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Science Friday

Fridays 1 - 3 p.m.
  • Hosted by Ira Flatow

Science Friday is a weekly science talk show, broadcast live over public radio stations nationwide from 2-4 p.m. Eastern time. Each week, we focus on science topics that are in the news and try to bring an educated, balanced discussion to bear on the scientific issues at hand. Panels of expert guests join Science Friday's host, Ira Flatow, a veteran science journalist, to discuss science -- and to take questions from listeners during the call-in portion of the program.

To participate, call 1 (844) 724-8255 or Twitter users can tweet questions @scifri.

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Before plate tectonics, the Earth may have been covered by one giant shell

Mar 27, 2017

The Earth’s outer layer is split into slabs, called tectonic plates. As the plates slide across the Earth’s surface, their constant, often violent interactions with one another create volcanoes, earthquakes, rifts and mountain ranges. But the Earth may not always have been shaped this way.

Like many freelancers, Rochelle LaPlante is paid by the piece. “So, I have to balance doing it fast enough to make it worth my time, but also make sure I'm doing high-quality work,” she says.

But LaPlante’s job isn’t the writing or design work you might expect in today’s gig economy. She’s an independent content moderator, tasked with keeping unwanted, sometimes graphic content off the social apps and websites we use every day. “So, it's like modern-day piecework, but with the added layer of psychological stress,” she says.

Can Geometry Root Out Gerrymandering?

Mar 25, 2017

Training Docs Around the Clock

Mar 25, 2017

Retelling the Story of the BP Oil Spill

Mar 25, 2017

Bacteria are thriving in the sky — and they influence the weather

Mar 22, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/chriswaits/13870530113/">Chris Waits</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>

Ever since Antoni van Leeuwenhoek first observed “animalcules” through a microscope in the late 1600s, we’ve been finding bacteria all over. They’ve been discovered in deep sea vents, on human skin, and deep in Antarctic ice. There are even bacteria all the way up in the clouds. Strange and wonderful, no?

There's a sweet new test for pee in the pool

Mar 21, 2017

The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium (ACE) can be found in everything from chewing gum, to baked goods, to the packets of sugar substitute on restaurant tables. But researchers at the University of Alberta recently made headlines with the announcement that they’d found ACE somewhere else: in 31 swimming pools and hot tubs.

Another way to grow crops — by laying down the plow

Mar 20, 2017

At a time when many modern farmers face problems like soil erosion, nutrient loss and drought, the black dirt on Doug Palen’s family farm is a field apart: Its health and texture just keep improving.

“Its organic matter continues to rise, and it just continues to perform even better than it did,” Palen says.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bearpark/2706701983/">Simon James</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Here’s an unexpected story: Scientists are working on a drug to stimulate ear hair growth.

In this case, the ear hairs in question are actually tiny, sensory hair cells in our cochlea. We have about 15,000 of them in each ear, and they’re crucial to helping us detect sound waves. But the little cells are also very fragile.

New report gives cautious support for embryonic gene editing in humans

Mar 19, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lunarcaustic/3233482244">lunar caustic</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Last month, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a report about the use of gene editing techniques like CRISPR on human embryos. The new report, coming from two globally respected scientific organizations, suggests the technique could be warranted in certain cases — not just in the laboratory, but in real life.

NASA was big on the internet in late February, when it announced that scientists had discovered seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star, 40 light-years away.

The planets are closer to their cool star than Mercury is to the sun, and scientists think they could all be temperate enough to hold liquid water — a key ingredient for life. Not surprisingly, the scientific community is abuzz about what the planets hold, water and otherwise.

Why Are We Here? Physics Has Answers.

Mar 18, 2017

Visualizing the Beauty of Vibrato

Mar 18, 2017

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