Some private citizens, scientists, and entrepreneurs are sending some focused messages through the cosmos, which could theoretically be intercepted by any technologically advanced civilizations among the stars, essentially advertising the existence and location of Earth. Is it ethical to do that—or could it needlessly put humanity at risk? Beach nourishment, the process of dredging up sand from the seafloor to replenish eroding beaches and protect coastal ecosystems, has a history that goes back to the 1920s expansion and widening of the beach at Coney Island. But does it work as intended? And where does all that sand go once it’s placed? These days, people are thinking about how to put maggots to good use before we die. That means we have to get over the ick factor and actually study these creatures. What do they eat, when do they eat, how much do they eat, and at what rate? About the “Science Friday” Podcast
Science Friday, as heard on NPR, is a weekly discussion of the latest news in science, technology, health, and the environment hosted by Ira Flatow. Ira interviews scientists, authors, and policymakers, and listeners can call in and ask questions as well. Watch the latest science videos from the Science Friday website.
On April 3, 1968, hundreds of audience members walked out of the theatrical premier of a strange, long, dialogue-sparse science fiction film. Now regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was first met with harsh reviews from critics. Writer and filmmaker Michael Benson, author of the new book Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, reflects on the film’s 50-year legacy, painstaking hand-crafted special effects, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of its making. The endangered North Atlantic right whale population took a big hit last year with a record number of animals killed by fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. Now, the declining numbers of right whales has sparked a debate about the impact of Maine’s lobster industry on the dwindling numbers. Humpback whales are known for their complex songs and melodies, but bowhead whales are the “jazz singers” of the baleen deep sea singers, according to oceanographer Kate Stafford. She explains why these whales might have such a diverse songbook. Plus, why health and science scams are going undetected on Facebook. About the “Science Friday” Podcast
According to CDC data, more than 13,000 people die from gun homicides every year—and most of them are people of color who live in urban areas. Many of them are children. But as scientists seek to understand the causes and solutions for gun deaths, can we also learn to predict them…and even intervene before they happen? One researcher may have the answer: social media analysis. Friendly neighbors. Olympic divers. Little horses with wings. No matter what you call the commonly misunderstood bat, they’re far more than simple nocturnal blood-drinkers. Bats have an impressive repertoire of noteworthy abilities—from super echolocation to agile, muscular wings. It’s a subject that has both inspired and lured scientists, like Sharon Swartz, a biologist who researches bat flight at Brown University. In this segment, she discusses how she takes a close look at the aerodynamics and wing morphology of these creatures to pin down the evolutionary origins of bat flight. Scientists have discovered a new piece of human anatomy we never knew we had—a layer of connective tissue that exists all over the body. It sits below the skin’s surface, lining the digestive tract, the lungs, and even our blood vessels. Researchers say it could be the […]
A report issued last week by the Department of Homeland Security said that throughout 2016 and 2017, Russian hackers had worked to gain access to control systems at unidentified power plants and were in a position to shut them down. Their actions have finally given Washington the political will to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. A new bill sponsored by Senator Angus King of Maine will establish a two year pilot program to develop techniques and technologies to better secure the grid. But it might just be too little, too late. After death, your microbiome continues on as the necrobiome—all of the bacteria, insects, fungi, and other organisms that are involved in decomposition. And the types of bacteria that show up on the scene follow a rather predictable pattern. Biologist Jessica Metcalf is studying this bacterial order to create a “microbial stopwatch” that could be used as a forensic tool, and joins Ira to tell him more. In the State of Science: Late last year, one of the world’s largest credit rating agencies announced that climate change would have an economic impact on the U.S. Moody’s suggested that climate risks could become credit risks for some U.S. states, […]
Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking died this week at the age of 76. Hawking challenged and inspired a generation of physicists, and we remember his life and legacy. Plus, blockchain is the technology that makes possible every transaction made with Bitcoin—or any digital currency, for that matter. And when Bitcoin skyrocketed on the stock market last year, it turned average Joes into millionaires. Why just Joes? Most surveys show that 95 percent of blockchain enthusiasts and crypto investors are male. We discuss the future of women in blockchain. Then, inside the fossilized bones of Archaeopteryx, one of the earliest bird-like dinosaur specimens, researchers have found evidence of a capability for flight. Finally, what does a Tyrannosaurus rex actually look like? You might immediately think of the iconic, roaring lizard from the Jurassic Park films. But one scientific illustrator turns to paleontology studies and fossil finds—poring over the science to accurately reimagine creatures that no longer exist today. And what he renders might surprise you. About the “Science Friday” Podcast