Current Event March 24, 2020
The U.S. space program has big plans for 2020. Two private companies are preparing to send astronauts into space, which has not been done since 2011. A rover mission to Mars is planned, this time with a special instrument to pull oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. And hundreds of small satellites will be launched into orbit, providing global internet coverage. Listen to learn more about the space program’s ambitious goals and the challenges it faces.
Current Event July 3, 2019
A group of college students recently came together to attempt an extremely challenging task: launching a rocket into space. Large companies and universities invest a lot of time, money, and resources to launch a rocket, but these ambitious students were determined to do their best with much less. Listen to find out how the idea was hatched, what happened at their first launch, and what they hope other students might learn from them.
The year 1968 was a time of incredible upheaval in the United States. The hippie movement, a subculture youth movement that rejected mainstream American life, was just getting started. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago was disrupted by riots, and both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy–two prominent progressive leaders–had been assassinated. In the midst of all that political instability, NASA’s first mission to orbit the moon ended up bringing the entire divided nation together. Listen to find out how.
Current Event March 13, 2019
An astronomy writer has written a new book about “hazards to life in our universe,” in which he describes exploding stars, nuclear meltdowns, viral epidemics, natural disasters, and other phenomena with potentially cataclysmic impact on earth. Listen to this interview with the book’s author to hear what he learned from his research about past, present, and future threats to life on earth.
Current Event January 16, 2019
On New Year’s Day, a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) spacecraft made history by encountering the most distant object ever visited, over 4 billion miles away. The piano-sized spacecraft has already transmitted images of an icy rock known as Ultima Thule, which scientists believe to be a pristine vestige of the early days of our solar system. Listen to this interview with a planetary scientist to learn why this event is so exciting and how the mission may further our understanding of our solar system’s origins.
Current Event December 5, 2018
A new government report on climate change warns of the rapidly increasing negative effects of climate change and offers recommendations to help slow down its adverse impact. The report explains that not only are humans responsible for climate change, but our ongoing actions are making it worse. Listen to this interview with a climate change expert to hear about the urgency of this warning and what makes her hopeful.
Current Event November 14, 2018
The Sahara Desert is expanding due to cycles of drought. A scientist at the University of Maryland who studies the earth’s atmosphere has proposed a solution to this problem involving solar panels and windmills. Listen to learn how her proposed solution could change the future climate of the Sahara region and harness energy at the same time.
Current Event November 1, 2018
NASA recently sent a probe into space aiming to get closer to the sun than ever before. The spacecraft is the first ever NASA has named after a living person. The Parker Solar Probe is named after solar science rock star Eugene Parker, who is a legend in the field. Listen to hear about Parker’s breakthrough discoveries that earned him fame, as well as what mystery he and other scientists are hoping the new probe will help them solve.
Current Event May 14, 2018
On Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kilauea volcano sent a pool of lava back underground causing small earthquakes. At least 1,500 residents were ordered to evacuate after the volcano erupted. In some neighborhoods, lava is splitting the ground open and exposing molten rock that can shoot high in the air. The lava has covered over an acre of land and hundreds of small earthquakes have been shaking the ground. The Governor and National Guard have been working to ensure the safety of all residents. Listen to hear more about the volcano and earthquakes in Hawaii.
Current Event April 5, 2018
NASA scientists now know more about how space travel affects the human body. They were able to study the genes of identical twins. One who went into space for a year and one who stayed on Earth. Since they share the same DNA profile, scientists had a chance to study changes to their bodies as well as changes to their DNA. The study showed that genes do change in space and remain changed even months after returning to Earth. Listen to learn more about how space travel can change human DNA.
Current Event March 28, 2018
Stephen Hawking was considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation. He was brilliant and funny and authored a best selling book titled “A Brief History of Time.” He had ALS, a disease that led to his paralysis. But he was able to overcome his adversity and do great work as a scientist by using a speech-generating device with the muscles in his cheek. As a theoretical physicist, his work explored the mysteries of the universe and black holes and inspired millions of people. Listen to this story about Stephen Hawking’s life and accomplishments.
Current Event February 22, 2018
Traveling in space for months at a time may be possible soon. Packing all of the food and water needed would take a lot of space and fuel. American crews on the International Space Station already recycle their own sweat and urine, and now scientists are finding ways to recycle other waste products including feces. Bacteria helps to break down human waste and at the end of the process make it into food that can supplement an astronaut’s diet. Listen to hear more about the next steps in making recycling poop in space a reality.
Current Event January 24, 2018
Supernovas happen at the end of a star’s life and then they fade away. Scientists are struggling to explain why one supernova has lasted for the past three years. During research, scientists found documentation from the 1950s that indicate this supernova was long-lasting back then. This discovery is challenging the established theories of how stars evolve. Listen to learn how scientists are rethinking their theories about supernova.
Current Event December 22, 2017
Many boys and girls have wondered how Santa Claus delivers toys to every child in one night. This story takes a scientific approach to answering that question. Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how Santa avoids burning up in the atmosphere when going at the speed of light, and how the reindeer might be more technically equipped than we think. Listen to learn about the military program that has been tracking Santa for years and information about Santa that you might not know.
Current Event October 4, 2017
Mexico has had three huge earthquakes within 15 days. One earthquake registered 7.1, killing at least 245 people and injuring more than a thousand people in and around Mexico City. Volunteers, both with and without rescue experience, are searching for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings. People around Mexico are gathering to prepare food, hand out water, and support each other. Listen to hear more about how people from Mexico are coming together to help each other during this crisis.
Current Event September 27, 2017
Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year on basic research. A new study shows that money is not wasted since there is a strong link between basic research and future patented inventions. Researchers studied 4.8 million patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office and 32 million scientific papers and found a strong link between new technologies and research. Listen to hear more about this link.
Current Event August 21, 2017
Solar Eclipses are a natural phenomena that occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, momentarily blocking the sun’s light from reaching Earth’s surface. For the first time in many years, people in some parts of the United States will get to see a total solar eclipse. Listen to hear from a few self-defined eclipse addicts, who reflect on their eclipse experiences and marvel at its beauty.
There is no natural hole to the center of the planet Earth, so seeing what is in the center is difficult. Scientists haven’t ever drilled deeper than 2,000 feet into the Earth’s crust. Seismographs are used to measure earthquakes, which send waves of motion through the earth’s crust. Listen to hear about how scientists have tried to discover what is in the center of our planet.
Current Event May 20, 2017
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.