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Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

873
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1.8K
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Science Friday
Science Friday

Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

873
Followers
1.8K
Plays
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Brain fun for curious people.

Latest Episodes

Office Air Pollution, Tetris Decisions, Alzheimer's Update. Oct 11, 2019, Part 2

If you live and work in an urban area, you might think about the air quality outside your home or workplace. But what about the air quality inside the office? It turns out that on average, indoor environments have higher concentrations of potentially harmful substances, such as aerosols and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While past research has focused on chemical emissions from building materials, cleaning supplies, and even furniture, air pollution researchers are increasingly looking at another source of toxic air: us. New research from Purdue University to be presented at the American Association for Aerosol Research conference has found that the majority of indoor VOCs may be released by a seemingly innocuous source: human beings, their lunches and coffee breaks, and anything they may wear or bring to work. And many of these compounds, such as the terpenes released by peeling an orange, or the squalene released in human skin oil, react with ozone to form even more worrisome...

47 MIN6 d ago
Comments
Office Air Pollution, Tetris Decisions, Alzheimer's Update. Oct 11, 2019, Part 2

Trust In Science, California Power Outages, Regrowing Cartilage. Oct 11, 2019, Part 1

Despite widely reported attacks on science, the vast majority of Americans continue to trust scientists, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center. Many listeners of Science Friday might take it as a given that we should trust science, but is that trust well-founded? Naomi Oreskes, history of science professor at Harvard University, argues that we should. In her new book, Why Trust Science?, she explains how science works and what makes it trustworthy. (Hint: it’s not the scientific method.) Pacific Gas & Electric has generated confusion—not to mention outrage—with its power grid shutdowns. The situation continues for a second day in 34 California counties. On social media and phone calls to KQED’s Forum radio program, people throughout PG&E’s service area have asked how and why the investor-owned utility took this step. KQED reporters have some answers to some of the questions that have come in. Why Is PG&E Turning the Power Off? Is This PG&E’s Fault? Bottom...

46 MIN6 d ago
Comments
Trust In Science, California Power Outages, Regrowing Cartilage. Oct 11, 2019, Part 1

Bread Baking Science And Denial In Climate Report. Oct 4, 2019, Part 2

Flour, salt, yeast and water are the basic ingredients in bread that can be transformed into a crusty baguette or a pillowy naan. But what happens when you get a sticky sourdough or brick-like brioche?Chef Francisco Migoya of Modernist Cuisine breaks down the science behind the perfect loaf. He talks about how gluten-free flours affect bread structure, the effects of altitude and humidity on dough and how to keep your sourdough starter happy.Plus, amateur baker and “Father of the Xbox”Seamus Blackley describes how he baked a loaf of bread from an ancient Egyptian yeast. The Bureau of Land Management issued an environmental impact statement last month that examines the effects that oil development will have on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Buried deep in the appendix of the report was this BLM response to a public comment: "The BLM does not agree that the proposed development is inconsistent with maintaining a livable planet (i.e., there is not a climate crisis). The planet ...

47 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Bread Baking Science And Denial In Climate Report. Oct 4, 2019, Part 2

Data-Collecting Smart TVs, Microbiome Cooking, Cannabis Pollution. Oct 4, 2019, Part 1

Today, it’s much easier to find smart TVs on the market. Companies like Vizio and Samsung create devices capable of internet connection and with built-in apps that let you quickly access your favorite streaming services. But that convenience comes with a hidden cost—one you pay for with your data. Smart TVs have joined the list of internet connected devices looking to harvest your data. They can track what shows you watch, then use that data to deliver targeted ads, just like Facebook. Not worried about what media companies know about your binge watching habits? New research suggests that’s not everything smart TVs are doing. If you are the owner of just one of many “internet of things” devices in your home, those devices could be talking toeach other, influencing what gets advertised to you on your phone, tablet, and TV screen. Dave Choffnes, associate professor of computer science at Northeastern University, and Nick Feamster, director of the Center for Data and Computing at ...

48 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Data-Collecting Smart TVs, Microbiome Cooking, Cannabis Pollution. Oct 4, 2019, Part 1

Bitters And Botany, Whale Evolution. Sept 27, 2019, Part 2

Can conservation be concocted in your cocktails? Yes, according to the botanist authors of Botany at the Bar,a new book about making your own bitters—those complex flavor extracts used to season a Manhattan or old-fashioned. They experiment with an array of novel recipes using underappreciated plants found around the world, from tree resin, to osha root, to numbing Szechuan peppercorns. Ira talks to ethnobotanist Selena Ahmed and plant geneticist Ashley DuVal about their recipes, how you can make complex and flavorful tinctures for cocktails and other seasonings, and their not-so-secret ulterior motive to share the stories of how people have used plants—common and rare—for thousands of years. Plus, mixologist Christian Schaal talks about the art and science of combining flavors. Fifty million years ago, the ancient ancestors of whales and dolphins roamed the land on four legs. But over time, these aquatic mammals have evolved to live fully in the ocean—their genetic makeup chang...

47 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Bitters And Botany, Whale Evolution. Sept 27, 2019, Part 2

Oceans And Climate, Quantum Mechanics. Sept 27, 2019, Part 1

A new report issued this week by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change paints a troubling picture of the world’s ice and oceans. The ocean effects of climate change, from warming waters to ocean acidification to sea level rise, are already altering the weather, fisheries, and coastal communities.The authors of the report state that the ocean has already taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system since 1970, the surface is becoming more acidic, and oxygen is being depleted in the top thousand meters of the water column. All those conditions are projected to get worse in the years ahead. Ocean scientist and former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco joins Ira to talk about the risks to the ocean, its effects on the global ecosystem, and how the ocean can also help to blunt some of the worst climate outcomes—if action is taken now. In his new book, Something Deeply Hidden, quantum physicist Sean Carroll offers a different ending for Schrödinger’s im...

47 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Oceans And Climate, Quantum Mechanics. Sept 27, 2019, Part 1

Bird Populations In Decline, Real Life Sci-Fi Disasters, Brain Wiring. Sept 20, 2019, Part 2

There may be almost 3 billion fewer birds in North America today than there were in 1970, according toa study published this week in the journalScience.The decline over time works out to a loss of about one in 4 birds. However, the decline does not appear to be evenly distributed. Then, journalist Mike Pearl investigates what the world would look like after technology breakdowns, a real-life Jurassic Park, and other sci-fi doomsday scenarios in his book,The Day It Finally Happens. Finally, new research on the brains of people who paint with their toes reveal how our limbs affect our internal maps from birth.

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Bird Populations In Decline, Real Life Sci-Fi Disasters, Brain Wiring. Sept 20, 2019, Part 2

Degrees Of Change: Climate And Fashion. Sept 20, 2019, Part 1

Climate change has been trending in the news recently—and ifthere’s one industry out there that knows something about trends, it’s the fashion industry. Long known for churning out cheap garments and burning through resources, some fashion labels like fast fashion giantH&Mare now embracing sustainable fashion trends. But can this industry—which is responsible for8% of global carbon emissions—really shed its wasteful business model in favor of one with a lower carbon footprint? Marc Bain, a fashion reporter at Quartz, Maxine Bédat from the New Standard Institute, and Linda Greer, global policy fellow with theInstitute of Public and Environmental Affairstalk with Ira about the industry’s effort to reduce its climate impact. Plus,a check in on the Trump administration's rollback of the Clean Air Act waiver, and more of the week's biggest climate headlines.

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Degrees Of Change: Climate And Fashion. Sept 20, 2019, Part 1

The Center Of The Milky Way, Rats At Play, And Geometry. Sept 13, 2019, Part 2

The Greek mathematician Euclidimagined an ordered and methodical universe, but his vision struggled to catch on for centuries, until Renaissance painters and French monarchs found a way connect the ancient science of geometry to the real world. Science historian Amir Alexander joins Ira to share the story of geometry’s rising global influence in his new bookProof!: How The World Became Geometrical. Plus, amillion years ago, the black hole at the center of our galaxy burped. Now, scientists are exploring what the resulting bubbles might say about our kinship with other galaxies. And here on Earth, neuroscientists say they can learn a lot by observing brains at play—particularly those of rats playing hide and seek.

46 MINSEP 14
Comments
The Center Of The Milky Way, Rats At Play, And Geometry. Sept 13, 2019, Part 2

How AI Is Influencing Decisions In Police Departments And Courtrooms. Sept 13, 2019

Facial recognition technology is all around us—it’s at concerts, airports, and apartment buildings. But its use by law enforcement agencies and courtrooms raises particular concerns about privacy, fairness, and bias, according to some researchers. Some studies have shown that some of the major facial recognition systems are inaccurate.Amazon’s softwaremisidentified28 members of Congress and matched them with criminal mugshots. These inaccuracies tend to befar worsefor people of color and women. We'll talkabout how AI is guiding the decisions of police departments and courtrooms across the country—and whether we should be concerned. Plus: Scientists were threatened with firings after the National Weather Service projections for Hurricane Dorian contradicted President Trump’s tweets, and more of the biggest science stories from the week. Finally, wind turbines are great at producing green energy. But when they reach they end of their life-span, their parts are incredibly difficul...

46 MINSEP 14
Comments
How AI Is Influencing Decisions In Police Departments And Courtrooms. Sept 13, 2019

Latest Episodes

Office Air Pollution, Tetris Decisions, Alzheimer's Update. Oct 11, 2019, Part 2

If you live and work in an urban area, you might think about the air quality outside your home or workplace. But what about the air quality inside the office? It turns out that on average, indoor environments have higher concentrations of potentially harmful substances, such as aerosols and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While past research has focused on chemical emissions from building materials, cleaning supplies, and even furniture, air pollution researchers are increasingly looking at another source of toxic air: us. New research from Purdue University to be presented at the American Association for Aerosol Research conference has found that the majority of indoor VOCs may be released by a seemingly innocuous source: human beings, their lunches and coffee breaks, and anything they may wear or bring to work. And many of these compounds, such as the terpenes released by peeling an orange, or the squalene released in human skin oil, react with ozone to form even more worrisome...

47 MIN6 d ago
Comments
Office Air Pollution, Tetris Decisions, Alzheimer's Update. Oct 11, 2019, Part 2

Trust In Science, California Power Outages, Regrowing Cartilage. Oct 11, 2019, Part 1

Despite widely reported attacks on science, the vast majority of Americans continue to trust scientists, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center. Many listeners of Science Friday might take it as a given that we should trust science, but is that trust well-founded? Naomi Oreskes, history of science professor at Harvard University, argues that we should. In her new book, Why Trust Science?, she explains how science works and what makes it trustworthy. (Hint: it’s not the scientific method.) Pacific Gas & Electric has generated confusion—not to mention outrage—with its power grid shutdowns. The situation continues for a second day in 34 California counties. On social media and phone calls to KQED’s Forum radio program, people throughout PG&E’s service area have asked how and why the investor-owned utility took this step. KQED reporters have some answers to some of the questions that have come in. Why Is PG&E Turning the Power Off? Is This PG&E’s Fault? Bottom...

46 MIN6 d ago
Comments
Trust In Science, California Power Outages, Regrowing Cartilage. Oct 11, 2019, Part 1

Bread Baking Science And Denial In Climate Report. Oct 4, 2019, Part 2

Flour, salt, yeast and water are the basic ingredients in bread that can be transformed into a crusty baguette or a pillowy naan. But what happens when you get a sticky sourdough or brick-like brioche?Chef Francisco Migoya of Modernist Cuisine breaks down the science behind the perfect loaf. He talks about how gluten-free flours affect bread structure, the effects of altitude and humidity on dough and how to keep your sourdough starter happy.Plus, amateur baker and “Father of the Xbox”Seamus Blackley describes how he baked a loaf of bread from an ancient Egyptian yeast. The Bureau of Land Management issued an environmental impact statement last month that examines the effects that oil development will have on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Buried deep in the appendix of the report was this BLM response to a public comment: "The BLM does not agree that the proposed development is inconsistent with maintaining a livable planet (i.e., there is not a climate crisis). The planet ...

47 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Bread Baking Science And Denial In Climate Report. Oct 4, 2019, Part 2

Data-Collecting Smart TVs, Microbiome Cooking, Cannabis Pollution. Oct 4, 2019, Part 1

Today, it’s much easier to find smart TVs on the market. Companies like Vizio and Samsung create devices capable of internet connection and with built-in apps that let you quickly access your favorite streaming services. But that convenience comes with a hidden cost—one you pay for with your data. Smart TVs have joined the list of internet connected devices looking to harvest your data. They can track what shows you watch, then use that data to deliver targeted ads, just like Facebook. Not worried about what media companies know about your binge watching habits? New research suggests that’s not everything smart TVs are doing. If you are the owner of just one of many “internet of things” devices in your home, those devices could be talking toeach other, influencing what gets advertised to you on your phone, tablet, and TV screen. Dave Choffnes, associate professor of computer science at Northeastern University, and Nick Feamster, director of the Center for Data and Computing at ...

48 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Data-Collecting Smart TVs, Microbiome Cooking, Cannabis Pollution. Oct 4, 2019, Part 1

Bitters And Botany, Whale Evolution. Sept 27, 2019, Part 2

Can conservation be concocted in your cocktails? Yes, according to the botanist authors of Botany at the Bar,a new book about making your own bitters—those complex flavor extracts used to season a Manhattan or old-fashioned. They experiment with an array of novel recipes using underappreciated plants found around the world, from tree resin, to osha root, to numbing Szechuan peppercorns. Ira talks to ethnobotanist Selena Ahmed and plant geneticist Ashley DuVal about their recipes, how you can make complex and flavorful tinctures for cocktails and other seasonings, and their not-so-secret ulterior motive to share the stories of how people have used plants—common and rare—for thousands of years. Plus, mixologist Christian Schaal talks about the art and science of combining flavors. Fifty million years ago, the ancient ancestors of whales and dolphins roamed the land on four legs. But over time, these aquatic mammals have evolved to live fully in the ocean—their genetic makeup chang...

47 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Bitters And Botany, Whale Evolution. Sept 27, 2019, Part 2

Oceans And Climate, Quantum Mechanics. Sept 27, 2019, Part 1

A new report issued this week by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change paints a troubling picture of the world’s ice and oceans. The ocean effects of climate change, from warming waters to ocean acidification to sea level rise, are already altering the weather, fisheries, and coastal communities.The authors of the report state that the ocean has already taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system since 1970, the surface is becoming more acidic, and oxygen is being depleted in the top thousand meters of the water column. All those conditions are projected to get worse in the years ahead. Ocean scientist and former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco joins Ira to talk about the risks to the ocean, its effects on the global ecosystem, and how the ocean can also help to blunt some of the worst climate outcomes—if action is taken now. In his new book, Something Deeply Hidden, quantum physicist Sean Carroll offers a different ending for Schrödinger’s im...

47 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Oceans And Climate, Quantum Mechanics. Sept 27, 2019, Part 1

Bird Populations In Decline, Real Life Sci-Fi Disasters, Brain Wiring. Sept 20, 2019, Part 2

There may be almost 3 billion fewer birds in North America today than there were in 1970, according toa study published this week in the journalScience.The decline over time works out to a loss of about one in 4 birds. However, the decline does not appear to be evenly distributed. Then, journalist Mike Pearl investigates what the world would look like after technology breakdowns, a real-life Jurassic Park, and other sci-fi doomsday scenarios in his book,The Day It Finally Happens. Finally, new research on the brains of people who paint with their toes reveal how our limbs affect our internal maps from birth.

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Bird Populations In Decline, Real Life Sci-Fi Disasters, Brain Wiring. Sept 20, 2019, Part 2

Degrees Of Change: Climate And Fashion. Sept 20, 2019, Part 1

Climate change has been trending in the news recently—and ifthere’s one industry out there that knows something about trends, it’s the fashion industry. Long known for churning out cheap garments and burning through resources, some fashion labels like fast fashion giantH&Mare now embracing sustainable fashion trends. But can this industry—which is responsible for8% of global carbon emissions—really shed its wasteful business model in favor of one with a lower carbon footprint? Marc Bain, a fashion reporter at Quartz, Maxine Bédat from the New Standard Institute, and Linda Greer, global policy fellow with theInstitute of Public and Environmental Affairstalk with Ira about the industry’s effort to reduce its climate impact. Plus,a check in on the Trump administration's rollback of the Clean Air Act waiver, and more of the week's biggest climate headlines.

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Degrees Of Change: Climate And Fashion. Sept 20, 2019, Part 1

The Center Of The Milky Way, Rats At Play, And Geometry. Sept 13, 2019, Part 2

The Greek mathematician Euclidimagined an ordered and methodical universe, but his vision struggled to catch on for centuries, until Renaissance painters and French monarchs found a way connect the ancient science of geometry to the real world. Science historian Amir Alexander joins Ira to share the story of geometry’s rising global influence in his new bookProof!: How The World Became Geometrical. Plus, amillion years ago, the black hole at the center of our galaxy burped. Now, scientists are exploring what the resulting bubbles might say about our kinship with other galaxies. And here on Earth, neuroscientists say they can learn a lot by observing brains at play—particularly those of rats playing hide and seek.

46 MINSEP 14
Comments
The Center Of The Milky Way, Rats At Play, And Geometry. Sept 13, 2019, Part 2

How AI Is Influencing Decisions In Police Departments And Courtrooms. Sept 13, 2019

Facial recognition technology is all around us—it’s at concerts, airports, and apartment buildings. But its use by law enforcement agencies and courtrooms raises particular concerns about privacy, fairness, and bias, according to some researchers. Some studies have shown that some of the major facial recognition systems are inaccurate.Amazon’s softwaremisidentified28 members of Congress and matched them with criminal mugshots. These inaccuracies tend to befar worsefor people of color and women. We'll talkabout how AI is guiding the decisions of police departments and courtrooms across the country—and whether we should be concerned. Plus: Scientists were threatened with firings after the National Weather Service projections for Hurricane Dorian contradicted President Trump’s tweets, and more of the biggest science stories from the week. Finally, wind turbines are great at producing green energy. But when they reach they end of their life-span, their parts are incredibly difficul...

46 MINSEP 14
Comments
How AI Is Influencing Decisions In Police Departments And Courtrooms. Sept 13, 2019

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