Science Friday

Science Friday

www.wnycstudios.org/shows/science-friday
Brain fun for curious people.
Microbes and Art, Science Books 2018. Dec 7, 2018, Part 2
Dec 7 • 47 min
Here at Science Friday, our jobs involve reading a lot of science books every year. We have piles and piles of them at the office. Hundreds of titles about biology and art and technology and space, and sometimes even sci-fi. Now, the time has come for our…
Hemp and CBD, Phytosaurs, Mosquito Control. Dec 7, 2018, Part 1
Dec 7 • 47 min
Good news could be coming soon for anyone interested in hemp, the THC-free, no-high strain of cannabis whose use ranges from fibers to food to pharmaceuticals. If the 2018 Farm Bill passes Congress in its current form, growing hemp would be legal and…
Gene-Editing Humans, Asymmetry, Ancient Whale Ancestor. Nov 30, 2018, Part 2
Nov 30 • 47 min
The first CRISPR-edited babies are (probably) here. The news raises social, ethical, and regulatory questions—for both scientists and society. Then, why are human bodies asymmetrical? A single protein could help explain why. And finally, ever wondered how…
Climate Report, Wind Energy, SciFri Educator Collaborative. Nov 30, 2018, Part 1
Nov 30 • 47 min
This Monday, Mars fans rejoiced as NASA’s lander Mars InSight successfully parachuted safely onto the large, flat plain of Elysium Planitia. In the days that followed, the lander successfully has deployed its solar panels and begun to unstow its robotic…
Caves And Climate, Environmental Archeology, Scanning The Past. Nov 23, 2018, Part 2
Nov 23 • 47 min
When you think of an archaeologist, you might imagine a scientist in the field wielding shovels and pickaxes, screening through dirt to uncover artifacts and structures buried deep in the ground. But what about those areas that you can’t reach or even…
2018 Ig Nobel Prizes. Nov 23, 2018, Part 1
Nov 23 • 47 min
When you go to the zoo, maybe you imitate the chimps, copying their faces, their gestures, or their walk. But it turns out the chimps imitate you just about as often—and as well, according to scientists. Other researchers have found that a trained nose…
California Fires, Fire Engineering, Flu Near You. Nov 16, 2018, Part 1
Nov 16 • 46 min
When wildfires strike, the conversation typically centers around natural factors: forest management, climate change, or hot dry winds that fan the flames. But there’s another important factor in wildfire risk: what humans build. Not just where we build,…
Smell Science, Reader Come Home, Sonar Smackdown. Nov 16, 2018, Part 2
Nov 16 • 46 min
If you had to give up one of your senses, which would you pick? If you think that “smell” might be the obvious answer, consider that your nose plays a crucial role in how you perceive the taste of your food or that it’s a sophisticated sensor capable of…
Immigration and the Microbiome, Spice Trends. Nov 9, 2018, Part 1
Nov 9 • 46 min
‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice lattes. Even if you’re not a fan of the fall beverage, we’ve all been touched by the 15-year dominance of Starbucks’ signature PSL (that’s pumpkin spice latte in coffee lingo) and its pumpkin spice spawn. So what is it…
Heart History, Disease Seasonality, Beatboxing. Nov 9, 2018, Part 2
Nov 9 • 46 min
The case presented a medical mystery. A man had entered his doctor’s office complaining of chest pain, so his doctors ordered an angiogram, an X-ray of the arteries of his heart. His condition was serious: a complete blockage of one of his coronary…
Physics Mysteries, Appendix and Parkinson’s, Paralysis Treatment. Nov 2, 2018, Part 2
Nov 2 • 47 min
Ever wondered why your dog’s back-and-forth shaking is so effective at getting you wet? Or how bugs, birds, and lizards can run across water—but we can’t? Or how about why cockroaches are so darn good at navigating in the dark? Those are just a few of the…
Local Science Issues, Dolphin Calls, Kepler Death. Nov 2, 2018, Part 1
Nov 2 • 47 min
With the midterm elections less than a week away, science is on voters’ minds even when it’s not on the ballot. From coastal floods in Florida, to the growing pains of renewable energy in Hawaii, to curbing the opioid addiction crisis in Kentucky,…
Science Goes To The Movies: First Man, Driverless Car Ethics, Beetle Battles. Oct 26, 2018, Part 2
Oct 26 • 46 min
Damien Chazelle’s film First Man reconstructs the personal trials of astronaut Neil Armstrong in the years leading up to his famous first steps on the moon—as well as the setbacks and losses that plagued the U.S. space program along the way. This week in…
Blood, Spatial Memory, Gerrymandering. Oct 26, 2018, Part 1
Oct 26 • 46 min
Blood is essential to human life—it runs through all of our bodies, keeping us alive—but the life-giving liquid can also have a mysterious, almost magical quality. As journalist Rose George points out, this association goes back to thousands of years,…
Music And Technology, Social Critters, Sleep And Genetics. Oct 19, 2018, Part 2
Oct 19 • 60 min
Mark Ramos Nishita, more popularly known as Money Mark from the Beastie Boys, has created the “Echolodeon.” The custom-built machine converts original piano rolls, created from actual performances by greats like Debussy and Eubey Blake, into MIDI signals…
C-Section Increase, Puerto Rican Hurricane Recovery, A Turtle Tiff. Oct 19, 2018, Part 1
Oct 19 • 46 min
The World Health Organization recommends that the C-section rate should be about 15% of births, for optimal outcomes for mothers and babies. But a series of studies published in The Lancet this week shows that rates worldwide are much higher. In the past…
Squirrel Monkeys, Salmon Migration, The Realness. Oct 12, 2018, Part 2
Oct 12 • 46 min
Squirrel monkeys have big brains for their size, they’re chatterboxes, and they’ve even been to space. There may even be parallels between squirrel monkey communication and the evolution of human language, says primatologist Anita Stone. She joins Ira to…
Election Security, Channel Islands, IPCC Report. Oct 12, 2018, Part 1
Oct 12 • 47 min
The voting infrastructure is a vast network that includes voting machines, registration systems, e-poll books, and result reporting systems. This summer, the federal government put out a report that stated that hackers, possibly connected to Russia,…
Dung Beetles, Exomoon, Poison Squad. Oct 5, 2018, Part 2
Oct 5 • 47 min
Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was formed in 1906, you might have been more weary of pouring milk over your morning cereal. Milk could be spiked with formaldehyde, while pepper could contain coconut shells, charred rope or floor sweepings.…
Nobels, Argument Logic. Oct 5, 2018, Part 1
Oct 5 • 45 min
This week the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology, and medicine awarded its top scientists with its highest honor, the Nobel Prize. And this year, the annual celebration of scientific greatness was punctuated by a historic achievement: For the first…
Water Wars, Air Pollution And Fetuses, Electric Blue Clouds. Sept. 28, 2018, Part 2
Sep 28 • 46 min
Yemen is gripped by civil war—and some experts say it could be the first of many “water wars” to come, as the planet grows hotter and drier. In This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-Offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America,…
Utah National Monuments, North Carolina Coal Ash, Asteroids. Sept. 28, 2018, Part 1
Sep 28 • 46 min
Back in December, the Trump administration announced reductions to two of Utah’s national monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante, which runs from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park, and Bears Ears, newly established by the Obama administration…
Undiscovered Presents: The Magic Machine. Sept. 25, 2018
Sep 25 • 37 min
As a critical care doctor, Jessica Zitter has seen plenty of “Hail Mary” attempts to save dying patients go bad—attempts where doctors try interventions that don’t change the outcome, but do lead to more patient suffering. It’s left her distrustful of…
Endangered Crow, Hawaiian Biodiversity, Mars Simulation. Sept. 21, 2018, Part 2
Sep 21 • 74 min
About five million years ago, the island of Kauai emerged from the ocean waves, and a new chain of island habitats was born, right in the middle of the Pacific. In those Hawaiian islands, birds would have found a multitude of microclimates, a lack of most…
Utah Dino Bones, Salt Lake Migrations, Tree Canopies. Sept. 21, 2018, Part 1
Sep 21 • 58 min
If you stood in southeastern Utah over 200 million years ago, you’d be overlooking the ocean. The landlocked state wasn’t quite the same landscape of scarlet plateaus and canyons you might see today, but a coastal desert where sand dunes butted up right…
Undiscovered Presents: The Holdout. Sept 18, 2018.
Sep 18 • 33 min
Since the 1980s, Gerta Keller, professor of paleontology and geology at Princeton, has been speaking out against an idea most of us take as scientific gospel: That a giant rock from space killed the dinosaurs. Nice story, she says—but it’s just not true.…
Soil Future, Plant Feelings, Science Fair. Sept 14, 2018, Part 2
Sep 14 • 47 min
Climate change is increasing temperatures and causing heavier rainfalls across the country. Scientists are studying how these changes will affect different natural resources, including the soil ecosystem. For example, in Wisconsin, soil erosion is…
Florence Flooding, Algorithms, Dino Demise. Sept. 14, 2018, Part 1
Sep 14 • 46 min
Last month, California passed a bill ending the use of cash bail. Instead of waiting in jail or putting down a cash deposit to await trial at home, defendants are released after the pleadings. The catch? Not everyone gets this treatment. It’s not a judge…
Undiscovered Presents: I, Robovie. Sept 11, 2018.
Sep 11 • 34 min
A decade ago, psychologists introduced a group of kids to Robovie, a wide-eyed robot who could talk, play, and hug like a pro. And then, the researchers did something heartbreaking to Robovie! They wanted to see just how far kids’ empathy for a robot…
Grazing, Work-Life Imbalance. Aug. 7, 2018, Part 2
Sep 7 • 47 min
Each spring, animals move from their winter grazing grounds in search of greener pastures. For birds, where and when to start that journey is based on genetics, and signals from stars, and magnetic fields from the earth. But for some larger mammals like…
Tick Repellents, Robot Relationships. Aug. 7, 2018, Part 1
Sep 7 • 47 min
If you were given a robot and asked to break it, would you do it? The amount of Furby destruction videos on Youtube suggest it wouldn’t be that hard. But that’s not true for all robots. According to researchers, knowing more about a robot or bonding with…
Eric Kandel and the Disordered Mind, Death. Aug 31, 2018, Part 2
Aug 31 • 46 min
The human brain contains an estimated 100 billion neurons. When those cells malfunction, the disrupted process can lead to schizophrenia, PTSD, and other disorders. In his book The Disordered Mind, Nobel Prize-winning neuropsychiatrist Eric Kandel looks…
Outdoor Influencers, Northwest Passage, Undersea Volcanoes. Aug 31, 2018, Part 1
Aug 31 • 46 min
NASA is exploring a deep-sea volcano off the coast of Hawaii as a test run for human and robotic missions to Mars and beyond. The mission, dubbed SUBSEA, or Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog, will examine microbial life…
SciFri Special Edition: A Time Traveler Cocktail Party. Aug 28, 2018.
Aug 28 • 22 min
In 2009, Stephen Hawking decided to throw a party for time travelers, famously sending the invitations after the date of the party. For the 30th anniversary of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, the SciFri Book Club decided to throw our own party—a Time…
Yellow Fever and Ebola, Trans-boundary Aquifers, Probiotics. Aug 24, 2018, Part 2
Aug 24 • 48 min
From 1976 to 2017, the Democratic Republic of the Congo experienced eight outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus. Then, for 10 weeks earlier this year, the virus reemerged in the country, killing 33 people. Ministry of Health officials finally declared the…
Hurricane Lane, Disposable Contacts, Brief History of Time. Aug 24, 2018, Part 1
Aug 24 • 48 min
This year was both the 30th anniversary of Stephen Hawking’s science blockbuster A Brief History of Time, but also the year the famed physicist himself passed away. In memory of Hawking and celebration of his work, Science Friday Book Club listeners…
Ant Traffic Flow, Natural Reactors, David Quammen. August 17, 2018, Part 2
Aug 17 • 47 min
Worker ants keep the nest alive. They look for food, take care of the eggs, and dig all the tunnels. Fire ant colonies, for example, have hundreds of thousands of worker ants. You’d think traffic jams happen all the time. But they don’t! The majority of…
Coastal Flooding, Elephants and Cancer, Yosemite Bears. August 17, 2018, Part 1
Aug 17 • 47 min
More than five years after the devastating 14-foot high waters of Superstorm Sandy flooded New York and New Jersey, the Army Corps of Engineers is studying methods for reducing the damage of future high waters in the New York Bay and Hudson River…
The Story Of Sand, Science And Dance. August 10, 2018, Part 2.
Aug 10 • 47 min
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.…
Parch Marks, Wildfires, The Beatles. August 10, 2018, Part 1
Aug 10 • 46 min
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…
Bacteria Extinction, Facial Recognition, Solar Probe. August 3, 2018, Part 2
Aug 3 • 46 min
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 oxygen-rich and liveable. But do…
“Lost in Math,” Alan Alda, A Radical Brain Surgery, New Jersey Floods. August 3, 2018. Part 1
Aug 3 • 46 min
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…
Ant Socialization, Smoky Skies, Dust Storm, Mars Lake. July 27, 2018, Part 2
Jul 27 • 46 min
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…
PFAS, Urban Evolution, Science Diction. July 27, 2018, Part 1
Jul 27 • 46 min
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…
Heredity, Oldest Bread, Jupiter’s Moons. July 20, 2018, Part 2
Jul 20 • 46 min
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. But what does it even mean to be “related” to an ancient queen when it’s…
Yeast Superbug, Dino Dinner, Toxic Algae. July 20, 2018, Part 1
Jul 20 • 46 min
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 drug-resistant yeast is increasingly worrying epidemiologists. The yeast, Candida auris, has popped up…
Nerve Agents, Straws, Soccer Flops, Happiness. July 13, 2018, Part 2
Jul 13 • 46 min
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…
Neutrinos, Book Club, Air Conditioning. July 13, 2018, Part 1
Jul 13 • 47 min
In 1988, physicist Stephen Hawking’s wildly popular A Brief History of Time 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…
19th-Century Surveyor, News Roundup, Eagles’ Nests. July 6, 2018, Part 1
Jul 6 • 45 min
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…
Jurassic World, Rhino Comeback, Uranus Collision. July 6, 2018, Part 2
Jul 6 • 46 min
It’s the 25th anniversary of the debut of Jurassic Park. And with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom currently at the top of the summer movie food chain, its progeny continue to dominate the box offices. But even as the original Jurassic Park gave viewers the…