Current Event February 22, 2021
A huge power outage in Texas has left millions of people without electricity. The crisis occurred when a storm brought frigid temperatures causing equipment to freeze in every part of the state’s power generation system, including wind turbines, natural gas wells, and coal and nuclear plants. The cold weather was unusual for Texas, but experts say the state needs to prepare its power systems for more extreme weather events in the future. Listen to learn more about the crisis and how politicians are discussing it in the media.
Current Event April 15, 2020
An experiment to improve people’s memory while they sleep has shown promising results. Researchers asked participants to learn a new video game, then tested whether their memories improved after electrical signals were sent to their brains while they slept. Scientists say the technique could someday help people boost their ability to learn. Listen to hear a reporter describe the brain cap she wore for the study and learn about potential concerns raised by the research.
What is electricity? How does it work? Where does it come from? Everyone has heard of electricity, but most people don’t understand much about it. Scientists have studied electricity for centuries, and they still have many unanswered questions! Listen to an electrical engineer explain some of the things we know, and still don’t know, about electricity.
Current Event January 7, 2020
Extra food thrown into landfills produces harmful methane gas as it rots, contributing to global warming. Farmers in Massachusetts are combating the problem by converting gas from food waste into something useful: electricity. The results have helped to power thousands of homes. Listen to hear a farmer describe how he makes electricity from discarded food and why he calls the process a “home run.”
Current Event December 17, 2019
An electric eel is lighting up a Christmas tree at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. The eel, named Miguel Wattson, emits pulses of electricity that cause the lights to flicker and blink. Visitors are delighted, and the aquarium hopes they gain a new appreciation for the species. Listen to learn how Miguel’s meals affect the brightness of the tree lights and what his Twitter followers are seeing.
Current Event December 14, 2017
Whether you’re on a plane or an astronaut in space, you can see cities around the world lit up at night. The amount of lighting increases every year and has affected wildlife and how we view the night sky. This is known as light pollution, and there’s probably more than we are aware. The way we measure light pollution does not pick up on LED lighting making the light not trackable to scientists. Listen to learn where the most and least light pollution is and why it should be considered a problem.
Current Event October 23, 2017
About a month after Hurricane Maria, almost 90% of Puerto Rico is without power and many residents have become dependent on generators. Hospitals, restaurants, air traffic control towers and other businesses are now operating with generator power. The dependence on generators has introduced a new level of division between the privileged and the poor for these U.S. citizens. Listen to hear the concerns about generator power and how people in Puerto Rico are surviving after the hurricane.
Current Event April 28, 2016
Outside Reno, Nevada, the company Tesla is constructing a giant battery factory. The batteries will be made for the company’s electric cars as well as other things. Known as the Gigafactory, the building will allow the company to scale up battery production and reduce the price of their electric cars. Tesla is planning to revolutionize energy use by producing something new in their Gigafactory: a “Powerwall,” or a battery for the home. Listen to the story to learn more about how Tesla’s Gigafactory may inspire innovation and lead to cleaner energy use.
Animals adapt to their environment in ways that protect them from predation and allow them to find prey. Electric eels look like water snakes but use electricity to hunt. New scientific studies have gained insight into how electric eels use different electric volts to find and kill their prey. Listen to learn how the eel’s hunting method is adapted to their environment.
Energy and how it converts to power is a never-ending exploration for scientists. The most significant issue concerning energy right now is how to store it, especially for long periods of time. It's possible to get solar energy from the sun, but what happens to the energy when it's not a sunny day? There's also the problem of having enough space to hold all of this energy. Listen to learn how scientists are trying to figure out how energy can be stored long-term to power the things we use every day.
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.
A new source of energy is being developed by using Michigan's industrial food waste. Using existing technology for converting manure into electricity, these anaerobic digesters are doing their work on pudding packs and canned peaches, among other delicacies. Listen to learn how they are turning waste into electricity.