Science Friday

by Science Friday and WNYC Studios · · · · 1758 subscribers

Brain fun for curious people.

Yemen is gripped by civil war—and some experts say it could be the first of many “water wars” to come, as the planet grows hotter and drier. In This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-Offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America , Jeff Nesbit writes of the Yemeni conflict and many other geopolitical consequences of a warming world, including the precarious future of the Indus River, under the control of China, India and Pakistan, and why Saudi Arabia’s biggest dairy company is buying farmland in the Arizona desert. Nesbit joins Ira to [discuss ...

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Back in December, the Trump administration announced reductions to two of Utah’s national monuments: Grand Staircase-Escalante, which runs from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park, and Bears Ears, newly established by the Obama administration
As a critical care doctor, Jessica Zitter has seen plenty of “Hail Mary” attempts to save dying patients go bad—attempts where doctors try interventions that don’t change the outcome, but do lead to more patient suffering. It’s left her distrustful of fl
About five million years ago, the island of Kauai emerged from the ocean waves, and a new chain of island habitats was born, right in the middle of the Pacific. In those Hawaiian islands, birds would have found a multitude of microclimates, a lack of mos
If you stood in southeastern Utah over 200 million years ago, you’d be overlooking the ocean. The landlocked state wasn’t quite the same landscape of scarlet plateaus and canyons you might see today, but a coastal desert where sand dunes butted up right
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.
Climate change is increasing temperatures and causing heavier rainfalls across the country. Scientists are studying how these changes will affect different natural resources, including the soil ecosystem. For example, in Wisconsin, soil erosion is predic
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
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 wou
Each spring, animals move from their winter grazing grounds in search of greener pastures. For birds, where and when to start that journey is based on genetics, and signals from stars, and magnetic fields from the earth. But for some larger mammals like
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
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
NASA is exploring a deep-sea volcano off the coast of Hawaii as a test run for human and robotic missions to Mars and beyond. The mission, dubbed SUBSEA, or Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog, will examine microbial life
In 2009, Stephen Hawking decided to throw a party for time travelers, famously sending the invitations after the date of the party. For the 30th anniversary of Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, the SciFri Book Club decided to throw our own party—a Time
From 1976 to 2017, the Democratic Republic of the Congo experienced eight outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus. Then, for 10 weeks earlier this year, the virus reemerged in the country, killing 33 people. Ministry of Health officials finally declared the
This year was both the 30th anniversary of Stephen Hawking’s science blockbuster A Brief History of Time, but also the year the famed physicist himself passed away. In memory of Hawking and celebration of his work, Science Friday Book Club listeners join
Worker ants keep the nest alive. They look for food, take care of the eggs, and dig all the tunnels. Fire ant colonies, for example, have hundreds of thousands of worker ants. You’d think traffic jams happen all the time. But they don’t! The majority of
More than five years after the devastating 14-foot high waters of Superstorm Sandy flooded New York and New Jersey, the Army Corps of Engineers is studying methods for reducing the damage of future high waters in the New York Bay and Hudson River estuary
When you think of sand, thoughts of the ocean and sand castles probably come to mind. But sand can be found in much more than beachfronts. Sand is a key ingredient in concrete for skyscrapers, silicon for computer chips, and the glass for your smartphone
The Mendocino Complex fire in northern California has spread to more than 300,000 acres—a swath of land bigger than New York City. The blaze is the state’s largest wildfire in recorded history, edging out last year's record- setting Thomas Fire, which dev