Science Friday

Friday 2 p.m.
  • Hosted by Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow hosts a weekly talk show about science.

Big Trouble Managing Mustangs

Oct 7, 2017

The World Of Bitcoin Economics

Oct 7, 2017

A Homecoming For The Whales

Oct 7, 2017

Science Club Challenge: Grab A Neat Rock

Oct 7, 2017
m
<a href="https://cascade.uoregon.edu/spring2014/natural-sciences/better-living-through-microbes/">cascade.uoregon.edu</a>

In the past decade, the microbiome of the human gut — the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi living inside of us that may influence our health and happiness — has become a widely discussed area of research. Less well-known is the world of microbes outside our bodies — the microbiomes of where we live and work.

These microbes live with us, sleep with us, shower with us and eat with us in our offices and homes, and scientists know relatively little about them.

According to current research, teenagers make bad decisions and take too many risks because the prefrontal cortex, the decision-making center, is still developing until around age 25. Now, new research suggests this may not be the case.

Dr. Dan Romer and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania took a look at the research and didn’t see sufficient evidence for the "structural deficit" theory in the literature. Yes, the brain’s not fully developed in teens, they say, but that’s not the problem behind bad decision making.

5
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/philip-ester/5216780198">StingrayPhil</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

You may not envy what dung beetles and carrion beetles dine on, but you live in a world that they help keep clean. Think of the insects as “nature’s recyclers,” decomposing waste and returning all kinds of nutrients back into the ecosystem.

At a recent live show in Wichita, Kansas, Science Friday host Ira Flatow talked with Rachel Stone and Emmy Engasser, graduate researchers at Wichita State University’s biodiversity lab, about this powerful natural cleanup crew. Here are some surprising takeaways from their conversation:

How scientists are piecing together the story of ancient Americans

Oct 1, 2017
C
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clovis_Rummells_Maske.jpg">Bill Whittaker</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)&nbsp;

The Americas were one of the last areas of the world to be settled by modern humans, and we know that one of the first migrant groups, known as the Clovis people, lived here around 13,000 years ago.

The Case For Boredom

Sep 30, 2017

The ABCs Of Nuclear War

Sep 30, 2017
3
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ginapina/3528146487/">gina pina</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

These days, chicken is a staple of the American diet, but it wasn’t always that way. Before the 1940s, chicken was rarely on the meal table; instead, chicken meat was a byproduct of egg farming — the hens that were done laying eggs.

So, what happened? The secret ingredient, according to journalist Maryn McKenna, was antibiotics. Her new book “Big Chicken” traces the rise of antibiotics in the poultry industry all the way to our current antibiotic crisis.

8
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pamontgo/8817421670">Andy Montgomery</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>

How do you judge the health of an economy?

The number of new homes is often one good way to tell. But when it comes to ancient Rome, researchers recently discovered another indicator: The city’s early plumbing system. In their findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how ancient Rome’s water pipes tell the story of an empire’s rise — and its struggles.

Why Do Dinosaurs Matter?

Sep 23, 2017

Sleepy Times Under The Sea

Sep 23, 2017

Communities along the upper Mississippi River have seen a major uptick in heavy rains and flooding in the last decade.

Residents, environmentalists, engineers and government agencies agree that they need a coordinated strategy to manage flooding. That could be particularly important in the coming years, as scientists predict that climate change will likely bring more heavy rain to the region.

The idea that people have different styles of learning — that the visually inclined do best by seeing new information, for example, or others by hearing it — has been around since the 1950s, and recent research suggests it’s still widely believed by teachers and laypeople alike. But is there scientific evidence that learning styles exist?

“The short answer is no,” says Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Bringing science and engineering stories to life for students

Sep 16, 2017

What does it take to bring science and engineering to life for students?

How about a little news?

That’s the idea behind the Science Friday Educator Collaborative, now in its second year. Seven teachers around the country are designing curiosity-provoking science, technology, engineering and mathematics resources for anyone to use, based on stories from Science Friday.

In July, a new law took effect in Florida, and it concerns what’s in the state’s schoolbooks.

HB 989 allows any Florida resident to “challenge the use or adoption of instructional materials,” and its supporters say the law gives Floridians a greater say in what students are taught. But some in the scientific community worry the new law will be used to target evolution and climate change in classrooms.

How Do We Study Ancient Americans?

Sep 16, 2017

Finding Fossils Under The Sea (Of Kansas)

Sep 16, 2017

When Dung Is What’s For Dinner

Sep 16, 2017

Pages