Since the 1980s, Gerta Keller, professor of paleontology and geology at Princeton, has been speaking out against an idea most of us take as scientific gospel: That a giant rock from space killed the dinosaurs. Nice story, she says—but it’s just not true. Gerta’s been shouted down and ostracized at conferences, but in three decades, she hasn’t backed down. And now, things might finally be coming around for Gerta’s theory. But is she right? Did something else kill the dinosaurs? Or is she just too proud to admit she’s been wrong for 30 years? Subscribe to Undiscovered HERE, or wherever you get your podcasts. GUESTS Gerta Keller, professor of paleontology and geology at Princeton James Powell, geologist and author of Night Comes to the Cretaceous: Dinosaur Extinction and the Transformation of Modern Geology (St. Martin’s Press) FOOTNOTES Michael Benton reviews the many, sometimes hilarious explanations for the (non-avian) dinosaurs’ extinction. Note: Ideas marked with asterisks were jokes! More in Benton’s book. Walter Alvarez tells his own story of the impact hypothesis in T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. The New York Times interviews Luis Alvarez before he dies, and he takes some parting shots at his scientific opponents. The impact and […]
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.
Last month, California passed a bill ending the use of cash bail. Instead of waiting in jail or putting down a cash deposit to await trial at home, defendants are released after the pleadings. The catch? Not everyone gets this treatment. It’s not a judge who determines who should and shouldn’t be released; it’s an algorithm. Algorithms have also been used to figure out which incarcerated individuals should be released on parole. Mathematician Hannah Fry and computer scientist Suresh Venkatasubramanian join Ira to discuss how algorithms are being used not only in the justice system, but in healthcare and data mining too. As Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolinas this week, forecasters and disaster management officials are stressing one key piece of advice to evacuating residents: Take the storm seriously, regardless of the category designation. Once projected to hit Category 4, Florence was at Category 2 as of Thursday morning, but that number only describes the wind speed. Meanwhile, as University of California-Irvine civil engineer Amir AghaKouchak notes, there could be unusually devastating flooding, as storm surge from the ocean meets rainfall from a storm that is projected to pour on the region for days. “Compound flooding” is the phenomenon that […]
A decade ago, psychologists introduced a group of kids to Robovie, a wide-eyed robot who could talk, play, and hug like a pro. And then, the researchers did something heartbreaking to Robovie! They wanted to see just how far kids’ empathy for a robot would go. What the researchers didn’t gamble on was just how complicated their own feelings for Robovie would get. Annie and Elah explore the robot-human bond. Subscribe to Undiscovered HERE, or wherever you get your podcasts VIDEOS I Spy, And The Closet A fifteen-year-old study participant plays a game of I Spy with Robovie—and then watches as the robot is ordered into the closet. (Video courtesy of the HINTS lab at the University of Washington. Read the full study.) Introductions A 15-year-old study participant meets Robovie for the first time. (Video courtesy of the HINTS lab at the University of Washington. Read the full study.) Chit-Chat Robovie and a 9-year-old study participant talk about the ocean. (Video courtesy of the HINTS lab at the University of Washington. Read the full study.) Xavier Buys A Cup Of Coffee A robot named Xavier orders coffee at the kiosk in Carnegie Mellon’s computer science building. (Video courtesy of Yasushi Nakauchi. Read the study about how Xavier does it.) […]
If you were given a robot and asked to break it, would you do it? The amount of Furby destruction videos on Youtube suggest it wouldn’t be that hard. But that’s not true for all robots. According to researchers, knowing more about a robot or bonding with it can make you hesitant to harm it. And if the bond between you and a robot is strong enough, you might even go out of your way to protect it. Kate Darling, robot ethicists from the MIT Media Lab, and Heather Knight, robotics researcher from Oregon State University, join Ira to talk about how we become attached to robots, and how this relationship can even influence our behavior. Plus, our spinoff podcast, Undiscovered, is back! Hosts Elah Feder and Annie Minoff chat about the upcoming season, and give us a sneak preview of the first episode. Can’t wait? Listen to the trailer here. With Lyme disease on the rise, New Hampshire is asking the EPA to speed up the approval process for tick repellant. New Hampshire Public Radio’s Annie Ropeik joins Ira to tell us more. And Gizmodo’s Ryan Mandelbaum tells us the top science headlines in this week’s News Round-up. About the “Science Friday” […]
The human brain contains an estimated 100 billion neurons. When those cells malfunction, the disrupted process can lead to schizophrenia, PTSD, and other disorders. In his book The Disordered Mind, Nobel Prize-winning neuropsychiatrist Eric Kandel looks at where the processes fault to give insight into how the brain works. According to Kandel, the understanding of these disorders offers a chance “to see how our individual experiences and behavior are rooted in the interaction of genes and environment that shapes our brains.” Earlier in 2018, Utah became the 15th state to legalize water cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis. Unlike traditional cremation, which burns human remains at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, water cremation uses a mixture of water and lye, along with heat and pressure, to break down the remains. Meanwhile, many cemeteries across the country now offer green burial sites—sites that ban embalming fluid and use biodegradable caskets. As climate-conscious consumers consider their final arrangements, alternative funerals like a water cremation or a green burial are becoming more popular in the face of resource-heavy traditional funerals. About the “Science Friday” Podcast