WIRED Science: Space, Health, Biotech, and More

WIRED Science: Space, Health, Biotech, and More

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Narrators read our favorite written stories. You can listen to them anywhere, including on your smart speaker. Play for audio versions of WIRED’s latest Science stories on genetic engineering, robotics, space, climate change, and more.


NASA’s Mars Rover Will Be Powered by US-Made Plutonium
Aug 6 • 7 min
In 2015, Oak Ridge National Laboratory produced the first plutonium fuel in the US in nearly 30 years. Now it’s headed to another planet.
Mad Scientists Revive 100-Million-Year-Old Microbes
Aug 5 • 11 min
Researchers collected sediment thousands of feet deep, filtered out bacteria, and revived the cells. But fear not—the destruction of humanity by ancient microbes is not nigh.
These 4 Covid-19 Vaccines Are Closest to Becoming Reality
Aug 4 • 9 min
There are hundreds of trials currently in the works. Here’s everything you need to know about the ones edging ahead in the global race.
The Sly Psychology Behind Magicians’ Card Tricks
Aug 3 • 9 min
Is this your card? A recent study found that participants will select the suit or number they were primed to choose.
How Quickly Can Atoms Slip, Ghostlike, Through Barriers?
Jul 31 • 10 min
A new experiment on how rapidly atoms can tunnel through a barricade revives a physics debate about how time passes on the quantum scale.
During Lockdowns, the Earth (Sort of) Stood Still
Jul 30 • 9 min
Seismometers pick up human activity, like driving. When Covid arrived, scientists watched that global seismic noise plummet by 50 percent.
A Billion More Tons of Plastic Could Blanket Earth by 2040
Jul 29 • 8 min
Even with immediate action, 710 million metric tons of plastic will enter the environment in the next two decades, scientists show. Welcome to Plastic Planet.
How NASA Built a Self-Driving Car for Its Next Mars Mission
Jul 28 • 10 min
It’s hard enough to get an autonomous vehicle to work on Earth. It’s even harder on another planet.
Everything You Need to Know About the Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine
Jul 27 • 6 min
Early results from the team in the UK show their approach is safe and provokes an immune response. But that doesn’t mean it works.
What Happens After a ‘Million-Mile Battery’ Outlasts the Car?
Jul 24 • 9 min
Electric vehicle makers hope to roll out super long-lasting batteries. That raises interesting questions about resources, performance—and a battery’s second act.
Llamas—Yes, Llamas—Could Help Us Fight Covid-19
Jul 23 • 8 min
These creatures have evolved special “nanobodies” that may have an edge over human antibodies when it comes to developing a new treatment.
Your Car Is Spewing Microplastics That Blow Around the World
Jul 22 • 9 min
When you drive, tiny bits of plastic fly off your tires and brakes. Now scientists have shown how all that road muck is blowing into “pristine” environments like the Arctic.
Don’t Talk About Covid-19’s ‘Waves’—This Isn’t the Spanish Flu
Jul 21 • 7 min
It’s not useful to think about coronavirus coming in synchronized surges. This is a long, lingering epidemic that is only just getting started.
You Don’t Need Single-Use Plastic Bags. You Need a Mask
Jul 20 • 9 min
Honestly, you should just be disinfecting your reusable bags—the real issue is airborne virus, not infected shopping totes, experts say.
How to Trick Your Brain to Remember Almost Anything
Jul 17 • 6 min
Four-time USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis and psychological scientist Julia Shaw explain how to boost your memory skills.
How a ‘Heat Dome’ Forms—and Why This One Is So Perilous
Jul 16 • 9 min
A massive, intense heat wave is settling over the continental US. The ravages of the Covid pandemic are going to make it all the more deadly.
Covid-19 Immunity May Rely on a Microscopic Helper: T Cells
Jul 15 • 10 min
Researchers have been looking beyond antibodies to understand how immunity to the new virus might work—and how to design a vaccine.
Covid Kills More Men Than Women. Experts Still Can’t Explain Why
Jul 14 • 23 min
A new tracker from Harvard’s GenderSci Lab is the first to consolidate sex-separated data from across the US. It may help researchers solve the mystery.
Will We Recognize Life on Mars When We See It?
Jul 13 • 12 min
If NASA’s Perseverance rover finds life on the Red Planet, there’s a good chance our first extraterrestrial encounter will be a little ambiguous.
Astronomers Are Uncovering the Magnetic Soul of the Universe
Jul 10 • 17 min
Researchers are discovering that magnetic fields permeate much of the cosmos. If these fields date back to the Big Bang, they could solve a cosmological mystery.
The Epic Siberian Journey to Solve a Mass Extinction Mystery
Jul 8 • 22 min
A quarter-billion years ago, huge volcanic eruptions burned coal, leading to the worst extinction in Earth’s history. Here’s how scientists hunted down the evidence.
Hummingbirds Can See Colors We Can’t Even Imagine
Jul 7 • 4 min
When humans see purple, we’re really seeing a blend of red and blue light. Hummingbirds see purple plus ultraviolet—and lots of other nonspectral colors.
Nuclear ‘Power Balls’ May Make Meltdowns a Thing of the Past
Jul 6 • 9 min
Triso particles are an alien-looking fuel with built-in safety features that will power a new generation of high-temperature reactors.
‘Carbon Farming’ Could Make US Agriculture Truly Green
Jul 3 • 8 min
Today a Senate committee will hear about a bill that would help farmers adopt practices to release less carbon from the soil, reducing planetary warming.
NASA’s New Moon-Bound Space Suits Will Get a Boost From AI
Jul 2 • 7 min
Engineers are turning to generative design algorithms to build components for NASA’s next-generation space suit—the first major update in decades.
Stuck at Home, Scientists Discover 9 New Insect Species
Jul 1 • 7 min
Without a DNA sequencer, two Los Angeles entomologists relied on two of biology’s oldest tools: microscopes and lots of free time.
Who’s to Blame for Plastic Microfiber Pollution?
Jun 30 • 13 min
Tiny bits of plastic are corrupting every corner of the planet. The major culprits: cheap synthetic clothing and washing machines.
Why Massive Saharan Dust Plumes Are Blowing Into the US
Jun 29 • 9 min
Every summer, an atmospheric event propels desert dust thousands of miles across the Atlantic. This year is particularly bad, and timed terribly with Covid-19.
Why NASA Designed a New $23 Million Space Toilet
Jun 26 • 9 min
Later this year, astronauts on the American module of the ISS will be able to test out the toilet before NASA puts it on crewed vehicles for deep-space missions.
The Trouble With Counting Aliens
Jun 25 • 12 min
A new study estimates that there might only be 36 communicating extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story.