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Science Friday

WNYC

Brain fun for curious people.

Brain fun for curious people.
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Location:

New York, NY

Networks:

WNYC

Description:

Brain fun for curious people.

Twitter:

@scifri

Language:

English

Contact:

(800) 989-8255


Episodes

Live in San Antonio: Deadly Disease, Bats, Birds. Aug. 16, 2019, Part 2

8/16/2019
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Imagine stepping into a white suit, pulling on thick rubber gloves and a helmet with a clear face plate. You can only talk to your colleagues through an earpiece, and a rubber hose supplies you with breathable air. Sounds like something you wear in space, right? In this case, you’re not an astronaut. You’re at the Texas Biomedical Institute in San Antonio, one of the only places where the most dangerous pathogens—the ones with no known cures—can be studied in a lab setting. Dr. Jean...

Duration:00:50:09

Lightning, Electric Scooters, News Roundup. Aug. 16, 2019, Part 1

8/16/2019
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Lightning during a heavy rainstorm is one of the most dramatic phenomena on the planet—and it happens, somewhere on Earth, an estimated 50 to 100 times a second. But even though scientists have been puzzling over the physics of lightning for decades, stretching back even to Ben Franklin’s kite experiment, much of the science remains mysterious. Ira and IEEE Spectrum news editor Amy Nordrum speak with Farhad Rachidi, a lightning researcher at Säntis Tower in Switzerland, as well as Bill...

Duration:00:49:24

Northwest Passage Project, Birds and Color. Aug 9, 2019, Part 1

8/9/2019
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First, tardigrades on the moon, feral hogs on Earth, and more news from this week’s News Roundup. Scientists and students navigated the Northwest Passage waterways to study how the Arctic summers have changed. Last year, one day into expedition, the boat ran aground and cut the mission off before it could get started. This year, the team successfully launched from Thule, Greenland and completed their three-week cruise. Birds don’t just see the world from higher up than the rest of us; they...

Duration:00:49:14

Wiring Rural Texas, Visiting Jupiter and Saturn. Aug 9, 2019, Part 2

8/9/2019
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High-speed internet access is becoming a necessity of modern life, but connecting over a million rural Texans is a challenge. How do we bridge the digital divide in Texas' wide open spaces? It turns out the Great Red Spot might not be so great—it's shrinking. Plus, other news from the giant planets.

Duration:00:49:14

Is Chemical Sunscreen Safe, Slime, Amazon Deforestation. August 2, 2019, Part 2

8/2/2019
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Sunscreen has been on the shelves of drugstores since the mid-1940s. And while new kinds of sunscreens have come out, some of the active ingredients in them have yet to be determined as safe and effective. A recent study conducted by the FDA showed that the active ingredients of four commercially available sunscreens were absorbed into the bloodstream—even days after a person stops using it. Ira talks to professor of dermatology and editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical...

Duration:00:48:03

Ethics Of Hawaiian Telescope, Bird Song, Alaska Universities Budget Cut. August 2, 2019, Part 1

8/2/2019
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Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in Hawaii, towering over the Pacific at nearly 14,000 feet. That high altitude, combined with the mountain’s dry, still air and its extreme darkness at night, make it an ideal place for astronomy. There are already 13 observatories on the summit plateau. Now, astronomers want to build another, called the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, which would become the largest visible-light telescope on the mountain. But many native Hawaiians don’t want it there, for...

Duration:00:49:35

Ice Cream Science, Online Language. July 26, 2019, Part 2

7/26/2019
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Have you ever tried to make your favorite rocky road flavored ice cream at home, but your chocolate ice cream turns out a little crunchier than you hoped? And your ribbons of marshmallow are more like frozen, sugary shards? Chemist Matt Hartings and ice cream maker Ben Van Leeuwen, co-founder of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream in New York City, talk about the science behind how milk, sugar, and eggs turn into your favorite frozen desserts. They’ll chat about the sweet science behind other...

Duration:00:48:42

Anonymous Data, Birding Basics. July 26, 2019, Part 1

7/26/2019
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The Science Friday Book Club is buckling down to read Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds this summer. Meanwhile, it’s vacation season, and we want you to go out and appreciate some birds in the wild. But for beginning birders, it may seem intimidating to find and identify feathered friends both near and far from home. Audubon experts Martha Harbison and Purbita Saha join guest host Molly Webster to share some advice. They explain how to identify birds by sight and by ear, some guides...

Duration:00:47:59

Moon Art, Space History, And NASA's Megarocket. July 19, 2019, Part 2

7/19/2019
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Our Lunar Muse Most of us remember that iconic photograph of the Apollo 11 moon landing: Buzz Aldrin standing on a footprint-covered moon, one arm bent, and Neil Armstrong in his helmet’s reflection taking the picture. But there’s a much longer, ancient history of trying to visually capture the moon that came before the 1969 photo—from Bronze Age disks with crescent moons to Galileo’s telescope drawings to 19th-century photos and modern photographs. For millennia, we’ve been obsessed with...

Duration:00:49:33

Apollo Anniversary And Bird Book Club. July 19, 2019, Part 1

7/19/2019
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Celebrating Apollo's 'Giant Leap' July 20, 1969 was a day that changed us forever—the first time humans left footprints on another world. In this segment, Ira Flatow and space historian Andy Chaikin celebrate that history and examine the legacy of the Apollo program. Apollo ushered in a new age of scientific discovery, with lunar samples that unlocked the history of how the moon and the solar system formed. It accelerated the development of new technologies, like the integrated circuit....

Duration:00:47:37

Mosquitos and Smell, Fermentation, Model Rocket Launch. July 12, 2019, Part 2

7/12/2019
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If you’ve ever tried brewing your own beer or raising your own sourdough, then you know that the process of fermentation isn't easy to get right. How do you control the growth of mold, yeast, or bacteria such that it creates a savory and delicious new flavor, and not a putrid mess on your kitchen counter? David Zilber is Director of Fermentation at the restaurant Noma, and he tells his fermentation secrets. The human scent is made up of a combination of 100 odor compounds. Other mammals...

Duration:00:49:41

Degrees of Change: Food and Climate. July 12, 2019, Part 1

7/12/2019
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A quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from putting food on the table. From the fossil fuels used to produce fertilizers, to the methane burps of cows, to the jet fuel used to deliver your fresh asparagus, eating is one of the most planet-warming things we do. In our latest chapter of Degrees of Change, we're looking at how to eat smarter in a warming world. Plus, we’ve launched a new way for you to add your voice to the show: the SciFri VoxPop app. Download now for iPhone...

Duration:00:50:00

The Bastard Brigade, Spontaneous Generation. July 5, 2019, Part 2

7/5/2019
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Much has been written about the Manhattan Project, the American-led project to develop the atomic bomb. Less well known is Nazi Germany’s “Uranium Club”—a similar project started a full two years before the Manhattan Project. The Nazis had some of the greatest chemists and physicists in the world on their side, including Werner Heisenberg, and the Allies were terrified that the Nazis would beat them to the bomb—meaning the Allies were willing to try anything from espionage to assassination...

Duration:01:01:51

Science Road Trips, Archaeology From Space. July 5, 2019, Part 1

7/5/2019
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Summer is here—and that means it’s time for a road trip! Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, co-authors of Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the Hidden Wonders of the World, join Ira to share some suggestions for sciencey things to see and do around the country, from unusual museum exhibits to outstanding natural wonders. Plus, we asked you for YOUR travel ideas—and did you deliver! We’ll share tourist tips from some regular Science Friday guests, and highlight some of your many...

Duration:00:48:30

Paternity, Musical Proteins, Microbiome In Runners. June 28, 2019, Part 2

6/28/2019
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These days, a scientific paternity test is easily acquired, and its results are seen as almost indisputable. But what about the days before so-called foolproof DNA analysis? For most of human history, people considered the identity of a child’s father to be more or less “unknowable.” Then in the 20th century, when a flurry of events sparked the idea that science could help clarify the question of fatherhood, and an era of “modern paternity” was born. The new science of paternity, which...

Duration:00:50:30

Cephalopod Week Wrap-Up, USDA Climate Change, Sinking Louisiana. June 28, 2019, Part 1

6/28/2019
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The eight-day squid-and-kin appreciation extravaganza of Cephalopod Week is nearly over, but there’s still plenty to learn and love about these tentacled “aliens” of the deep. After a rare video sighting of a giant squid—the first in North American waters—last week, NOAA zoologist Mike Vecchione talks about his role identifying the squid from a mere 25 seconds of video, and why ocean exploration is the best way to learn about the behavior and ecology of deep-sea cephalopods. Then, Marine...

Duration:00:51:30

SciFri Extra: About Time

6/25/2019
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The official U.S. time is kept on a cesium fountain clock named NIST-F1, located in Boulder, Colorado. On a recent trip to Boulder, Ira took a trip to see the clock. He spoke with Elizabeth Donley, acting head of the Time and Frequency Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, about keeping the official U.S. time on track—and how NIST is using advanced physics to develop ever more precise and stable ways to measure time.

Duration:00:15:27

Smoke Chasers, Colorado Apples, Pikas. June 21, 2019, Part 2

6/21/2019
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When wildfires rage in the West, Colorado State University atmospheric scientist Emily Fischer hops into a plane, and flies straight into the smoke. The plane is a flying chemistry lab, studded with instruments, and Fischer’s goal is to uncover the chemical reactions happening in smoke plumes, to determine how wildfire smoke may affect ecosystems and human health. Pikas—those cute little animals that look like rodents but are actually more closely related to rabbits—used to roam high...

Duration:00:50:46

Cephalopod Week 2019, Climate and Microbes, Puppy Eyes, Wave Energy. June 21, 2019, Part 1

6/21/2019
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For eight glorious days during the end of June, Science Friday honors the mighty mollusks of the ocean—Cephalopod Week returns for the sixth year! And we’re cephalo-brating with a tidal wave of ways for you to participate. This year, we want to know your favorite cephalopod. Is it the charismatic giant Pacific octopus or the long-lived chambered nautilus? Science Friday digital producer Lauren Young and biologist Diana Li add their own favorite cephalopods to the ultimate undersea showdown....

Duration:00:50:07

Degrees Of Change: Urban Heat Islands. June 14, 2019, Part 1

6/14/2019
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We’ve known for more than 200 years that cities are hotter than surrounding rural areas. All that concrete and brick soaks up the sun’s rays, then re-emits them as heat long after night has fallen. On top of that, waste heat from the energy we use to power our buildings, vehicle emissions, and even air conditioning units can cause some cities to be as many as 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than their rural surroundings—creating “urban heat islands.” Between the toll that heat takes on the body...

Duration:00:47:21