New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes, every weekday. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join host Maddie Sofia for science on a different wavelength.
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This week's science news roundup reunites All Things Considered host Ailsa Chang with Short Wave hosts Emily Kwong and Regina G. Barber to dig into the latest headlines in biomedical research, also known as cool things for the human body. We talk new RSV vaccines, vaccination by sticker and a new device helping a man with paralysis walk again. Have questions about science in the news? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ice in Antarctica is melting really quickly because of climate change. That's driving sea level rise around the world, and the water is rising especially fast in the seaside city of Galveston, Texas — thousands of miles from Antarctica. Why do Antarctica and Texas have this counterintuitive relationship? And what does it mean for a $34 billion effort to protect the city from hurricanes?Read more and see pictures and video from Antarctica here.
Mora Leeb was 9 months old when surgeons removed half her brain. Now 15, she plays soccer and tells jokes. Scientists say Mora is an extreme example of a process known as brain plasticity, which allows a brain to modify its connections to adapt to new circumstances.Read more of Jon's reporting.Science in your everyday got you puzzled? Overjoyed? We've love to hear it! Reach us by emailing email@example.com.
If you ask a physicist or cosmologist about the beginnings of the universe, they'll probably point you to some math and tell you about the Big Bang theory. It's a scientific theory about how the entire universe began, and it's been honed over the decades. But recent images from the James Webb Space Telescope have called the precise timeline of the theory a little bit into question. That's because these images reveal galaxies forming way earlier than was previously understood to be possible. To understand whether it's physics itself or just our imaginations that need help, we called up theoretical physicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein.Got questions about the big and small of our universe? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In February 2021, pandemic restrictions were just starting to ease in Hawaii, and Leila Mirhaydari was finally able to see her kidney doctor. Transplanted organs need diligent care, and Leila had been looking after her donated kidney all on her own for a year. So a lot was riding on that first batch of lab results. "Immediately, all my levels were just out of whack and I knew that I was in rejection," she says. "I've had to work through a lot of emotional pain, of feeling like I failed my donor. Like, why couldn't I hold on to this kidney?"On today's episode, editor Gabriel Spitzer walks us through Leila's journey — from spending her late 20s on dialysis, to being saved by a gift and ultimately, to the search for another donated kidney. Learn more about living donation from the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Kwasi Wrensford studies two related species: the Alpine chipmunk and the Lodgepole chipmunk. The two have very different ways of coping with climate change. In this episode, Kwasi explains to host Emily Kwong how these squirrelly critters typify two important evolutionary strategies, and why they could shed light on what's in store for other creatures all over the globe.
This week for our science news roundup, superstar host of All Things Considered Ari Shapiro joins Short Wave hosts Emily Kwong and Regina G. Barber to discuss the joy and wonder found in all types of structures. The big. The small. The delicious. We ask if diapers can be repurposed to construct buildings, how single-celled organisms turned into multi-cellular ones and how to make the best gummy candy?Have questions about science in the news? Email us at email@example.com.
Race is a social construct — so why are DNA test kits like the ones from 23andMe coded like they reveal biological fact about the user's racial makeup? This episode, Short Wave Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber talks to anthropologist Agustín Fuentes about the limits of at-home genetic tests and how misinformation about race and biology can come into play. Using science at home to decode your life? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The COVID-19 public health emergency has ended, but millions across the globe continue to deal with Long COVID. Researchers are still pursuing basic questions about Long COVID — its causes, how to test for it and how it progresses. Today, we look at a group of researchers studying the blood of some Long COVID patients in the hopes of finding a biomarker that could let physicians test for the disease.Questions? Thread of scientific research you're loving? Email us at email@example.com — we'd love to hear about it!
There's a lot for scientists to learn about the origins of humans' musical abilities. In the last few years, though, they've discovered homo sapiens have some company in our ability to make musical rhythm. That's why today, producer Berly McCoy brings the story of singing lemurs. She explains how their harmonies could help answer questions about the beginnings of humans' musical abilities, and what all of this has to do with Queen.
This week, the American Psychological Association issued its first-of-kind guidelines for parents to increase protection for children online. It comes at a time of rising rates of depression and anxiety among teens.This episode, NPR science correspondent Michaeleen Doucleff looks into the data on how that seismic change has shifted the mental health of teenagers. In her reporting, she found that the seismic shift of smartphones and social media has re-defined how teens socialize, communicate and even sleep.
Today on the show, we meet a prosthetic designer and a neuroscientist fascinated with understanding how the brain and body might adapt to something we haven't had before — a third thumb. Dani Clode and Tamar Makin spoke to Short Wave in Washington D.C., at the 2023 annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Another week comes by, and luckily so does our roundup of science news. This time, we've got some questions about better understanding our health: Why do some people get motion sickness from virtual reality (VR) content? Do we really need to walk 10,000 steps a day? And is there real science behind ice baths? This week, Sacha Pfeiffer, legendary reporter and occasional host of NPR's All Things Considered, who joins our hosts Emily Kwong and Regina G. Barber to demystify and (in some cases) debunk the science of this week's health headlines. We love hearing what you're reading and what science catches your eye! Reach the show by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A doctor's job is to help patients. With that help, often comes lots and lots of paperwork. That's where some startups are betting artificial intelligence may come in. The hope is that chatbots could generate data like treatment plans that would let doctors spend less time on paperwork and more time with their patients. But some academics warn biases and errors could hurt patients. Have a lead on AI in innovative spaces? Email us at email@example.com!
Today on the show, next-generation energy innovators Bill David and Serena Cussen challenged us to think about the future of clean energy storage. They spoke to Emily Kwong at the 2023 annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington D.C.
California's wet winter has devastated many local communities. It has also benefited some of the state's endangered ecosystems. Those benefits are on full display in California's largest remaining grassland. Wetlands, long severed from the rivers and streams that nourished them, are being flooded with freshwater. Biologists are seeing baby salmon, fattened by new food sources in flood plains, make their way to sea. Endangered birds and waterfowl are nesting next to flooded fields. Today, NPR climate correspondent Nate Rott takes us on a tour through California's booming natural beauty.To see one of the superblooms and other ecological benefits, check out Nate's story — filled with photos by NPR's ace photographer Claire Harbage: https://n.pr/428xWOB.
In the toxic waters of Sulphur Cave in Steamboat Springs, Colo. live blood-red worm blobs that have attracted international scientific interest. We don special breathing gear and go into the cave with a team of researchers. There, we collect worms and marvel at the unique crystals and cave formations that earned Sulphur Cave a designation as a National Natural Landmark in 2021. Then we learn how extremophiles like these worms are helping scientists search for new antibiotics, medicines and even models for robots that can explore uneven, dangerous terrain, like caves on other planets.Read more about these worms: https://n.pr/3LjbigOWe love hearing what science you're digging lately! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's our latest roundup of science news! This time, with Ailsa Chang of NPR's All Things Considered, who joins us to discuss three stories that take us on a journey through space — from the sounds of Earth's magnetosphere, to the moons of Jupiter, to a distant phenomenon NASA calls "an invisible monster on the loose, barreling through intergalactic space."Learn more about NASA's Harp Project here: https://listen.spacescience.org/We love hearing what you're reading and what science is catching your eye! Reach the show by emailing email@example.com.
In the Arctic Ocean, sea ice is shrinking as the climate heats up. In the Western U.S., wildfires are getting increasingly destructive. Those two phenomena are thousands of miles apart, but scientists are uncovering a surprising connection. The ice is connected to weather patterns that reach far across North America. And as the climate keeps changing and sea ice shrinks, Western states could be seeing more extreme weather, the kind that fuels extreme wildfires.Check out the full series about how melting ice affects us all: npr.org/icemelt. We love hearing from you! Reach the show by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melting glaciers are leaving behind large, unstable lakes that can cause dangerous flash floods. Millions of people downstream are threatened. In today's episode, NPR Climate Desk reporter Rebecca Hersher and producer Ryan Kellman take Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong to a community high in the mountains of Nepal where residents are on the front lines of this new climate threat, and explains how scientists are looking for solutions that can save lives around the world.Check out the full series about how melting ice affects us all: npr.org/icemelt. Reach the show by emailing email@example.com.
Endangered North Atlantic right whales are disappearing from their native waters, a serious danger for a species with only 340 animals left. The mystery behind this change took NPR's climate reporter Lauren Sommer 2,000 miles away to the world's second-largest ice sheet, sitting on top of Greenland. On today's episode, Lauren takes Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong on an expedition to Greenland's ice sheet and then to the Gulf of Maine to break down the ripple effects of climate change. Reach the show by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week, New York City crowned Kathleen Corradi its first rat czar. The new position is part of a multipronged approach from city officials. Reporter and New Yorker Anil Oza called up rodentologists to understand — does their approach withstand the test of scientific research? We love hearing your musings and questions about the science in your everyday life. Reach us by emailing email@example.com.
When Tove Danovich decided to dabble in backyard chicken keeping, she embraced a tried and true journalistic practice — reading everything there is to find on the subject. In her search, she found plenty of how-to guides, but what she really wanted was to know more about the science. She wanted to understand their evolution and unique relationship with humans. "As I was reading more and as I was wanting this book that increasingly it seemed like it it just didn't exist. I wound up writing it instead," says Tove. Today, Aaron visits Tove in her chicken coop to talk about her recent book Under the Henfluence: Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People Who Love Them and to meet the chicken stars of Tove's Instagram account.Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Know of a new book we should feature on Short Wave? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1957, the Space Age began with the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. Since then, the number of objects humans have hurled toward the stars has soared to the thousands. As those objects have collided with one another, they've created more space debris in Earth's orbit. According to some estimates, all of that debris and human-made space trash, the number of objects — from satellites to screws — could be in the millions. In this iteration of our AAAS live show series, Short Wave co-host Aaron Scott talks to Danielle Wood, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, about the dangers of accumulating space debris, and how she and others are working to make space more sustainable. Have a story about space innovation you'd love us to share? Launch it our way at email@example.com.
In this Friday round up of science news we can't let go, not everything is as it seems. Meatballs are not made of fresh meat from the cattle range. Robots are keeping something from you. And plants have secrets they keep out of your earshot. It's deceptive science, Short Wave-style. We love hearing what you're reading and what science is catching your eye! Reach the show by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Wu is a bona fide cat person. She has two of them: twin boys named Calvin and Hobbes. Every night, they curl up in bed with her, bonking their little noses together, rubbing their fur and whiskers everywhere, and leaving behind inevitable cat residue. It's certifiably cute ... and a little bit gross.It's also the worst nightmare for the cat-allergic. Which, just shy of a decade ago, Katie was. In a stroke of luck, Katie's debilitating cat allergy disappeared. The reasons for her immune overhaul remain a mystery.Allergies can wax and wane over time, but it seems to be less common to have the night-and-day shift that Katie experienced. In this episode, Katie walks host Aaron Scott through the dynamic world of allergies and what it reveals about our immune systems. And of course, Katie's cats make cameo appearances. (encore)
The phenomenon of zoonotic spillover — of viruses jumping from animals to people — is incredibly common. The question is: which one will start the next pandemic? NPR science desk correspondent Michaeleen Doucleff brings us her reporting on Influenza D, an emerging virus spreading among cows and other livestock in the United States.
Today, most climate science is done with satellites, sensors and complicated computer models. But it all started with a pioneering female physicist and two glass tubes. Eunice Foote, the woman behind that glass tube experiment, has largely been left out of the history books. Until about 10 years ago, John Tyndall was seen as the grandfather of climate science for setting the foundation for the understanding of the greenhouse gas effect. But Eunice's experiment, done three years prior, showed that air with more "carbonic acid," or carbon dioxide, both heated up faster and cooled down slower than regular air.
To really understand the human brain, scientists say you'd have to map its wiring. The only problem: there are more than 100 trillion different connections to find, trace and characterize. But a team of scientists has made a big stride toward this goal, a complete wiring diagram of a teeny, tiny brain: the fruit fly larva. With a full map, or connectome, of the larval fruit fly brain, scientists can start to understand how behaviors shape, and are shaped by, the specific wiring of neural circuits. On today's episode, our resident neuroscience aficionado, NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton, talks over the new findings with Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong, and explains why we big-brained humans ought to care.
Rice is arguably the world's most important staple crop. About half of the global population depends on it for sustenance. But, like other staples such as wheat and corn, rice is cultivated annually. That means replanting the fields year after year, at huge cost to both the farmers and the land. For years, scientists have been tinkering with rice strains to create a perennial variety – one that would regrow after harvest without the need to be resewn. Today, Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber takes a look at one promising perennial rice effort. It's one of a series of interviews we conducted live at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Curious about extra thumbs, battery breakthroughs and sustainability in space? Check your feed for more live Short Wave episodes from the AAAS Sci-Mic stage in coming weeks! Curious about other scientific innovations? As always, you can reach the show by emailing email@example.com.
After reading the science headlines this week, we have A LOT of questions. Why did the Virgin Islands declare a state of emergency over a large blob of floating algae? What can a far-off asteroid tell us about the origins of life? Is the ever-popular bee waggle dance not just for directions to the hive but a map? Luckily, it's the job of the Short Wave team to decipher the science behind the day's news. This week, co-host Aaron Scott, Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber and science correspondent Geoff Brumfield are on the case. Buckle up as we journey beyond the headlines and sail out to sea, blast off to space and then find our way home with the help of some dancing bees!Have suggestions for what we should cover in our next news round up? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few weeks ago, raw data gathered in Janaury 2020 from Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China — the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic — was uploaded to an online virology database. It caught the attention of researchers. A new genetic analysis from an international team provides the strongest evidence yet for natural origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of one animal in particular: raccoon dogs. Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong talks with Katherine Wu, a staff writer at The Atlantic, who broke the story and explains the genetic evidence. To dive into emerging genetic evidence of this pandemic's origins, read:- Crits-Christoph et. al (2023), Genetic evidence of susceptible wildlife in SARS-CoV-2 positive samples at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market, Wuhan: Analysis and interpretation of data released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control- Katherine Wu's Atlantic article, The Strongest Evidence Yet That an Animal Started the Pandemic- Michaeleen Doucleff's NPR reporting, What does science say about the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic?
From text churned out by ChatGPT to the artistic renderings of Midjourney, people have been taking notice of new, bot-produced creative works. But how does this artificial intelligence software fare when there are facts at stake — like designing a rocket capable of safe spaceflight?In this episode, NPR science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel and Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong drill into what this AI software gets wrong, right — and if it's even trying to detect the difference in the first place.Want to hear more about other advances in the tech space? Email us at email@example.com!
Dotted across the Great Basin of the American West are salty, smelly lakes. The largest of these, by far, is the Great Salt Lake in Utah.But a recent report found that water diversions for farming, climate change and population growth could mean the lake essentially disappears within five years. Less water going in means higher concentrations of salt and minerals, which threatens the crucial ecological role saline lakes play across the West, as well as the health of the people who live nearby. On today's episode, Kirk takes Short Wave co-host Aaron Scott on an audio field trip to the endangered Great Salt Lake, and explains why losing the lake could be devastating for everyone from brine flies to the humans that live next door.
Planetary scientists announced some big news this week about our next-door neighbor, Venus. For the first time, they had found direct evidence that Venus has active, ongoing volcanic activity. "It's a big deal," says Dr. Martha Gilmore, a planetary geologist at Wesleyan University. "It's a big deal in that there are no other planets, actually, where we've seen active volcanism." (Moons don't count - sorry Io!) What makes that fact so striking is how inhospitable a place Venus is now – crushing pressure, a toxic atmosphere and a surface temperature around 850 degrees Fahrenheit. So, what happened? How did Earth and its closest sibling diverge so sharply? On today's episode, Martha talks with scientist in residence Regina G. Barber about what studying Venus can tell us about the past and the future of our own planet.
Our friends at NPR's TED Radio Hour podcast have been pondering some BIG things — specifically, the connection between our physical, mental, and spiritual health. In this special excerpt, what if you could control a device, not with your hand, but with your mind? Host Manoush Zomorodi talks to physician and entrepreneur Tom Oxley about the implantable brain-computer interface that can change the way we think. Keep an eye on NPR's TED Radio Hour podcast feed the next few weeks, as they unveil the series.
For the past few winters, researchers have been intentionally flying into snowstorms. And high in those icy clouds, the team collected all the information they could to understand—how exactly do winter storms work? With more accurate data could come more accurate predictions about whether a storm would cause treacherous conditions that shut down schools, close roads and cancel flights. NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce recently took to the skies for one of these flights and shares her reporting with us today.Read more of Nell's reporting on this NASA effort: https://n.pr/3lk9utHWant to hear about other storm chasing happening in the name of science? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a leading expert on paleogenomics, Beth Shapiro has been hearing the same question ever since she started working on ancient DNA: "The only question that we consistently were asked was, how close are we to bringing a mammoth back to life?"In the second part of our conversation (listen to yesterday's episode [link]), Beth tells Short Wave co-host Aaron Scott that actually cloning a mammoth is probably not going to happen. "But there are technologies that will allow us to resurrect extinct traits, to move bits and pieces of genes that might be adapted to a large animal like an elephant living in the Arctic."That is what companies like Colossal Biosciences and Revive and Restore are trying to do, with Beth's help. And she is leading the effort on another iconic extinct species, the dodo. In today's episode, how Beth Shapiro's initial work mapping the dodo genome laid the groundwork to bring back a version of it from extinction, and how the knowledge scientists gain from de-extinction could help protect species under threat now.
Research into very, very old DNA has made huge leaps forward over the last two decades. That has allowed scientists like Beth Shapiro to push the frontier further and further. "For a long time, we thought, you know, maybe the limit is going to be around 100,000 years [old]. Or, maybe the limit is going to be around 300,000 years," says Shapiro, Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. "Well, now we've been working with a horse fossil in Alaska that's about 800,000 years old." Beth's career has spanned the heyday of ancient DNA research, beginning in the late 1990s when rapid genetic sequencing technology was in its early days. She talked with Short Wave co-host Aaron Scott about the expanding range of scientific puzzles the young field is tackling — from new insights into our Neanderthal inheritance to deep questions about ecology and evolution.
This March 14, Short Wave is celebrating pi ... and pie! We do that with the help of mathematician Eugenia Cheng, Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and author of the book How to Bake Pi. We start with a recipe for clotted cream and end, deliciously, at how math is so much more expansive than grade school tests.Click through to our episode page for the recipes mentioned in this episode.Plus, Eugenia's been on Short Wave before! To hear more, check out our episode, A Mathematician's Manifesto For Rethinking Gender.Curious about other math magic? Email us at email@example.com.
A new drug for Alzheimer's disease, called lecanemab, got a lot of attention earlier this year for getting fast-tracked approval based on a clinical trial that included nearly 1,800 people. It was the most diverse trial for an Alzheimer's treatment to date, but still not enough to definitively say if the drug is effective for Black people. "[In] the world's most diverse Alzheimer's trial, a giant trial of 1,800 people that lasted for a much longer time than most trials did, we're still not sure that all of the groups that are at highest risk of Alzheimer's disease actually see any kind of benefit," says Dr. Jonathan Jackson, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. On today's episode, Jonathan and Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong delve into how drug developers can overlook those hardest hit by the disease they're trying to treat.
Reading the science headlines this week, we have A LOT of questions. Why are more animals than just humans saddled — er, blessed — with vocal fry? Why should we care if 8 million year old plankton fossils are in different locations than plankton living today? And is humanity finally united on protecting the Earth's seas with the creation of the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty? Luckily, it's the job of the Short Wave team to decipher the science behind the headlines. This week, that deciphering comes from co-hosts Emily Kwong and Aaron Scott, with the help of NPR climate correspondent Lauren Sommer. Hang out with us as we dish on some of the coolest science stories in this ocean-themed installment of our regular newsy get-togethers! Have suggestions for what we should cover in our next news round up? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.