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Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

1.2K
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4.7K
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Science Friday

Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

1.2K
Followers
4.7K
Plays
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Brain fun for curious people.

Latest Episodes

Great Indoors, Science Museums, Who Owns The Sky. July 10, 2020, Part 2

A whole lot of folks’ summer plans have been cut short this season. Maybe you were planning a family road trip to visit a national park. Or your local science museum. Now, you can watch from home, as Emily Graslie, executive producer, host, and writer for thePBSseries “Prehistoric Road Trip,”takes us along for the ride to some of the big geologic sites across the country. She talks about the future of museums and science communication.“Prehistoric Road Trip” is currently streaming onpbs.org. There’s a whole thriving, diverse microbiome that lives in your home. One 2010 study of North Carolina homes found an average of 2,000 types of microbes per house. And there’s likely a menagerie of arthropods living with you, too. Another study found that homes contain an average population of about a hundred invertebrate species, including spiders, mites, earwigs, cockroaches, and moths. There’s no need to panic: These thriving ecosystems are doing us more good than we give them credit for. Children who grow up exposed to an abundance of microbes are less sensitive to allergens, and appear to have better developed immune systems throughout their lives.Science journalist Emily Anthes talks about the indoor microbiome in her new book,The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness.She joins Ira to discuss what she learned about the unique microbiome of her own home while writing the book, and the vast biodiversity of the indoors. In the last year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has launched more than 500 small satellites, the beginning of a project that Musk says will create a worldwide network of internet access for those who currently lack it. But there’s a problem: The reflective objects in their low-earth orbit shine brighter than actual stars in the 90 minutes after sunset.In astronomical images taken during these times, the ‘constellations’ of closely grouped satellites show up as bright streaks of light that distort images of far-away galaxies. With SpaceX planning to launch up to 12,000 satellites, andother companiescontemplating thousands more,the entire night sky might change—and not just at twilight.Astronomers have voiced concernsthat these satellites will disrupt sensitive data collection needed to study exoplanets, near-earth asteroids, dark matter, and more. And there’s another question on the minds of scientists, photographers, Indigenous communities, and everyone else who places high value on the darkness of the night sky:Who gets to decide to put all these objects in space in the first place? Astronomers Aparna Venkatesan and James Lowenthal discuss the risks of too many satellites, both to science and culture, and why it may be time to update the laws that govern space to include more voices. Plus, astronomer Annette Lee of the Lakota tribe sends a message about her cultural relationship with the night sky. Plus, NASA is asking amateur astronomers and photography enthusiasts to take as many pictures as they can of the Starlink “streaks.” You can help NASA document the night sky—and the changes happening there—by uploading your sky photos to the Satellite Streak Watcher research project. All you need to get started is a digital camera or smartphone, a tripod, and a long exposure on a clear evening. Click here to participate!

46 MIN3 d ago
Comments
Great Indoors, Science Museums, Who Owns The Sky. July 10, 2020, Part 2

Degrees of Change: Changing Behavior. July 10, 2020, Part 1

Over the past months, ourDegrees of Changeseries has looked at some of the many ways our actions affect the climate, and how our changing climate is affecting us—from theimpact of the fashion industry on global emissionsto the ways in whichcoastal communities are adapting to rising tides. But beyond the graphs and figures, how do you get people to actually take action? And are small changes in behavior enough—or is a reshaping of society needed to deal with the climate crisis? Climate journalist Eric Holthaus and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, founder of the Urban Ocean Lab, talk with Ira about creating a climate revolution, the parallels between the climate crisis and other conversations about social structures like Black Lives Matter, and the challenges of working towards a better future in the midst of the chaos of 2020. Then Matthew Goldberg, a researcher at the Yale Project on Climate Communication, shares some tips for having difficult climate conversations with friends and family...

46 MIN3 d ago
Comments
Degrees of Change: Changing Behavior. July 10, 2020, Part 1

Summer Science Books, Naked Mole Rats. July 3, 2020, Part 2

The pandemic has nixed many summer vacation plans, but our summer science book list will help you still escape. While staying socially distant, you can take a trip to the great outdoors to unlock the mysteries of bird behaviors. Or instead of trekking to a museum, you can learn about the little-known history of lightbulbs, clocks, and other inventions. Our guests Stephanie Sendaula and Sarah Olson Michel talk with Ira about their favorite science book picks for summer reading. Naked mole rats, native to East Africa, are strange mammals: They’re almost completely hairless. They live in underground colonies, like ants. And, like ants and bees, they have a single reproducing “queen.” Their biology is also unique: They resist cancer, live a long time for such small rodents (often for 30 years or more), and have been found not just to tolerate high, normally toxic levels of carbon dioxide in their nests—but require them. And in the newest strange discovery, researchers writing in Cel...

46 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Summer Science Books, Naked Mole Rats. July 3, 2020, Part 2

Making The Outdoors Great For Everyone. July 3, 2020, Part 1

It’s the start to a holiday weekend, which often means spending time outdoors, whether that’s going to the beach, on a hike, or grilling in a park. But not everyone feels safe enjoying the great outdoors—and we’re not talking about getting mosquito bites or sunburns. In late May, a white woman, Amy Cooper, called the police on a Black bird watcher who asked her to leash her dog. This incident felt familiar to many other Black outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom had encountered similar experiences of racism outside. To understand why the outdoors is an unwelcoming place for some people, we need to look back at our violent history. Joining Ira to talk about this is Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of the book Black Faces, White Spaces. She is also a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. And later in the conversation, Ira is joined by two scientists, biology graduate student Corina Newsome from Statesboro, Georgia, and exploration geoscientist Tim Shin from Houston, Texas....

47 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Making The Outdoors Great For Everyone. July 3, 2020, Part 1

Honeybee Health, Assessing COVID Risk, Seeing Numbers. June 26, 2020, Part 2

This past year was a strange one for beekeepers. According to a survey from the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership, U.S. beekeepers lost more than 40% of their honey bee colonies between April of 2019 and April of 2020. That’s significantly more than normal. The Bee Informed Partnership has surveyed professional and amateur beekeepers for the past 14 years to monitor how their colonies are doing. They reach more than 10% of beekeepers in the U.S., so their survey is thought to be a pretty accurate look at what’s going on across the country. That’s why these latest results are so important—and they raise a lot of questions for honey bee researchers. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a lot of the food grown in the U.S. If they’re in trouble, we’re in trouble. Nathalie Steinhauer, research coordinator for the Bee Informed Partnership in College Park, Maryland, joins producer Kathleen Davis to talk about the report, and what it means for our beloved pollinators. As corona...

46 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Honeybee Health, Assessing COVID Risk, Seeing Numbers. June 26, 2020, Part 2

Checking In On Kids’ Mental Health During the Pandemic. June 26, 2020, Part 1

In the U.S., we’re heading into the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and lockdowns have taken a toll on everyone’s mental and emotional well-being—including children and teens, many of whom may be having trouble processing what’s going on. Psychologists Archana Basu and Robin Gurwitch discuss the unique issues the pandemic brings up for children and teens. They talk about how parents and caregivers can support the mental health of the kids and teens in their lives, helping them better cope with isolation and uncertainty, as well as learning remotely during the pandemic.

46 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Checking In On Kids’ Mental Health During the Pandemic. June 26, 2020, Part 1

SciFri Extra: A Pragmatic Wishlist For AI Ethics

Earlier this month, three major tech companies publicly distanced themselves from the facial recognition tools used by police: IBM said they would stop all such research, while Amazon and Microsoft said they would push pause on any plans to give facial recognition technology to domestic law enforcement. And just this week, the city of Boston banned facial surveillance technology entirely. Why? Facial recognition algorithms built by companies like Amazon have been found to misidentify people of color, especially women of color, at higher rates—meaning when police use facial recognition to identify suspects who are not white, they are more likely to arrest the wrong person. CEOs are calling for national laws to govern this technology, or programming solutions to remove the racial biases and other inequities from their code. But there are others who want to ban it entirely—and completely re-envision how AI is developed and used in communities. In this SciFri Extra, we continue a conv...

16 MIN2 w ago
Comments
SciFri Extra: A Pragmatic Wishlist For AI Ethics

Facial Recognition, Hummingbird Vision, Moon Lander. June 19, 2020, Part 2

Protests Shine Light On Facial Recognition Tech Problems Earlier this month,three major tech companiespublicly distanced themselves from the facial recognition tools used by police.IBM CEO Arvind Krishna explained their company's move was because of facial recognition’s use inracial profiling and mass surveillance. Facial recognition algorithms built by companies like Amazon have been found tomisidentify people of color, especially women of color,at higher rates—meaning when police use facial recognition to identify suspects who are not white, they are more likely to arrest the wrong person. Nevertheless, companies have been pitching this technology to the government.CEOs are calling for national laws to govern this technology, or programming solutions to remove the racial biases and other inequities from their code. But there are others who want to ban it entirely—and completely re-envisioning how AI is developed and used in communities. SciFri producer Christie Taylor talks toR...

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Facial Recognition, Hummingbird Vision, Moon Lander. June 19, 2020, Part 2

Doctor Burnout, International Doctors. June 19, 2020, Part 1

A Crisis Of Health In Healthcare Workers Content Warning: This segment contains talk of suicide. For help for people considering suicide, call theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Depression and anxiety are extremely common in healthcare workers, and they have higher rates of suicide than the general public—doctors in particular are twice as likely to die by suicide.That’s when the world is operating normally. Now, healthcare workers are also dealing with a devastating pandemic, and the uncertainty surrounding a new disease. And some healthcare workers are using what little emotional labor they have left to advocate in the streets and online for racial justice. Joining Ira to talk about burnout in the healthcare industry areSteven McDonald, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, andKali Cyrus, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Washington, D....

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Doctor Burnout, International Doctors. June 19, 2020, Part 1

Proactive Policing, The Social Brain. June 12, 2020, Part 2

In the 1980s and 1990s, in the midst of rising crime rates and a nationally waning confidence in policing, law enforcement around the country adopted a different approach to addressing crime. Instead of just reacting to crime when it happened, officers decided they’d try to prevent it from happening in the first place, employing things like “hot spots” policing and “stop and frisk,” or “terry stops.” The strategy is what criminologists call proactive policing, and it’s now become widely used in police departments across the nation, especially in cities. Critics and experts debate how effective these tactics are in lowering crime rates. While there’s some evidence that proactive policing does reduce crime, now public health researchers are questioning if the practice—which sometimes results in innocent people being stopped, searched, and detained—comes with other unintended physical and mental health consequences. Samuel Walker, emeritus professor of criminology at the Uni...

46 MINJUN 12
Comments
Proactive Policing, The Social Brain. June 12, 2020, Part 2

Latest Episodes

Great Indoors, Science Museums, Who Owns The Sky. July 10, 2020, Part 2

A whole lot of folks’ summer plans have been cut short this season. Maybe you were planning a family road trip to visit a national park. Or your local science museum. Now, you can watch from home, as Emily Graslie, executive producer, host, and writer for thePBSseries “Prehistoric Road Trip,”takes us along for the ride to some of the big geologic sites across the country. She talks about the future of museums and science communication.“Prehistoric Road Trip” is currently streaming onpbs.org. There’s a whole thriving, diverse microbiome that lives in your home. One 2010 study of North Carolina homes found an average of 2,000 types of microbes per house. And there’s likely a menagerie of arthropods living with you, too. Another study found that homes contain an average population of about a hundred invertebrate species, including spiders, mites, earwigs, cockroaches, and moths. There’s no need to panic: These thriving ecosystems are doing us more good than we give them credit for. Children who grow up exposed to an abundance of microbes are less sensitive to allergens, and appear to have better developed immune systems throughout their lives.Science journalist Emily Anthes talks about the indoor microbiome in her new book,The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness.She joins Ira to discuss what she learned about the unique microbiome of her own home while writing the book, and the vast biodiversity of the indoors. In the last year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX company has launched more than 500 small satellites, the beginning of a project that Musk says will create a worldwide network of internet access for those who currently lack it. But there’s a problem: The reflective objects in their low-earth orbit shine brighter than actual stars in the 90 minutes after sunset.In astronomical images taken during these times, the ‘constellations’ of closely grouped satellites show up as bright streaks of light that distort images of far-away galaxies. With SpaceX planning to launch up to 12,000 satellites, andother companiescontemplating thousands more,the entire night sky might change—and not just at twilight.Astronomers have voiced concernsthat these satellites will disrupt sensitive data collection needed to study exoplanets, near-earth asteroids, dark matter, and more. And there’s another question on the minds of scientists, photographers, Indigenous communities, and everyone else who places high value on the darkness of the night sky:Who gets to decide to put all these objects in space in the first place? Astronomers Aparna Venkatesan and James Lowenthal discuss the risks of too many satellites, both to science and culture, and why it may be time to update the laws that govern space to include more voices. Plus, astronomer Annette Lee of the Lakota tribe sends a message about her cultural relationship with the night sky. Plus, NASA is asking amateur astronomers and photography enthusiasts to take as many pictures as they can of the Starlink “streaks.” You can help NASA document the night sky—and the changes happening there—by uploading your sky photos to the Satellite Streak Watcher research project. All you need to get started is a digital camera or smartphone, a tripod, and a long exposure on a clear evening. Click here to participate!

46 MIN3 d ago
Comments
Great Indoors, Science Museums, Who Owns The Sky. July 10, 2020, Part 2

Degrees of Change: Changing Behavior. July 10, 2020, Part 1

Over the past months, ourDegrees of Changeseries has looked at some of the many ways our actions affect the climate, and how our changing climate is affecting us—from theimpact of the fashion industry on global emissionsto the ways in whichcoastal communities are adapting to rising tides. But beyond the graphs and figures, how do you get people to actually take action? And are small changes in behavior enough—or is a reshaping of society needed to deal with the climate crisis? Climate journalist Eric Holthaus and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, founder of the Urban Ocean Lab, talk with Ira about creating a climate revolution, the parallels between the climate crisis and other conversations about social structures like Black Lives Matter, and the challenges of working towards a better future in the midst of the chaos of 2020. Then Matthew Goldberg, a researcher at the Yale Project on Climate Communication, shares some tips for having difficult climate conversations with friends and family...

46 MIN3 d ago
Comments
Degrees of Change: Changing Behavior. July 10, 2020, Part 1

Summer Science Books, Naked Mole Rats. July 3, 2020, Part 2

The pandemic has nixed many summer vacation plans, but our summer science book list will help you still escape. While staying socially distant, you can take a trip to the great outdoors to unlock the mysteries of bird behaviors. Or instead of trekking to a museum, you can learn about the little-known history of lightbulbs, clocks, and other inventions. Our guests Stephanie Sendaula and Sarah Olson Michel talk with Ira about their favorite science book picks for summer reading. Naked mole rats, native to East Africa, are strange mammals: They’re almost completely hairless. They live in underground colonies, like ants. And, like ants and bees, they have a single reproducing “queen.” Their biology is also unique: They resist cancer, live a long time for such small rodents (often for 30 years or more), and have been found not just to tolerate high, normally toxic levels of carbon dioxide in their nests—but require them. And in the newest strange discovery, researchers writing in Cel...

46 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Summer Science Books, Naked Mole Rats. July 3, 2020, Part 2

Making The Outdoors Great For Everyone. July 3, 2020, Part 1

It’s the start to a holiday weekend, which often means spending time outdoors, whether that’s going to the beach, on a hike, or grilling in a park. But not everyone feels safe enjoying the great outdoors—and we’re not talking about getting mosquito bites or sunburns. In late May, a white woman, Amy Cooper, called the police on a Black bird watcher who asked her to leash her dog. This incident felt familiar to many other Black outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom had encountered similar experiences of racism outside. To understand why the outdoors is an unwelcoming place for some people, we need to look back at our violent history. Joining Ira to talk about this is Dr. Carolyn Finney, author of the book Black Faces, White Spaces. She is also a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. And later in the conversation, Ira is joined by two scientists, biology graduate student Corina Newsome from Statesboro, Georgia, and exploration geoscientist Tim Shin from Houston, Texas....

47 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Making The Outdoors Great For Everyone. July 3, 2020, Part 1

Honeybee Health, Assessing COVID Risk, Seeing Numbers. June 26, 2020, Part 2

This past year was a strange one for beekeepers. According to a survey from the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership, U.S. beekeepers lost more than 40% of their honey bee colonies between April of 2019 and April of 2020. That’s significantly more than normal. The Bee Informed Partnership has surveyed professional and amateur beekeepers for the past 14 years to monitor how their colonies are doing. They reach more than 10% of beekeepers in the U.S., so their survey is thought to be a pretty accurate look at what’s going on across the country. That’s why these latest results are so important—and they raise a lot of questions for honey bee researchers. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating a lot of the food grown in the U.S. If they’re in trouble, we’re in trouble. Nathalie Steinhauer, research coordinator for the Bee Informed Partnership in College Park, Maryland, joins producer Kathleen Davis to talk about the report, and what it means for our beloved pollinators. As corona...

46 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Honeybee Health, Assessing COVID Risk, Seeing Numbers. June 26, 2020, Part 2

Checking In On Kids’ Mental Health During the Pandemic. June 26, 2020, Part 1

In the U.S., we’re heading into the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and lockdowns have taken a toll on everyone’s mental and emotional well-being—including children and teens, many of whom may be having trouble processing what’s going on. Psychologists Archana Basu and Robin Gurwitch discuss the unique issues the pandemic brings up for children and teens. They talk about how parents and caregivers can support the mental health of the kids and teens in their lives, helping them better cope with isolation and uncertainty, as well as learning remotely during the pandemic.

46 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Checking In On Kids’ Mental Health During the Pandemic. June 26, 2020, Part 1

SciFri Extra: A Pragmatic Wishlist For AI Ethics

Earlier this month, three major tech companies publicly distanced themselves from the facial recognition tools used by police: IBM said they would stop all such research, while Amazon and Microsoft said they would push pause on any plans to give facial recognition technology to domestic law enforcement. And just this week, the city of Boston banned facial surveillance technology entirely. Why? Facial recognition algorithms built by companies like Amazon have been found to misidentify people of color, especially women of color, at higher rates—meaning when police use facial recognition to identify suspects who are not white, they are more likely to arrest the wrong person. CEOs are calling for national laws to govern this technology, or programming solutions to remove the racial biases and other inequities from their code. But there are others who want to ban it entirely—and completely re-envision how AI is developed and used in communities. In this SciFri Extra, we continue a conv...

16 MIN2 w ago
Comments
SciFri Extra: A Pragmatic Wishlist For AI Ethics

Facial Recognition, Hummingbird Vision, Moon Lander. June 19, 2020, Part 2

Protests Shine Light On Facial Recognition Tech Problems Earlier this month,three major tech companiespublicly distanced themselves from the facial recognition tools used by police.IBM CEO Arvind Krishna explained their company's move was because of facial recognition’s use inracial profiling and mass surveillance. Facial recognition algorithms built by companies like Amazon have been found tomisidentify people of color, especially women of color,at higher rates—meaning when police use facial recognition to identify suspects who are not white, they are more likely to arrest the wrong person. Nevertheless, companies have been pitching this technology to the government.CEOs are calling for national laws to govern this technology, or programming solutions to remove the racial biases and other inequities from their code. But there are others who want to ban it entirely—and completely re-envisioning how AI is developed and used in communities. SciFri producer Christie Taylor talks toR...

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Facial Recognition, Hummingbird Vision, Moon Lander. June 19, 2020, Part 2

Doctor Burnout, International Doctors. June 19, 2020, Part 1

A Crisis Of Health In Healthcare Workers Content Warning: This segment contains talk of suicide. For help for people considering suicide, call theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Depression and anxiety are extremely common in healthcare workers, and they have higher rates of suicide than the general public—doctors in particular are twice as likely to die by suicide.That’s when the world is operating normally. Now, healthcare workers are also dealing with a devastating pandemic, and the uncertainty surrounding a new disease. And some healthcare workers are using what little emotional labor they have left to advocate in the streets and online for racial justice. Joining Ira to talk about burnout in the healthcare industry areSteven McDonald, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, andKali Cyrus, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Washington, D....

47 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Doctor Burnout, International Doctors. June 19, 2020, Part 1

Proactive Policing, The Social Brain. June 12, 2020, Part 2

In the 1980s and 1990s, in the midst of rising crime rates and a nationally waning confidence in policing, law enforcement around the country adopted a different approach to addressing crime. Instead of just reacting to crime when it happened, officers decided they’d try to prevent it from happening in the first place, employing things like “hot spots” policing and “stop and frisk,” or “terry stops.” The strategy is what criminologists call proactive policing, and it’s now become widely used in police departments across the nation, especially in cities. Critics and experts debate how effective these tactics are in lowering crime rates. While there’s some evidence that proactive policing does reduce crime, now public health researchers are questioning if the practice—which sometimes results in innocent people being stopped, searched, and detained—comes with other unintended physical and mental health consequences. Samuel Walker, emeritus professor of criminology at the Uni...

46 MINJUN 12
Comments
Proactive Policing, The Social Brain. June 12, 2020, Part 2
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