Current Event September 13, 2019
Congress recently held a hearing to consider how technology companies might be endangering the news industry and threatening democracy. Some newspaper publishers argue that online platforms like Google and Facebook unfairly threaten their existence and are controlling public access to information. Some technology executives say this is not the case, suggesting that the news media are not keeping up with innovative competition. In order to resolve this issue, lawmakers have proposed a bill with bipartisan support. Listen to learn more and then debate: Are online platforms threatening democracy?
Current Event September 6, 2019
FaceApp allows people to modify photos to change their appearances, trying out different hairstyles or even seeing what they may look like decades from now. While the app is fun and silly, some political leaders have warned against using it due to privacy issues related to its facial recognition capabilities. However, a technology writer argues that FaceApp is no more dangerous than many other social media applications. Listen to learn more and then debate: Should facial recognition apps cause concern?
Current Event September 5, 2019
Renewable energy sources like solar power can help protect the environment and lower people’s electricity bills. Unfortunately, not everyone is benefitting equally from alternative energy sources and the technologies that harness them. One African-American solar technology professional is trying to reverse this trend. Listen to learn how he is bringing renewable energy to communities of color in Nashville and why this goal is so important to him.
Current Event August 30, 2019
It’s been 50 years since man first walked on the moon. Now, decades later, NASA is working on sending a manned spacecraft back to the moon. This time, however, the trip to the moon is part of a larger plan: getting man to Mars. However, NASA will need bipartisan political support to make their goals a reality, and some have dismissed this mission as unnecessary. Listen to learn how and why NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon and beyond and then debate: Should we send astronauts to the moon again?
Current Event August 16, 2019
YouTube has started removing videos containing extremist content promoting white supremacy. Some people and organizations support this policy as a way to make social media platforms safer. Others point out that the system for removing videos is imperfect, and this policy could interfere with video creators’ right to freely express themselves. Listen to learn more about YouTube’s new restrictions and then debate: Should YouTube remove extremist videos?
Current Event August 5, 2019
It has been 50 years since the first moon landing. Astronaut Michael Collins orbited the moon while his more well-known colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on its surface. As someone who was just 15 miles away from this world-famous event, Collins offers a unique perspective on the moon landing. Listen to learn about his experience and hear why he believes humans should continue traveling into space today.
Current Event July 24, 2019
Far from the bright lights of cities and suburbs, amateur astronomers gather to stargaze in the dark at events known as “star parties.” Stargazers enjoy sharing the experience with others who are passionate about dark skies and the faraway places they make visible. Listen to hear about what happens at star parties and what amateur astronomers are viewing in the dark night sky.
Current Event July 22, 2019
One of the world’s favorite holiday traditions has a long history. Fireworks started in ancient China where people used explosives because they were believed to ward away evil spirits. From their beginnings as simple noise makers to the dazzling aerial displays that light up our night skies today, fireworks have relied on chemistry to create the sounds and colors that provide excitement and enjoyment. Listen to hear a chemist explain the history and science behind a worldwide celebratory tradition.
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.
Current Event June 26, 2019
Can taking a photo of yourself be dangerous? There has been a recent rise in selfie-related deaths. Many visitors to national and state parks are putting themselves in dangerous situations to get the perfect photo, and some have even lost their lives in the process. Listen to learn about why people risk their lives for selfies and what some organizations are doing to stop this troubling trend.
Current Event June 13, 2019
Being able to communicate with someone using only mind power is the stuff of science fiction, but it might not be so far off in the future. At the University of Washington, scientists have developed a system that supports a very basic form of computer-assisted telepathy, or thought-based communication. While this technology has many potential positive uses, there are some serious possible risks to consider. Listen to hear how the technology works and what it might mean for the future.
Current Event May 22, 2019
A new natural disaster lab uses extreme methods to test which building materials are safest to withstand major storms and wildfires. Listen to find out why insurance companies want to invest millions of dollars in this lab and why climate change makes the lab’s experiments more important than ever before.
Current Event May 2, 2019
A new book makes the case that the data pool informing medicine, industrial design, digital technology, and a wide variety of other sectors reflects a clear, if unconscious bias towards men. The book provides examples of how this data bias plays out in women’s health and safety and in other aspects of life. Listen to this interview with the author to hear about the impact of this implicit cultural bias and her recommendations for addressing it.
Current Event April 24, 2019
If Uber and other transportation technology companies have their way, people who use ride-hailing apps will soon be able to order flying taxis. These futuristic vehicles would quickly transport passengers from location to location, traveling high above traffic on the ground. Listen to find out how and when the dream of flying cars may become a reality, and what issues need to be considered before then.
Current Event April 18, 2019
Would you like to eat apples that never turn brown? Scientists hoping to genetically modify plants for crop development think they may have found a solution to a major problem they have been facing. The cell walls of plants make it difficult to insert genetic material into plant cells to change how those plant cells work. The solution–carbon nanotubes–was discovered by accident. Listen to learn about the discovery and implementation of this nanotechnology solution and how it could change the way scientists breed new crop varieties.
Current Event April 5, 2019
For years, parents have commemorated major moments in their children’s lives with a camera. These personal photos and videos often end up on social media, shared with wide audiences. Some kids like this exposure, while others do not. Listen to this story to hear a reporter with The Atlantic magazine talk about this social media phenomenon and then debate: Should parents share about their kids on social media?
Current Event February 26, 2019
Jonah Larson has become a very successful artisan and entrepreneur at the age of eleven. Larson got his start crocheting from watching YouTube videos, and now the pre-teen has become a social media star himself. The young entrepreneur sells his handcrafted products through his very popular Instagram page. Larsen’s business has grown so much that he has had to pause new orders as he catches up on old ones. Listen to hear how Jonah learned to crochet and what is next for this enterprising sixth grader.
Current Event February 14, 2019
Some people who are deaf use assistive technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to help them hear. Others feel that using assistive technology impacts a deaf person’s identity. One teenager who was born deaf has had cochlear implants since she was a year old, enabling her to hear and speak. As a result, she has felt excluded by members of both the hearing and the Deaf communities. Listen to her reflections on her experience navigating both worlds as someone who is “hearing but deaf.”
Current Event February 13, 2019
An ocean cleanup project in the Pacific has run into some problems cleaning up a floating debris field known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The 2000-ft. long, U-shaped floating barrier is designed to catch plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, where an enormous garbage patch has collected. The ambitious system is the brainchild of a 17-year-old scientist. The device is not yet working exactly as hoped, but engineers are trying to address the issues that are getting in its way. Listen to hear more about this creative pollution solution and the inventor’s optimistic outlook on its potential to help the environment.