Bats, the only flying mammal, often go unappreciated. They are a diverse species, varied in size and habitat. Their ability to hunt in the dark using echolocation, or a series of high-pitched squeaks that bounce off their prey, is a unique adaptation. This audio story highlights fascinating facts about bats: their size, where they make their homes, and how they use echolocation to hunt for dinner.
Current Event November 20, 2019
What does corn sound like when it grows? How does a cactus respond when you touch its spines? A new exhibit at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden allows visitors to hear the sounds plants make and answer those questions for themselves. Listen to find out what we can learn by paying attention to what plants are saying.
Current Event May 31, 2018
A sound clip of a voice saying a single word has recently sparked intense debate on the Internet. When listening to this now viral piece of audio, some hear “Yanny,” while others hear “Laurel.” A neurobiology professor weighs in on this question and explains the science behind why some people hear one word and others hear another. To finally settle the question, the hosts of the show find the source of the original audio, which reveals the actual word that was recorded. Listen to hear the famous clip and learn more about what it means.
Current Event February 13, 2018
You can tell a lot from a tiger’s roar. A researcher in Texas is using the sound of tigers’ vocalizations to track and protect them in national parks and in the wild around the world. By monitoring tigers acoustically, researchers can track their location and know whether a tiger is a male or female, its weight, and other characteristics. Listen to learn why this project is helping tigers in captivity and in the wild.
Current Event March 23, 2017
A communal listening experience can decrease social anxiety and boost empathy. An artist is collaborating with high school teens to create a “Sound Lab” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The Sound Lab gives community members the opportunity to listen to recordings that the high school teens made of their families, nature, and their own original monologues. The teens found that listening to their recordings with community members in the Gardner’s concert hall had a stronger emotional impact than listening alone. Engaging with the Sound Lab may help people to pay more attention to the sounds that surround them everyday. Listen to learn more about this sound project and its impact on teens and the community.
Current Event May 12, 2016
Packs of wolves in Yellowstone National Park give researchers a chance to study their behavior. When a wolf howls, a howling chorus responds. In the spring, the wolves grow quieter as they raise pups and the howls change with the seasons. Now researchers are working to understand what the howls actually mean. Listen to hear more about the way a wolf howls.
Current Event February 21, 2016
Scientists recently announced a huge discovery—gravitational waves. The waves were detected when a collision of two black holes created ripples or waves, similar to ripples on a pond. These ripples were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as a part of his theory of relativity. Scientists have been working to detect these waves for decades and are excited about the information that can be learned from them. In this story you will hear what gravitational waves sound like and learn more about their discovery.
Current Event December 30, 2015
Humpback whales sing and continually change their songs. In the 1960’s Navy engineers used underwater microphones to record sounds in the ocean to locate enemy ships. They happened to also record whale sounds. Scientists studied these sounds and discovered that only male humpback whales sing and they gradually modify their songs. The humpback’s songs have patterns and rhythms and are not just random sounds. Listen to hear more about how sound is used to learn about the life of whales.
Current Event December 29, 2015
Most of the world is interpreted by what we see, but there is a culture of listening that is helping biologists listen and understand how animals communicate. Knowing what to listen for and training themselves to hear patterns are ways scientists use sounds to make discoveries. Listen to hear more about how sound helps reveal the invisible in the world.
Current Event December 28, 2015
The field of bioacoustics, studying the sound of animals, extends far below the surface of oceans. Whale vocalizations can be used as data to track migration and populations. Researchers have found ways to identify which whales are making which sounds. But in oceans, human-made sounds are often louder than other noises, making it hard for marine animals to hear the sounds in their own world. Listen to this story about what can be learned by tracking whale sounds, and how new guidelines are helping whales communicate with each other.
Current Event December 24, 2015
Ornithologists listening to various bird calls were surprised to discover that different animal species shared the same warning call. For instance, squirrels closely mimic a bird’s warning call. These scientists record sounds in the wilderness all over the world to learn about animal communication. In this story they share different ways they provoke the birds into making bird calls so that they can be studied. Listen to hear about the discoveries of scientists who listen closely.
Current Event December 23, 2015
Elephants roar and stomp and make loud sounds. They also make other sounds too low for humans to hear. Researchers are studying the secret signals of elephants by living among them in Africa. The audible calls are just a fraction of the elephants’ conversation. They have a longer ear canal, bigger eardrums and can hear much lower frequencies than people can. Researchers have matched the rumbling sounds with specific behaviors, such as looking for a baby elephant or greeting each other. Listen to hear more about the hidden language of elephants.
Current Event December 22, 2015
Some animals and insects communicate at frequencies that humans can’t hear. Elephants and whales, for example, can find their families and mates using different frequencies. Crickets create vibrations that identify their species to other crickets, which helps to increase the cricket population. Sounds that people don’t pay attention to or sounds that people can’t even hear are all around us. Listen to this story to hear more about these sounds and how they have evolved to help animals survive.
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.
A geologist has turned decades worth of data into music. He created a multitrack sequencer for data instead of music. The data and music show a tight correlation between the amount of carbon dioxide and the amount of ice on the earth. Listen to hear what climate change sounds like and how it is helping scientists understand how humans affect our climate.
Human behavior continues to have an effect on marine life under the water. This story highlights how humans make the ocean so noisy. Scientists are worried that the noise is causing a disruption to animals and threatening their existence. Listen to learn what humans are doing and what can be changed.