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Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

1.2K
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4.3K
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Science Friday

Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

1.2K
Followers
4.3K
Plays
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Brain fun for curious people.

Latest Episodes

Breast Cancer Cultural History, Butterfly Wings. June 5, 2020, Part 2

‘Radical’ Explores The Hidden History Of Breast Cancer Nearly270,000 women are diagnosedwith breast cancer every year, along with a couple thousand men. But the disease manifests in many different ways, meaning few patients have the same story to tell. Journalist Kate Pickert collects many of those stories in her bookRadical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America. And one of those stories is her own. As she writes about her own journey with breast cancer, Pickert delves into the history of breast cancer treatment—first devised by a Scottish medical student studying sheep in the 1800s—and chronicles the huge clinical trials for blockbuster drugs in the 80s and 90s—one of which required armies of people to harvest timber from the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest. She joins Ira Flatow totell her story, and the surprising cultural history of breast cancer. With Butterfly Wings, There’s More Than Meets The Eye Scientists are learning that butterfly wings are more than just a pretty adornment. Once thought to be made up of non-living cells, new research suggests that portions of a butterfly wing are actually alive—and serve a very useful purpose. Ina studypublished in the journalNature Communications, Naomi Pierce, curator of Lepidoptera at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, found that nano-structures within the wing help regulate the wing’s temperature, an important function that keeps the thin membrane from overheating in the sun.They also discovered a “wing heart” that beats a few dozen times per minute to facilitate the directional flow of insect blood or hemolymph. Pierce joins Ira to talk about her work and the hidden structures of butterfly wings. Plus, Nipam Patel, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory, talks about how butterfly wing structure is animportant component of the dazzling color on some butterfly wings.

46 MIN1 d ago
Comments
Breast Cancer Cultural History, Butterfly Wings. June 5, 2020, Part 2

Police Behavior Research, Dermatology In Skin Of Color, Coffee Extraction. June 5, 2020, Part 1

This week, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans by police brutality and racial inequality continue to fuel demonstrations around the nation. In many cities, police are using tear gas, rubber bullets, and other control tactics on protesters. A history of 50 years of research reveals what makes a protest safe for participants and police alike. The findings show that police response is what makes the biggest difference: de-escalating and building trust supports peaceful demonstrations rather than responding with weapons and riot gear. And, as thousands of protesters risk abrasive, cough-inducing tear gas and mass arrests, health researchers are concerned a militant response could increase demonstrators’ risk of acquiring COVID-19. Maggie Koerth, senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight and a Minneapolis, Minnesota resident, joins Ira to discuss these stories. Dermatologists presented with a new patient have a number of symptoms to look at in order t...

46 MIN1 d ago
Comments
Police Behavior Research, Dermatology In Skin Of Color, Coffee Extraction. June 5, 2020, Part 1

Bio-Inspired Concrete, Nose Microbiome, Space News. May 29, 2020, Part 2

The human microbiome—our own personalized bacteria profile—plays a part in our health. The different parts of our body, from our skin to our gut, each have their own microbial profile. A team of researchers decided to explore the bacteria living inside our nose, publishing this week in the journal Cell Reports. Microbiologist Sarah Lebeer, one of the authors of the study, discusses what beneficial bacteria reside in our nose—and how this could be used to create a probiotic for upper respiratory infections. Concrete is a seemingly simple mix of wet cement, but it’s been the foundation of many civilizations. Ancient Mayans and Romans used concrete in their structures, and it is the basic building block of the sky-scraping concrete jungles we inhabit today. But it turns out, it’s still possible to improve. In an effort to create crack-free concrete that can resist the stresses of freezing temperatures, one group of researchers looked to organisms that live in sub-zero environments...

46 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Bio-Inspired Concrete, Nose Microbiome, Space News. May 29, 2020, Part 2

Vaccine Rate Decrease, Mind-Body Music. May 29, 2020, Part 1

One unintended consequence of families sheltering at home is that children’s vaccination rates have gone way down. In New York City, for example, vaccine doses for kids older than two dropped by more than 90 percent. That could mean new outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, even while we’re struggling with COVID-19. Joining Ira to talk about decreasing vaccination rates are two pediatricians, James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Amanda Dempsey, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver. Electronic musician Grace Leslie makes music that creates a sense of calm—long notes held on the flute, creating rich tones, and layered sounds. But her method for creating her songs sets her apart from most other electronic musicians: Leslie collects heartbeats, neuroelectric activity, and other biofeedback with sensors on people’s bodies. She feeds this input into a computer, which then converts the data...

46 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Vaccine Rate Decrease, Mind-Body Music. May 29, 2020, Part 1

Ancient East Asian Genomes, COVID And Clotting, And Cassowary Plumage. May 22, 2020, Part 2

The cassowary, a large flightless bird native to Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, has a reputation for aggression and wickedly clawed feet that can cause serious injury. Indeed, they’ve been known to attack humans dozens of times, and even occasionally kill people. But they also have a beauty trick: Their glossy black body feathers have a structure for producing shine that’s never before been seen in birds. Where other black birds like crows are shiny because of structures in their feather barbules, the cassowary instead derives its shine from a smooth, wide rachis—the main “stem” of the feather. University of Texas paleontologist Julia Clarke explains how the cassowary’s color could help shed light on the feathers of extinct birds and dinosaurs—and how paleontologists are investigating the evolution of birds as we see them today. The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has primarily been considered a respiratory virus, causing acute problems in the lungs. But doctors arou...

47 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Ancient East Asian Genomes, COVID And Clotting, And Cassowary Plumage. May 22, 2020, Part 2

Degrees Of Change: Regulatory Rollbacks. May 22, 2020, Part 1

The Trump administration is in the process of reversing nearly 100 environmental rules and regulations—threatening air, water, and public health. For example, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has relaxed enforcement for air pollution violations, allowing emissions to continue unchecked during the spread of a respiratory illness. “We’ve never seen anything like the systematic rollback of all things environmental the way we have in this administration,” says David Uhlmann, director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program and the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. A History Of Environmental Policy Uhlmann looks back to years leading up to the push in pollution regulation in the U.S. and the establishment of the EPA in the 1970s. Some of the most catastrophic pollution events in U.S. history inspired the environmental protection efforts, from the historic Cuyahoga River fires in Ohio to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil sp...

46 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Degrees Of Change: Regulatory Rollbacks. May 22, 2020, Part 1

Galileo, Home COVID Monitoring Tech, Origin Of The Feces. May 15, 2020, Part 2

Galileo’s Battle Against Science Denial Galileo Galilei is known as the father of observational astronomy. His theories about the movement of the Earth around the sun and his experiments testing principles of physics are the basis of modern astronomy. But he’s just as well known for his battles against science skeptics, having to defend his evidence against the political and religious critics and institutions of his time.In his new book Galileo and the Science Deniers, astrophysicist Mario Livio talks about the parallels of Galileo’s story to present-day climate change discussions, and other public scientific debates today. Monitoring Your Pandemic Health, From Your Home In recent weeks, the FDA has given the go-ahead to several tests for COVID-19 that can be performed remotely, from your own home. Such tests could help greatly expand testing capacity, an essential part of plans for recovery—but only if the tests are sensitive and reliable. Researchers are also working to develo...

46 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Galileo, Home COVID Monitoring Tech, Origin Of The Feces. May 15, 2020, Part 2

Global COVID Hotspots, Fact Check My Feed, Koji Fermenting. May 15, 2020, Part 1

Fact Check My Feed: Finding The Falsehoods In ‘Plandemic’ Science Fridaycontinues to weigh the truth and sift through the seemingly never-ending stream of misleading claims about the novel coronavirus. This week, virologist Angela Rasmussen joins Ira to help us decipher the uncertainties around this week’s COVID-19 headlines. While what we know and don’t know about COVID-19 changes daily, some things are certain: Rasmussen lays out some of the many falsehoods in the viral “Plandemic” video that circulated last week. She also explains why it’s important to know that a small study that found coronavirus RNA in semen samples leaves many questions unanswered—and that the presence of viral RNA doesn’t necessarily indicate a sexually-transmitted virus. Plus, more fact-checking of misconceptions about herd immunity, and more. Global Flare-ups Of COVID-19 Hot Spots Each country has tackled “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 cases in their own way and some countries were hailed as...

46 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Global COVID Hotspots, Fact Check My Feed, Koji Fermenting. May 15, 2020, Part 1

Moon Maps, Brain Replay, Contact Tracing. May 8, 2020, Part 2

Have you ever had to learn something new and repeat it over and over—until it feels like you’re doing it in your sleep? Maybe you are. In research published this week in the journal Cell Reports, scientists monitored the brain activity of two people implanted with fine grids of neural electrodes as part of a brain-computer interface study for tetraplegia: paralysis of all four limbs. With the implants and a computer model to process the signals, the study participants were able to use their thoughts to control the movement of a cursor on a computer screen. In the study, the participants were asked to play a memory-pattern game similar to the old “Simon” handheld electronic game, pressing a sequence of four buttons in a given order. Then, they were asked to rest and relax—even to nap if they wanted—while the researchers continued to observe their brain activity. They found that the participants’ brains replayed sequences of the game’s patterns during shallow, stage one non-RE...

46 MINMAY 8
Comments
Moon Maps, Brain Replay, Contact Tracing. May 8, 2020, Part 2

COVID-19 Inequalities. May 8, 2020, Part 1

Coronavirus is still hitting the U.S. hard. And breaking down infections by race shows a striking pattern: Black, Latino, and Native American people are hit much harder than other communities. National data shows black Americans account for nearly 30% of COVID-19 deaths, despite only being 13% of the population. In New York City, the epicenter of America’s epidemic, the death rate among black and Latino residents is more than double that of white and Asian residents. Coronavirus is spreading on tribal lands, too. If Navajo Nation were a state, it would be behind only New York and New Jersey in infection rates. Native communities are also often categorized in the racial category of “other” in statewide infection data —making it hard to know just how bad COVID-19 is for Native people. Joining guest host John Dankosky to talk about COVID-19 inequities are Uché Blackstock, physician and founder of Advancing Health Equity in Brooklyn, New York, Rebecca Nagle, journalist and citizen ...

46 MINMAY 8
Comments
COVID-19 Inequalities. May 8, 2020, Part 1

Latest Episodes

Breast Cancer Cultural History, Butterfly Wings. June 5, 2020, Part 2

‘Radical’ Explores The Hidden History Of Breast Cancer Nearly270,000 women are diagnosedwith breast cancer every year, along with a couple thousand men. But the disease manifests in many different ways, meaning few patients have the same story to tell. Journalist Kate Pickert collects many of those stories in her bookRadical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America. And one of those stories is her own. As she writes about her own journey with breast cancer, Pickert delves into the history of breast cancer treatment—first devised by a Scottish medical student studying sheep in the 1800s—and chronicles the huge clinical trials for blockbuster drugs in the 80s and 90s—one of which required armies of people to harvest timber from the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest. She joins Ira Flatow totell her story, and the surprising cultural history of breast cancer. With Butterfly Wings, There’s More Than Meets The Eye Scientists are learning that butterfly wings are more than just a pretty adornment. Once thought to be made up of non-living cells, new research suggests that portions of a butterfly wing are actually alive—and serve a very useful purpose. Ina studypublished in the journalNature Communications, Naomi Pierce, curator of Lepidoptera at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, found that nano-structures within the wing help regulate the wing’s temperature, an important function that keeps the thin membrane from overheating in the sun.They also discovered a “wing heart” that beats a few dozen times per minute to facilitate the directional flow of insect blood or hemolymph. Pierce joins Ira to talk about her work and the hidden structures of butterfly wings. Plus, Nipam Patel, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory, talks about how butterfly wing structure is animportant component of the dazzling color on some butterfly wings.

46 MIN1 d ago
Comments
Breast Cancer Cultural History, Butterfly Wings. June 5, 2020, Part 2

Police Behavior Research, Dermatology In Skin Of Color, Coffee Extraction. June 5, 2020, Part 1

This week, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans by police brutality and racial inequality continue to fuel demonstrations around the nation. In many cities, police are using tear gas, rubber bullets, and other control tactics on protesters. A history of 50 years of research reveals what makes a protest safe for participants and police alike. The findings show that police response is what makes the biggest difference: de-escalating and building trust supports peaceful demonstrations rather than responding with weapons and riot gear. And, as thousands of protesters risk abrasive, cough-inducing tear gas and mass arrests, health researchers are concerned a militant response could increase demonstrators’ risk of acquiring COVID-19. Maggie Koerth, senior science writer for FiveThirtyEight and a Minneapolis, Minnesota resident, joins Ira to discuss these stories. Dermatologists presented with a new patient have a number of symptoms to look at in order t...

46 MIN1 d ago
Comments
Police Behavior Research, Dermatology In Skin Of Color, Coffee Extraction. June 5, 2020, Part 1

Bio-Inspired Concrete, Nose Microbiome, Space News. May 29, 2020, Part 2

The human microbiome—our own personalized bacteria profile—plays a part in our health. The different parts of our body, from our skin to our gut, each have their own microbial profile. A team of researchers decided to explore the bacteria living inside our nose, publishing this week in the journal Cell Reports. Microbiologist Sarah Lebeer, one of the authors of the study, discusses what beneficial bacteria reside in our nose—and how this could be used to create a probiotic for upper respiratory infections. Concrete is a seemingly simple mix of wet cement, but it’s been the foundation of many civilizations. Ancient Mayans and Romans used concrete in their structures, and it is the basic building block of the sky-scraping concrete jungles we inhabit today. But it turns out, it’s still possible to improve. In an effort to create crack-free concrete that can resist the stresses of freezing temperatures, one group of researchers looked to organisms that live in sub-zero environments...

46 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Bio-Inspired Concrete, Nose Microbiome, Space News. May 29, 2020, Part 2

Vaccine Rate Decrease, Mind-Body Music. May 29, 2020, Part 1

One unintended consequence of families sheltering at home is that children’s vaccination rates have gone way down. In New York City, for example, vaccine doses for kids older than two dropped by more than 90 percent. That could mean new outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, even while we’re struggling with COVID-19. Joining Ira to talk about decreasing vaccination rates are two pediatricians, James Campbell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Amanda Dempsey, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver. Electronic musician Grace Leslie makes music that creates a sense of calm—long notes held on the flute, creating rich tones, and layered sounds. But her method for creating her songs sets her apart from most other electronic musicians: Leslie collects heartbeats, neuroelectric activity, and other biofeedback with sensors on people’s bodies. She feeds this input into a computer, which then converts the data...

46 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Vaccine Rate Decrease, Mind-Body Music. May 29, 2020, Part 1

Ancient East Asian Genomes, COVID And Clotting, And Cassowary Plumage. May 22, 2020, Part 2

The cassowary, a large flightless bird native to Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, has a reputation for aggression and wickedly clawed feet that can cause serious injury. Indeed, they’ve been known to attack humans dozens of times, and even occasionally kill people. But they also have a beauty trick: Their glossy black body feathers have a structure for producing shine that’s never before been seen in birds. Where other black birds like crows are shiny because of structures in their feather barbules, the cassowary instead derives its shine from a smooth, wide rachis—the main “stem” of the feather. University of Texas paleontologist Julia Clarke explains how the cassowary’s color could help shed light on the feathers of extinct birds and dinosaurs—and how paleontologists are investigating the evolution of birds as we see them today. The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has primarily been considered a respiratory virus, causing acute problems in the lungs. But doctors arou...

47 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Ancient East Asian Genomes, COVID And Clotting, And Cassowary Plumage. May 22, 2020, Part 2

Degrees Of Change: Regulatory Rollbacks. May 22, 2020, Part 1

The Trump administration is in the process of reversing nearly 100 environmental rules and regulations—threatening air, water, and public health. For example, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has relaxed enforcement for air pollution violations, allowing emissions to continue unchecked during the spread of a respiratory illness. “We’ve never seen anything like the systematic rollback of all things environmental the way we have in this administration,” says David Uhlmann, director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program and the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. A History Of Environmental Policy Uhlmann looks back to years leading up to the push in pollution regulation in the U.S. and the establishment of the EPA in the 1970s. Some of the most catastrophic pollution events in U.S. history inspired the environmental protection efforts, from the historic Cuyahoga River fires in Ohio to the 1969 Santa Barbara oil sp...

46 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Degrees Of Change: Regulatory Rollbacks. May 22, 2020, Part 1

Galileo, Home COVID Monitoring Tech, Origin Of The Feces. May 15, 2020, Part 2

Galileo’s Battle Against Science Denial Galileo Galilei is known as the father of observational astronomy. His theories about the movement of the Earth around the sun and his experiments testing principles of physics are the basis of modern astronomy. But he’s just as well known for his battles against science skeptics, having to defend his evidence against the political and religious critics and institutions of his time.In his new book Galileo and the Science Deniers, astrophysicist Mario Livio talks about the parallels of Galileo’s story to present-day climate change discussions, and other public scientific debates today. Monitoring Your Pandemic Health, From Your Home In recent weeks, the FDA has given the go-ahead to several tests for COVID-19 that can be performed remotely, from your own home. Such tests could help greatly expand testing capacity, an essential part of plans for recovery—but only if the tests are sensitive and reliable. Researchers are also working to develo...

46 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Galileo, Home COVID Monitoring Tech, Origin Of The Feces. May 15, 2020, Part 2

Global COVID Hotspots, Fact Check My Feed, Koji Fermenting. May 15, 2020, Part 1

Fact Check My Feed: Finding The Falsehoods In ‘Plandemic’ Science Fridaycontinues to weigh the truth and sift through the seemingly never-ending stream of misleading claims about the novel coronavirus. This week, virologist Angela Rasmussen joins Ira to help us decipher the uncertainties around this week’s COVID-19 headlines. While what we know and don’t know about COVID-19 changes daily, some things are certain: Rasmussen lays out some of the many falsehoods in the viral “Plandemic” video that circulated last week. She also explains why it’s important to know that a small study that found coronavirus RNA in semen samples leaves many questions unanswered—and that the presence of viral RNA doesn’t necessarily indicate a sexually-transmitted virus. Plus, more fact-checking of misconceptions about herd immunity, and more. Global Flare-ups Of COVID-19 Hot Spots Each country has tackled “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 cases in their own way and some countries were hailed as...

46 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Global COVID Hotspots, Fact Check My Feed, Koji Fermenting. May 15, 2020, Part 1

Moon Maps, Brain Replay, Contact Tracing. May 8, 2020, Part 2

Have you ever had to learn something new and repeat it over and over—until it feels like you’re doing it in your sleep? Maybe you are. In research published this week in the journal Cell Reports, scientists monitored the brain activity of two people implanted with fine grids of neural electrodes as part of a brain-computer interface study for tetraplegia: paralysis of all four limbs. With the implants and a computer model to process the signals, the study participants were able to use their thoughts to control the movement of a cursor on a computer screen. In the study, the participants were asked to play a memory-pattern game similar to the old “Simon” handheld electronic game, pressing a sequence of four buttons in a given order. Then, they were asked to rest and relax—even to nap if they wanted—while the researchers continued to observe their brain activity. They found that the participants’ brains replayed sequences of the game’s patterns during shallow, stage one non-RE...

46 MINMAY 8
Comments
Moon Maps, Brain Replay, Contact Tracing. May 8, 2020, Part 2

COVID-19 Inequalities. May 8, 2020, Part 1

Coronavirus is still hitting the U.S. hard. And breaking down infections by race shows a striking pattern: Black, Latino, and Native American people are hit much harder than other communities. National data shows black Americans account for nearly 30% of COVID-19 deaths, despite only being 13% of the population. In New York City, the epicenter of America’s epidemic, the death rate among black and Latino residents is more than double that of white and Asian residents. Coronavirus is spreading on tribal lands, too. If Navajo Nation were a state, it would be behind only New York and New Jersey in infection rates. Native communities are also often categorized in the racial category of “other” in statewide infection data —making it hard to know just how bad COVID-19 is for Native people. Joining guest host John Dankosky to talk about COVID-19 inequities are Uché Blackstock, physician and founder of Advancing Health Equity in Brooklyn, New York, Rebecca Nagle, journalist and citizen ...

46 MINMAY 8
Comments
COVID-19 Inequalities. May 8, 2020, Part 1
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