Lacovara join John Dankosky to discuss.</p> <p>After the death of the last surviving male northern white rhino, the future looked dim for the endangered subspecies, which now numbers two infertile females. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-genetic-future-for-a-near-extinct-rhino/" target="_blank">But scientists have been working on a number of methods to rescue the rhino after all</a>. Collections of sperm and DNA could allow southern white rhinos, which are a closely related but a separate subspecies, to carry lab-created embryos to term.</p> <p>The icy planet Uranus is an odd place. It spins on an axis almost perpendicular to its orbit, with one pole pointed straight at the sun for much of the year. It’s also colder than expected and has an unusually-shaped magnetic field. One theory for how Uranus became such an oddball in our space neighborhood involves a massive impact strong enough to tip a young planet onto its side. A group of researchers <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-the-distant-past-a-massive-space-collision/" target="_blank">ran the numbers on such a collision</a> and simulated what the results might be if a planet one, two, or three times the size of the Earth were to strike Uranus in the early days of our solar system. </p>
Jul 06, 2018
Bee News, Summer Science Reading. June 29, 2018, Part 2
46:28
<p>Bumblebees and honeybees are two species of bees that form colonies. The colonies of bumblebees are smaller compared to their honeybee cousins, who’s hives can house tens of thousands of individuals. But both of these colonies have complicated compositions and structures that help them thrive. For bumblebees, recent studies showed that colonies located in urban areas may actually be more successful than nests located in agricultural areas. Plus, how do bees pick a new queen? Biologist Ash Samuelson and entomologist Ramesh Sagili <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/hive-mind-inside-the-complicated-world-of-bee-colonies/">join Ira to get the buzz</a>.</p> <p>Plus, school is finally out! No more teachers! No more books! … Except the ones on our summer science reading list. From harvester ants to the ruts of ancient Rome, Annalee Newitz, tech culture editor for <em>Ars Technica</em> shares her picks written by scientists who really dig into their work. And Science Friday education director Ariel Zych sings the praises of a book about the stuff no one likes to talk about—human waste. So, act like a kid again and assign yourself a book or two from our <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/your-summer-science-reading-list-2018/">summer science reading list</a>. No book report required.</p> <p>Plus, check out the SciFri staff’s recommendations for <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/these-science-books-were-made-for-summer-take-our-word-for-it/">summertime science beach reads</a>.</p> <p> </p>
Jun 29, 2018
Beef Genetic Testing, Chasing Whales, Radiolab Gonads. June 29, 2018, Part 1
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<p>Whales are majestic, awe-inspiring animals. Some species can reach up to 150 tons and take in a living room-sized volume of water in one gulp. They can even dive thousands of feet into the ocean while holding their breath all the way down. It’s hard to imagine that the earliest ancestors of these graceful creatures of the deep were four-legged dog-like animals that lived on land. In his book <em>Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures</em>, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/chasing-whales-through-time/">paleontologist Nick Pyenson examines their evolutionary story</a>.</p> <p>Plus: Think back to your sex ed class in school. Chances are you were introduced to lots of new jargon too: Terms like spermatozoa, oviducts, chromosomes, germ cells and gonads. It was that last word, gonads—and a researcher who referred to them as “magical organs”—that sent <em>Radiolab</em> producer and host Molly Webster on a quest to respark our fascination with embryonic development, X and Y chromosomes, and reproduction. The first few episodes of the limited-run series called <a href="https://www.wnycstudios.org/shows/radiolab/projects/radiolab-presents-gonads">Radiolab: Gonads</a> are out now, and <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/radiolab-investigates-our-magical-organs/">Molly joins Ira here to talk about it</a>.</p> <p>And Sophie Bushwick, senior editor at <em>Popular Science</em>, joins Ira to talk <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-a-long-wait-more-telescope-delays/">about the James Webb Space Telescope</a> and other news from the week in science, including the FDA’s <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-a-long-wait-more-telescope-delays/">approval of a marijuana-based medicine</a>,  the discovery of a <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-a-long-wait-more-telescope-delays/">nursery for manta rays</a>, and research into just how wiggly the <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-a-long-wait-more-telescope-delays/">tongue of a T. rex</a> actually was.</p>
Jun 29, 2018
Math And Social Justice, Chicago Coyotes, Meteorites. June 22, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>Math isn’t often thought of as a tool for social justice. But mathematical thinking can help us understand what’s going on in society too, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-abstract-math-can-analyze-social-injustice/" target="_blank">says mathematician Eugenia Cheng</a>. For example, abstract math can be used to examine the power structures between men and women, or white and black people, and to more clearly define the relationships and power differentials at play.</span></p> <p><span>At our live event at the Harris Theater in Chicago, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-coyotes-of-chicago/" target="_blank">we called on WBEZ’s Curious City to help us out</a>. Chicago resident Devin Henderson reached out to the Curious City team including editor Alexandra Solomon to learn more about the coyote population that call Chicago home. Wildlife biologist Chris Anchor, who’s part of Cook County’s Urban Coyote Project, talks about how coyotes made their way into Chicago and how they survive in an urban environment.</span></p> <p>Many people in Chicago probably remember the day meteorites fell from the sky. It’s known as the “Park Forest Meteor Shower” but it wasn’t the kind you stay up at night to watch streaking across the sky. Around midnight on March 27th, 2003, a meteorite exploded into pieces, showering the Chicago suburb of Park Forest, Illinois. People reported seeing stones falling through roofs and causing damage to homes. In the aftermath of the event, meteorite hunters descended on Park Forest looking to buy the rocks, creating a meteorite frenzy. But that didn’t stop Meenakshi Wadhwa, former curator of meteorites at the Chicago Field Museum, from getting her hands on one of these prized space rocks for the museum’s collection. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/science-friday-presents-two-wrongs-dont-make-a-meteorite/" target="_blank">Hear Ira and Chicago comedians</a> Jimmy Adameck, Ross Taylor, and Jen Connor bring the event to life on stage in a play with musical scoring by Mary Mahoney.</p>
Jun 22, 2018
Alcohol Study, Cephalopod Week, Coral Oasis. June 22 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>Last week, the National Institutes of Health cancelled a $100 million study of alcohol and health </span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/will-we-ever-know-how-moderate-drinking-affects-our-health/" target="_blank"><span>after an internal investigation</span></a><span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/will-we-ever-know-how-moderate-drinking-affects-our-health/" target="_blank"> found</a> “early and frequent” engagement with none other than the alcohol industry, to an extent that would “cast doubt” on the scientific results. But prior to the cancellation, the research was setting out to answer an ongoing question about alcohol and our health: Are moderate drinkers actually better off than nondrinkers? Study after study has found that light or moderate drinkers have a slight health advantage, especially in avoiding nonfatal heart attacks, but </span><span>is that because they drink, or is it due to some other factor like wealth</span><span>?</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-8-undersea-days-cephalopod-week-2018-draws-to-a-close/" target="_blank">Cephalopod Week 2018</a> has been a worldwide cephalo-bration of octopus, squid, cuttlefish, nautilus, and other undersea friends—but like a fast-jetting octopus, it goes by too quickly. As we wrap up Cephalopod Week this year, squid biologist Sarah McAnulty joins Ira to talk about her research into a symbiotic bacterial relationship in the Hawaiian bobtail squid, a lime-sized beastie that likes to bask on the Hawaiian sand. And Science Friday web producer Lauren Young joins the party to tell the story of a 19th-century self-taught French naturalist, Jeanne Villepreux-Power, who investigated the shell of the paper nautilus—and helped shape the design of early aquariums in the process.</p> <p> </p> <p>Worldwide, corals are suffering from bleaching events due to rising ocean temperatures and human activity. The Great Barrier Reef has had bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, and the Pacific and western Atlantic ocean is currently experiencing a bleaching event that began in 2014. But in these tropical areas, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-possible-oasis-in-a-sea-of-dying-coral/" target="_blank">there are pockets of coral that are surviving these events while neighboring coral die out</a>. A study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology described that “coral oases” provide a “glimmer of hope,” according to marine biologist Ilsa Kuffner. She talks about how these corals might be surviving and how it could be used for conservation.</p> <p> </p>
Jun 22, 2018
CRISPR, Colors, Narwhals. June 15, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>Over less than a decade, the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9 has taken the biology world by storm. </span><span>But two new studies </span><span>indicate that there could be <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/crispr-problems/" target="_blank">a downside to the CRISPR approach.</a></span></p> <p>Did you know a blue jay’s feathers and a butterfly’s wings aren’t actually blue? Neither are your blue eyes.<em><span> </span></em><span>From the colors we see in flowers and birds, to the hues we use in art and decoration, there’s more than one way to make a rainbow—and it all starts with <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-hue-of-a-different-color/" target="_blank">molecules and structures that are too small to see.</a></span></p> <p><span>The elusive narwhal has captured the imaginations of many people. Now, scientists have outfitted a group of narwhals with audio tags that allowed them to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-daily-audio-diary-of-the-narwhal/" target="_blank">capture their echolocation and communication sounds. </a></span></p>
Jun 15, 2018
Dinosaurs, Celebrating Cephalopods. June 15, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>Like a kraken rising from the depths (or a cuttlefish emerging from the sand), Cephalopod Week is back! Every year, Science Friday spends a week honoring the mighty, clever, mysterious cephalopod. This year, Field Museum curator Janet Voight joins Ira and SciFri’s chief cephalopod cheerleader Brandon Echter to talk about the unusual and brainy behaviors of these creatures—including <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/scifris-tentacled-spectacle-cephalopod-week-returns/" target="_blank">a squid that uses bioluminescent bacteria to camouflage itself—and whether cephalopods could someday become a model organism as ubiquitous in labs as mice and fruit flies. </a></span></p> <p><span>The story of the dinosaurs is one that’s been told over millennia. But within the last few decades, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-new-story-for-one-of-the-planets-oldest-creatures/" target="_blank">what we thought we knew about their rise and fall is being rewritten. </a></span></p> <p><span>Plus: A look at <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/waiting-for-opportunity-to-call/" target="_blank">the latest science stories</a> of the week, and a look at why Chicago Park District may <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/water-fountains-everywhere-but-fewer-drops-to-drink/" target="_blank">shut down half of its outdoor drinking fountains. </a></span></p>
Jun 15, 2018
Mars Organics, Museum Collections, Kelp Farming. June 8, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>In 1832, less than a year into the first voyage of the<em> Beagle, </em>Charles Darwin found a beetle in Argentina. </span>Turns out, discovering new species in the depths of museum archives is not so uncommon. <span>180 years later, an entomologist who happened to specialize in rove beetles requested an assortment of samples from London’s Natural History Museum. There, among 24 pinned beetle specimens, was Darwin’s rove beetle. </span>Dozens of such tales of are told by biologist and author Christopher Kemp in his new book <em>The Lost Species. </em>He describes the treasure hunts and serendipitous finding of species like the ruby seadragon and the olinguito, and why <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/want-to-find-a-new-species-start-in-a-museum/">there may be many more discoveries waiting in the backlogged shelves of museums around the world</a>. And Regina Wetzer, associate curator and director of marine biodiversity at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, explains how combining centuries-old museum specimens with modern techniques may help turn up new clues in understanding the past, present, and future of Earth’s biodiversity.</p> <p>This week, scientists published a study in the journal <em>Science</em> that described organic molecules—building blocks for life—in mudstone near Gale Crater, a 3.5 billion-year-old dry lakebed. Another study measured methane in the Martian atmosphere that varied with the seasons.  Astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrode, who is an author on those studies, discusses what this reveals about how ancient water and rock processes may have worked on the planet, and what the findings tells us about <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/curiosity-digs-up-clues-to-the-early-martian-environment/">the possibility of life on the Red Planet</a>.</p> <p>Plus: <span>While it has been a tradition in many Asian cultures for centuries, kelp farming only reached U.S. shores in recent decades—and in part due to its environmental benefits. Ira is joined by Science Friday video editor Luke Groskin and Suzie Flores, a kelp farmer featured in our latest Macroscope video, to discuss <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/riding-the-wave-of-kelp-farming/">the new wave of kelp farming</a>. </span></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Jun 08, 2018
Ocean Conservation, Dark Matter Hunt. June 8, 2018, Part 1
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<p>Planets, stars, and physical “stuff” make up a tiny fraction of the universe. Most of the universe's mass is instead invisible dark matter, which makes itself known not by luminance, but by its gravitational influence on the cosmos. The motions of galaxies and stars require dark matter to be explained. Yet despite decades of searching and millions of dollars spent, physicists still haven't been able to track down a dark matter particle. In this segment, physicists Jodi Cooley and Flip Tanedo, and <em>Gizmodo</em> science writer Ryan Mandelbaum talk about how experimentalists and theorists are getting creative in <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/dark-matter-eludes-particle-physicists/">the hunt for dark matter</a>.</p> <p>Plus: <span>Earlier this year Brazil made headlines and received accolades from ocean conservation advocates for turning 900,000 square kilometers of ocean in its exclusive economic zone into a marine protected area. That’s the good news. But the question remains: <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/marine-habitats-are-protected-but-are-they-effective/">Does that 10 percent really need protecting</a>? Natalie Ban, associate professor at the University of Victoria, tells Ira more.</span></p> <p>And Tanya Basu, science editor at <em>The Daily Beast</em>, joins Ira to talk about advances in breast cancer research and more science headlines in <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/206-214-news-roundup-tanya-basu-of-the-daily-beast-cb/">this week's News Round-up</a>.</p>
Jun 08, 2018
Sea Floor Mapping, Hurricane Season Forecast. June 1, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>The deep sea is the largest habitat on Earth, but it’s also one of the least understood. </span><span>As mining companies eye the mineral resources of the deep sea—from oil and gas, to metal deposits—marine biologists like London’s Natural History Museum’s </span><span>Diva Amon</span><span> are working to discover and describe as much of the deep sea as they can. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-seafaring-scientists-are-mapping-the-deep/" target="_blank">Amon has been on dozens of expeditions to sea</a>, where she’s helped characterize ecosystems and discover new species all over the world. And she says we still don’t know enough about deep sea ecology to know how to protect these species, the ones we’ve found and the ones we haven’t yet, from mining. </span><span>But accessing the deep ocean is expensive; it can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 a day to run a research ship. So roboticists and artificial intelligence designers are developing underwater drones to map and sniff out the secrets of the deep with the help of sophisticated chemical sensors. </span></p> <p><span>June 1 marks the start of the official “hurricane season” in the Atlantic, the time when powerful storms are most likely to spin their way out of the tropics. Each year, teams of forecasters try to anticipate the number and severity of storms to come. Some try to run climate models that simulate atmospheric behavior over multi-month timeframes, while other teams rely on statistics and comparisons with historic data for their estimates of the upcoming storm season. </span><span>Michael Bell, co-author of Colorado State University’s seasonal hurricane forecast, says that after looking at </span><span>factors including </span><span>Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressures, vertical wind shear levels, and El Niño, </span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/looking-ahead-to-hurricane-season/" target="_blank"><span>their </span></a><span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/looking-ahead-to-hurricane-season/" target="_blank">team is predicting 13 additional named storms during the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season</a> (in addition to Alberto, which formed before the Atlantic hurricane season began). Of those storms, the forecast calls for six to become hurricanes and two to reach major hurricane strength. That’s in line with a separate forecast from </span><span>NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center estimating between 10-16 named storms and 5-9 hurricanes.  </span></p>
Jun 01, 2018
Scientist Politicians, Microbiome, Wildlife Car Accidents. June 1, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>This year’s midterm elections have seen an upswing in the number of scientists running for office. There are approximately 60 candidates with STEM backgrounds in the races for federal offices, and 200 for state positions, according to </span><span>314 Action</span><span>, an advocacy organization that helps scientists run for office. But <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/leaving-the-lab-for-the-hill/" target="_blank">why would a scientist want to leave the lab for the Hill</a>? </span>According to volcanologist and Congressional candidate Jess Phoenix, “Science by definition is political because the biggest funder of scientific research in our country is the government.” And Aruna Miller, who is a Maryland State Delegate for District 15 and a former civil engineer for the Department of Transportation, says that “Your job as an engineer isn’t only your profession. It is to be a citizen of your country…. You have to be engaged in our community.”</p> <p><span>By now, we all know about the microbes that live in our gut and digestive tract—different species of bacteria living together in the same environment. Now researchers are trying to learn more about what keeps these bacteria living together in harmony. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-is-the-microbiome-keeping-peace-ask-the-immune-system/" target="_blank">Scientists suspect</a></span> the secret “microbe whisperer” is actually a member of the immune system—a molecule called immunoglobulin A. That molecule keeps the gastrointestinal system free of pathogens and, researchers hope, might one day be used to combat diseases of the digestive tract.</p> <p>States like Wyoming and Montana are high risk for wildlife-vehicle collisions. These accidents result in expensive damages and sometimes even death for both wildlife and drivers. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-wyoming-a-solution-to-wildlife-traffic-accidents-may-be-in-the-bag/" target="_blank">One group of scientists found an unlikely solution.</a> You’ve probably driven by one before and not noticed it, but wildlife reflectors are poles on the side of the road. There have been a lot of studies on reflectors, but Riginos said the results are mixed and not very impressive. So Riginos and her team developed an experiment. They’d cover up some reflectors, leave others uncovered, and then compare the results. “We covered them with this cheap, easily available and durable material, which just happened to be white canvas bags,” Riginos said. And to their surprise—the bags turned out to be more effective than the reflectors. “We could actually see that in the white bags situation, that the deer were more likely to stop and wait for cars to pass before crossing the road, instead of just running headlong into the road,” said Riginos.</p>
Jun 01, 2018
AI Conversation, Robot Trust, AI Music. May 18, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>Should autonomy be the holy grail of artificial intelligence? Computer scientist Justine Cassell has been working for decades on interdependence instead—AI that can hold conversations with us, teach us, and otherwise develop good rapport with us. She joined Ira <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/forget-weather-these-bots-make-good-conversation/" target="_blank">live on stage at the Carnegie Library of Homestead Music Hall in Pittsburgh</a> to introduce us to SARA, a virtual assistant that helped world leaders navigate the World Economic Forum last year. Cassell discusses the value of studying relationships in building a new generation of more trustworthy AI.</span></p> <p><span>Robot assistants talk to us from our phones. Home robots have faces and facial expressions. But many of the robots that might enter our lives will have <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-bot-you-can-trust/" target="_blank">no such analogs to help us trust and understand them</a>. What’s a roboticist to do? </span><span>Madeline Gannon</span><span>, a Carnegie Mellon research fellow, artist, and roboticist for NVIDIA, trains industrial robots to use body language to communicate, while </span><span>Henny Admoni</span><span>, psychologist and assistant professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, teaches assistive technology to anticipate the needs of its users. </span></p> <p><span>The pop hits of the future might be written not by human musicians, but by machine-learning algorithms that have learned the rules of catchy music, and apply them to create never-before-heard melodies. Those tunes may not even require human hands to be heard, because a growing army of musical robots, from bagpipes to xylophones, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/artificial-intelligence-gets-a-musical-makeover/" target="_blank">can already play themselves—even improvise too</a>. W</span>e talk with computer scientist Roger Dannenberg and artist-roboticist Eric Singer about the implications of computerized composition, and unveil a song created by AI. (We’ll let you judge whether it’s worthy of the top 40.)</p>
May 25, 2018
Sleep Questions, Portable Museums, Digital Health Records. May 25, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>What’s the difference between being fatigued and sleepy? Do melatonin and other sleeping aids work? And what can you do if you just can’t sleep?</span><span>Neurologist and sleep specialist W. Chris Winter, author of the book </span><em>The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It</em><span>, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/ask-a-sleep-doctor-the-questions-that-keep-you-up-at-night/" target="_blank">talks about how the brain and body regulate sleep</a>. He also gives ideas for controlling your behavior to improve your “sleep hygiene.” </span></p> <p><span>Science museums can be a fun and educational way to spend a day—but what if you don’t have a day? What if there’s no museum near you? Or what if you don’t think you like science enough to spend money on an entry fee? </span><span>All of these are reasons one nonprofit is working to shrink the museum, and bring it to you—starting with the </span><span>Smallest Mollusk Museum</span><span>. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-portable-science-museum/" target="_blank">It’s a vending machine-sized exhibit</a> on the slimy tricks, strange brains, and ecological importance of snails, squids, octopuses, and their chitinous cousins. </span>Amanda Schochet, co-founder of the project and a former computational biologist, explains what goes into making a small museum that can still share big ideas.</p> <p><span>In recent years, medical providers have largely moved away from scrawled paper charts to electronic health records. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/bringing-electronic-health-records-into-the-modern-age/" target="_blank">But a team of researchers argues that the transformation of medical records hasn’t gone far enough</a>. </span>While there has been widespread adoption of electronic health records, most are just static, flat translations of the format of the old fashioned paper file. If we can subscribe to specific categories of news online, the researchers say, why shouldn’t medical specialists be able to subscribe to a given patient’s medical records to get updates and alerts of specific interest to them? Why shouldn’t medical teams be able to get notifications and share information when patients needing special care plans arrive at the hospital?</p> <p>Plus, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-trip-to-the-moon-hurricane-antimatter-and-a-wrong-way-asteroid/" target="_blank">a satellite launched this week</a> would aid in planned Chinese lunar exploration.</p> <p> </p>
May 25, 2018
Psychedelics With Michael Pollan And Intel Student Science Fair. May 18, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>In his latest book, </span><em><span>How to Change Your Mind</span></em><span>, Michael Pollan writes of his own consciousness-expanding experiments with psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin, and he makes the case for why shaking up the brain’s old habits could be therapeutic for people facing addiction, depression, or death.</span> <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/consciousness-chemically-altered/" target="_blank">Pollan and psychedelics researcher Robin Carhart-Harris discuss</a> the neuroscience of consciousness, and how psychedelic drugs may alter the algorithms and habits our brains use to make sense of the world. </p> <p><span>This week, science students gathered in Pittsburgh for the finals of </span><span>the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair</span><span>, a competition founded by the Society for Science and the Public. Nearly 2,000 students from 75 countries came to present their projects. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/student-scientists-tackle-real-world-questions/" target="_blank">Two of the finalists share their projects</a>: Everett Kroll discusses how he created and tested an affordable 3D-printed prosthetic foot, while Alyssa Rawinski explains how she studied the feasibility of using mealworms to recycle plastics. </span></p>
May 18, 2018
Consciousness In 'Westworld,' Heart Cells On Graphene, Bike Safety App. May 18, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>In HBO’s series </span><em>Westworld</em><span>, human-like robots populate a theme park where human guests can have violent, gory adventures in the Wild West without the repercussions. The robots are so lifelike that they fool the visitors and themselves. They bleed, die, grieve, and love—thinking themselves human. But as Westworld’s robots grow increasingly independent of their repetitive, programmed loops, the show incites viewers to question whether AI can truly be autonomous or conscious—and who in this story deserves empathy. Roboticist Robin Murphy and neuroscientist Steve Ramirez</span> <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/consciousness-at-the-center-of-westworlds-maze/" target="_blank">discuss the show’s science and social commentary</a>.  </p> <p><span>The jury is still out on whether graphene—the carbon-based substance people have called "wonder material"—will be part of every gadget in the future, but scientists are finding it to be an extremely powerful tool in the biomedical laboratory. In a study out this week in the journal </span><em><span>Science Advances,</span></em><span> scientists used <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/mending-human-hearts-with-help-from-graphene/" target="_blank">graphene’s electrical properties to stimulate lab grown heart cells</a> that could be used in patients after they’ve had a heart attack.</span></p> <p><span>Plus, a</span> Pittsburgh cyclist <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/city-cyclists-crowdsource-the-safest-path/" target="_blank">designed a crowdsourcing navigation app</a> to help other city bikers find the safest roads to travel.</p>
May 18, 2018
Does Time Exist, Elephant Seismology, Produce Safety. May 11, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>How do you think about time? Most people experience it as Newton described it—as something that passes independent of other events, that’s the same for everyone, and moves in a straight line. Still, others have come to embrace Einstein’s view that time instead forms a matrix with space and acts like as a substance in which we are submerged. But physicist and author <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-case-for-why-time-may-just-not-exist/" target="_blank">Carlo Rovelli has an even different approach to time</a>. He’s working on a way to quantify gravity in which time </span><em>doesn’t exist</em><span>. </span></p> <p><span>An adult African elephant can weigh as much as two tons. Their activities—walking, playing, even bellowing—might shake the ground beneath them. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-stomp-a-roar-an-elephantquake/" target="_blank">But new research</a></span><span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-stomp-a-roar-an-elephantquake/" target="_blank"> finds</a> that the signals from an elephant’s walk are capable of traveling as far as three kilometers, while a male elephant might be detectable a full six kilometers away with just seismological monitoring tools. This new research could protect endangered elephants from poaching.</span></p> <p><span>The </span><em>E. coli</em><span> outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has now spread to 29 states, and it’s claiming more victims. </span><span>The CDC now reports</span><span> that 149 people have been infected, more than a dozen have developed kidney failure, and one victim has died. In this segment, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/produce-safety-tests-could-use-a-refresh/" target="_blank">Ira talks with Rachel Noble</a>, a molecular biologist at the University of North Carolina, about current methods of testing farm fields for pathogens like </span><em>E. coli</em><span>, which can take 24 to 48 hours to show results, and a DNA test Noble has developed that could cut that to less than an hour.</span></p>
May 11, 2018
Hawaii Eruption, Antibiotic Resistance, Florida Sea Rise. May 11, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano—located on the Big Island—has been continuously erupting for the past 30 years. But on May 3, magma began spewing through fissures in the Puna district, forcing nearly 2,000 residents to flee. Reporter Ku`uwehi Hiraishi of Hawaii Public Radio <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-science-behind-kilaueas-30-year-eruption/" target="_blank">spoke to residents</a> in the area of these 15 fissures and describes what type of evacuation efforts have been happening on the ground.</span></p> <p><span>Ten years ago, Dr. Gautam Dantas had one of those rare moments you hear about in science—a serendipitous discovery. He and his colleagues were trying to kill some bacteria they had collected from soil. So, naturally, they tried knocking them out with some antibiotics. </span>They were unsuccessful. The soil bacteria were resistant to the drugs—but the bacteria ate the very antibiotics that were meant to kill them. The discovery came as a shock to Gautam and <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/these-bacteria-can-help-fight-antibiotic-resistance/" target="_blank">he says it changed the course of his career</a>.</p> <p><span>According to middle-of-the-road predictions, </span><span>seas will rise by as much as two feet by 2060</span><span> in South Florida. Residents of Miami and surrounding counties have already seen that rise in action. </span><span>Citing a lack of action at the state and federal level to help the region adapt and plan, the editorial boards of three major newspapers, </span><em>The Miami Herald</em><span>, </span><em>The Sun Sentinel</em><span>, and </span><em>The Palm Beach Post</em><span>, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/calling-for-action-on-floridas-rising-seas/" target="_blank">are teaming up</a>. The papers say the new </span><span>The Invading Sea</span> <span>project will prioritize sea level rise as an issue in this year’s midterm elections.</span></p> <p><span>And Sophie Bushwick of <em>Popular Science</em> tells Ira about how the Leaning Tower of Pisa has managed to withstand weather, wars, and earthquakes, among other science headlines in <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-leaning-tower-a-jumping-spider-and-missing-plutonium/" target="_blank">this week's News Round-up</a>.</span></p>
May 11, 2018
DNA Privacy, Dog Cognition. May 4, 2018, Part 2
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<p>Genetic testing sites are nothing new. They’ve grown enough in popularity over the past decade that the idea of spitting into a tube and sending it in the mail to a website to find out more about your family tree—or even your risk of certain inherited diseases—doesn’t seem all that strange to most people. But the case of the Golden State Killer has brought to light many questions about the direct-to-consumer genetic testing market that <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-the-golden-state-killer-the-ethics-of-genetic-testing/">still need answering</a>. Dr. Amy McGuire, professor of biomedical ethics at Baylor College of Medicine discusses the risks we take when we share genetic information online. Plus, Natalie Ram, assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law discusses how this new era of genetic research is butting up against the criminal justice system.</p> <p>Sit. Come. Stay. Your dog knows how to do it all, and she even seems to understand what you’re saying. But every dog owner has probably wondered what exactly is going inside the mind of their prized pooch. Does Spot really understand what you’re saying, or is he just trained by the treat bag? Does Fluffy have a concept of time? And how do our furry companions make sense of the world? Neuroscientist Gregory Berns has trained dogs to sit inside fMRI scans to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/what-does-your-dog-really-think-about-you/">see what happens inside their brains</a>.</p>
May 04, 2018
Chasing Pluto, Space Warps. May 4, 2018, Part 1
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<p>In July of 2015, the world was stunned to learn that Pluto, a tiny, distant dot that some didn’t even consider a planet, was a dynamic, complex, and beautiful world. But for scientists in pursuit of Pluto’s secrets since the late 1980s, it was a long wait. The mission faced political hurdles, budget battles, technical challenges, and near-disaster even as it was days away from speeding past Pluto. Alan Stern, the mission’s dogged principal investigator, and astrobiologist David Grinspoon have written a new book about the decades-long effort <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/chasing-pluto-as-long-as-it-takes/">to visit Pluto</a>.</p> <p>Last week we asked you to help us spot galaxies magnified by other galaxies—a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. Over a million galactic glimpses later, we're ready to reveal what we found, including a galaxy more than seven billion light years away, and what appears to be a rare triple galactic lens. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/glimpses-of-galaxies-far-far-away/">In this wrap-up segment</a>, Space Warps co-founder Aprajita Verma and Zooniverse co-lead Laura Trouille share their favorite finds, and suggest a few other projects for armchair astronomers to dig into next.</p> <p>Plus, t<span>he end of net neutrality seemingly benefits corporations and harms consumers. But for small towns with slow internet speeds, this may not be the case. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/what-net-neutrality-could-mean-for-slow-internet-in-rural-kansas/">What does it mean for slow internet in rural Kansas?</a> </span></p> <p><span>And Rachel Feltman of <em>Popular Science</em> tells Ira about coral reefs and other science headlines in <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-reef-is-quiet-too-quiet/">this week's News Round-up</a>.</span></p>
May 04, 2018
Frozen Frogs, Yeast, Paleobotany. April 27, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>When winter comes, animals have <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-frogs-and-insects-that-freeze/" target="_blank">several options for survival</a>. They can leave their habitats entirely for warmer environments, search for a cozy cave, or even find insulation under a toasty snowbank. </span>And if you’re a wood frog in chilly Ohio or Alaska, or the larvae of a certain wingless midge in Antarctica, you might also just stay put, and freeze solid until the sun returns. But to survive such extreme low temperatures, the bodies of these animals have made some special adaptations: sugars that act like antifreeze, and processes for keeping ice outside their cells to protect their tissues.</p> <p><span>Yeast helps your bread to rise and beer to brew, but did you know that there’s yeast in the guts of insects? Or that your body is covered—and filled—with yeast cells? <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-yeast-also-rises/" target="_blank">In this segment</a>, recorded live in Miami University’s Hall Auditorium in Oxford, Ohio, mycologist Nicholas Money helps Ira uncover the hidden world of the humble fungus. His new book “The Rise Of Yeast” details some of the ways that the ubiquitous microorganism has helped shape civilization, from baking to biotechnology.</span></p> <p><span>Paleontologists and anthropologists might look to the fossilized bones of early hominins to help fill in the evolutionary story of our species. But paleoecologists like Denise Su, curator and head of paleobotany and paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/reconstructing-the-world-of-our-ancient-ancestors/" target="_blank">are more interested</a> in what type of environments these early human ancestors were living in millions of years ago.</span></p>
Apr 27, 2018
Historical Climate Change, Weighing Galaxies, Great Lakes Water Rights. April 27, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>It’s not uncommon these days to hear scientists and journalists say that our planet is experiencing record-setting temperatures due to climate change. But they’re talking about a small part of Earth’s history—human history. The story of the earth’s climate contains much more than what human beings have recorded. I</span><span>n their new book, </span><em>Weather: An Illustrated History</em><span>, longtime climate reporter Andrew Revkin and co-author Lisa Mechaley <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/four-billion-years-of-climate-change/" target="_blank">track the incredible range of climate history</a>. They condense that history—from the formation of Earth’s early atmosphere to the invention of temperature, the tracking of tornados and the discovery of greenhouse gases—into a digestible timeline of 100 weather-related events.</span></p> <p><span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/help-us-weigh-galaxies/" target="_blank">Science Friday is partnering with citizen science platform Zooniverse</a> to help a team of astrophysicists identify galaxies showing an astronomical phenomenon known as gravitational lensing<span>. Gravitational lensing occurs when the light coming from a galaxy, quasar, or other bright object is bent and distorted by a massive object in front of it, giving the light the appearance of passing through a “lens,” like how an image appears through a magnifying glass. These lenses are rare, but incredibly neat. </span></span><span>So, a gravitational lens essentially allows us to </span><em>weigh</em><span> a galaxy. Pretty cool, right? But, we need </span><em>your </em><span><a href="https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/aprajita/space-warps-hsc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">help</a> to find more lenses! With the aid of the citizen science website Zooniverse, everyone can take part in this real, cutting-edge area of research. You can help contribute to making a </span><em>real </em><span>discovery!</span></p> <p><span>Plus, on this week's <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/when-great-lakes-water-is-public-and-when-it-isnt/" target="_blank">State of Science</a>, </span>Foxconn's Lake Michigan bid raises questions about interpreting a young law—when water is public and when it isn't.</p> <p> </p> <p><span> </span></p> <p> </p>
Apr 27, 2018
Ocean Migrations, Deep Divers, Summer Skies. April 20, 2018, Part 2
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<p>Every night, the largest migration on Earth happens underwater, as jellies, crustaceans and fish swim up hundreds of meters towards the surface to feed. Those daily pilgrimages might also create propulsive jets behind the animals capable of stirring ocean waters, according to research in the journal <em>Nature</em>. Stanford engineer John Dabiri and his team investigated that phenomenon in the lab using brine shrimp (commonly known as sea monkeys). <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-tiny-swimmers-that-may-stir-the-seas/">He joins Ira to discuss the theory.</a></p> <p><span>Plus: Consider the spleen. Many may not appreciate or even think about them very much at all, unless they’ve had them removed, but the Bajau people of Southeast Asia rely on them every day without even knowing it. The Bajau are “sea nomads,” meaning they get everything they need to live by diving up to 65 feet under water, multiple times, for up to 8 hours a day. But it’s not their large lung capacity that give them an advantage during a dive—it’s their extra large spleens. Dr. Melissa Ilardo, post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of Utah, and Dr. Cynthia Beall, Professor of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University, join Ira to discuss the spleen and other evolutionary adaptations that <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/diving-deep-to-appreciate-the-spleen/">allow humans to survive in extreme environments</a>.</span></p> <p><span>And it’s been a hard road getting there this year, but spring is finally in the air in much of the country. And that means summer is not far away, bringing with it warmer temperatures and lazy nights made for stargazing. Dean Regas, outreach astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory and co-host of the PBS series ‘Star Gazers,’ joins Ira to talk about some of <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/with-summer-around-the-corner-a-guide-to-the-night-skies/">the highlights of the summer night skies</a>, from planets to constellations to meteor showers.</span></p>
Apr 20, 2018
Drone Radar, Fracking Seismology, Massive Earthquakes. April 20, 2018, Part 1
46:46
<p>The 1783 eruption of Laki in Iceland lasted eight months, blanketing parts of the island in lava flows 50 feet deep, and spewing noxious gases that devastated crops and poisoned livestock. Tens of thousands died in Iceland, but the eruption killed millions more around the world, when ash from the eruption cooled the Earth, ushering in an icy winter, and weakening monsoons across Africa and Asia. In her new book <em>The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them), </em>seismologist Lucy Jones describes the devastation of Laki and other geological disasters. She joins Ira to discuss natural calamities throughout human history, from Pompeii to Fukushima, and why humans have such trouble planning for and responding to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/240-257-lucy-jones-the-big-ones-ci/">the uncertainty of natural disasters</a>.</p> <p>The evidence is mounting that hydraulic fracturing—fracking—is causing at least some increase in earthquakes in the U.S. From Oklahoma to Ohio, researchers have linked spikes in earthquakes to the added pressure of water too close to fault lines. Often these quakes have been linked to post-operation wastewater injections. But when will a fracking operation itself cause an earthquake? <span>Miami University geologists Michael Brudzinski and Brian Currie join Ira to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-fingerprint-scan-for-earthquakes-caused-by-fracking/">discuss their findings</a> in the bedrock of eastern Ohio.</span></p> <p>Plus: Humans have made the world a pretty tough place for our fellow species to live. As a species, we’re raising global temperatures, destroying natural habitats, and littering the oceans with our junk. But that’s not bad news at all for one adaptive bacteria. In 2016, scientists discovered that <em>Ideonella sakaiensis</em> had evolved to produce an enzyme that enabled it to eat plastic bottles. Now this week, scientists have discovered a way to tweak that enzyme to do the work 20 percent faster. <em>Popular Science</em> senior editor Sophie Bushwick joins Ira to discuss how researchers are looking to harness the bacteria’s penchant for plastic trash, and other science headlines, in <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-next-all-natural-recycling-solution-an-enzyme/">the News Round-up</a>.</p> <p>And in the <em>State of Science</em>, we check in on <span>Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport in Ohio, where a new drone radar system takes flight. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/drone-radar-system-takes-flight-in-ohio/">Ann Thompson of WVXU in Cincinnati tells Ira more.</a></span></p>
Apr 20, 2018
Immunotherapy, The Evolution Of Eyebrows, Unconventional Bird Calls. April 13, 2018, Part 2
46:47
<p><span>Tumors are masters of disguise. The field of immunotherapy—teaching our immune system to recognize cancer—is burgeoning with <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/more-options-for-cancer-immunotherapy/">solutions to this problem. </a></span></p> <p><span>The eyes may be the window to the soul, but it’s our eyebrows that are doing all the talking. The ability to wiggle those two hairy features around isn’t just some party trick, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/these-eyebrows-speak-volumes/">it’s almost like a secret language</a>—one that even our ancient ancestors used to their advantage. </span></p> <p><span>One of the first signs of spring are the sounds of birds chirping in search of food, nesting grounds, and a potential mate. But sometimes <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-look-at-unconventional-bird-calls/" target="_blank">those bird calls aren’t coming from the source you’d expect.</a> In some species, female birds also use calls, and a group of hummingbirds creates calls with their tail feathers. </span></p>
Apr 13, 2018
Beach Health, Extraterrestrial Communication, Maggots. April 13, 2018, Part 1
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<p>Some private citizens, scientists, and entrepreneurs are sending some focused messages through the cosmos, which could theoretically be intercepted by any technologically advanced civilizations among the stars, essentially advertising the existence and location of Earth. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-to-talk-with-aliens/" target="_blank">Is it ethical to do that—or could it needlessly put humanity at risk?</a></p> <p><span>Beach nourishment, the process of dredging up sand from the seafloor to replenish eroding beaches and protect coastal ecosystems, has a history that goes back to the 1920s expansion and widening</span><span> of the beach at Coney Island. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/does-more-sand-always-mean-a-better-beach/" target="_blank">But does it work as intended?</a> And where does all that sand go once it’s placed?</span></p> <p><span>These days, people are thinking about <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/if-you-give-a-maggot-a-cookie/" target="_blank">how to put maggots to good use before we die</a>. That means we have to get over the ick factor and actually study these creatures. What do they eat, when do they eat, how much do they eat, and at what rate?</span></p>
Apr 13, 2018
Levee Wars, New Neurons, Animal Farts. April 6, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>The mighty Mississippi is shackled and constrained by a series of channels, locks, and levees. The height of those levee walls is regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that riverside districts equally bear the risk of flooding. But some districts have piled more sand atop their levees to protect against imminent flood risk during emergency conditions—and then left those sandbags there after the danger passed, leaving a system of levees with irregular heights. A team of investigative reporters at <span>ProPublica has shown </span><span>that those higher levee walls protect the people and developments behind them, but <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/unequal-levees-could-leave-some-towns-to-drown/" target="_blank">shift the risk of flooding onto neighboring communities</a> who have followed the rules.</span></span></p> <p><span>A new study reported in <em><span>Cell Stem Cell</span></em><span> </span><span>this week found evidence of new neurons and their stem cell progenitors in brains as old as 79, some with numbers of neurons on par with younger brains. </span></span>Columbia University neurobiologist and study author Maura Boldrini describes the work, and why we’re still <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/are-aging-brains-still-growing/" target="_blank">resolving questions about aging brains</a>.</p> <p><span>Not all farts are created equal—some animals don’t have the affinity for flatus, while others use their stench strategically. Zoologist Dani Rabaiotti and ecologist Nick Caruso, authors of the book <em>Does It Fart? The Definitive Field Guide to Animal Flatulence, </em><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-internet-asks-does-it-fart-and-science-answers/" target="_blank">discuss how</a><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-internet-asks-does-it-fart-and-science-answers/" target="_blank"> ther</a><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-internet-asks-does-it-fart-and-science-answers/" target="_blank">e</a><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-internet-asks-does-it-fart-and-science-answers/" target="_blank"> really is much more to flatology</a> (the study of flatulence) once you get a closer whiff. <span> </span></span> </p>
Apr 06, 2018
Celebrating '2001: A Space Odyssey' And Whales. April 6, 2018, Part 1
46:09
<p><span>On April 3, 1968, hundreds of audience members walked out of the theatrical premier of a strange, long, dialogue-sparse science fiction film. Now regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s </span><em>2001: A Space Odyssey </em><span>was first met with harsh reviews from critics. </span><span>Writer and filmmaker Michael Benson, author of the new book </span><em>Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, </em><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/50-years-ago-the-odyssey-to-craft-2001/" target="_blank">reflects on</a><span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/50-years-ago-the-odyssey-to-craft-2001/" target="_blank"> the film’s 50-year legacy</a>, painstaking hand-crafted special effects, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of its making.</span></p> <div class="cb-desc"> <p>The endangered North Atlantic right whale population took a big hit last year with a record number of animals killed by fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. Now, the declining numbers of right whales has <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/maine-lobster-industry-is-entangled-with-endangered-whales/" target="_blank">sparked a debate</a> about the impact of Maine’s lobster industry on the dwindling numbers.</p> <p><span>Humpback whales are known for their complex songs and melodies, but bowhead whales are the <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/meet-the-bowhead-whale-the-jazz-singer-of-the-deep/" target="_blank">“jazz singers” of the baleen deep sea singers</a>, according to oceanographer Kate Stafford. She explains why these whales might have such a diverse songbook. </span></p> <p><span>Plus, why health and science scams are going <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-facebook-makes-scam-artists-jobs-easier/" target="_blank">undetected on Facebook</a>. </span></p> </div>
Apr 06, 2018
Predicting Gun Deaths, Bat Flight, New Organ. March 30, 2018, Part 2
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<p>According to CDC data, more than 13,000 people die from gun homicides every year—and most of them are people of color who live in urban areas. Many of them are children. But as scientists seek to understand the causes and solutions for gun deaths, can we also learn to predict them…and even intervene before they happen? <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/can-we-predict-urban-gun-homicides/" target="_blank">One researcher may have the answer</a>: social media analysis. </p> <p><span>Friendly neighbors. Olympic divers. Little horses with wings. No matter what you call the commonly misunderstood bat, they’re far more than simple nocturnal blood-drinkers. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/little-bats-impressive-resumes/" target="_blank">Bats have an impressive repertoire of noteworthy abilities</a>—from super echolocation to agile, muscular wings. It’s a subject that has both inspired and lured scientists, like Sharon Swartz, a biologist who researches bat flight at Brown University. In this segment, she discusses how she takes a close look at the aerodynamics and wing morphology of these creatures to pin down the evolutionary origins of bat flight.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-interstitium-a-new-organ-that-could-explain-the-mysteries-of-the-human-body/" target="_blank">Scientists have discovered a new piece of human anatomy we never knew we had</a>—a layer of connective tissue that exists all over the body. It sits below the skin’s surface, lining the digestive tract, the lungs, and even our blood vessels. Researchers say it could be the missing link the medical community needs to move forward in a number of areas of research, including cancer and autoimmune disease.</p> <p> </p> <p><span> </span></p>
Mar 30, 2018
13,000-Year-Old Footprints, Climate Court, Native Bees, Cell Phones And Cancer. March 30, 2018, Part 1
47:13
<p><span>Planting tomatoes in the garden this year? Better hope you have bumblebees too, because tomato flowers need a good shaking to get the pollen out. </span><span>“What the bumblebee does is grab a tomato flower, curve its abdomen around the bottom of the tomato flower, and then shiver its wing muscles at a specific frequency, shaking pollen out of the holes like a salt shaker,” <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/beyond-the-hive-the-wonderful-world-of-native-bees/" target="_blank">says Paige Embry</a>, author of </span><em>Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them</em><span>.</span></p> <p>This week, a panel of peer reviewers met for three days to discuss a draft report on two long-running studies on the potential health effects of cell phone radiation. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/is-there-a-cell-phone-link-to-cancer-a-definite-maybe/" target="_blank">In their conclusions</a>, and voted to increase the level of confidence in the findings, saying that there was a clear link between the radiofrequency radiation exposure and the male rat heart tissue tumors. The National Toxicology Program now has to decide whether to accept the panel’s recommendation before the final report is released.   </p> <p>In this week's State of Science, a judge requested a climate science tutorial in a federal lawsuit where two California cities are suing the oil company Chevron. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/climate-science-goes-to-court-in-california-oil-case/" target="_blank">In an unprecedented courtroom tutorial on climate science</a>, Chevron went on record agreeing with the scientific consensus that people are causing global warming. But the company also deflected any responsibility for it under federal law and played up uncertainties in projections for both the volume and future consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. The tack signals a potential legal defense against financial liability for climate change impacts such as rising sea levels.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Mar 30, 2018
Climate Risks, Power Grid Security, Necrobiome. March 23, 2018, Part 1
47:16
<p><span>A report issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security said that throughout 2016 and 2017, Russian hackers had worked to gain access to control systems at unidentified power plants and were in a position to shut them down. Their actions have finally given Washington the political will to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. A new bill sponsored by Senator Angus King of Maine will establish a two year pilot program to develop techniques and technologies to better secure the grid. But it might just be <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-to-prevent-russia-from-hacking-into-the-u-s-power-grid/">too little, too late</a>.</span></p> <p>After death, your microbiome continues on as the necrobiome—all of the bacteria, insects, fungi, and other organisms that are involved in decomposition. And the types of bacteria that show up on the scene follow a rather predictable pattern. Biologist Jessica Metcalf is studying this bacterial order to create a “<a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/your-necrobiome-lives-on-after-you-die/">microbial stopwatch</a>” that could be used as a forensic tool, and joins Ira to tell him more.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-alaskan-cities-climate-risks-could-become-credit-risks/">In the State of Science</a>: Late last year, one of the world’s largest credit rating agencies announced that climate change would have an economic impact on the U.S. Moody’s suggested that climate risks could become credit risks for some U.S. states, including Alaska.</p> <p>And <em>Popular Science</em> editor Rachel Feltman tells Ira about the top science stories of the week in <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/news-roundup-rachel-feltman-ct/">the News Round-up</a>.</p> <p> </p>
Mar 23, 2018
Dung Microbes, Gun Research, Airplane Germs, Kepler Mission. March 23, 2018, Part 2
46:54
<p>Guns <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/shaping-the-future-of-gun-research/">kill more people in the United States than alcohol</a>—from homicides and suicides, to mass shootings like the one that left dead 17 high school students in Parkland, Florida last month. But public health researchers will tell you that studying alcohol-related deaths is much easier. Gun research is so fraught politically that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t fund it (though the National Institutes of Health did for three years during the Obama presidency), and a pair of Congressional amendments continue to throw red tape on funding and access to certain kinds of data. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/shaping-the-future-of-gun-research/">Could private foundations, universities, and state governments fill the gap?</a></p> <p>Most zoo visitors go to see the animals. U.C. Santa Barbara chemical engineer Michelle O'Malley visits for their poop. That's because the dung of grazers like sheep, giraffes, and elephants is rich in cellulose-chomping fungi and bacteria. She joins Ira to talk about <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-dung-detective-hunts-for-rare-microbes/">the bacterial and fungal communities within poop</a>.</p> <p>When you fly on an airplane, you’re trapped inside a metal tube for a few hours with hundreds of other passengers, sharing the overhead compartments, lavatories, and air. It feels like there’s a good chance for disease to spread in flight—but just how likely is it? <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/coughs-on-a-plane/">New research maps out the risks.</a></p> <p>Plus, NASA launched the Kepler space telescope in 2009, with plans for it to operate for about three and a half years. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/after-finding-thousands-of-exoplanets-kepler-rides-into-the-sunset/">Now, nine years later, the telescope is close to running out of fuel.</a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Mar 23, 2018
Stephen Hawking, Women In Blockchain, Dinosaurs. March 16, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking died this week at the age of 76. </span><span>Hawking challenged and inspired a generation of physicists, and <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/remembering-stephen-hawking/" target="_blank">we remember his life and legacy. </a></span></p> <p><span>Plus, blockchain is the technology that makes possible every transaction made with Bitcoin—or any digital currency, for that matter. And when Bitcoin skyrocketed on the stock market last year, it turned average Joes into millionaires. Why just Joes? Most surveys show that 95 percent of blockchain enthusiasts and crypto investors are male. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/why-arent-there-more-women-in-blockchain/" target="_blank">We discuss the future of women in blockchain.</a></span></p> <p><span>Then, inside the fossilized bones of <em>Archaeopteryx</em>, one of the earliest bird-like dinosaur specimens, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/to-flap-perchance-to-fly/" target="_blank">researchers have found evidence of a capability for flight. </a></span></p> <p>Finally, what does a <em><span>Tyrannosaurus rex </span></em><span>actually look like? You might immediately think of the iconic, roaring lizard from the </span><em><span>Jurassic Park </span></em><span>films. But one scientific illustrator turns to paleontology studies and fossil finds—poring over the science to accurately reimagine creatures that no longer exist today. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/bringing-accurate-dinosaurs-back-to-life/" target="_blank">And what he renders might surprise you.</a></span></p>
Mar 16, 2018
Ancient Tools, Life On Mars, An Aurora Named Steve. March 16, 2018, Part 2.
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<p><span>Scientists have been trying for a long time to piece together a question: When did traits of modern humans—like complex thinking and behaviors—first develop? Anthropologists have uncovered tools in Kenya that date to 280,000 years ago that contained non-local materials, indicating that early humans <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/complex-human-behaviors-may-have-evolved-in-our-earliest-ancestors/" target="_blank">developed social networks and advanced technology tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.</a></span></p> <p><span>What would daily life be like on the Red Planet? We called a couple experts from NASA, MIT, and Georgia Tech to find out. From meals to transportation, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-guide-to-daily-life-on-mars/" target="_blank">we imagine life on Mars. </a></span></p> <p>Finally, h<span>ow do you solve a puzzle like Steve? That was the name given to a mysterious southerly pink streak</span><span> in the aurora borealis, after aurora enthusiasts using the citizen science platform Aurorasaurus</span><span> began to notice <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-new-clue-to-the-pinkish-streak-named-steve/" target="_blank">the streak appearing again and again in the images they were sharing. </a></span></p>
Mar 16, 2018
‘Broad Band’ Computing History, Science Talent Search. March 9, 2018, Part 2
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<p>In the history of male-dominated computer science, there are a few women who have gotten attention and credit for their contributions. Famously, Ada Lovelace wrote the first algorithm designed for a computer, and foresaw that such machines could do much more than math alone. Grace Hopper, after programming Harvard’s Mark 1 computer during World War II, went on to develop the first program compiler and helped make software programming accessible to more people. But as Claire Evans writes in her new book, <em>Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet</em>, even more women were part of the internet’s rise at every step along the way. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-women-who-made-the-internet/">She joins Ira to tell their story.</a></p> <p>Plus: <span>What were you doing when you were in high school? Were you investigating how supernovae explode? Designing 3D-printed nano-devices that can absorb bacterial toxins? Writing algorithms to detect gender bias in the news? Those are just a few of the ambitious projects more than 1,800 high school science whizzes submitted to the </span><a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/high-school-science-projects-go-high-tech/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Regeneron Science Talent Search</a><span>, a competition founded by the Society for Science and the Public. One thing is for sure: If these students are the future, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/high-school-science-projects-go-high-tech/">the future is looking bright</a>.</span></p>
Mar 09, 2018
BRCA Gene Test, Bacteriophages, Synesthesia. March 9, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>Overuse of antibiotics has lead to bacteria becoming resistant to the drugs. In the United States, at least two million people become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria each year, according to the Center for Disease Control. While some researchers are looking for new sources of antibiotics, other scientists are looking for new strategies to treat bacterial infections. One strategy is the use of bacteriophages—<a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/pitting-viruses-against-bacteria-to-combat-the-antibiotic-crisis/">viruses that infect and kill bacteria</a>. </span></p> <p><span>In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited the consumer genetic testing company 23andMe from marketing a test for breast cancer mutations and drug sensitivity. Now, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/fda-is-back-on-board-with-a-breast-cancer-test/">the FDA has changed its mind</a>, granting 23andMe permission to screen for three mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which increase breast cancer risk.</span></p> <p><span>Around four percent of the world’s population has some form of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that blurs some of the lines around the senses. In two of the more common variants, synesthetes may involuntarily associate letters with colors, or see colors for musical notes—but there are many other forms of synesthesia, all involving the crossover of one form of perception to another. This week, researchers report that they’ve identified several regions of the genome that <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/the-color-of-music/">may be involved in synesthesia</a>.</span></p> <p>Plus, Maggie Koerth-Baker, senior science reporter for Fivethirtyeight.com, tells Ira about a falling space station, exoplanets, and more top science stories of the week <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/falling-chinese-space-station-and-a-scorched-exoplanet/">in the News Round-up</a>.</p>
Mar 09, 2018
P-Hacking, Quackery, Growing Greater Grains. Mar 2, 2018, Part 2
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<p><span>If you like to read about the psychology around food and eating, you’ve probably come across stories based on research from Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, directed by Brian Wansink. In an article published <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-a-noted-food-lab-the-glass-may-be-half-empty/">this week by <em>Buzzfeed News</em></a>, science reporter Stephanie Lee reports on a history of shoddy research practices in the lab, and a chain of emails that indicates a practice of “p-hacking”—a statistical wrangling of data aimed at making a borderline result appear to be statistically significant. Lee discusses her reporting with Ira, and <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/in-a-noted-food-lab-the-glass-may-be-half-empty/">talks about the challenge</a> of reproducibility in scientific research.</span></p> <p><span>Having trouble warding off that weight gain? Have you tried taking some tapeworm eggs? Got a troublesome toothache? Consider cocaine. Swollen joints? Slather on some snake oil. In the new book <em>Quackery:A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything,</em> authors Lydia Kang and Nate Pederson survey a medicine chest’s worth of quacks through the ages, and employ modern-day scientific evidence to <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/medical-cures-that-did-more-harm-than-good/">evaluate their efficacy</a>.</span></p> <p><span>The grain sorghum might not seem familiar to many in the U.S.—but it’s the fifth most important cereal grown in the world. It’s a common human food ingredient in Africa and parts of Asia, and is often used in the U.S. for animal feed or for ethanol production. Now, researchers report that they’ve identified the pathway in one mutant strain of the grain that allows that variety to produce <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/searching-for-a-path-to-greater-grains/">three times as many seeds per plant</a> as regular sorghum.</span></p>
Mar 02, 2018
Chip Fraud, Space Station Future, Neutron Star. Mar 2, 2018, Part 1
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<p>Currently, the International Space Station is the only destination for astronauts traveling into lower-earth orbit. It’s also the only way for scientists to conduct experiments in microgravity. After two decades, it’s still proving to be incredibly useful to researchers. But time is running out. President Trump has indicated he wants to defund the station as scheduled by 2025, it’s nearing the end of its expected lifetime, and private companies have indicated that they, too, want to invest in the space station market. What does the future hold for science’s <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/does-the-iss-have-a-future-among-private-space-competition/">single biggest asset in lower earth orbit</a>?</p> <p>Plus, <span>researchers i</span><span>nvestigating mysterious X-ray sources in other galaxies are finding something strange: neutron stars that burn hundreds of times brighter than they should be able to. And new research published in Nature Astronomy suggests that the answer has to do with a magnetic field <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/shine-brightly-little-neutron-star/">10 billion times stronger</a> than the strongest one ever generated on Earth by human physics experiments.</span></p> <p><span>It’s been about two years since U.S. retailers and lenders began converting to chip-based credit card technology—all in an effort to fend off the kind of fraud and hacks that stole millions of credit card numbers from big retailers like Target, Home Depot, and Michael’s a few years ago. <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/outsmarting-credit-card-fraud-of-the-future/">Has it made a difference?</a></span></p> <p><span>And <em>Gizmodo'</em>s Ryan Mandelbaum tells Ira about the biggest science stories this week <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/listening-for-the-sound-of-the-first-stars-forming/">in the News Round-up</a>.</span></p> <p> </p>
Mar 02, 2018
Wild Horses, Hidden Structures Behind Structures, Florida Flamingos. Feb 23, 2018, Part 1
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<p><span>The gentle curve of a beam. The particular shape of a clay brick. The sharp angles of a series of trusses. You might view these elements of buildings, bridges, and structures as part of the aesthetic and artistic design, or maybe you have overlooked them completely. But for London-based structural engineer Roma Agrawal, these visual charms play an important role not only in the beauty of a building, but in the physics that keep a structure from tumbling down. <span>Agrawal reveals the <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/how-to-spot-the-engineering-tricks-hidden-in-buildings/">hidden engineering and physics in the buildings and bridges around you</a>.</span></span></p> <div class="cb-desc"> <p>Until recently, scientists believed the only horses in the world left untouched by humans were the Przewalski subspecies, in central Asia. But now, researchers discover there are <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/a-case-of-mistaken-equine-identity/">no more wild horses left anywhere on Earth</a>.</p> </div> <div class="cb-desc"> <p>Do Florida's flamingos really belong there? <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/do-floridas-flamingos-really-belong-there/">New research argues</a> that the colorful birds are a species native to Florida, and should be protected.</p> </div> <div class="cb-desc"> <p>Plus, the reason why you don't see '<a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/why-you-dont-see-goosefoot-on-your-thanksgiving-dinner-table/">goosefoot</a>' on your Thanksgiving dinner table, and other stories in science. </p> </div>
Feb 23, 2018
Biohybrid Robots, Neanderthal Art. Feb 23, 2018, Part 2
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<p>A group of engineers are building softer, squishier robots<span>—ones you might knowingly invite into your home to hang out. Instead of sporting bodies of rigid plastic and metal, biohybrid robots often consist of 3D-printed scaffolds laced with lab-grown muscles, <span>sourced from the cells of mice, insects, and even sea slugs. Some "bio-bots" can even heal themselves after an injury, and get back to work. A roundup of engineers <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/for-these-robots-squishy-is-superior/">talk about the growing fleet of biohybrid robots</a>.</span></span></p> <p><span><span>Plus, since the first fossil finds in the 19th century, many have considered Neanderthals, a “sister species” of <em><span>Homo sapiens,</span></em><span> as a primitive species. Their reputation stands as unsophisticated and brutish—and not artistic. Now, <a href="https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/were-neanderthals-artists/">new uranium dating of art in Spanish caves</a> turns up a number that suggests they were painted by Neanderthals. And if it’s true, what does art have to do with complex thought?</span></span></span></p>
Feb 23, 2018