All Science

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Current Event June 10, 2015

A Computer Therapist

Technology Psychology Veterans

When veterans return from combat they bring with them memories of their service that can impact their mental health. Successfully screening returning veterans for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression is a challenge. The University of Southern California has designed a computer program, known as Ellie, that could help solve this problem. Ellie analyzes the tone and facial expressions of soldiers as they answer questions. It’s able to detect more than you might think. Listen to learn more about this promising new technology and how it can help veterans heal.

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Current Event May 26, 2015

How to Name a Disease

Life Science Health

Ebola, Swine Flu, Lou Gehrig’s - all of these illnesses were named after places, animals or people. In fact, most disease are named in an ad-hoc or random way, and that can have unexpected consequences for individuals and communities associated with the diseases. The World Health Organization is hoping to change this by establishing new guidelines for disease naming that are based on medical factors. Listen to learn more about the current way diseases are named and this suggested alternative.

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Current Event June 4, 2015

State versus Towns Over Fracking

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

The practice of fracking, extracting gas from deep inside the earth, has divided neighbors and split towns. And now it’s pitting cities and towns in Texas against the state of Texas. The Texas state legislature has passed a law that takes the power to regulate the gas industry away from the cities and towns directly impacted by fracking. As you'll hear in this public radio story, blocking these local efforts to control fracking has sparked a fierce debate.

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Current Event April 29, 2015

Too Thin to Model

Civics/Government Health Ethics

Tall, ultra-skinny fashion models have graced the runways in Paris, France for decades, but a new French law could change the look of models. The new law, which aims to fight anorexia and other eating disorders, requires employers ask models for a medical certificate proving they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18. It also requires they periodically weigh their models to make sure they aren’t too thin. If companies use models that don’t meet these standards they face a fine and potential jail time.

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Current Event April 22, 2015

The Epoch of Humans

Earth and Space Science Human Impacts Geology Human origins

When did humans begin to shape the earth? This is the debate happening among geologists who are determining whether the official timeline of the Earth should have a name for the current period of human domination. The concept of the “anthropocene” or the human era first emerged 15 years ago and a working group of scientists is determining whether to adopt it officially and when it should begin. Listen to learn more about the lively debate that surrounds this decision.

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Current Event March 19, 2015

Hospitals of the Future

Civics/Government Life Science Economics Health

Hospitals have a reputation for being drab and sterile, but a new wave of hospital design is changing what patients can expect. An aging population, and increased access to healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act, has spurred a new era in hospital development. Listen to learn how two new hospitals in Dallas are revolutionizing the look of of patient care.

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Current Event April 1, 2015

The Teenage Brain

Life Science US History II Psychology

The stereotypical teenager is moody, reckless and known for risky behavior. A new study of 12-year-olds playing a driving game has shed light on how the teenage brain works and why adolescents make the decisions they do. From brain development to the impact of an audience - this audio story will change the way you understand how the teenage brain works.

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Current Event April 10, 2015

A Scientist's Discovery about the Universe

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

Individuals who make extraordinary contributions to science often begin as regular people with a passion. This was certainly the case for Alan Guth, the physicist responsible for our understanding of how the universe formed after the Big Bang. Guth’s love for physics was sparked in high school and continues to drive his work today as a professor at MIT. Listen to learn more about his journey from a small town in New Jersey to physics textbooks around the world.

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Current Event April 14, 2015

Scorpions and Brain Tumors

Life Science Health

People suffering from brain tumors often have surgery to remove them. But surgery is traumatic and once a surgeon gets to the brain it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between the tumor and healthy brain matter. A potential solution has come from an unlikely source - scorpion venom. The venom is the base of a new substance called tumor paint, which can be used to make a brain tumor glow, thus making it easy to find during surgery. Listen to learn more tumor paint and how it can help surgeons when removing brain tumors.

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Current Event April 5, 2015

Oil Glut

Economics Earth and Space Science

The United States has become one of the world’s largest producers of oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia. But the US might be running out of space to store all the oil. If companies sell off large amounts of oil to open up storage space, what will happen to the price? Listen to learn more about this debate of supply, demand and cost when it comes to oil production, speculation and storage.

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Current Event February 17, 2015

A Rare Earth Monopoly

Economics Earth and Space Science

As the game Monopoly taught us as children, having a monopoly on something can be very profitable. In the 1990’s one man found himself selling Scandium, a rare chemical element used in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and realized he was the only person with that particular job. Listen to learn how he found this job and how different types of monopolies have different financial outcomes and economic impact.

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Current Event February 24, 2015

How the Sun Works

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Physical Science

The sun is a star that sits at the center of our Solar System. It provides heat and a gravitational pull for all of the planets that orbit it. Scientists have long believed they knew what the sun was made up of and how it worked. When new evidence upset the balance between theory and observation, a solar physicist set out to reproduce the way the sun functions in a laboratory. Listen to hear more about how the sun works.

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Current Event January 21, 2015

Genetically Modified Potatoes

Civics/Government Life Science Engineering

Potatoes are a staple in many households. So it’s natural researchers have worked to create a better potato with genetic modification. Geneticists have been able to change and improve potatoes to make them safer and cut down on waste, but potato buyers are refusing to buy them. Listen to learn more about how the potato has been improved, but why many food manufacturers don’t want to use them.

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Current Event January 29, 2015

Ape Speech

Life Science Evolution

Great apes such as orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas have long been known for their intelligence and have been thought to be early ancestors of humans. Orangutans who could whistle led scientists to discover even more fascinating orangutan vocalizations. Listen to learn more about this discovery and what it may mean for the origin of human speech.

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Current Event March 1, 2015

Oklahoma Has More Earthquakes Than California

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science

When Americans think of earthquakes, they often think of California. However, in the last few years, Oklahoma has become the leader in earthquakes in the continental United States. Some areas in Oklahoma experience two to three earthquakes a day! These quakes are being linked to a modern oil production technique known as hydraulic fracturing. It’s the process used to dispose of wastewater created during the extraction of oil from shale. Listen to learn how communities are responding to the quakes and the oil companies that might be creating them.

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Current Event February 3, 2015

Environmental Kids

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

Going to the movies can be entertaining, but for some young people it can also be life changing. Short documentaries showing young people working to protect the planet are inspiring other youth to take action and stand up for change. Listen to learn more about these documentaries and the efforts they have inspired.

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Current Event February 6, 2015

Measles Outbreak

Civics/Government Life Science Health

Measles was a common and dangerous disease in the U.S. until measles vaccination became widespread in the 1980s. But recently an outbreak of measles in the U.S. has focused new attention on the disease. Measles is the most contagious infectious disease in the world, yet people remain unvaccinated. The disease is now rare in developed nations but continues to thrive in human hosts across the globe. Listen to learn more about measles transmission and prevention.

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Current Event February 13, 2015

Careers in a Skilled Trade

Economics US History II Engineering Labor

American high school students are going to college at some of the highest levels in history. This increased emphasis on college readiness has meant a loss of focus on vocational education programs. As a result it’s created a void of skilled trade workers, such as mechanics, plumbers and electricians. As a generation of tradesmen retire, the U.S. education system might have to rethink how they approach teaching skilled trades. Listen to learn more about this debate.

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Current Event February 12, 2015

Where to Put the Snow?

Civics/Government Economics Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.

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Current Event February 25, 2015

Fighting Cancer

Life Science Health

When the human body gets a cold, the immune system goes into action, killing the invading cells that are making you sick. However, when a cancerous tumor begins to grow, the immune system cannot detect it. A new cancer treatment, known as immunotherapy, is working to change this invisibility so that the immune system can fight off cancer itself, without the help of surgery and chemotherapy. Listen to learn how cancer cells work and how this groundbreaking treatment is fighting them.

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