Science Friday

50 EpisodesProduced by Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Brain fun for curious people.

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New Horizons Discovery, Science Fair Finalists, Screams. May 17, 2019, Part 2

May 17th, 2019


The most happening New Year’s Party of 2019 wasn’t at Times Square or Paris—it was in the small town of Laurel, Maryland, halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics …

Degrees Of Change: Sea Level Rise, Coal-Use Decline. May 17, 2019, Part 1

May 17th, 2019


As the frequency of tropical storms and droughts increase and sea levels rise with climate change, forested wetlands along the Atlantic coast are slowly filling with dead and dying trees. The accelerating spread of …

Biodiversity Report And The Science Of Parenting. May 10, 2019, Part 2

May 10th, 2019


According to a new UN report on global biodiversity, as many as one million species—both plants and animals—are now at risk of extinction, according to a new UN report on global biodiversity. That number includes 40% of …

Superconductivity Search, Ride-Share Congestion, Lions Vs. Porcupines. May 10, 2019, Part 1

May 10th, 2019


Six decades ago, a group of physicists came up with a theory that described electrons at a low temperature that could attract a second electron. If …

Neuroscientists Peer Into The Mind's Eye, Alexander von Humboldt. May 3, 2019, Part 2

May 3rd, 2019


It sounds like a sci-fi plot: Hook a real brain up to artificial intelligence, and let the two talk to each other. That’s the design of a new study in the journal Cell, in which artificial intelligence networks …

Business Planning For Climate Change,The Digital Afterlife. May 3, 2019, Part 1

May 3rd, 2019


Scientists have built all sorts of models to predict the likelihood of extreme weather events. But it’s not just scientists who are interested in these models. Telecomm giant AT&T teamed up with scientists at …

Measles, Poetry Month, Lemur Hibernation. April 26, 2019, Part 2

April 26th, 2019


Back in 1963, before the development of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, there were 4 million cases of measles every year. It took nearly four decades, but by 2000, enough people had become vaccinated that …

Degrees of Change: Sponge Cities and Pocket Prairies. April 26, 2019, Part 1

April 26th, 2019


Climate change is happening—now we need to deal with it. Degrees of Change, a new series of hour-long radio specials from Science Friday, explores the problem of climate change and how we as a planet are adapting to …

5G, Pig Brains, Privacy For Nature. April 19, 2019, Part 1

April 19th, 2019


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 …

New Human Species, Census, Plankton, Brain Etchings. April 19, 2019, Part 2

April 19th, 2019


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 …

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

April 12th, 2019


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 …

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

April 12th, 2019


“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 …

SciFri Extra: Picturing A Black Hole

April 6th, 2019


The Event Horizon Telescope is tackling one of the largest cosmological challenges ever undertaken: Take an image of the supermassive black hole at …

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

April 5th, 2019


Whenever your smartphone or video game console breaks down, you usually have to go back to the manufacture or a technician affiliated with the …

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

April 5th, 2019


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 …

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

March 29th, 2019


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. …

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

March 29th, 2019


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 …

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

March 22nd, 2019


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 …

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

March 22nd, 2019


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, …

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

March 15th, 2019


Primatologist Frans de Waal has spent his lifetime studying the lives of animals, especially our closest cousins, the chimpanzees. de Waal has …

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

March 15th, 2019


It all started with 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Last August, Thunberg started skipping school on Fridays to protest outside …

SciFri Extra: Celebrating The Elements

March 12th, 2019


Do you have a favorite chemical element? Neurologist Oliver Sacks did—he was partial to dense, high melting-point metals, especially those metals …

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

March 8th, 2019


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, …

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

March 8th, 2019


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 …

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

March 1st, 2019


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 …

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

March 1st, 2019


DNA is the universal programming language for life, and the specific code to that program are the combination of the base pairs adenine, guanine, …

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

February 27th, 2019


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 …

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

February 22nd, 2019


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 …

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

February 22nd, 2019


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 …

SciFri Book Club: ‘The Fifth Season.’ Feb 15, 2019, Part 1

February 15th, 2019


In this final installment of the winter Book Club, we wrap up a winter of exploring The Stillness, learning how volcanologists research lava …

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

February 15th, 2019


 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 …

Earth’s Core, Govt Data In The Cloud, Book Club. Feb 8, 2019, Part 1

February 8th, 2019


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 …

Buttons, Grand Canyon Maps, Mosquitoes. Feb 8, 2019, Part 2

February 8th, 2019


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, …

Digital Art, Lava Lab, Desalination. Feb 1, 2019, Part 1

February 1st, 2019


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 …

Sleep and the Immune System, Measuring Carbon, Specimens of Hair. Feb 1, 2019, Part 2

February 1st, 2019


Some citizen scientists collect minerals or plants. But 19th-century lawyer Peter A. Browne collected hair—lots and lots of hair. His collection …

Weather Advances, Listening to Volcanoes, Phragmites. Jan 25, 2019, Part 1

January 25th, 2019


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 …

Medical Conflict Of Interest, Saturn’s Rings, Bear Brook Podcast. Jan 25, 2019, Part 2

January 25th, 2019


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 …

SciFri Extra: ‘Behind The Sheet’ Of Gynecology’s Darker History

January 22nd, 2019


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 …

Gynecology’s Dark History, Antarctic Ice, Moon Craters. Jan 18, 2019, Part 2

January 18th, 2019


Nineteenth-century physician J. Marion Sims has gone down in history as the “father of modern gynecology.” He invented the speculum, devised body …

Book Club, Green New Deal, Louisiana Shrimpers. Jan 18, 2019, Part 1

January 18th, 2019


In a world roiled continuously by earthquakes, volcanoes, and other tectonic disasters large and small, a cataclysmic earthquake is about to change …

Shutdown and Science, Smartphone and Overdoses. Jan 11, 2019, Part 1

January 11th, 2019


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 …

Heart and Exercise, Consumer Electronics Show, Black Holes. Jan 11, 2019, Part 2

January 11th, 2019


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, …

Diets, Crowd Physics, Snowflake Citizen Science. January 4, 2019, Part 1

January 4th, 2019


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 …

Winter Birding. January 4, 2019, Part 2

January 4th, 2019


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 …

2018 Scifri Year In Review. Dec 28, 2018, Part 1

December 28th, 2018


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 …

American Eden, New Horizons To Ultima Thule. Dec 28, 2018, Part 2

December 28th, 2018


Every holiday season, tourists throng Rockefeller Center to see the famous tree, soaring above the paved plazas and fountains. But more than 200 …

Food Myths, Kids Flu Shot, Europe Plastics Ban. Dec 21, 2018, Part 1

December 21st, 2018


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 …

Future Telescopes, Caterpillars. Dec 14, 2018, Part 2

December 14th, 2018


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 …

Cancer Immunotherapy, Raccoons, Frog Calls. Dec 14, 2018, Part 1

December 14th, 2018


For years, cancer treatment has largely involved one of three options—surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. In recent years, however, a new treatment …

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