Science Friday en Reggie Watts Builds a Synthesizer, Bit by Bit Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>The synth stylings of Kraftwerk. When that song "Autobahn" came out 1974, and, yes, I was around to remember when it came out then, synthesizers were the cutting edge in music technology. It really were a rarity, but not so today. Synthesizers are everywhere. In pop music, from the top 40s, to indie synth pop, you definitely heard synthesizers, maybe you've even seen them in action. But do you know how they work? Yeah.<p>A toy company called littleBits wants to show you they've created a do-it-yourself synth kit, a tiny synthesizer you can make yourself. Mon, 16 Dec 2013 19:58:00 +0000 editor 15134 at In a New Play, Trusty Sidekick Is a Supercomputer Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you tuned into "Jeopardy!" in 2011, you might have heard an exchange like this.<p>(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JEOPARDY!")<p>ALEX TREBEK: Watson, start us, please.<p>WATSON: The European Union for $200.<p>TREBEK: As of 2010, Croatia and Macedonia are candidates but this is the only former Yugoslav Republic in the EU. Brad.<p>BRAD: What is Bosnia?<p>TREBEK: No. Watson.<p>WATSON: What is Serbia?<p>TREBEK: No. That too is incorrect. The correct response is what is Slovenia. Mon, 16 Dec 2013 19:58:00 +0000 editor 15135 at Science Book Picks for 2013 Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow and you are invited to join our annual holiday club of the air. This week we'll be talking about some of the best science reads from 2013. I'm going to throw in my favorite one right at the beginning before Deborah and Maria get a chance to put a word in edgewise.<p>"Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian," by Douglas Stone. It gives a look at the lesser-known discoveries of Albert Einstein and a little peak about what physics was like at that time and all the great characters there. What's yours? Fri, 13 Dec 2013 17:21:00 +0000 editor 14954 at This Doc's Miracle Drug? Exercise Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>You know the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, my next guest might add to that. How about a jog a day keeps the doctor away, or a set of pull-ups? His new book is a prescription pad for a variety of ailments from anxiety and depression to heart disease, diabetes, low libido, arthritis, even cancer. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 17:21:00 +0000 editor 14955 at Dissecting America's $3 Trillion Medical Bill Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Do you know that what the number one reason for people filing bankruptcy in this country is? What's the number one reason? Not a lost job. It's not damage from earthquakes or floods. It's medical bills. My next guest says our high-priced medical treatments are responsible for some 60 percent of personal bankruptcies. Fri, 06 Dec 2013 18:18:00 +0000 editor 14467 at Speech Science: Tongue Twisters and Valley Girls Drawing from research presented at this year's Acoustical Society of America conference, psycholinguist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel untangles tongue twisters to look at speech planning patterns, and professor Amalia Arvaniti discusses the "Valley Girl" dialect. Fri, 06 Dec 2013 18:18:00 +0000 editor 14470 at Would More Technology Mean Safer Trains? Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. For less than $100, you can buy a little gadget, a speedometer, that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter and it will let out a terrific scream when you exceed that speed limit that you preset into it. In fact, there's a 99-cent app for that too for your smartphone that tells you when you've exceeded the speed limit.<p>If such a simple device had been installed on the commuter train that derailed last Sunday, killing four people in New York, perhaps that accident might never had happened. Fri, 06 Dec 2013 18:18:00 +0000 editor 14471 at At STREB Action Lab, Dance and Physics Collide Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>If you're headed to the ballet this season, chances are to hear something like the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from "The Nutcracker," this season's dance blockbuster as usual. But dance doesn't always sound this sweet. Sometimes it sounds more like this.<p>(SOUNDBITE OF PLEXIGLAS SLAMMING)<p>FLATOW: I'm sure you won't recognize that music. That's the sounds of dancers running at top speed and then slamming into a Plexiglas wall. Tue, 26 Nov 2013 20:21:00 +0000 editor 13985 at Eating 'Wilder' Foods for a Healthier Diet Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving, this being the day after. One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is, I think, the leftovers. Don't they always taste better? Well, my next guest is here to tell us how we can get the most flavor and nutrition out of those leftovers and our food all year round.<p>She says we've been breeding the nutrition out of our food for years, but if you choose the right variety of fruits and vegetables, and you prepare them correctly, you can reclaim the minerals and the taste. Tue, 26 Nov 2013 20:21:00 +0000 editor 13986 at Annual Prizes Honor the Stranger Side of Science Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. There's research that tackles the really big questions like where did we come from? How did the universe form? How can people live longer, better lives? Today is probably not the day for that research. Instead, it's our annual salute to science that first makes you laugh and then makes you think.<p>Talking about highlights from the 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Awards. Tue, 26 Nov 2013 20:21:00 +0000 editor 13987 at A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits? Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. A growing body of evidence has been hinting that nuts - nuts - are good for us. The popular Mediterranean diet emphasizes nuts but, you know, most Americans only eat nuts on occasion. And I'm talking about, oh, that's less than once a week, except for me. I eat them every day, but that's another story.<p>A recent study published in New England Journal of Medicine gives a new meaning to the phrase health nut. Fri, 22 Nov 2013 18:06:00 +0000 editor 13593 at Budget Cuts Leave Curiosity and Cassini in Limbo Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow.<p>UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Touchdown confirmed. We're safe on Mars.<p>(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)<p>FLATOW: You remember that video from mission control, when Curiosity landed on Mars last August? It was pretty exciting, not to mention all those fabulous photos and the data being sent back from the Red Planet. But how would you feel if they flipped off the switch to that Mars mission? Or they powered down the Cassini mission to Saturn? Did you see that fabulous photo Cassini sent back last week? Fri, 22 Nov 2013 18:06:00 +0000 editor 13597 at Stores Are Snooping Into Your Smartphone Retailers have used various techniques to analyze in-store buying behavior, such as surveys, video surveillance, and buyer reward programs. Some stores have been tapping into the technology in smartphones to track shoppers' actions. New York Times reporter Quentin Hardy discusses how they're doing this and what information they can gather. Fri, 22 Nov 2013 18:06:00 +0000 editor 13598 at Should Sending Cash Be As Easy As Sending E-mail? Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>Now up, it's time for another episode of our App Chat series, where we review the latest apps and talk about new ways to use your smartphone. And today, we're going to talk about mobile payments. Ever gone out to eat with your friends and when the bill arrives, you realize it's cash only and, oh, you have no cash. What are you going to do?<p>Somebody picks up the check, right? Your friends pick up the tab and, of course, you want to pay them back. You don't want to stiff them for the check, and you want to pay them right now. Fri, 15 Nov 2013 18:17:00 +0000 editor 13131 at Early Balloonists Took Science 'Up, Up and Away' In Falling Upwards, writer Richard Holmes tells the story of early balloon flight--and of the nervy scientists who risked life and limb to take their experiments into the air. Among their discoveries? Insect migration and the stratosphere. Falling Upwards chronicles the balloonists who took science into the stratosphere. Fri, 15 Nov 2013 18:16:00 +0000 editor 13127 at Searching for Earth 2.0 One in every five sunlike stars in the Milky Way may have an Earth-sized planet circling it in the Goldilocks zone--the sweet spot where liquid water could exist. That's according to a new analysis of data from the Kepler spacecraft. Sara Seager, an exoplanet hunter at MIT, talks about what's next in the hunt for Earth 2.0. Fri, 15 Nov 2013 18:16:00 +0000 editor 13132 at The Myth of the Woolly Bear Legend holds that the length of a woolly bear caterpillar's color bands can be used to forecast how severe the winter weather will be. The myth dates back to colonial American folklore but was popularized by a 1948 study. SciFri finds out if there's any truth to the lore, and what the caterpillar's fuzzy bristles are really used for. Fri, 08 Nov 2013 17:30:00 +0000 editor 12657 at Navigating Dietary Supplement Regulations Echinacea, vitamins, and other dietary supplements have become a $5 billion industry, but the products don't need to be pre-approved by the FDA before they go on the market. How do we know what is really in our supplements? What regulations are currently in place? How can we keep ourselves safe and informed? Fri, 08 Nov 2013 17:29:00 +0000 editor 12653 at India and NASA Home In on Mars This week, India launched Mangalyaan, its first robotic mission to orbit Mars and probe its atmosphere. Only Russia, Europe, and the U.S. have successfully orbited the planet. Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in national security affairs, and planetary scientist Bruce Jakosky discuss the Indian space program, as well as NASA's upcoming mission to the Martian atmosphere. Fri, 08 Nov 2013 17:29:00 +0000 editor 12658 at Chris Hadfield's Lessons from Life in Orbit Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, author of the new book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, has flown three space missions, including 144 days on the International Space Station. Hadfield talks about life in zero gravity, his one fear while in orbit, and how he went from test pilot to astronaut. Fri, 01 Nov 2013 16:26:00 +0000 editor 12171 at Einstein's Real Breakthrough? Quantum Theory Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. When you think about Albert Einstein, the words E=MC squared and Theory of Relativity naturally come to mind. But Einstein did not win his Nobel Prize for that work. Instead, he won the prize for figuring out how light interacts with objects and for believing, when almost no one else did, that light and energy are carried as discreet packets called quanta.<p>He was a pioneer in quantum mechanics and the first to champion the idea that light can behave as a particle and as a wave. Fri, 01 Nov 2013 16:26:00 +0000 editor 12172 at To Learn How Your Camera Works, Try Building One Digital cameras are ubiquitous today — even $20 cell phones have them built in. But few people actually know how a digital camera works. Shree Nayar, a computer scientist at Columbia University, set out to change that with his Bigshot Do-It-Yourself Digital Camera kit, which gives tinkerers a view of a camera's anatomy. Fri, 01 Nov 2013 16:26:00 +0000 editor 12180 at Craig Venter: Life at the Speed of Light Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Craig Venter was the first person to ever create a living thing from scratch, a cell, a bacterium, into which was inserted manmade genetic material - DNA. And for all intents and purposes, it was alive, moving, reproducing. It opened up a whole new world of what he and we now call synthetic biology, creating stuff from genetic code as we need it.<p>For example, when a pandemic hits, why not just print out flu vaccine from the comfort of your own home? Fri, 25 Oct 2013 16:47:00 +0000 editor 11717 at Science Goes to the Movies: 'Gravity' Transcript <p>(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE)<p>UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The most spectacular science shocker ever filmed. Too real to be science fiction, now science fact.<p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>That theme signals a new series we're calling Science Goes to the Movies. If you ever watch sci-fi flick and think, now, com on. Did that really happen? Well, to us, that's what this series is all about. Fri, 25 Oct 2013 16:47:00 +0000 editor 11718 at Discover the Inner Beauty of the Naked Mole Rat Transcript <p>IRA FLATOW, HOST: <p>Up next, it's time for our video pick of the week. And making his debut on SCIENCE FRIDAY is our new video producer, Luke Groskin. Hey, Luke.<p>LUKE GROSKIN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.<p>FLATOW: You like this seat? Get used to it.<p>GROSKIN: It's nice and comfy.<p>FLATOW: All right. What have you got for us this week?<p>GROSKIN: Well, today we're going to regale ourselves in the inner beauty of the naked mole rat.<p>(LAUGHTER)<p>FLATOW: The inner beauty. That's almost an oxymoron. The inner beauty of the naked mole rat.<p>GROSKIN: Yeah. Yeah. Fri, 25 Oct 2013 16:47:00 +0000 editor 11721 at Vines Choking Out Trees in the Tropics Transcript <p>JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky.<p>If you've ever walked through the jungle, you'll know it can be surprisingly dark down on the forest floor. You see trees soaring up all around. You're creating a dense canopy overhead. And climbing toward that canopy, snaking up the trees are the vines.<p>Now it may seem peaceful in there, but what you're witnessing in very slow motion is a fight to the death: a fight between the trees and their old rivals, the vines. It's a battle as old as the forest themselves. Now, scientists say the vines are winning. Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:48:00 +0000 editor 11256 at Making Sense of Science Infographics Transcript <p>JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky. Chances are, without even realizing it, you've seen at least one infographic today. Did you catch the weather forecast this morning? Maybe you saw a rain cloud moving across a map of the U.S. Maybe you opened the paper to find pie charts of the latest poll results. Now those are infographics.<p>In the age of big data, we depend on them more and more to communicate lots of information quickly. But not all infographics are created equal. Some mislead us or confuse us. Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:48:00 +0000 editor 11229 at Promising New Treatment for the Deadly Ebola Virus Transcript <p>JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST: <p>Now, for many of us, we first heard about the Ebola virus from the movie "Outbreak," Dustin Hoffman trying to contain an outbreak of an Ebola-like virus in a small California town. Well, in the 18 years since that movie came out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented 18 known outbreaks of Ebola, with the most recent happening last fall in the Congo.<p>The virus causes internal and external bleeding, fever, and has a 90 percent fatality rate. Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:48:00 +0000 editor 11231 at With Shutdown Over, Scientists Assess the Damage Transcript <p>JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST: <p>This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky. Ira Flatow is away. After nearly three weeks, the shutdown is finally over. The Smithsonian is open, national parks have opened up their gates, and federal labs all over the country are turning on their lights. But not everyone is back to business as usual. Many scientists who were about to start their field season in Antarctica had their trips cancelled or postponed.<p>Some say they may miss the entire season because of this delay. Many are still in limbo with waiting to find out. Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:48:00 +0000 editor 11233 at 'Brave Genius': A Tale of Two Nobelists In Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize, Sean B. Carroll tells the story of biologist Jacques Monod and philosopher Albert Camus--two men who made significant contributions to their respective fields, and who shared an enduring friendship. Fri, 11 Oct 2013 18:36:00 +0000 editor 10778 at