Current Event August 8, 2019
Have you ever wondered how far humans can push themselves physically? A scientist recently conducted a study to help answer this question. He studied athletes who ran six marathons a week for months to learn about what determines their capacity to expend energy over time. Listen to find out more about what researchers understand about human endurance and hear one scientist’s surprising take on what constitutes the height of human capability.
Current Event May 30, 2018
A high-tech vaping tool called a JUUL is designed to help adult smokers quit smoking traditional cigarettes by allowing them to inhale nicotine, the main addictive ingredient in tobacco products, along with a variety of flavors. Unfortunately, the cool design and fun flavors of these devices have also attracted teens’ attention. Many have become hooked on JUULing, as it's called by teens. To protect children from JUULing’s harmful effects, this story explains how San Francisco wants to ban all flavored tobacco products. However, opponents to this argue that adults should have access to flavored vape products so they can quit smoking.
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.
Current Event May 23, 2018
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.
Current Event May 17, 2018
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.
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 October 12, 2017
The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards given to people who make outstanding contributions in the areas of science, culture, or academics. This year the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was given to three U.S. scientists for their discoveries about how internal body clocks govern human biology. Our daily rhythms, our sleep and awake cycles, are related to the cycles of the sun. We typically get tired in the evening and feel awake during the day. Listen to hear more about this discovery about how our internal clocks work.
Current Event March 15, 2016
When we don’t get enough sleep, we often find ourselves eating more. Researchers at the University of Chicago recently published a study that helps explain why. Their experiment showed that sleep deprivation causes an increase in endocannabinoids, which are compounds in our brain. Listen to learn more about how sleep deprivation can lead to overeating.
Current Event December 15, 2015
Hundreds of people sleep by the side of noisy roads typical in India’s largest cities. The same is true in other low-income countries. Researchers are now looking at whether or not a lack of sleep may actually be a root cause of poverty. Researchers are studying the real-world impact of chronic sleep deprivation, and the impact on how people make, and avoid, decisions. When people are tired, they don’t have the mental capacity to deal with some decisions and that can keep them from making good choices. Listen to hear more about how lack of sleep can affect learning and brain functions.
Current Event September 9, 2015
When skeletons turn up, a lot of information can be found in the bones. Knowing how to read the bones is the job of a forensic scientist. Bones can help identify missing persons, solve a murder case, or help medical research. In the Bass Donated Skeletal Collection in Tennessee, there are thousands of donated skeletons that serve as silent teachers. People come from all over the world to study these bones and learn from the information hidden in them.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has inspired widespread fear throughout the U.S. and in many other countries. In reality, the threat of Ebola is actually quite small with only 1,700 deaths since 1976. The rarity of the Ebola virus has given major pharmaceutical companies very little incentive to develop a treatment for the virus given that the market for such a drug would be almost nonexistent. However, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, a small pharmaceutical company based in Frederick, MD, has been given government help to develop a cure for the virus. Listen to learn more about the complexity of the Ebola virus and what is being done to develop a cure.
Animal species evolve and adapt over time. This ability to change lays the groundwork for human evolution. Over 375 million years ago an important transition in this lineage occurred - animals living in the sea, began living on land. This complex process happened gradually over generations and an unusual fish fossil found in the Canadian Arctic may help enhance our understanding of this progression.
A new way of looking at live cells is revolutionizing our understanding of how molecular life works. However, it is how how one scientist managed to complete his study despite facing World War II in Japan that makes his discovery so intriguing. By using an old machine gun, Shinya Inoue made a microscope that enabled him to start to see how a cell divides. Listen to learn how Inoue finished his microscope and why it is so important to the science community.
Global warming is expected to increase summer temperatures making cities even hotter. As concrete and asphalt within cities retain heat, it can increase health risks. The sun mixes with city pollution to create ozone that can irritate people's lungs, especially if they have breathing problems such as asthma. Listen to learn how public health officials are trying to help those living in the hottest areas.
People lose weight when sleeping, and much of that weight loss comes from merely breathing. Through a process of matter being recycled along with sweating while sleeping, people lose weight. However, the atoms and molecules involved are so small that it is hard to believe they are so powerful in this process. Listen to learn how this cycle works.
The study of genes is moving toward a new frontier. There is a new field studying microorganisms which exist in living organisms. Microbes control every process on earth, and a human is made up of 90% bacteria. However, we know very little about these microbes. There is now a newer, more efficient way, to study this bacteria. From this scientists can discover new species and genes. Listen to learn how the study of microorganisms became so important.
Scientists have now figured out the genetic code to one of the oldest known plagues. Eight hundred years before the Black Death struck in 1347, there was another plague that occurred in Europe in the 6th century CE. Scientists have now figured out the genetic code to the oldest known epidemic and discovered that the “Justinian plague” was the first outbreak of bubonic plague. Listen to hear about how a farmland gave scientists answers to centuries worth of questions.
More money is spent on treating cancer than preventing it within the United States. However, scientists are getting closer to finding out if cell growth within our bodies promotes already existing cancer. Scientists are examining microscopic cells to test if certain spices and foods affect the reduction of cell growth. Listen to learn about the budget behind cancer research and how human behavior can increase the chance of cancer.
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.