Current Event January 29, 2020
A high school senior interning at NASA has discovered a new planet. The young scientist was monitoring a telescope when he picked up clues that an unidentified object was circling. He alerted senior scientists who confirmed the object was a planet. Listen to hear a teen researcher describe the new planet and how he managed to find it on his third day on the job.
Scientists say it’s nearly certain that human activity and fossil fuels are warming the planet. The mainstream discussion focuses on alternative energy and reducing fossil fuel emissions. But the field of geoengineering is looking for more large scale and proactive things we can do to offset warming. Some see this as an exciting way to help the planet, others as a threat. Listen to learn about the strategies geoengineers are exploring to prevent further global warming.
As nations look for clean energy alternatives many are turning to wind and solar, but Indonesia is turning to its volcanoes. Indonesia has 130 active volcanoes. These volcanoes generate geothermal heat that is releases through vents and hot springs throughout the country. Power companies are learning to harness and redirect this heated steam into power plants in order to generate electricity. Indonesia’s geothermal energy potential is huge, but start up costs and oil subsidies might prevent this burgeoning clean energy from taking off.
As plants and animals reproduce over time, they are able to change and adapt to ensure or improve their chances of survival. The evolutionary goal of reproduction is paired with the concept of natural selection and survival of the fittest to determine who will reproduce. From colorful plumage to size, different species use different strategies to ensure reproduction and mate selection. The sand tiger shark has a unique strategy to ensure successful reproduction - and it depends on the timing of mating. Listen to learn more about the ultimate sibling rivalry while in the womb.
To lower dependency on fossil fuels, some Americans have installed solar panels on their homes to produce their own clean energy. This decision involves a cost-benefit analysis of cost value and environmental impact. In some regions this cost-benefit ratio has been upset by fracking, and the cheap natural gas that it produces. How does supply and demand impact the cost of energy? How does the cost of energy impact people seeking alternatives such as solar energy? Listen to learn how one family has dealt is dealing with this shifting energy landscape.
Current Event April 12, 2021
A new study has found that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children as young as 12. The vaccine is currently approved for people aged 16 and older, but the drug company Pfizer has successfully tested its product on thousands of young people and will continue its research until a vaccine can be approved for all ages. The news is especially welcome because, like adults, children can become infected with COVID-19 and spread it to others. Listen to learn more about the study and what next steps are needed before the process of vaccinating kids can begin.
It's easy to imagine what it's like to be a doctor, lawyer, or teacher. However, the day-to-day life of a shellfish and wetland ecologist can be a little more difficult to understand. Help your students find out what an ecologist does by hearing from Danielle Kreeger. She's the science director for a group that works to protect and improve the Delaware River and Bay. Listen to hear more about her career as an ecologist.
Current Event February 3, 2021
The world's billion-and-a-half cows produce huge amounts of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming. Methane is made in cows’ guts as they digest their food. When they burp and fart, they spew the gas into the air. Now, scientists have found a simple, unexpected way to reduce methane production in cows. Listen to learn about a surprising solution to the problem of gassy cows and how it may help address climate change.
Current Event July 17, 2019
Would you eat a scarred, lumpy carrot or an apple that is oddly shaped? Grocery stores do not typically sell these types of “ugly” produce, but some new companies aim to reduce food waste by selling fruits and vegetables that are rejected by stores. Listen to learn about the benefits of these efforts and find out what else you can do to reduce food waste.
Current Event November 1, 2013
From the early days of Pong to the current obsession with Minecraft, the pull to video games has never wavered; if anything, it has strengthened through the targeted efforts of the video game industry. As players sit at home, researchers are gathering data about your habits and interests from each action you make in the game, so they are literally "getting into" the minds of players as well as their wallets. Listen to this story to see how they do it.
Current Event March 31, 2020
A chunk of chewed birch resin has revealed surprisingly detailed information about a woman who lived 5,700 years ago. Scientists investigated a brownish blob discovered at an archaeological site and were able to extract and analyze a complete strand of DNA that revealed details about the diet, health, and appearance of the Stone Age woman who had chewed it. Listen to learn why ancient people chewed birch pitch and how this very old piece of gum could inspire archaeologists to look in new places for clues to the past.
Current Event August 14, 2017
Health care reform has become a major political issue in the United States. There are high costs for patients as well as the consequences of having millions of uninsured Americans. With many recent legislative votes on health care, the national debate is becoming intense. At the center of this debate is Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health care coverage for about 50 million Americans. Listen to an expert breakdown some of the details that make health care such a complicated subject.
Current Event April 1, 2014
The severe drought in California has affected the usual salmon migration. Typically the fish swim 270 miles from fresh water in Northern California to the Pacific Ocean. But because of low water levels, California hatcheries are ensuring their migration by transporting them in climate-controlled trucks to the ocean.
Current Event March 27, 2014
The human nose is actually more powerful than your eyes because it can detect more than one trillion unique smells. Scientists believe that if the universal code behind each smell could be deciphered, you can do things like send smells over the internet.
Current Event December 21, 2015
Our brains are finely tuned to use sound to interpret what goes on around us. We are surrounded by sounds telling us something. People can hear 20-100 times faster than they see, and animals use sound to function as well as talk to each other. Hearing sounds is critical to safety and survival. Listen to hear about the many places, including space, where sounds can be found, and how listening is a tool for understanding the world.
Current Event October 19, 2016
Hurricane Matthew has left destruction in Haiti, with over 1,000 fatalities. In some towns, 80 to 90 percent of the homes were damaged or destroyed. Aid workers are making their way to the most vulnerable Haitians and trying to overcome the obstacles in getting food and water to some towns. Listen to hear more about the concerns about the spread of disease as well as what it will take to rebuild these devastated areas of Haiti.
Current Event February 15, 2018
In Spain, Catholics remember the patron saint of animals, San Anton, with a festival that celebrates pets. Dogs, cats, birds, and sheep are walked down the streets in the arms of their owners. The pet owners travel to church so that their pets can be blessed. Many have looked to San Anton to help with their animals, and many believe it is important to have a day celebrating this saint. Listen to learn about the variety of animals involved and how they react to the pet blessing.
Tsunamis are created by tectonic plates thrusting against each other and then lifting the sea floor and dropping it down, which creates a giant wave. A 2010 earthquake in Chile was caused by a shift in the seafloor. This same shift set off tsunami detection buoys and left scientists waiting for the tsunami to hit. But it ended up being small. Listen to learn more about this quake and how tsunamis are created.
Do you ever wonder what happens to the trash you throw away? Jenna Jambeck is an environmental engineer specializing in waste management, and she is on a crusade to raise public awareness of plastic waste and its impact on the environment. As she takes a reporter on a tour through a landfill, she explains what happens to different types of trash. Listen to this story to hear about how scientists and their research shape public policy and behavior, and what everyone can do about the problem of too much plastic.