Science Friday

Science Friday

www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/science-friday
Brain fun for curious people.


SciFri en Español: El Río Hirviente De Perú Tiene Más De Lo Que El Ojo Ve
Aug 12 • 20 min
En el verano del 2019, Rosa Vásquez Espinoza bioquímica y candidata a Ph.D. en la Universidad de Michigan Ann Arbor, fue en una expedición al Río Hirviente en la Amazonía peruana para colectar microbios. Ahora, está tratando de comprender el papel que…
Biden Climate Plan, Boiling River. August 7, 2020, Part 1
Aug 7 • 47 min
Last month, Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his plan for climate change—a sweeping $2 trillion dollar platform that aims to tighten standards for clean energy, decarbonize the electrical grid by 2035, and reach carbon neutrality for the whole country by…
The End of Everything, Bright Fluorescence, Gene Editing a Squid. August 7, 2020, Part 2
Aug 7 • 47 min
When it comes to the eventual end of our universe, cosmologists have a few classic theories: the Big Crunch, where the universe reverses its expansion and contracts again, setting the stars themselves on fire in the process. Or the Big Rip, where the…
COVID In Prisons, How Sperm Swim. July 31, 2020, Part 2
Jul 31 • 47 min
As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread, it’s become clear certain populations are particularly at risk—including those serving sentences in prisons and jails. The virus has torn through correctional and detention centers across the U.S., with more than…
Science In Space, Sports and COVID, Science Diction. July 31, 2020, Part 1
Jul 31 • 47 min
Astronauts have conducted all sorts of experiments in the International Space Station—from observations of microgravity on the human to body to growing space lettuce. But recently, cosmonauts bioengineered human cartilage cells into 3D structures aboard…
SciFri Extra: The Origin Of The Word ‘Ketchup’
Jul 28 • 19 min
Science Diction is back! This time around, the team is investigating the science, language, and history of food. First up: Digging into America’s favorite condiment, ketchup! At the turn of the 20th century, 12 young men sat in the basement of the…
Three Missions To Mars, COVID Fact Check, Solar Probes. July 24, 2020, Part 1
Jul 24 • 49 min
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, your news feed is likely still overflowing with both breaking research and rumors. Virologist Angela Rasmussen of Columbia University joins Ira once again to Fact Check Your Feed, discussing everything from two vaccine…
Long-Term COVID Effects, Dicamba and Agriculture, Mosquitoes. July 24, 2020, Part 2
Jul 24 • 47 min
Since the beginning of the pandemic, hospitals have been treating and triaging an influx of COVID-19 patients. Hundreds of thousands of seriously ill patients have been hospitalized, with some having to stay and receive care for months at a time. But now…
How Brains Organize Smells, Plant Evolution In Art, New Hearing Aids. July 17, 2020, Part 2
Jul 17 • 46 min
How we smell has been a bit of a mystery to scientists. Other senses are easier to understand: For example, it’s possible to predict what a color will look like based on its wavelength. But predicting what a new molecule will smell like is more difficult.…
Coronavirus And Schools, New Mars Rover. July 17, 2020, Part 1
Jul 17 • 47 min
As we approach August, many of our young listeners and their parents are starting to think about going back to school. Usually, that might mean getting new notebooks and pencils, and the excitement of seeing classmates after a summer apart. But COVID-19…
Great Indoors, Science Museums, Who Owns The Sky. July 10, 2020, Part 2
Jul 10 • 46 min
A whole lot of folks’ summer plans have been cut short this season. Maybe you were planning a family road trip to visit a national park. Or your local science museum. Now, you can watch from home, as Emily Graslie, executive producer, host, and writer for…
Degrees of Change: Changing Behavior. July 10, 2020, Part 1
Jul 10 • 46 min
Over the past months, our Degrees of Change series has looked at some of the many ways our actions affect the climate, and how our changing climate is affecting us—from the impact of the fashion industry on global emissions to the ways in which coastal…
Summer Science Books, Naked Mole Rats. July 3, 2020, Part 2
Jul 3 • 46 min
The pandemic has nixed many summer vacation plans, but our summer science book list will help you still escape. While staying socially distant, you can take a trip to the great outdoors to unlock the mysteries of bird behaviors. Or instead of trekking to…
Making The Outdoors Great For Everyone. July 3, 2020, Part 1
Jul 3 • 47 min
It’s the start to a holiday weekend, which often means spending time outdoors, whether that’s going to the beach, on a hike, or grilling in a park. But not everyone feels safe enjoying the great outdoors—and we’re not talking about getting mosquito bites…
Honeybee Health, Assessing COVID Risk, Seeing Numbers. June 26, 2020, Part 2
Jun 26 • 46 min
This past year was a strange one for beekeepers. According to a survey from the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership, U.S. beekeepers lost more than 40% of their honey bee colonies between April of 2019 and April of 2020. That’s significantly more than…
Checking In On Kids’ Mental Health During the Pandemic. June 26, 2020, Part 1
Jun 26 • 46 min
In the U.S., we’re heading into the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and lockdowns have taken a toll on everyone’s mental and emotional well-being—including children and teens, many of whom may be having trouble processing what’s…
SciFri Extra: A Pragmatic Wishlist For AI Ethics
Jun 24 • 16 min
Earlier this month, three major tech companies publicly distanced themselves from the facial recognition tools used by police: IBM said they would stop all such research, while Amazon and Microsoft said they would push pause on any plans to give facial…
Facial Recognition, Hummingbird Vision, Moon Lander. June 19, 2020, Part 2
Jun 19 • 47 min
Protests Shine Light On Facial Recognition Tech Problems Earlier this month, three major tech companies publicly distanced themselves from the facial recognition tools used by police. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna explained their company’s move was because of…
Doctor Burnout, International Doctors. June 19, 2020, Part 1
Jun 19 • 47 min
A Crisis Of Health In Healthcare Workers Content Warning: This segment contains talk of suicide. For help for people considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Depression and anxiety are extremely common in…
Proactive Policing, The Social Brain. June 12, 2020, Part 2
Jun 12 • 46 min
In the 1980s and 1990s, in the midst of rising crime rates and a nationally waning confidence in policing, law enforcement around the country adopted a different approach to addressing crime. Instead of just reacting to crime when it happened, officers…
Anthony Fauci On The Pandemic’s Future. June 12, 2020, Part 1
Jun 12 • 47 min
During the pandemic, immunologist Anthony Fauci has gained fame as “America’s doctor.” He’s a leading scientist in the government’s response to COVID-19, and a celebrated teller of truths—uncomfortable as they may be—like how long the world may have to…
Breast Cancer Cultural History, Butterfly Wings. June 5, 2020, Part 2
Jun 5 • 46 min
‘Radical’ Explores The Hidden History Of Breast Cancer Nearly 270,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, along with a couple thousand men. But the disease manifests in many different ways, meaning few patients have the same story to tell.…
Police Behavior Research, Dermatology In Skin Of Color, Coffee Extraction. June 5, 2020, Part 1
Jun 5 • 47 min
This week, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans by police brutality and racial inequality continue to fuel demonstrations around the nation. In many cities, police are using tear gas, rubber bullets, and other control…
Bio-Inspired Concrete, Nose Microbiome, Space News. May 29, 2020, Part 2
May 29 • 46 min
The human microbiome—our own personalized bacteria profile—plays a part in our health. The different parts of our body, from our skin to our gut, each have their own microbial profile. A team of researchers decided to explore the bacteria living inside…
Vaccine Rate Decrease, Mind-Body Music. May 29, 2020, Part 1
May 29 • 46 min
One unintended consequence of families sheltering at home is that children’s vaccination rates have gone way down. In New York City, for example, vaccine doses for kids older than two dropped by more than 90 percent. That could mean new outbreaks of…
Ancient East Asian Genomes, COVID And Clotting, And Cassowary Plumage. May 22, 2020, Part 2
May 22 • 47 min
The cassowary, a large flightless bird native to Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, has a reputation for aggression and wickedly clawed feet that can cause serious injury. Indeed, they’ve been known to attack humans dozens of times, and even…
Degrees Of Change: Regulatory Rollbacks. May 22, 2020, Part 1
May 22 • 46 min
The Trump administration is in the process of reversing nearly 100 environmental rules and regulations—threatening air, water, and public health. For example, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has relaxed…
Galileo, Home COVID Monitoring Tech, Origin Of The Feces. May 15, 2020, Part 2
May 15 • 46 min
Galileo’s Battle Against Science Denial Galileo Galilei is known as the father of observational astronomy. His theories about the movement of the Earth around the sun and his experiments testing principles of physics are the basis of modern astronomy. But…
Global COVID Hotspots, Fact Check My Feed, Koji Fermenting. May 15, 2020, Part 1
May 15 • 46 min
Fact Check My Feed: Finding The Falsehoods In ‘Plandemic’ Science Friday continues to weigh the truth and sift through the seemingly never-ending stream of misleading claims about the novel coronavirus. This week, virologist Angela Rasmussen joins Ira to…
Moon Maps, Brain Replay, Contact Tracing. May 8, 2020, Part 2
May 8 • 46 min
Have you ever had to learn something new and repeat it over and over—until it feels like you’re doing it in your sleep? Maybe you are. In research published this week in the journal Cell Reports, scientists monitored the brain activity of two people…
COVID-19 Inequalities. May 8, 2020, Part 1
May 8 • 46 min
Coronavirus is still hitting the U.S. hard. And breaking down infections by race shows a striking pattern: Black, Latino, and Native American people are hit much harder than other communities. National data shows black Americans account for nearly 30% of…
Evolutionary Biologist Neil Shubin, Bee Virus Behavior, Search for Lost Apples. May 1, 2020, Part 2
May 1 • 45 min
The Twists And Turns Of The Evolution Of Life On Earth In an evolutionary tree, neat branches link the paths of different species back through time. As you follow the forking paths, you can trace common ancestors, winding down the trunk to see the root…
COVID-19 By The Numbers, 1918 Flu. May 1, 2020, Part 1
May 1 • 47 min
Navigating COVID-19 By The Numbers Ever since the first news about a new virus in China, we’ve been seeing projections, or models predicting how it might spread. But how are those models created? There’s a lot of math that goes into understanding what…
Vaccine Process, Hubble Space Telescope Anniversary, Alchemy Of Us. April 24, 2020, Part 2
Apr 24 • 48 min
Over 50 pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms around the world are now racing to develop vaccines for the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Anthony Fauci has said that it might be possible to develop a vaccine in as quickly as 12 to 18 months—but…
Valley Fever, Citizen Science Month Finale. April 24, 2020, Part 1
Apr 24 • 47 min
When you think of fungal infections, you might think athlete’s foot or maybe ringworm—itchy, irritating reactions on the skin. But other fungal diseases can cause much more serious illness. One of them is Valley Fever, caused by the soil fungus…
COVID-19 Factcheck, Digital Earth Day, City Nature Challenge, Ancient Antarctic Forest. April 17, 2020, Part 2
Apr 17 • 47 min
Can Coronavirus Reactivate In Patients After Recovery? These days, newsfeeds are overloaded with stories of the coronavirus, but Science Friday continues to explain the science behind COVID-19 headlines. Here, we learn about South Korea reports of 116…
Degrees of Change: Climate Anxiety and Depression. April 17, 2020, Part 1
Apr 17 • 47 min
You Aren’t Alone In Grieving The Climate Crisis As the consequences of unchecked climate change come into sharper focus—wildfires in the Amazon and Australia, rising seas in low-lying Pacific Islands, mass coral bleaching around the world—what is to be…
Spring Sounds, Luxury Ostrich Eggs, ISeeChange. April 10, 2020, Part 2
Apr 10 • 47 min
Enjoying Spring From Quarantine You may be trapped inside, but outside, it’s bird migration season. Flowers are blooming from coast to coast, and even the bees are out getting ready for a year of productive buzzing around. Producer Christie Taylor talks…
Healthcare Ripple Effects, Resilient Flowers, Cancer Detection. April 10, 2020, Part 1
Apr 10 • 47 min
Routine Healthcare Is Falling Through The COVID-19 Cracks Our healthcare system is straining under the weight of the coronavirus epidemic, with hospital emergency rooms and ICUs around the country facing shortages of masks, ventilators, hospital beds, and…
SciFri Extra: Science Diction On The Word ‘Quarantine’
Apr 7 • 17 min
Quarantine has been on many of our minds lately. The phrases “shelter in place” and “self-quarantine” have filled up our news, social media, and conversations since the first inklings of the coronavirus pandemic. But this is far from the first time cities…
DIY Masks, Neanderthal Diet, Symbiotic Worms. April 3, 2020, Part 2
Apr 3 • 46 min
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the country are running low on PPE—personal protective equipment. This includes masks, gowns, face shields, and other important gear to keep healthcare workers safe. These supplies are the first line…
COVID-19 Supplies Shortage, Citizen Science Month, Mercury Discovery. April 3, 2020, Part 1
Apr 3 • 46 min
April is Citizen Science Month! It’s a chance for everyone to contribute to the scientific process—including collecting data, taking observations, or helping to analyze a set of big data. And best of all, a lot of these projects can be done wherever you…
SciFri Extra: Science Diction On The Word ‘Cobalt’
Mar 31 • 17 min
Cobalt has been hoodwinking people since the day it was pried from the earth. Named after a pesky spirit from German folklore, trickery is embedded in its name. In 1940s Netherlands, cobalt lived up to its name in a big way, playing a starring role in one…
Squid Lighting, Tongue Microbiome, Invasive Herbivores. March 27, 2020, Part 2
Mar 27 • 45 min
How Humboldt Squid Talk To Each Other In The Dark Cephalopods are masters of changing their bodies in response to their environments—from camouflaging to sending warning signals to predators. The art of their visual deception lies deep within their skin.…
COVID Near You Citizen Science, Fact-Check Your Feed. March 27, 2020, Part 1
Mar 27 • 45 min
These days, our newsfeeds are overloaded with stories of the coronavirus. This week, Science Friday continues to dig into the facts behind the speculation—the peer-reviewed studies and reports published by scientists investigating the virus. But what we…
SciFri Extra: Science Diction On The Word ‘Dinosaur’
Mar 24 • 12 min
At the turn of the 19th century, Britons would stroll along the Yorkshire Coast, stumbling across unfathomably big bones. These mysterious fossils were all but tumbling out of the cliffside, but people had no idea what to call them. There wasn’t a name…
Coronavirus Fact-Check, Poetry of Science, Social Bats. March 20, 2020, Part 2
Mar 20 • 47 min
As new cases of coronavirus pop up across the United States, and as millions of people must self-isolate from family and friends at home, one place many are turning to for comfort and information is their news feed. But our regular media diet of politics,…
Jane Goodall, Coronavirus Update, Science Diction. March 20, 2020, Part 1
Mar 20 • 48 min
60 years ago this year, a young Jane Goodall entered the Gombe in Tanzania to begin observations of the chimpanzees living there. During her time there, Goodall observed wild chimpanzees in the Gombe making and using tools—a finding that changed our…
SciFri Extra: Science Diction On The Word ‘Vaccine’
Mar 17 • 12 min
For centuries, smallpox seemed unbeatable. People had tried nearly everything to knock it out—from herbal remedies to tossing back 12 bottles of beer a day (yep, that was a real recommendation from a 17th century doctor), to intentionally infecting…
Farmers’ Stress, Tiny Dino-Bird Discovery. March 13, 2020, Part 2
Mar 13 • 47 min
The Farm Crisis of the 1980s was a dark time for people working in food and agriculture. U.S. agricultural policies led to an oversupply of crops, price drops, and farms closures. At the same time, the rate of farmer suicide skyrocketed. The industry…