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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

Year In Space Results, Citizen Science Day, Cherry Blossoms. April 12, 2019, Part 2

4/12/2019
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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 normal life on Earth—though both regularly sent the researchers samples of their blood, urine, cognitive test results, and other data to assess their physiology over time. Scott Kelly returned to Earth in 2016, and researchers have been...

Duration:00:47:51

Event Horizon Telescope, Biosphere 2. April 12, 2019, Part 1

4/12/2019
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“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 10th, scientists shared the image for the first time: a slightly blurry lopsided ring of light encircling a dark shadow. But even as the image confirms current ideas about gravity, it also raises new questions about galaxy formation and...

Duration:00:47:48

SciFri Extra: Picturing A Black Hole

4/6/2019
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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 announced they have big news to share about those efforts. On Wednesday April 10th, it’s anticipated they will show a photo of the event horizon. Before they do, we wanted to share this 2016 conversation with Event Horizon project director Shep...

Duration:00:17:52

Right-To-Repair, Exercise Recovery, Gov. Inslee. April 5, 2019, Part 2

4/5/2019
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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 it difficult to repair them own your own. 20 different states have introduced right-to-repair legislation, which calls for companies to open up the ability for individuals to fix their own devices. Recently, senator Elizabeth Warren called...

Duration:00:48:24

Coal Ash, Soil Loss, Sap, Bristlecone Pines. April 5, 2019, Part 1

4/5/2019
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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? University of Vermont maple researcher Abby van den Berg explains how ice crystals in the trees’ cells power sap flow, while Yale University’s Craig Brodersen tackles how other trees and plants move gallons of fluid per day from roots to...

Duration:00:49:07

Poetry of Science, The Power of Calculus. March 29, 2019, Part 2

3/29/2019
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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 laureate, wrote the 2011 book Life On Mars, which touches on dark matter, the nature of the universe, and the Hubble Telescope—all as an elegy for her deceased engineer father, Floyd. Rafael Campo, a physician, poet, and editor for the Journal...

Duration:00:50:18

Growing Glaciers, Expanding Universe, Flu Near You. March 29, 2019, Part 1

3/29/2019
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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 hundred years, when Edwin Hubble used data from Harvard astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt to try to answer that question. His value came to be called the Hubble constant, H0. But the exact value of that constant has been hard to pin down....

Duration:00:50:39

A.I. And Doctors, Alzheimer’s. March 22, 2019, Part 2

3/22/2019
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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 Topol argues that artificial intelligence can make medicine more personal and empathetic. He says that algorithms can free up doctors to focus more time on their patients. Topol also talks about how A.I. is being used for drug discovery,...

Duration:00:48:26

House Science Committee, Superbloom, Snowpack. March 22, 2019, Part 1

3/22/2019
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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 Smith. Smith was in charge of the House Science Committee for six years—an era that was defined by partisan attacks on climate science, and the issuing of congressional subpoenas to scientists. Chairwoman Johnson is looking to restore...

Duration:00:50:36

Frans de Waal, Inactive Ingredients, Street View, and Gentrification. March 15, 2019, Part 2

3/15/2019
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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 out, only to be mended by peaceful, respected mediators. And he has witnessed chimpanzees grieve for, and attempt to comfort, their dead and dying. But one of the most touching reflections in his new book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions...

Duration:00:47:28

Youth Climate Protest, Science Talent Search Winners, Snowflake Changes. March 15, 2019, Part 1

3/15/2019
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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 inspired thousands of young people around the world to join the #FridaysForFuture movement, skipping school to demand that their governments take action against climate change. And on Friday March 15th, these young people will take things a step...

Duration:00:48:12

SciFri Extra: Celebrating The Elements

3/12/2019
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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 Mendeleev’s design for the periodic table—and we didn’t want to miss out on the party. In this special podcast, we revisit Sacks’ fascination with the elements, and Ira opens up the Science Friday vaults to share two tales of chemical...

Duration:00:28:20

HIV Remission, Bones, Jumping Spiders. March 8, 2019, Part 2

3/8/2019
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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 patient,” had been in remission and off anti-retroviral therapy for 18 months after undergoing a similar bone marrow transplant, with the same gene mutation involved, to treat leukemia. While the team is hesitant to call their patient cured,...

Duration:00:50:37

NASA Administrator, California Wildfires, Lichens. March 8, 2019, Part 1

3/8/2019
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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 return, with the Moon to Mars program. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine joins Ira in this segment to talk about the agency's ambitions beyond Earth, the role of commercial space companies in getting us there, and why he thinks plant science...

Duration:00:50:15

Icefish, Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, Wireless Baby Monitoring. March 1, 2019, Part 2

3/1/2019
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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, operational errors, and cultural problems all aligned to bring about the catastrophe. In his new book, Midnight In Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, journalist Adam Higginbotham describes the events that...

Duration:00:47:08

Synthetic Genomes, Climate Panel, Local Recycling. March 1, 2019, Part 1

3/1/2019
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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 into this question were able to create 4 different base pairs that don’t exist in nature. Chemist Floyd Romesberg, biologist Jef Boeke, and bioethicist Debra Mathews tell Ira how altered genomes could be used for creating novel medicines and...

Duration:00:47:15

SciFri Extra: A Night Of Volcanoes And Earthquakes With N.K. Jemisin

2/27/2019
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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 Jemisin at our book club meet-up, “Voyage To The Volcanoes,” at Caveat in New York City. Listen for Jemisin’s adventures in volcano research, how real-world events inspired her to build an entire society around disaster preparedness, and how...

Duration:00:29:15

Black Holes, California Megaflood. Feb 22, 2019, Part 2

2/22/2019
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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 mountain snowpack, but in 1861, a series of particularly intense and prolonged ones led to the worst disaster in state history: a flood that swamped the state. The megaflood turned the Central Valley into an inland sea and washed away an estimated...

Duration:00:49:10

Telescope Decisions, Grape Plasma, Israeli Moon Lander. Feb 22, 2019, Part 1

2/22/2019
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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 there is a competition underway for what will be NASA’s next big space telescope—the next Hubble or James Webb. There are four nominees, and eventually there will be a winner. Science Friday assistant producer Katie Feather reported on the...

Duration:00:48:14

Declining Insects, Sunny Day Flooding, Liquid Rules. Feb 15, 2019, Part 2

2/15/2019
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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 review highlights the dreadful state of insect biodiversity in the world, as almost half of the species are rapidly declining and a third are being threatened with extinction.” We discuss the consequences of the "insect apocalypse." By...

Duration:00:50:18