Science Friday

Science Friday

www.wnycstudios.org/shows/science-friday
Brain fun for curious people.
New Human Species, Census, Plankton, Brain Etchings. April 19, 2019, Part 2
Apr 19 • 46 min
Last week, researchers announced they’d found the remains of a new species of ancient human on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It was just a few teeth and bones from toes and hands, but they appeared to have a strange mix of ancient and modern…
5G, Pig Brains, Privacy For Nature. April 19, 2019, Part 1
Apr 19 • 47 min
Last week, President Trump announced a new initiative to push forward the implementation of 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity for smartphones and other devices. How is this faster speed possible, and how quickly will it become accessible to…
Year In Space Results, Citizen Science Day, Cherry Blossoms. April 12, 2019, Part 2
Apr 12 • 46 min
To find out what was happening to astronauts over longer periods of space flight, NASA put together a 10-team study of twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly. Scott spent a year on International Space Station, while his brother Mark lived a relatively…
Event Horizon Telescope, Biosphere 2. April 12, 2019, Part 1
Apr 12 • 46 min
“As I like to say, it’s never a good idea to bet against Einstein,” astrophysicist Shep Doeleman told Science Friday back in 2016, when the Event Horizon Telescope project was just getting underway. At an illuminating press conference on Wednesday, April…
SciFri Extra: Picturing A Black Hole
Apr 6 • 17 min
The Event Horizon Telescope is tackling one of the largest cosmological challenges ever undertaken: Take an image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, using a telescope the size of the Earth. Now, the Event Horizon team has…
Right-To-Repair, Exercise Recovery, Gov. Inslee. April 5, 2019, Part 2
Apr 5 • 47 min
Whenever your smartphone or video game console breaks down, you usually have to go back to the manufacture or a technician affiliated with the company to have your device fixed. Oftentimes, companies don’t release parts or guides to their devices, making…
Coal Ash, Soil Loss, Sap, Bristlecone Pines. April 5, 2019, Part 1
Apr 5 • 47 min
Maple tapping season is underway in the sugar maple stands of the United States. Warm days and below-freezing nights kick off a cycle of sap flow crucial for maple syrup production. But why is the flow of sap so temperature dependent in sugar maples?…
Poetry of Science, The Power of Calculus. March 29, 2019, Part 2
Mar 29 • 48 min
April is National Poetry Month, a time of readings, outreach programs, and enthusiastic celebration of the craft. And for a special Science Friday celebration, we’ll be looking at where science and poetry meet. Tracy K. Smith, the current U.S. poet…
Growing Glaciers, Expanding Universe, Flu Near You. March 29, 2019, Part 1
Mar 29 • 48 min
Once upon a time, everything in the universe was crammed into a very small space. Then came the Big Bang, and the universe has been expanding ever since. But just how fast is it expanding? Calculating that number is a challenge that dates back almost a…
A.I. And Doctors, Alzheimer’s. March 22, 2019, Part 2
Mar 22 • 46 min
When you go to the doctor’s office, it can sometimes seem like wait times are getting longer while face time with your doctor is getting shorter. In his book, Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again, cardiologist Eric…
House Science Committee, Superbloom, Snowpack. March 22, 2019, Part 1
Mar 22 • 47 min
There’s been a changing of the guard in the U.S. House of Representatives. In January, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a democrat from Texas, took over as chair of the House Committee for Science, Space, and Technology from her predecessor Lamar…
Frans de Waal, Inactive Ingredients, Street View, and Gentrification. March 15, 2019, Part 2
Mar 15 • 46 min
Primatologist Frans de Waal has spent his lifetime studying the lives of animals, especially our closest cousins, the chimpanzees. de Waal has observed their shifting alliances and the structure of their political ranks. He has seen bitter conflicts break…
Youth Climate Protest, Science Talent Search Winners, Snowflake Changes. March 15, 2019, Part 1
Mar 15 • 46 min
It all started with 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Last August, Thunberg started skipping school on Fridays to protest outside Sweden’s parliament, insisting her country get behind the Paris Climate Agreement. Her protests have…
SciFri Extra: Celebrating The Elements
Mar 12 • 26 min
Do you have a favorite chemical element? Neurologist Oliver Sacks did—he was partial to dense, high melting-point metals, especially those metals between hafnium and platinum on the periodic table. This month marks the 150th anniversary of chemist Dmitri…
HIV Remission, Bones, Jumping Spiders. March 8, 2019, Part 2
Mar 8 • 46 min
Nearly twelve years ago, a cancer patient infected with HIV received two bone marrow transplants to wipe out his leukemia. Now, researchers in the United Kingdom reported in Nature earlier this week that their patient, a man known only as “the London…
NASA Administrator, California Wildfires, Lichens. March 8, 2019, Part 1
Mar 8 • 46 min
On December 14, 1972, as Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan prepared to board the lunar module, he gave one last dispatch from the lunar surface. And yet, 47 years later, humankind has not set another foot on the lunar surface. But now, NASA’s ready to…
Icefish, Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, Wireless Baby Monitoring. March 1, 2019, Part 2
Mar 1 • 46 min
During an electrical system test early in in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. The disaster at the plant was not caused solely by the test, however—a perfect storm of engineering and design missteps,…
Synthetic Genomes, Climate Panel, Local Recycling. March 1, 2019, Part 1
Mar 1 • 47 min
DNA is the universal programming language for life, and the specific code to that program are the combination of the base pairs adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. But are those the only base pairs that could be used to create DNA? Scientists looking…
SciFri Extra: A Night Of Volcanoes And Earthquakes With N.K. Jemisin
Feb 27 • 28 min
The Science Friday Book Club discussion of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season may have stopped erupting for the season, but we have one more piece of volcanic goodness for you. SciFri producer and chief bookworm Christie Taylor got the chance to speak with…
Black Holes, California Megaflood. Feb 22, 2019, Part 2
Feb 22 • 46 min
When it floods in California, the culprit is usually what’s known as an atmospheric river—a narrow ribbon of ultra-moist air moving in from over the Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric rivers are also essential sources of moisture for western reservoirs and…
Telescope Decisions, Grape Plasma, Israeli Moon Lander. Feb 22, 2019, Part 1
Feb 22 • 46 min
The American Astronomical Society meeting is the largest annual gathering of astronomers and astrophysicists. It’s not known for drama. But this year, the buzz in the room wasn’t too different from the nervous energy during an awards night. That’s because…
Declining Insects, Sunny Day Flooding, Liquid Rules. Feb 15, 2019, Part 2
Feb 15 • 47 min
That once vibrant forest has gotten quieter and emptier, as many of the insects— and the animals that depend on them—have disappeared. In a worldwide report card on the state of insects in the journal Biological Conservation, the conclusion is dire: “This…
SciFri Book Club: ‘The Fifth Season.’ Feb 15, 2019, Part 1
Feb 15 • 47 min
In this final installment of the winter Book Club, we wrap up a winter of exploring The Stillness, learning how volcanologists research lava flows and crater tremors, and even diving into the center of the earth. Ira joins Science Friday SciArts producer…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…