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Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Science, Wnyc, Astronomy, Natural Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth Sciences, Friday

4.65.1K Ratings


Brain fun for curious people.

408 Episodes

How Sound Rules Life Underwater

In her new book, science journalist Amorina Kingdon explores the astonishing variety of sound in the ocean, and how it affects ecosystems.

Transcribed - Published: 13 June 2024

Metal-Absorbing Plants Could Make Mining Greener | A Tiny Fern's Gigantic Genome

Plants called “hyperaccumulators” have evolved to absorb high levels of metals. Scientists want to harness them for greener metal mining. And, a little fern from New Caledonia is just a few inches tall, but its genome has 160.45 billion base pairs—50 times more DNA than a human.

Transcribed - Published: 12 June 2024

How Psychological Warfare Moved From Battlefields To Politics

A new book looks at the history of psychological warfare, its connections to science fiction, and how it’s been adapted to modern politics.

Transcribed - Published: 11 June 2024

Step Aside, DNA. It’s RNA’s Time To Shine.

The COVID vaccines proved that RNA could be extremely powerful. A new book explores even more medical applications for the tiny molecule.

Transcribed - Published: 10 June 2024

A Week Of Milestones For Spaceflight | Mexico Has Elected A Scientist President

Boeing’s Starliner successfully launched and docked at the ISS, SpaceX’s Starship rocket launched and returned. Also, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo brings scientific expertise to the presidency. How will her leadership shape science policy?

Transcribed - Published: 7 June 2024

The Organ That Gives Birds Their Voices | Common Loons Are Pop Music Icons

Scientists are studying birds’ unique vocal organ, the syrinx, to better understand its evolutionary history. Also, the eerie calls of the common loon have been heard in songs by Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, and more.

Transcribed - Published: 6 June 2024

Indigenous Nations Are Fighting To Take Back Their Data

Indigenous data sovereignty is the idea that Indigenous Peoples should decide how to collect, own, and use their own data.

Transcribed - Published: 5 June 2024

The Unseen World Of Plant Intelligence

Science journalist Zoë Schlanger discusses plants’ ability to communicate, store memories, and more in her new book, “The Light Eaters.”

Transcribed - Published: 4 June 2024

Right-To-Repair Laws Gain Steam In State Legislatures

A growing number of states are adopting laws that force companies to give consumers better options to repair their devices.

Transcribed - Published: 3 June 2024

Starliner Crewed Test Flight Rescheduled | Slugs And Snails Like Cities

The much-delayed crewed test flight is back on the calendar, despite a helium leak. Also, researchers used data from the crowd-sourcing nature observation app iNaturalist to rank animals’ tolerance of urban environments.

Transcribed - Published: 31 May 2024

Your ‘Biological Age’ Could Be Different Than How Old You Are

Metabolic markers could eventually result in a test for “biological age,” which considers how things other than time age the body.

Transcribed - Published: 30 May 2024

High-Speed Rail Gets A Boost In The U.S.

After decades of under-development, spending on high-speed rail projects is ramping up in California, Florida, and the Northeast Corridor.

Transcribed - Published: 29 May 2024

Using A Lab On Wheels To Study Weed From Dispensaries

A van outfitted as a mobile laboratory helps scientists study how legal cannabis products affect users—without breaking the law.

Transcribed - Published: 28 May 2024

Jelly Creatures That Swim In Corkscrews | Keeping Wind Turbines Safe For Birds

For the first time, scientists have recorded how salps form chains and swim in corkscrews to reach the ocean’s surface each night. Also, a wind utility company in Wyoming is trying to make wind turbines more visible to birds by painting just one blade black.

Transcribed - Published: 27 May 2024

Zapping Nerves Into Regrowth | Celebrating the Maya Calendar In Guatemala’s Highlands

An early study found that electrical stimulation could improve hand and arm function in people with spinal cord injuries. Also, for thousands of years, Indigenous communities in Guatemala have used observations and mathematics to track astronomical events.

Transcribed - Published: 24 May 2024

Fine-Tuning Grapes For Iowa’s Wine Industry

Scientists are breeding wine grapes that will grow in Iowa’s climate in hopes of expanding the state’s wine industry.

Transcribed - Published: 23 May 2024

How To Recycle Rare Earth Elements

Scientists have developed a way to recycle rare earth elements found in discarded electronics without using acid or harsh chemicals.

Transcribed - Published: 22 May 2024

New Evidence Questions Dark Energy’s ‘Constant’ Nature

Early data from the DESI collaboration suggests that dark energy, which powers the universe’s accelerating expansion, may evolve over time.

Transcribed - Published: 21 May 2024

New Guidelines Recommend Earlier Breast Cancer Screening

The latest update moves the recommended age to start mammograms from 50 down to 40. How are these decisions made?

Transcribed - Published: 20 May 2024

New Rule Sets Stage For Electric Grid Update | Harnessing Nanoparticles For Vaccines

Upgrades to the power grid under a new rule could help accommodate an increasing renewable energy supply and meet data center demands. Also, extremely small particles might help scientists develop vaccines that are stable at room temperature and easier to administer.

Transcribed - Published: 17 May 2024

How Climate Change Is Changing Sports

Sports ecologist and author Dr. Madeline Orr discusses how climate change is affecting sports, from ski conditions to athletes’ health.

Transcribed - Published: 16 May 2024

Why Is Tinnitus So Hard To Understand And Treat?

Medical researchers are working to better understand—and hopefully mute—tinnitus, a persistent “ringing in the ears.”

Transcribed - Published: 15 May 2024

Finding Purpose In A ‘Wild Life’

In her new book, Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant shares how her lifelong love for the natural world led her to become a nature TV show host.

Transcribed - Published: 14 May 2024

Archeopteryx Specimen Unveiled | Trees And Shrubs Burying Great Plains' Prairies

The Field Museum has unveiled a new specimen of Archaeopteryx, a species that may hold the key to how ancient dinosaurs became modern birds. Also, a “green glacier” of trees and shrubs is sliding across the Great Plains, burying some of the most threatened habitat on the planet.

Transcribed - Published: 13 May 2024

JWST Detects An Atmosphere Around A Rocky Exoplanet | Boeing Plans To Fly Humans To The ISS Next Week

Astronomers have confirmed they found an atmosphere around an Earth-like rocky exoplanet for the first time. Also, Boeing’s Starliner craft was scheduled to carry humans to the International Space Station in 2017. Its launch is now set for no earlier than May 17, 2024.

Transcribed - Published: 10 May 2024

Challenging The Gender Gap In Sports Science

In a conversation from 2023, SciFri producer Kathleen Davis talks to journalist Christine Yu about how most participants in sports research are still men, even as girls, women, and those outside the gender binary take to the field.

Transcribed - Published: 9 May 2024

What Martian Geology Can Teach Us About Earth

The geology of Mars could provide a snapshot of what our planet was like as the crust was forming and plate tectonics began.

Transcribed - Published: 8 May 2024

How Louisiana Is Coping With Flooding In Cemeteries

As climate change intensifies storms, Louisiana is dealing with catastrophic flooding of cemeteries. Now other states face similar problems.

Transcribed - Published: 7 May 2024

Inside Iowa State’s Herbarium | Science-Inspired Art From ‘Universe of Art’ Listeners

The Ada Hayden Herbarium preserves hundreds of thousands of specimens, including some collected by George Washington Carver. And, as the “Universe of Art” podcast turns one, listeners discuss solar music boxes and what it’s like making art with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Transcribed - Published: 6 May 2024

Science From Iowa’s Prairies | Planning To Go See Cicadas? Here’s What To Know

Science Friday is in Ames, Iowa, home to prairies, greater prairie chickens, and an array of wildlife. Also, the co-emergence of two periodical cicada broods is underway. Scientists have tips for how to experience the event.

Transcribed - Published: 3 May 2024

Maybe Bonobos Aren't Gentler Than Chimps | Art Meets Ecology In A Mile-Long Poem

A study found aggression between male bonobos to be more frequent than aggression between male chimpanzees. Also, visual artist Todd Gilens created a walkable poem along Reno’s Truckee River that draws parallels between urbanism and stream ecology.

Transcribed - Published: 2 May 2024

When Products Collect Data From Your Brain, Where Does It Go?

An array of new products monitors users’ brain waves using caps or headbands. That neural data has few privacy protections.

Transcribed - Published: 1 May 2024

Visualizing A Black Hole’s Flares In 3D

Researchers are trying to develop a better picture of what’s happening in the regions closest to a black hole’s event horizon.

Transcribed - Published: 30 April 2024

The 4,000-Year History of Humans and Silk

For her new book, Aarathi Prasad spent years researching the past and future of silk—and even grew her own silkworms.

Transcribed - Published: 29 April 2024

Flint’s Water Crisis, 10 Years Later | Underwater Cables Could Help Detect Tsunamis

While progress has been made in replacing water pipes in Flint, Michigan, many residents say they still don’t know if their tap water is clean or not. Also, scientists are adding sensors to an underwater cable network to monitor changes in the ocean and quickly detect earthquakes and tsunamis.

Transcribed - Published: 26 April 2024

Fighting Banana Blight | Do Birds Sing In Their Dreams?

America’s most-consumed fruit is at risk from a fungal disease. Researchers in North Carolina are on a mission to save Cavendish bananas. Also, birds move their vocal organs while they sleep, mimicking how they sing. Scientists have translated those movements into synthetic birdsong.

Transcribed - Published: 25 April 2024

Why Is Solving The Plastic Problem So Hard?

Plastics are everywhere, in packaging, clothing, and even our bodies. Could they be made less integral to manufacturing and more recyclable?

Transcribed - Published: 24 April 2024

What Worsening Floods Mean For Superfund Sites

Superfund sites contain extreme pollution. Flooding—made worse by climate change—could carry their toxic contaminants into surrounding areas.

Transcribed - Published: 23 April 2024

The Global Mental Health Toll Of Climate Change | Capturing DNA From 800 Lakes In One Day

An explosion of research is painting a clearer picture of how climate change is affecting mental health across the globe. Also, a citizen science project aims to find species that have gone unnoticed by sampling the waters of hundreds of lakes worldwide for environmental DNA.

Transcribed - Published: 22 April 2024

Clean Energy Transition Progress | Avian Flu In Cattle And Humans Has Scientists Concerned

Global temperature increases are slowing, electric vehicle sales are growing, and renewable energy is now cheaper than some fossil fuels. Also, in a recent outbreak of avian flu, the virus has jumped from birds to cows, and to one dairy worker. A disease ecologist provides context.

Transcribed - Published: 19 April 2024

A Cheer For The Physics Of Baseball

When you watch a baseball game, you’re also enjoying a spectacular display of science—from physics to biomechanics.

Transcribed - Published: 18 April 2024

Carbon Cost Of Urban Gardens And Commercial Farms | Why There's No Superbloom This Year

Some food has a larger carbon footprint when grown in urban settings than on commercial farms, while for other foods the reverse is true. Also, what’s the difference between wildflowers blooming in the desert each spring, and the rare phenomenon of a “superbloom”?

Transcribed - Published: 17 April 2024

Inside The Race To Save Honeybees From Parasitic Mites

Varroa destructor mites are killing honeybees and their babies at alarming rates.

Transcribed - Published: 16 April 2024

The Brain’s Glial Cells Might Be As Important As Neurons

These lesser-known nervous system cells were long thought to be the “glue” holding neurons together. They’re much more.

Transcribed - Published: 15 April 2024

Limits On ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Drinking Water | An Important Winter Home For Bugs | Eclipse Drumroll

A long-awaited rule from the EPA limits the amounts of six PFAS chemicals allowed in public drinking water supplies. Also, some spiders, beetles, and centipedes spend winter under snow in a layer called the subnivium. Plus, a drumroll for the total solar eclipse.

Transcribed - Published: 12 April 2024

Investigating Animal Deaths At The National Zoo

When an animal dies at Washington, D.C.’s National Zoo, a pathologist gathers clues about its health and death from a necropsy.

Transcribed - Published: 11 April 2024

Eating More Oysters Helps Us—And The Chesapeake Bay

In the ever-changing and biodiverse Chesapeake Bay, conservation and food production go hand in hand.

Transcribed - Published: 10 April 2024

How Trees Keep D.C. And Baltimore Cool

Satellite technology—and community outreach—can help harness trees’ cooling power for city residents.

Transcribed - Published: 9 April 2024

Predicting Heart Disease From Chest X-Rays With AI | Storing New Memories During Sleep

Dr. Eric Topol discusses the promise of “opportunistic” AI, using medical scans for unintended diagnostic purposes. Also, a study in mice found that the brain tags new memories through a “sharp wave ripple” mechanism that then repeats during sleep.

Transcribed - Published: 8 April 2024

Recipient Of Pig Kidney Transplant Recovering | Answering Your Questions About April 8 Eclipse

A Massachusetts man who received a kidney from a genetically modified pig is recovering well. Also, on April 8, a total solar eclipse will plunge parts of North America into darkness. Scientists answer the questions you asked.

Transcribed - Published: 5 April 2024

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