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Science Friday

WNYC

Brain fun for curious people.

Brain fun for curious people.
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New York, NY

Networks:

WNYC

Description:

Brain fun for curious people.

Twitter:

@scifri

Language:

English

Contact:

(800) 989-8255


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Episodes

The Center Of The Milky Way, Rats At Play, And Geometry. Sept 13, 2019, Part 2

9/13/2019
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The Greek mathematician Euclid imagined an ordered and methodical universe, but his vision struggled to catch on for centuries, until Renaissance painters and French monarchs found a way connect the ancient science of geometry to the real world. Science historian Amir Alexander joins Ira to share the story of geometry’s rising global influence in his new book Proof!: How The World Became Geometrical. Plus, a million years ago, the black hole at the center of our galaxy burped. Now,...

Duration:00:50:09

How AI Is Influencing Decisions In Police Departments And Courtrooms. Sept 13, 2019

9/13/2019
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Facial recognition technology is all around us—it’s at concerts, airports, and apartment buildings. But its use by law enforcement agencies and courtrooms raises particular concerns about privacy, fairness, and bias, according to some researchers. Some studies have shown that some of the major facial recognition systems are inaccurate. Amazon’s software misidentified 28 members of Congress and matched them with criminal mugshots. These inaccuracies tend to be far worse for people of color...

Duration:00:49:58

SciFri Extra: Bird Nerds Of A Feather Flock Together

9/11/2019
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The Science Friday Book Club is done birding—for now. But after wrapping up our summer discussion of Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds, bird enthusiasts flocked together at Caveat, a venue in New York City, for one last celebration of bird brains and feathered phenomena. We pitted audience members up against some local bird geniuses in tests of memory, pattern recognition, and problem-solving. Then, we brought on a gaggle of experts to talk about the special and smart birds of New...

Duration:00:45:20

Randall Munroe, Football Concussion Research. Sept 6, 2019, Part 2

9/6/2019
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If you’ve ever been skiing, you might have wondered how your skiis and the layer of water interact. What would happen if the slope was made out of wood or rubber? Or how would you make more snow in the most efficient way if it all melted away? These are the questions that comic artist Randall Munroe thinks about in his book How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. He answers these hypothetical scenarios and other everyday questions—from charging your phone to sending...

Duration:00:50:06

Widening The Lens On A More Inclusive Science. Sept 6, 2019, Part 1

9/6/2019
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In 2012, the Obama administration projected that the United States would need to add an additional 1 million college graduates in STEM fields per year for the next ten years to keep up with projected growth in the need for science and technology expertise. At the same time, though, native Americans and other indigenous groups are underrepresented in the sciences, making up only 0.2 percent of the STEM workforce in 2014, despite being 2 percent of the total population of the United States....

Duration:00:50:30

Vaping Sickness, Teaching Science. Aug 30, 2019, Part 2

8/30/2019
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Over 10 million Americans vape, or smoke electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are also the most popular tobacco product among teenagers in this country. Some of them are marketed with bright colors and fun flavors like chocolate, creme brulee, and mint—or they’re advertised as a healthier alternative to regular cigarette smoking. But last week, public health officials reported that a patient in Illinois died from a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping. In 29 states across the country,...

Duration:00:48:08

Degrees of Change: Tourism. Aug 30, 2019, Part 1

8/30/2019
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Each year, outdoor enthusiasts in the country spend nearly $900 billion dollars on hiking, fishing and other types of outdoor recreation. The different types of business that take part in that tourism economy span a wide range—from big all inclusive ski resorts to mom and pop shops that sell tours of their local hiking spots. But with shrinking snowpacks, more extreme weather, and the unpredictable changes from season to season, these businesses must wrestle with a challenge: climate...

Duration:00:49:14

Climate And Farming, Mars 2020, Fireflies. August 23, 2019, Part 2

8/23/2019
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From cutting back on fossil fuels to planting a million trees, people and policymakers around the world are looking for more ways to curb climate change. Another solution to add to the list is changing how we use land. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, released a special report this month that emphasized the importance of proper land management, such as protecting forests like the Amazon from being converted to farmland, has on mitigating climate change....

Duration:00:48:01

Book Club Birds, Amazon Burning. August 23, 2019, Part 1

8/23/2019
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“Bird-brain” has long been an insult meant to imply slow-wittedness or stupidity. But in reading Jennifer Ackerman’s The Genius of Birds, SciFri Book Club readers have been learning that birds often have wits well beyond ours—take the mockingbird’s capacity to memorize the songs of other birds, or the precise annual migrations of hummingbirds and Arctic terns. Or the New Caledonian crow, which make tools and solve puzzles that might mystify human children. UCLA pigeon researcher Aaron...

Duration:00:47:00

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