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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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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/philip-ester/5216780198">StingrayPhil</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

You may not envy what dung beetles and carrion beetles dine on, but you live in a world that they help keep clean. Think of the insects as “nature’s recyclers,” decomposing waste and returning all kinds of nutrients back into the ecosystem.

At a recent live show in Wichita, Kansas, Science Friday host Ira Flatow talked with Rachel Stone and Emmy Engasser, graduate researchers at Wichita State University’s biodiversity lab, about this powerful natural cleanup crew. Here are some surprising takeaways from their conversation:

How scientists are piecing together the story of ancient Americans

Oct 1, 2017

The Americas were one of the last areas of the world to be settled by modern humans, and we know that one of the first migrant groups, known as the Clovis people, lived here around 13,000 years ago.

The Case For Boredom

Sep 30, 2017

The ABCs Of Nuclear War

Sep 30, 2017

The lab where aging aircraft are dissected for science — and safety

Sep 30, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickraider/37001496951">Oliver Holzbauer</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>.&nbsp;

Flying may be stressful for some people, but planes have it much harder: Every takeoff, landing and patch of turbulence adds wear to a plane’s airframe, or body.

Planes in the US undergo careful inspections and routine maintenance to combat this wear. But how do airplane mechanics know what needs inspecting or maintaining, especially when not every issue is visible from the surface?

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ginapina/3528146487/">gina pina</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

These days, chicken is a staple of the American diet, but it wasn’t always that way. Before the 1940s, chicken was rarely on the meal table; instead, chicken meat was a byproduct of egg farming — the hens that were done laying eggs.

So, what happened? The secret ingredient, according to journalist Maryn McKenna, was antibiotics. Her new book “Big Chicken” traces the rise of antibiotics in the poultry industry all the way to our current antibiotic crisis.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pamontgo/8817421670">Andy Montgomery</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>

How do you judge the health of an economy?

The number of new homes is often one good way to tell. But when it comes to ancient Rome, researchers recently discovered another indicator: The city’s early plumbing system. In their findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how ancient Rome’s water pipes tell the story of an empire’s rise — and its struggles.

Sleepy Times Under The Sea

Sep 23, 2017

Why Do Dinosaurs Matter?

Sep 23, 2017

Meet The New Zealand Glow Worm

Sep 23, 2017

In Frog Versus Dinosaur, This Frog Wins

Sep 23, 2017

The black-footed ferret is making a comeback in the Great Plains

Sep 23, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmtnprairie/26003376186/in/album-72157625419878176/">Kimberly Fraser/USFWS</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.&nbsp;

With its silky fur and bandit-masked face, the black-footed ferret cuts a cute — if lethal — figure on the American plains. It’s also the star of a great comeback story: The species was thought extinct until 1981, when a small group of ferrets was discovered on a Wyoming ranch.

Communities along the upper Mississippi River have seen a major uptick in heavy rains and flooding in the last decade.

Residents, environmentalists, engineers and government agencies agree that they need a coordinated strategy to manage flooding. That could be particularly important in the coming years, as scientists predict that climate change will likely bring more heavy rain to the region.

The idea that people have different styles of learning — that the visually inclined do best by seeing new information, for example, or others by hearing it — has been around since the 1950s, and recent research suggests it’s still widely believed by teachers and laypeople alike. But is there scientific evidence that learning styles exist?

“The short answer is no,” says Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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