Science Friday

Fridays 1-3 p.m.
  • Hosted by Ira Flatow

Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the trusted source for news about science, technology, and other cool stuff. Each week host Ira Flatow mixes it up with people in the know and those who want to be. It's brain fun, for curious people.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you tuned into "Jeopardy!" in 2011, you might have heard an exchange like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JEOPARDY!")

ALEX TREBEK: Watson, start us, please.

WATSON: The European Union for $200.

Science Book Picks for 2013

Dec 13, 2013
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This Doc's Miracle Drug? Exercise

Dec 13, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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. But what's different about this medical book is that there are no drugs recommended, no trips to the pharmacy.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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. And if you think you're safe because you have insurance, he says think again.

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.

Would More Technology Mean Safer Trains?

Dec 6, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

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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.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLEXIGLAS SLAMMING)

Eating 'Wilder' Foods for a Healthier Diet

Nov 26, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits?

Nov 22, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Touchdown confirmed. We're safe on Mars.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

Stores Are Snooping Into Your Smartphone

Nov 22, 2013

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.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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?

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.

Searching for Earth 2.0

Nov 15, 2013

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.

The Myth of the Woolly Bear

Nov 8, 2013

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.

Navigating Dietary Supplement Regulations

Nov 8, 2013

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?

India and NASA Home In on Mars

Nov 8, 2013
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Zero plus one, two, three, four...

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Liftoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Liftoff normal.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

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.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

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.

Craig Venter: Life at the Speed of Light

Oct 25, 2013

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

Science Goes to the Movies: 'Gravity'

Oct 25, 2013

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(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The most spectacular science shocker ever filmed. Too real to be science fiction, now science fact.

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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. We're going to ask scientists to put on their film critic hats and help us separate the fact from Hollywood fiction.

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IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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.

LUKE GROSKIN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: You like this seat? Get used to it.

GROSKIN: It's nice and comfy.

FLATOW: All right. What have you got for us this week?

GROSKIN: Well, today we're going to regale ourselves in the inner beauty of the naked mole rat.

(LAUGHTER)

Making Sense of Science Infographics

Oct 18, 2013

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JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

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.

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JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

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.

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JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

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.

Vines Choking Out Trees in the Tropics

Oct 18, 2013

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JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky.

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.

'Brave Genius': A Tale of Two Nobelists

Oct 11, 2013

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.

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