All Science

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Science High School

Neanderthal Genes Live in our Hair and Skin

Life Science DNA Human body Human origins

Scientists are beginning to answer questions about whether our physical appearances and behaviors are linked to the DNA of an extinct species of hominid. Unexpectedly large portions of Neanderthal DNA are being found in the genomes of many modern humans. New evidence suggests that inherited Neanderthal DNA can vary dramatically from individual to individual, with some receiving beneficial genes as well as rejecting others. Listen to hear how these new findings are affecting our understanding of human evolution.

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Current Event May 23, 2018

Food Calories Now Posted at Restaurants

Life Science Health Nutrition Human body

The United States government recently passed a law that requires all major restaurant chains to post the calories of their dishes on their menus. Studies have demonstrated that having this information about their food causes diners to cut back on the number of calories they consume. This can help them lose weight and avoid the dangers of obesity, especially since some foods have more calories than you might think. Listen to learn more about this law and its benefits from two experts on nutritional policy.

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Bees and electric fields

Science Middle School

Bees and Electric Fields

Life Science Earth and Space Science Ecosystems Evolution Electricity Reproduction

Flowers have many ways of attracting bees for pollination. Bees are looking for nectar and pollen when they visit plants and flowers, as well as various colors, patterns, and shapes. Recently scientists have discovered a new way that flowers attract bees. They can sense the electric fields around flowers. Listen to hear about the natural positive charges of bees, the negative charges of flowers, and how the electric attraction works for pollination to happen.

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Current Event May 17, 2018

How Our Brains Recognize Words

Physical Science Human body

Scientists have identified a two-step process that helps our brains learn to first recognize, then categorize new sounds, even when they sound almost the same. This process is similar to how the brain processes visual information. The research team used monkey calls in their experiment and taught volunteers to recognize them. Then the volunteers’ brains were studied. Listen to hear more about this discovery about sounds and what the new studies may help us understand.

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Current Event May 20, 2017

Why Hurricane Sandy Was So Dangerous

Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate

Hurricane Sandy was a unique storm for a variety of reasons. Named a “Frankenstorm” by many due to its problematic combination of factors, analyzing this event can teach us a lot about how hurricanes work. A professor of atmospheric science explains why Hurricane Sandy was poised to be a particularly dangerous, rare blend of an “extratropical storm” and a tropical storm. He explains how a hurricane’s winds, pressure, movement, timing, and temperature all play roles in how hard it hits coastal and urban communities. Listen to learn what made Hurricane Sandy especially powerful and what it shows us about Earth’s atmosphere.

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Current Event May 20, 2017

Veterans Help After Hurricane Sandy

Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate Veterans

Resuming civilian life can be difficult for military veterans. Disaster relief volunteer groups like Team Rubicon allow veterans to use their specialized skills and work in cooperative teams while helping those suffering from the aftermath of natural catastrophes. Team Rubicon sent hundreds of volunteers in 2012, when superstorm Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast of the United States. Natural disaster victims are grateful to benefit from veterans’ expert assistance. Likewise, veterans enjoy the sense of purpose and community this work gives them. Listen to hear veterans’ stories of volunteering during Hurricane Sandy.

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Current Event May 10, 2018

Humans Hunted Big Mammals

Ancient Civilization Evolution Human Impacts Human origins

Over the past 125,000 years, mammals on Earth have become smaller. Ten thousand years ago the average mass of a mammal was 200 pounds and today the average mass is about 15 pounds. After dinosaurs became extinct, mammals became larger and new species developed. But when ancient humans evolved, they began hunting bigger animals. Eventually, in all areas populated by humans, the size of mammals became smaller and led to extinction in many cases. Listen to hear more about the effects humans have had on the size of mammals.

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Current Event May 3, 2018

Offshore Wind Energy and Fishermen

Environment

Offshore wind can be a big business, and property that is windy with shallow water is perfect for installing and maintaining wind turbines. The federal government has leased sites for developers to build industrial-scale wind farms over the next decade. The area of New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is close to Rhode Island and New York, is an area with a sustainable wind source. The developers are very engaged with fishermen in the area, since the spinning blades confuse the instruments they use to navigate through fog. By working together, turbines can be put in locations that won’t interfere with fishermen’s routes. Listen to hear more about offshore wind projects in this area.

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Current Event May 4, 2018

Debate: Should Schools Keep Using Classroom Skeletons?

Life Science Education Ethics

A lot of classroom skeletons, in high schools, universities and medical schools, are real human bones. A former student investigated the skeleton that hung in the back of her high school classroom. She consulted with the Smithsonian, and with a lab at Penn State and analyzed the skeleton to find out where it was from, how old it was and even what the person ate. In the 1800s there was a legal trade in human bones, which leads to some tricky questions about whether skeletons should be used in classrooms at all. Listen to this story and then debate: Should schools keep using classroom skeletons?

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Killer whales

Science Middle School

Killer Whales Echolocate Loudly

Life Science Oceans

Biologists studying killer whales face the challenge of studying organisms that spend a majority of their time underwater. From extensive research, scientists have learned that killer whales have adapted their sounds to help them catch prey. Scientists are looking to do more research, but it's difficult to find the whales in the first place. Listen to learn more about the methods scientists use to understand killer whale noises.

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Choosing vaccinations

Current Event May 2, 2014

Choosing Vaccinations

Health Engineering

A rising number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children due to a variety of reasons. Doctors are alarmed at this rise of unvaccinated children, which may be connected to a series of measles cases.

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Current Event May 2, 2018

College Wait Lists Keep Student Guessing

Education

High school seniors applying for college often hear from schools in April. It’s a stressful time and students are eager to hear from their first choice colleges. More and more colleges are putting students on a waitlist instead of giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ This gives the colleges more options and a wider pool of students to choose from. But it also can be misleading if only one or two percent of the students on the waitlist are actually accepted to attend the college. Listen to hear from a college admissions adviser who criticizes this practice.

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Spotted dolphins and spinner dolphins

Science Middle School

Tuna Fishing and the Dolphin Morgue

Life Science Animals Ecosystems Oceans Human Impacts

When people started using large nets to capture tuna in the 1960s, many spotted dolphins were killed because they were found living with tuna. Scientists responded by sending “observers” on tuna boats to keep track of the number of dolphins killed. Listen to hear from a scientist who is studying the spotted and spinner dolphins to try to learn how to preserve dolphin populations.

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Wind chill factor

Science Middle School

Calculating the Wind Chill Factor

Earth and Space Science Weather and Climate Physical Science

Before World War II, a wind chill table and a formula were developed which scientists followed until it was updated at the beginning of the 21st Century. Scientists are still trying to understand the best way to calculate wind chill. Listen to learn from people who often experience cold temperatures and how some factors can affect how cold we feel more than others.

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Shredding cars

Science Middle School

Recycling Old Cars

Earth and Space Science Environment Physical Science Human Impacts Air Pollution

The "cash for clunkers" program was a limited federal government program in the U.S. that gave people credits to trade in their old, gas guzzling, polluting cars for newer ones. The goal was to get older cars off the road to improve pollution. Because the “cash for clunkers” program did not allow the re-sale of old car engines, junkyards were forced to turn the cars into scrap metal. Listen to learn what this scrap metal can be turned into.

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Energy of ecosystems

Science Middle School

Industrial Scale Composting

Life Science Ecosystems Physical Science Energy Ecology

Students in Bellingham, Washington, pushed to introduce composting programs at their high schools and these programs have proved successful. This story follows food from the school cafeteria to the compost site where microorganisms transform it to home gardens and nurseries where compost is applied as fertilizer and mulch. Listen to hear from an insider's view of an industrial scale composting site and how we can learn how to compost.

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Using dna to catch poachers

Science Middle School

Using DNA to Catch Poachers

Life Science Animals Engineering Genetics DNA

Game wardens in California are now using DNA fingerprinting analysis to help protect illegal poaching of wildlife. There are many species, from large game to shellfish, which are being illegally caught or killed for food. Since there are so few game wardens to patrol the state, they are relying on forensic evidence to help track poachers. Listen to learn about the latest in DNA fingerprinting technology.

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Nature vs nurture

Science Middle School

Nature vs. Nurture

Life Science Psychology Genetics Learning Development

Scientists are trying to settle the age-old question of nature versus nurture. To test it out, scientists experiment on ducks to help determine whether animals are born with no knowledge of the world and only learn things from experience, or whether they emerge with some knowledge already intact. Listen to hear how the experiment is done and what it can tell us about nature versus nurture.

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Rare earth elements

Science Middle School

China Owns Most Rare Earth Elements Used in Electronics

Technology Environment Physical Science Energy Geology

Rare earth minerals are very important to today's electronics. Your iPod, laptop, and television use them. They make electronics light so they don't need much power. But the Chinese have a lock on the production of rare earth elements and this could become a problem for the US.

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Microbial fuel cells

Science Middle School

Turning Sewage into Microbial Fuel Cells

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Cells

Scientists are creating bacteria batteries by using wastewater to generate electricity. The microbes from sewage can be harnessed to develop microbial fuel cells. The process could provide ways to provide energy in remote places for very little money. Listen to learn how scientists are developing this energy and what they are learning from it.

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