Current Event June 18, 2015
Scientists have long debated when early humans learned that they could use fire to cook their food. Some believe this occurred soon after humans learned to control fire, others argue there isn’t enough evidence. A scientific study in a chimpanzee sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has shed new light on these persistent questions. The experiment gave chimps a machine to “cook” their food and tracked their preference for cooked food and how it changed their eating behaviors. Listen to learn more about this experiment and how it plays into the debate about when early humans began to cook.
Current Event June 10, 2015
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.
Current Event May 28, 2015
Suicide on college campuses has been a persistent problem over the last decade. MIT, an elite university in Boston, Massachusetts, recently had a cluster of student suicides on their campus. In response to the tragedies, the MIT community reached out and promoted a conversation among the student body. One student took it upon herself to do more and encourage more student interactions all year round with wristbands that say TMAYD, which stands for Tell Me About Your Day. Listen to learn more about this effort and how it is changing the MIT community.
In 'The Scarlet Letter' Nathaniel Hawthorne explores inclusion and exclusion in Puritan Boston. Hester Prynne is exposed to public humiliation and exclusion for breaking societal standards and having a child out of wedlock. Veterans experience similar exclusion and dishonor. When they are discharged with the label of "Other Than Honorable," they are marked with a figurative Scarlet Letter, ashamed and unable to gain veterans' benefits.
Current Event May 19, 2015
The sentencing phase of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has come to a dramatic conclusion. After just a day and a half of deliberation the jury voted to put Tsarnaev to death on 6 of the 17 eligible counts. An appeal is automatic but some families directly impacted still feel relieved by the sentence. Listen to learn more about the sentence and the response to it.
On September 11, 2001, the United States experienced acts of terrorism. But the response on that day included countless acts of heroism, big and small. Friends, co-workers, emergency workers and strangers did what they could to protect the people around them. Michael Benfante is one of these heroes, though he is uncomfortable with being called a hero. Benfante worked in the second tower of the World Trade Center and as he fled down the staircase he encountered a woman in a wheelchair who needed his help. Listen to learn more about his decision to help carry her out of the doomed building and the lasting impact it’s had on his life.
Current Event May 5, 2015
On average, women are paid less to do the same jobs as men. This pay inequity often starts with salary negotiations. Men are much more likely to negotiate a higher salary and women are more likely to accept what is first offered to them. This initial gap then continues throughout careers even when people switch jobs. Companies are trying to address this gender gap in pay by publishing salaries online or establishing set pay for different positions. Listen to learn more about this problem and some new solutions.
Current Event April 1, 2015
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.
Current Event March 31, 2015
Last Tuesday, March 24, 2015, a German plane flying from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf, Germany was crashed on purpose by Andres Lubitz, its 27-year-old co-pilot. All 150 people on board were killed. When the pilot went to the bathroom, Lubitz locked the cockpit and took the plane off auto-pilot, leading to a 8-minute direct descent into the mountainside. Authorities have uncovered evidence that helps explain what happened, but doesn’t identify the co-pilot's motives. Listen to learn how this tragedy is changing the airline industry.
Current Event March 20, 2015
As the United States grew as a nation, people moved West seeking opportunity. In 1846 a group of 87 pioneers, called the Donner Party, left Illinois for California in a wagon train. The westward pioneers were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains from November to February because of heavy snow. More than half the party died from starvation and disease. Some who survived did so by eating the remains of the less fortunate pioneers. This made the Donner Party the most infamous group of Westward migrants. Listen to learn more about the history of this trip from a descendant of a Donner Party survivor.
Note: This story contains a discussion of cannibalism.
Current Event March 6, 2015
In 2024 crews of four will be sent to Mars with the goal of creating a permanent human settlement there. The mission is being planned by a non-profit organization in the Netherlands called Mars One. 200,000 people applied to be one of the first four people to make this all expense paid trip. Mars One has narrowed the applicants down to 100. Shirelle Webb, a 22 year old college student from Texas has made the cut. Listen to learn why she wants to be considered for the one-way trip.
Current Event March 5, 2015
How do you get to school? What age is the right age for kids to walk to school alone? A rise in parental neglect cases has sparked a debate across the country about when and where it’s appropriate for kids to go solo. Listen to learn more about the factors that parents and authorities consider when judging what is neglect and what isn’t.
Current Event March 3, 2015
We have all experienced pain. Whether it is pain in your hand, leg, arm or chest - your perception of pain is controlled by the brain. New scientific studies have increased our understanding of how the brain can increase and decrease our perception of pain. Listen to learn more about the connections between the brain and pain.
Current Event February 28, 2015
A Twitter storm has broken out over the color of a dress posted online with the simple question: What color is it? This story goes beyond the social media chatter to look at the scientific reasons why we all see colors differently.
Current Event February 19, 2015
Complex computer algorithms designed to weigh options and make choices are consistently outperforming humans. The algorithms aren’t perfect, though, and many people have a hard time trusting them. Why do we feel this way? Would you trust a computer to make an important decision in your life? Listen to learn more about how algorithms work and why humans often mistrust them.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel "The Great Gatsby" James “Jimmy” Gatz becomes Jay Gatsby. Gatsby creates a false identity for himself to enter the world of wealth and power that his beloved, Daisy Buchanan, lives in. The novel explores this world of excess and what it takes for Gatsby to truly enter it. This premise of false identity has moved from fiction to reality. Listen to learn about a real life Gatsby who called himself “Clark Rockefeller.”
From "Shiloh" to "Lassie" and "Old Yeller," young adult literature is full of stories about friendship between people and dogs. People love animals but what do animals feel? There is a debate in the scientific community and in popular culture about what emotions animals are capable of and how they display these emotions. Does recognizing that animals can feel take away from human emotion? Or does it help us recognize where these traits came from? This story discusses recent research on the emotions of animals. Listen to learn more about what researchers discovered, and the controversy surrounding the emotional lives of animals.
Current Event December 18, 2014
On December 29, 2014, the U.S. Senate released part of a 6,000 page report on abusive interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the post-9/11 War on Terror. For some, this report is evidence of immoral and illegal torture by the CIA. But others say it's more complicated. Did the torture program produce useful information? Does it serve as a deterrent to terrorists? Is there any justification for torture? Listen to hear more about this complicated issue from a legal analyst.
Current Event November 5, 2014
Being the top student in your high school class is difficult under the best of circumstances. This audio tells the story of a remarkable young woman, Rashema Melson, who graduated as valedictorian of her high school, despite six years of homelessness. Listen to learn more directly from Rashema herself.