Current Event July 11, 2018
Birds evolved from dinosaurs, but scientists still don’t know exactly how. The species Ichthyornis is a creature that falls directly between a dinosaur and a bird. A recently discovered fossil of this ancient seagull-like animal revealed some fascinating information. Its characteristics are helping scientists solve the mystery of how ancient dinosaurs became modern birds, complete with beaks and large brains. Listen to this audio story to learn more about the Ichthryornis.
Current Event June 27, 2018
Every four years, Adidas designs a custom soccer ball for the World Cup, and the 2018 event in Russia is no different. In past years, the style and structure of the balls have actually interfered with how they move, making the games unpredictable for athletes. That’s why this year, scientists tested the new Telstar 18 ball to make sure it works properly. Experts explain how this new ball compares to past years’ and the real reason Adidas creates a new ball design for every World Cup. Listen to learn more about this high-tech soccer ball.
Current Event June 14, 2018
Illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America to the United States is currently a major political issue. Politicians and citizens have strong opinions on both sides. In order to help people better understand what it’s like to attempt crossing the border, a Mexican film director created a virtual reality exhibit that allows users to experience it for themselves. Based on the true stories of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, the director hopes this exhibit will foster more compassion and empathy. Listen to learn more about this project and its aims.
Current Event June 12, 2018
Everyone makes mistakes they need to apologize for in order to repair their relationships. Public figures like politicians and celebrities also have to say sorry publicly for inappropriate behavior, as we have seen more often recently. However, not all apologies are created equal. A few key elements make some much more successful than others. An expert in dispute resolution explains what makes for an effective apology in the digital age. He also discusses how cultural differences and other circumstances affect the way you should ask for forgiveness. Listen to learn how to tell a good apology from a bad apology.
Current Event June 11, 2018
A new data protection law in the European Union is designed to preserve citizens’ privacy by fining those who use others’ personal data without their permission. This rule could cause problems for many who take photos in public places and post them online. According to this law, anyone who appears in a photo, even if it’s in the background of a selfie, must agree that the photo can be uploaded to the Internet. This law will likely force photographers to consider their subjects’ consent more carefully. Listen to learn more about this new rule.
Current Event June 1, 2018
Many police departments already use basic facial recognition software, but more advanced technology in this area is raising new questions about what information law enforcement should or should not be able to instantly access. The latest software can rapidly identify people in all sorts of poses and situations, making it appealing for both businesses and law enforcement. If implemented, experts worry that it could make remaining anonymous in day-to-day life virtually impossible. Listen to this story about real-time facial recognition software and debate: Should police use facial recognition?
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 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.
Current Event April 23, 2018
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before both houses of Congress about how the social media giant protects the privacy of its users. He was questioned about how the political data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, obtained data from millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg was forced to acknowledge that Facebook extensively tracks users when they are using the site and when they are not even logged in. Several members of Congress asked whether Zuckerberg thought Facebook should be regulated. Listen to hear more about Zuckerberg’s statements in his testimony before Congress.
Current Event April 20, 2018
New technology can help athletes gain a deeper understanding of how their bodies work. By submitting their DNA, athletes can see the results of their genetic fitness assessment. This can help athletes personalize their training routine, gain information about their ability to build muscle, or find out how prone they are to joint injuries. The results are organized in categories to let people know what they need to work on. Listen to learn more about this new technology and then debate: Should DNA determine the sport you play?
Current Event April 6, 2018
Uber, a ride-sharing company, has expanded into new areas such as self-driving cars and food delivery. A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It was the first pedestrian death involving a vehicle that was self-driving. There was a driver in the car in case of an emergency, however the accident was not avoided. Listen to hear how this accident might affect new laws related to safety and self-driving cars, as well as the factors involved in this tragic accident and then debate: Are self-driving cars safe?
Current Event March 16, 2018
A false nuclear missile attack alert was recently sent to the phones of residents and visitors in Hawaii. It was sent by a state emergency management worker who believed the drill was a real attack. This has highlighted the disagreement over whose job it should be to warn the public about missile attacks. Federal officials would like the warning to come from local authorities, but there is legislation introduced to make the public warnings the sole responsibility of the federal government. Listen to hear more about this issue and then debate: Who should warn the public of nuclear war?
Current Event March 7, 2018
Voice-activated devices, such as Alexa and Google Home, always have their microphones on. They are passively listening until you say the “wake” word, but people are worried they are listening and recording every single thing that is said. The owners of the devices can go into the app to see a history of everything that is heard by the device. One concern is that this data could be used to look for evidence that could help to prosecute crimes, or be reviewed by the National Security Agency. Listen to this story to hear about the pros and cons of voice-activated devices and their impact on privacy.
Current Event February 26, 2018
A grand jury indicted 13 Russians for carrying out "information warfare" in an elaborate effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign. The indictments describe years of efforts in which hundreds of well-funded and sophisticated Russians accumulated social media followers, spread distrust, and divided Americans against each other. The indictment says Americans who worked with the groups didn’t know they were working with Russian operatives. Listen to hear more about what the indictments mean for these 13 Russians as well as for Americans.
Current Event February 16, 2018
Instead of going to a restaurant to pick up food, you can have it delivered to your home. That’s nothing new. But some restaurants are experimenting with using a robot to deliver orders. The robot is equipped with cameras that allow it to observe the street signs, lights, and roads around them to know how and when to cross streets. Some fear this invention may replace jobs held by people, but the company says they are not a replacement for humans. Listen to learn the capabilities of these delivery robots and then debate: Are deliveries by robots a good idea?
Current Event February 12, 2018
Many children, teens, and adults spend a lot of time looking at screens. Whether it’s an addiction or merely troubling behavior, too much screen time can interfere with other activities, create changes in your mood, and cause other problems. A former executive from Google was so concerned about the public health risks of too much screen time, he started a company that tries to inform people about how addictive technology can be. Listen to learn how companies are responding to the growing concerns about too much technology.
Current Event February 6, 2018
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency that exists only on computers and allows people to conduct financial transactions online that allow users to send currency back and forth. Recently, Bitcoin has been making headlines for its role in the stock market and how it has changed since its start in 2011. It is also showing how businesses don't need a physical product to make money. Listen to learn what type of people Bitcoin appeals to and the rules behind it.
Current Event February 2, 2018
Cell phones have become a significant distraction for students and teachers in classrooms across the country. Administrators are trying a variety of ways to limit the use of cell phones. Some teachers take it upon themselves to take away students’ phones in their classrooms. Other schools have invested in soft pouches that lock up the phones during the school day. Listen to learn how students are reacting to these changes and then debate: Should schools hold student cell phones?
Current Event January 31, 2018
Online courses provide access to a variety of topics and can be accessed at any time by learners. One professor believes that by taking courses online people are missing out on visual art education. To combat this, she started a website with courses that delve deep into how art is made, in addition to offering online critiques that help people improve their craft. By becoming involved in her work, this professor has developed her mental flow and wants to show others how to get to this point by connecting with materials. Listen to learn why mental flow is essential for understanding another side to art.
Current Event January 26, 2018
Electronic toys for children have existed since the 1950s. However, new toys are causing privacy concerns for parents as well as politicians. A new device called Aristotle was created to help children by learning their behavior and providing soothing responses. But after many parents expressed concern about the amount of information the toy would be collecting, the manufacturer stopped production. Listen to learn more about this invention and then debate: Should children play with electronic toys that collect data?