Science Friday

Science Friday

www.wnycstudios.org/shows/science-friday
Brain fun for curious people.
Buttons, Grand Canyon Maps, Mosquitoes. Feb 8, 2019, Part 2
Feb 8 • 47 min
The button is everywhere. It allows us to interact with our computers and technology, alerts us when someone is at the front door, and with a tap, can have dinner delivered to your home. But buttons also are often associated with feelings of control,…
Earth’s Core, Govt Data In The Cloud, Book Club. Feb 8, 2019, Part 1
Feb 8 • 46 min
At the very center of the Earth is a solid lump of iron and nickel that might be as hot as the surface of the Sun. This solid core is thought to be why our magnetic field is as strong as it is. As the core grows, energy is transferred to the outer core to…
Sleep and the Immune System, Measuring Carbon, Specimens of Hair. Feb 1, 2019, Part 2
Feb 1 • 46 min
Some citizen scientists collect minerals or plants. But 19th-century lawyer Peter A. Browne collected hair—lots and lots of hair. His collection started innocently enough. Browne decided to make a scientific study of wool with the hope of jumpstarting…
Digital Art, Lava Lab, Desalination. Feb 1, 2019, Part 1
Feb 1 • 46 min
A series of lines on a wall, drawn by museum staff, from instructions written by an artist. A textile print made from scanning the screen of an Apple IIe computer, printing onto heat transfer material, and ironing the result onto fabric. A Java program…
Medical Conflict Of Interest, Saturn’s Rings, Bear Brook Podcast. Jan 25, 2019, Part 2
Jan 25 • 46 min
Most scientific journals go by the honor system when it comes to conflicts of interest: They ask, and the researchers tell. But that system might be due for an overhaul. A recent ProPublica and New York Times investigation found that a top cancer…
Weather Advances, Listening to Volcanoes, Phragmites. Jan 25, 2019, Part 1
Jan 25 • 45 min
Your smartphone gives you up-to-the-minute weather forecast updates at the tap of a button. Every newscast has a weather segment. And outlets like the Weather Channel talk weather all day, every day. But how much has the process of predicting the weather…
SciFri Extra: ‘Behind The Sheet’ Of Gynecology’s Darker History
Jan 22 • 29 min
The 19th-century physician J. Marion Sims may have gone down in history as the “father of modern gynecology,” but Sims’ fistula cure was the result of experimental surgeries, pre-Emancipation, on at least 11 enslaved black women. Only three of whose names…
Gynecology’s Dark History, Antarctic Ice, Moon Craters. Jan 18, 2019, Part 2
Jan 18 • 46 min
Nineteenth-century physician J. Marion Sims has gone down in history as the “father of modern gynecology.” He invented the speculum, devised body positions to make gynecological exams easier, and discovered a method for closing vaginal fistulas, a…
Book Club, Green New Deal, Louisiana Shrimpers. Jan 18, 2019, Part 1
Jan 18 • 46 min
In a world roiled continuously by earthquakes, volcanoes, and other tectonic disasters large and small, a cataclysmic earthquake is about to change the course of human history… again. On the same day, a woman comes home to find her son dead, killed by his…
Heart and Exercise, Consumer Electronics Show, Black Holes. Jan 11, 2019, Part 2
Jan 11 • 47 min
You’ve heard the news that smoking is bad for your health. But it turns out not exercising could be even worse for your chances of survival, according to a recent study in the journal JAMA Network Open. But is it possible to overdo it? While you’re trying…
Shutdown and Science, Smartphone and Overdoses. Jan 11, 2019, Part 1
Jan 11 • 46 min
The partial shutdown of the U.S. government is approaching its third week, and it has caused a backlog for scientists employed or funded by the government. Scientists have had to leaving data collection and experiments in limbo. The Food and Drug…
Diets, Crowd Physics, Snowflake Citizen Science. January 4, 2019, Part 1
Jan 4 • 46 min
Earlier this week, hundreds of thousands of revelers huddled together under the pouring rain in Times Square for an annual tradition: to watch the New Year’s ball drop. But once the clock struck midnight, the song was sung, and the loved ones were kissed,…
Winter Birding. January 4, 2019, Part 2
Jan 4 • 46 min
Every year in the dead of winter, bird lovers flock in large numbers to count as many birds as they possibly can on a single day. This is the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, a citizen science effort to track the trends of bird numbers over…
2018 Scifri Year In Review. Dec 28, 2018, Part 1
Dec 28, 2018 • 46 min
In 2018, natural disasters around the world bore the unmistakable fingerprints of human-caused climate change. The federal government’s 1,600-page National Climate Assessment predicted even more extreme events—floods that destroy infrastructure, warming…
American Eden, New Horizons To Ultima Thule. Dec 28, 2018, Part 2
Dec 28, 2018 • 46 min
Every holiday season, tourists throng Rockefeller Center to see the famous tree, soaring above the paved plazas and fountains. But more than 200 years ago, they would have found avocado and fig trees there, along with kumquats, cotton, and wheat—all…
Fetal Cell Research, Schadenfreude, Deer Disease. Dec 21, 2018, Part 2
Dec 21, 2018 • 46 min
The Trump administration is cracking down on federal scientists seeking fetal tissue for their work, while it conducts a “comprehensive review” of research involving fetal cells. One HIV research program that uses fetal tissue to create humanized mice has…
Food Myths, Kids Flu Shot, Europe Plastics Ban. Dec 21, 2018, Part 1
Dec 21, 2018 • 47 min
You’ve probably heard of the five second rule, when you drop a cookie on the floor and take a bite anyway because it’s only been a few seconds. What about when you’re at a party and you see someone double dip a chip in the salsa? How much bacteria does…
Future Telescopes, Caterpillars. Dec 14, 2018, Part 2
Dec 14, 2018 • 47 min
28 years ago, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery gently raised the Hubble Space Telescope, or HST, up from the shuttle bay, and released it into space. Geologist and astronaut Kathryn Sullivan commemorated the moment with a short speech, as she…
Cancer Immunotherapy, Raccoons, Frog Calls. Dec 14, 2018, Part 1
Dec 14, 2018 • 47 min
For years, cancer treatment has largely involved one of three options—surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. In recent years, however, a new treatment option, immunotherapy, has entered the playing field. It has become the first-line preferred treatment for…
Microbes and Art, Science Books 2018. Dec 7, 2018, Part 2
Dec 7, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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, 2018 • 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…