Current Event January 5, 2021
The human microbiome, a community of tiny organisms that live inside us, is important to our health in a variety of ways. Scientists have discovered that the microbes living inside bees also play an important role in their survival. Microbes give bees a particular body odor, a scent that can communicate to the hive if the bee is a friend or enemy. Listen to learn why bees invade the hives of other colonies and hear about the role that bees’ body odor plays in defending against such intruders.
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 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 March 22, 2019
A clinic in Kiev, Ukraine is offering a controversial experimental procedure that allows parents experiencing infertility to have babies with three genetic parents. While this type of genetic engineering is allowed in some countries, it has been banned in the U.S., as there are many concerns in the medical community about the procedure’s safety and its ethical implications. Listen to this interview with the mother of one of a handful of three-parent babies that have been born and debate: Should three-parent babies be allowed?
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 6, 2019
A recent study concluded that “a parachute is no more effective than an empty backpack.” While this might sound ridiculous, the researchers who designed the study did so to make a point about the importance of being critical consumers of research who do not accept findings without considering the research design. Listen to this story to hear more about why the study was done and discover the secret behind the surprising finding.
Current Event October 11, 2018
Researchers are studying barn owls to better understand how they are able to focus so intensely, with the goal of shedding light on why some humans struggle with focused attention. Specifically, they are studying how the owl brain ignores all the information that distracts from what is most important to the owl’s survival. Listen to learn how and why research on owl brains might be able to help people with attention issues.
Current Event September 27, 2018
Some tiny, microscopic bacteria hunt and attack other bacteria, including those that make people sick. Scientists are now researching possible uses of these predatory bacteria in treating infections. They are also interested in whether these germ-eating germs might be useful in the event of germ warfare. Listen to hear how this exciting research could impact people’s lives.
Current Event June 5, 2018
A teenager recently discovered what turned out to be the fossil of a large, dinosaur-eating crocodile in northern Texas. Many amateur fossil hunters enjoy looking for ancient animals’ bones in this rocky area. At the site, for example, a combination of harsh living conditions exposed dirt makes it easier to uncover all sorts of fossils. An expert explains how fossil hunters help him discover ancient species. He also describes why dinosaurs fascinate us and how they can help us learn more about science. Listen to learn more about this dinosaur-eating crocodile.
For such a small molecule, caffeine has long been a controversial substance. Throughout the day, the human body produces a molecule called adenosine that can induce feelings of fatigue. Caffeine is a molecule that reverses the effects of adenosine. This results in feelings of alertness. But the impacts of caffeine can be dangerous. Listen to hear what determines whether caffeine is beneficial or harmful, and how to prevent caffeine-related deaths.
Current Event November 5, 2015
If you have looked closely at the eyes of different animals, you will notice their pupils come in various shapes: round, vertical or horizontal ovals or crescents. Scientists now think they know the reason behind the shape of some animals’ pupils. There is diversity in shape because it depends on how big the animal is and whether it’s a predator or prey. It also relates to their view of the horizon. Listen to hear more about the new discovery and what it can tell us about animals and evolution.
Current Event October 23, 2015
How much stress we experience growing up can affect our health later in life. This was discovered during a study which assessed the emotional health, diet and habits of hundreds of people from childhood through adulthood. They analyzed the relationship between stress and disease and found people who had persistent stress were at the highest risk for disease. But surprisingly, people who had periods of high stress when they were between the ages of 7 and 16 showed a high risk for chronic illness, even if they were not stressed as adults. Listen to this story and start a debate in your class about whether stress is helpful or harmful to students.
Current Event October 21, 2015
We all spill microorganisms from our bodies onto things we touch and come into contact with. Each person’s microbes are different and identifiable. A recent discovery that analyzed DNA from bacteria in the air shows that along with leaving these microbes on things, we also release them into the air. This allows scientists to know, for example, if someone has been in a room in the last few hours. In people who work and live together, their microbiomes can start to become similar. Listen to learn what interesting things scientists are learning about what our microbe cloud says about us.
Current Event October 6, 2015
There are over one million high school football players in the United States. This sport requires hitting and being hit. Even with helmets there is a high risk of head injuries and concussions. In 2011, Texas lawmakers took action and a “return to play” law was passed. This required students with hits to the head have medical clearance before returning to play football. Some parents and families are concerned this legal action doesn’t go far enough. Brain injuries are invisible, hard to diagnose and there is a risk of repeated concussions. Listen to this story to hear more about protecting the health of student football players.
Current Event October 1, 2015
Caffeine in coffee and soft drinks is known for keeping people awake. It alters the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s master clock. Not getting enough sleep and being out of sync with the natural world is harmful and can be linked to diseases such as cancer and obesity. A recent study showed that caffeine can contribute to irregularities in circadian rhythm. People who drank caffeine before trying to sleep showed a delay in the release of the hormone melatonin, which typically surges at night. Studies still have to be completed about whether caffeine affects people’s inner clocks if they drink it earlier in the day. Listen to hear more about the effects of caffeine.
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.
Current Event February 18, 2014
50,000 years ago, the arctic was not icy—but grassy, full of life and of course, woolly mammoths. After studying these giant animals’ DNA found in feces and soil, scientists hypothesize their extinction may be due to a flower. Listen to this story to find out why.