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Brain fun for curious people.

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Brain fun for curious people.

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Episodes
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Jelly Creatures That Swim In Corkscrews | Keeping Wind Turbines Safe For Birds

5/27/2024
For the first time, scientists have recorded how salps form chains and swim in corkscrews to reach the ocean’s surface each night. Also, a wind utility company in Wyoming is trying to make wind turbines more visible to birds by painting just one blade black. The Small Jelly Creatures That Link Up And Swim in Corkscrews Salps are small, transparent barrel-shaped jelly creatures. They are sometimes confused with jellyfish, but they are so much more complex. Salps have nervous, circulatory, and digestive systems that include a brain, heart, and intestines. Salps are known to link themselves together in long chains. And each night they journey from the depths of the ocean to the surface to feast on algae. New research shows that the key to their efficiency is swimming in corkscrews. Ira talks with Dr. Kelly Sutherland, associate professor of biology at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Oregon, about her work studying salp swimming patterns. Painting Wind Turbine Blades To Prevent Bird Collisions Wind energy is expected to be a big part of the transition away from fossil fuels. But that comes with consequences, including the potential for more deadly collisions between turbines and birds and bats. One experiment underway in Wyoming is studying a potentially game-changing—and simple—solution to this problem. In the Mountain West, large and iconic avian species—such as owls, turkey vultures and golden eagles—are consistently colliding with the human world. At the Teton Raptor Center in Wilson, Wyo., veterinarians, avian scientists and volunteers often treat birds for lead poisoning, crashes into infrastructure, gunshot wounds or other injuries. For the center’s conservation director, Bryan Bedrosian, his work is about preserving the wildlife that makes Wyoming special. “We should be proud of the fact that we in Wyoming have some of the best wild natural spaces and some of the best wildlife populations,” he said. I think, unfortunately, it comes with a higher degree of responsibility.” Wyoming is a critical habitat area for many species, especially golden eagles. Tens of thousands live here year-round and the state is also a huge migration corridor between Alaska and Mexico. Unlike its cousin the bald eagle, the golden eagle population is stable at best and could potentially decline in parts of the U.S. Bedrosian said wind energy growth is a threat for a species that has always been “at the top of the food chain.” Read the full story at sciencefriday.com. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:20:52

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Zapping Nerves Into Regrowth | Celebrating the Maya Calendar In Guatemala’s Highlands

5/24/2024
An early study found that electrical stimulation could improve hand and arm function in people with spinal cord injuries. Also, for thousands of years, Indigenous communities in Guatemala have used observations and mathematics to track astronomical events. Zapping Nerves Into Regrowth Results of an early trial published this week in the journal Nature Medicine found that people with cervical spinal cord damage showed some improvements both in strength and movement in arm and hand function after they received electrical stimulation near the site of their injury. The improved function persisted even after the stimulation stopped, indicating that the treatment may be inducing nerve cells to regrow in the damaged area. Sophie Bushwick, senior news editor at New Scientist, joins Ira to talk about the work and what it could mean for people with severe spinal cord injuries. They also talk about other stories from the week in science, including creating the most powerful X-ray pulse ever reported, investigations into the microbiome of the scalp, and some epic cosplay—testing out the practicality of some ancient Greek armor in combat scenarios. Celebrating the Maya Calendar In Guatemala’s Highlands Every 260 days, Indigenous communities in the highlands of Guatemala celebrate a new cycle of the Maya calendar. This ceremony has persisted for thousands of years, from pre-Columbian times to today. The latest of these ceremonies happened in early May. Joining Ira to talk about the importance of astronomical ceremony is Willy Barreno, a Maya calendar keeper based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and Dr. Isabel Hawkins, astronomer and senior scientist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:21:45

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Fine-Tuning Grapes For Iowa’s Wine Industry

5/23/2024
Did you know that almost all the wine we drink, no matter what color it is or where it’s produced, comes from a grape species called Vitis vinifera? But these grapes can’t survive the cold, harsh winters of Iowa, so researchers at Iowa State University are growing special varieties that can withstand a wider range of temperatures. Through this effort, they’re even hoping to expand Iowa’s wine industry. Onstage in Ames, Iowa, Ira talks with Dr. Erin Norton, director of the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State University. They chat about the science of growing cold-hardy grapes, taste a selection of Iowan wines, and explore the basics of viticulture. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:22

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How To Recycle Rare Earth Elements

5/22/2024
Rare earth elements are a group of 17 metals used in a wide range of things that make modern life possible, including batteries, magnets, LED light bulbs, phone screens, and catalytic converters. These elements are essential to a green economy because they are integral to many technologies designed to have low environmental impact. However, mining these metals is a dirty, complex, and costly process. And as the world transitions towards more clean energy production, the demand for them will continue to grow. One possible solution is to recycle rare earth elements when they’re discarded in electronics waste. On stage in Ames, Iowa, Ira Flatow talks with Dr. Ikenna Nlebedim and Dr. Denis Prodius, two materials scientists from the Critical Materials Institute at the Ames National Laboratory who have developed a new acid-free method to recycle rare earth metals found in magnets. Transcript for this segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:52

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New Evidence Questions Dark Energy’s ‘Constant’ Nature

5/21/2024
After the Big Bang, the universe expanded rapidly. And, once upon a time, conventional wisdom held that that expansion would eventually slow, dragged back inwards by the gravitational pull of all the matter in the universe. But in 1998, two groups studying supernovae discovered that not only was the universe continuing to expand, but that the expansion was accelerating. That accelerating expansion has been attributed to a force cosmologists have called dark energy. The energy itself has been represented by a number—thought to be a universal constant—called the cosmological constant. But recent data presented by a group called DESI, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, says that possibly, the constant may not be a constant. Instead, dark energy may be evolving over time. The finding, if it holds true, would be a big deal, requiring cosmologists to redo their equations for the way the universe works and, possibly, develop new physics to explain the phenomenon. Dr. Dillon Brout, an assistant professor of astronomy at Boston University and part of the DESI collaboration, joins Ira to talk about the data from the first year of the DESI instrument, and what may lie ahead in years to come. Transcript for this segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:18:47

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New Guidelines Recommend Earlier Breast Cancer Screening

5/20/2024
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations for breast cancer screening once again. The recommendations now stipulate that women and people assigned female at birth should begin getting mammograms at age 40, and continue every other year until age 74. The previous guidelines recommended beginning screening at age 50. These guidelines carry a lot of weight because they determine if mammography will be considered preventive care by health insurance and therefore covered at no cost to the patient. Why have the guidelines changed? And how are these decisions made in the first place? To answer those questions and more Ira Flatow talks with Dr. Janie Lee, director of breast imaging at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Transcript for this segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:31

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New Rule Sets Stage For Electric Grid Update | Harnessing Nanoparticles For Vaccines

5/17/2024
Upgrades to the power grid under a new rule could help accommodate an increasing renewable energy supply and meet data center demands. Also, extremely small particles might help scientists develop vaccines that are stable at room temperature and easier to administer. New Rule Sets Stage For Electric Grid Update The US electric grid is straining to keep up with demand. For starters, our warming climate means more electricity is needed to keep people cool. Last summer—which was the hottest on record—energy demand in the US experienced an all-time hourly peak. And even though more renewable energy is being produced, our current grid, largely built in the 1960s and 1970s, was not built to handle those needs. Increased use of AI and cryptocurrency, which require power-hungry data centers, have only increased the burden on the grid. But on Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved new rules to upgrade the grid to accommodate rising demands. The policy includes approval for the construction of new transmission lines and modification of existing transmission facilities. Casey Crownhart, climate reporter for the MIT Technology Review, joins Ira to talk about this and other science stories of the week, including how a recent ocean heatwave will impact ocean life and the upcoming hurricane season, a new self-collection test for cervical cancer, and how a tiny beetle uses audio mimicry to avoid being eaten by bats. Could Vaccines Of The Future Be Made With Nanoparticles? In 2021, vaccines for COVID-19 were released, a little over a year after the SARS-CoV-2 virus triggered a global pandemic. Their remarkably short production time wasn’t the result of a rush-job, but a culmination of decades of advancements in infrastructure, basic science, and mRNA technology. But despite the years of innovations that allowed those vaccines to be developed and mass-produced so quickly, their delivery method—an injection—still has some drawbacks. Most injected vaccines need to be kept cold, and some require multiple trips to a pharmacy. And people with needle phobias may be reluctant to get them altogether. So what could the vaccines of the future look like? Dr. Balaji Narasimhan, distinguished professor and director of the Nanovaccine Institute at Iowa State University, joins Ira Flatow onstage in Ames, Iowa, to talk about how his lab is using nanotechnology to develop the next generation of vaccines, and how they could be more effective than current vaccines in the face of the next pandemic. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:26:36

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How Climate Change Is Changing Sports

5/16/2024
Sports are a critical part of human culture just about everywhere in the world. Maybe you played little league as a kid, or like to go to the park for a game of pickup basketball, or even just cheer for your favorite team on the weekends. Unfortunately, like so many other things, climate change is taking a toll on the world of sports. It’s getting too warm for appropriate ski conditions at ski resorts. Rising temperatures put athletes at risk of heat stroke. Globally, sports are a trillion dollar industry, and billions of people rely on them for their jobs, fitness, and health. Guest host Sophie Bushwick talks with Dr. Madeleine Orr, sports ecologist and author of Warming Up: How Climate Change is Changing Sport, about how our warming climate is altering how we play sports, and what to do about it. Read an excerpt from Warming Up at sciencefriday.com. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:46

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Why Is Tinnitus So Hard To Understand And Treat?

5/15/2024
Tinnitus, a condition commonly described as a persistent ringing in the ears, affects millions of people around the world. In the US, the prevalence of tinnitus is estimated at around 11% of the population, with 2% affected by a severe form of the condition that can be debilitating. But despite it being so common, the exact causes of some tinnitus, and how best to think about treating the condition, are still unclear. In some cases, it’s brought on by exposure to loud noise, while in others, an ear infection or even earwax can be to blame. Dr. Gabriel Corfas, director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute at the University of Michigan, joins guest host Sophie Bushwick to talk about current research into the condition and possible treatments, from regrowing nerve cells, to devices that provide electrical stimulation. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:50

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Finding Purpose In A ‘Wild Life’

5/14/2024
Wildlife ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant has tracked bears through the mountains, lived with lions, been chased by elephants, and trekked after lemurs in a rainforest. Now, she co-hosts the renowned nature television show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild.” Dr. Wynn-Grant’s new memoir, Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World, documents her many adventures as well as her experience navigating conservation as a Black woman and landing her dream job as a nature television host. Read an excerpt from Wild Life here. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:59

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Archeopteryx Specimen Unveiled | Trees And Shrubs Burying Great Plains' Prairies

5/13/2024
The Field Museum has unveiled a new specimen of Archaeopteryx, a species that may hold the key to how ancient dinosaurs became modern birds. Also, a “green glacier” of trees and shrubs is sliding across the Great Plains, burying some of the most threatened habitat on the planet. Remarkably Well-Preserved Archeopteryx Specimen Unveiled The Field Museum in Chicago just unveiled a new specimen of one of the most important fossils ever: Archaeopteryx. It lived around 150 million years ago, and this species is famous for marking the transition from dinosaurs to birds in the tree of life. The Field Museum now has the 13th known fossil—and it may be the best-preserved one yet. So what makes this specimen so special? And what else is there to learn about Archaeopteryx? To answer these questions, guest host Sophie Bushwick talks with Dr. Jingmai O’Connor, associate curator of fossil reptiles at the Field Museum, about what makes Archaeopteryx such an icon in the world of paleontology and why they’re so excited about it. Trees And Shrubs Are Burying Prairies Of The Great Plains In the Flint Hills region of Kansas, the Mushrush family is beating back a juggernaut unleashed by humans — a Green Glacier of trees and shrubs grinding slowly across the Great Plains and burying some of the most threatened habitat on the planet. This blanket of shrublands and dense juniper woods gobbling up grassland leads to wildfires with towering flames that dwarf those generated in prairie fires. It also eats into ranchers’ livelihoods. It smothers habitat for grassland birds, prairie fish and other critters that evolved for a world that’s disappearing. It dries up streams and creeks. New research even finds that, across much of the Great Plains, the advent of trees actually makes climate change worse. Now a federal initiative equips landowners like Daniel Mushrush with the latest science and strategies for saving rangeland, and money to help with the work. Read more at sciencefriday.com. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:24:58

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JWST Detects An Atmosphere Around A Rocky Exoplanet | Boeing Plans To Fly Humans To The ISS Next Week

5/10/2024
Astronomers have confirmed they found an atmosphere around an Earth-like rocky exoplanet for the first time. Also, Boeing’s Starliner craft was scheduled to carry humans to the International Space Station in 2017. Its launch is now set for May 17, 2024. In A First, JWST Detects An Atmosphere Around A Rocky Exoplanet Earlier this week, astronomers announced they had discovered an atmosphere around a rocky Earth-like planet named 55 Cancri e, about 40 light-years away from Earth, thanks to instruments onboard the JWST telescope. Finding an atmosphere around a rocky planet is a big step for exoplanet exploration: Earth’s atmosphere is crucial to its ability to sustain life, and astronomers need to be able to identify rocky planets that have atmospheres to search for life outside the solar system. However, 55 Cancri e is likely far too hot to have any life: Researchers estimate the surface temperature to be about 3,100 F, thanks to its close proximity to its sun and a probable magma ocean that envelops the planet. But this could also give clues to Earth’s formation, as its own surface was also once covered by lava. Jason Dinh, climate editor at Atmos, joins guest host Sophie Bushwick to talk about this and other top news in science this week, including tightening restrictions on risky virus research in the US, possible evidence for a sperm whale “alphabet,” and how environmental changes are leading to an increase in disease in humans, animals, and plants. Boeing Plans To Fly Humans To The ISS Next Week When NASA retired its space shuttle program in 2011, the agency had to find a new way to transport astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Russia’s Soyuz program has met that need in the meantime, but NASA has wanted a more local solution. So they started awarding contracts to private US companies who could act as space taxis, including SpaceX, with its Dragon capsule, and Boeing with its Starliner capsule, through the United Launch Alliance (ULA). Unlike SpaceX, Boeing has yet to fly humans in its spacecraft. But it plans to do so no earlier than next Friday, carrying Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, NASA astronauts and former Navy pilots to the ISS. Starliner was originally supposed to launch this week, but due to issues with a pressure regulation valve on the Atlas V rocket’s upper stage, ULA had to delay the launch to replace the valve. Brendan Byrne, assistant news director at Central Florida Public Media, talks with guest host Sophie Bushwick about Boeing’s rocky road to the ISS and how NASA hopes to split the workload of ferrying astronauts between Boeing and SpaceX. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:18:14

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Challenging The Gender Gap In Sports Science

5/9/2024
The first Women’s World Cup was in 1991, and the games were only 80 minutes, compared to the 90-minute games played by men. Part of the rationale was that women just weren’t tough enough to play a full 90 minutes of soccer. This idea of women as the “weaker sex” is everywhere in early scientific studies of athletic performance. Sports science was mainly concerned with men’s abilities. Even now, most participants in sports science research are men. Luckily things are changing, and more girls and women are playing sports than ever before. There’s a little more research about women too, as well as those who fall outside the gender binary. SciFri producer Kathleen Davis talks with Christine Yu, a health and sports journalist and author of Up To Speed: The Groundbreaking Science of Women Athletes, about the gender data gap in sports science. Read an excerpt of Up to Speed: The Groundbreaking Science of Women Athletes at sciencefriday.com. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:16:06

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What Martian Geology Can Teach Us About Earth

5/8/2024
At first glance, Mars might seem rather different from our own planet. Mars is dry, with little atmosphere, and no liquid water on its surface. It is half the size of Earth, lacks a planetary magnetic field, and does not appear to have active plate tectonics or volcanic activity. In some ways it is a world frozen in time, affected only by the force of wind and the occasional meteorite impact. That static nature, however, could give scientists clues to conditions that once existed on Earth, but have been lost to the effects of plate tectonics and weathering. Ira talks with planetary geologist Dr. Valerie Payré of the University of Iowa about her research into the geology of Mars, and what it could tell scientists about early Earth. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:18:14

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How Louisiana Is Coping With Flooding In Cemeteries

5/7/2024
Emily Dalfrey lives across the street from Niblett’s Bluff Cemetery, where generations of her family are buried, in Vinton, Louisiana. In 2016, a period of prolonged rainfall caused flooding so severe that people could drive boats over the cemetery. The water put so much pressure on the graves that some of the vaults, which are located near the surface, popped open. Some of Dalfrey’s own family members’ caskets were carried away and deposited in her yard. Unsure how to restore the cemetery, the community contracted Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions, a company that helps people locate and rebury loved ones after natural disasters damage cemeteries. Read the rest of this article on sciencefriday.com. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:11:19

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Inside Iowa State’s Herbarium | Science-Inspired Art From ‘Universe of Art’ Listeners

5/6/2024
The Ada Hayden Herbarium preserves hundreds of thousands of specimens, including some collected by George Washington Carver. And, as the “Universe of Art” podcast turns one, listeners discuss solar music boxes and what it’s like making art with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Inside Iowa State’s Herbarium With 700,000 Plant Specimens Herbariums are plant libraries—they contain fragile specimens of plants collected from near and far, and they are meticulously described and cataloged so that someone can reference them in the future. At Iowa State University, the Ada Hayden Herbarium contains more than 700,000 specimens, about half of which are from Iowa. Ira talks with herbarium’s director, Dr. Lynn Clark, and curator Deb Lewis about how plants are preserved, why herbariums are so important, and what it takes to manage a plant archive. Science-Inspired Art From Two ‘Universe of Art’ Listeners Last week, we kicked off a first-anniversary celebration for Universe of Art, our science-meets-art spinoff podcast. A lot of listeners have written in since the start of the podcast, telling us about the science-inspired art they’ve made in their spare time. Last week, host D. Peterschmidt spoke with Todd Gilens, a visual designer who worked with the city of Reno, Nevada, to create a mile-long poem on the city’s sidewalks about the connections between urbanism and stream ecology. This time, we’ll meet two listeners. Craig Colorusso is a punk rock guitarist-turned-sound artist who creates public sculptures and experiences that enhance visitors’ connection to nature. Two of his projects, Sun Boxes and The Bridges At Coler, use solar panels to play reflective, calming music he composed. “You have this idea where you are in nature and you are listening to something that is powered by nature,” he said. “I think that’s perfect.” And we’ll meet a listener who prefers to go by Chris, who was an engineer and avid artist who made mosaics and crocheted before developing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). It’s a debilitating condition characterized by extreme fatigue that can’t be improved by rest, and can also include brain fog, pain, and dizziness. It’s similar to what many Long COVID patients experience. Chris’ condition is considered severe, and caused her to lose the use of her hands, and thus her preferred art mediums. However, Chris could still use her left hand with a rollerball mouse and realized that she could use programs like Chaotica to create fractals that she adds to collages in Photoshop, resulting in colorful collages. “They’re just beautiful and I’m doing art again and I’m so happy about it,” she said. Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:24:02

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Science From Iowa’s Prairies | Planning To Go See Cicadas? Here’s What To Know

5/3/2024
Science Friday is in Ames, Iowa, home to prairies, greater prairie chickens, and an array of wildlife. Also, the co-emergence of two periodical cicada broods is underway. Scientists have tips for how to experience the event. Science From Iowa’s Prairies This week, SciFri is coming to you from Ames, Iowa. We’re kicking off the sciencey Iowa celebrations by spotlighting some of the plants, animals and unique ecosystems of the Hawkeye state. Ira talks with Charity Nebbe, host of the “Talk of Iowa” at Iowa Public Radio, about the state’s largest prairie restoration project, the conservation of prairie chickens, and its rebounding wildlife. Planning To Go See Cicadas? Here’s What To Know In parts of the American South and Midwest, two broods of cicadas are emerging: Brood XIX, known as the Great Southern Brood, and Brood XIII, called the Northern Illinois Brood. The dual emergence of these two particular broods is a rare event, since the Great Southern Brood emerges on a 13-year cycle and the Northern Illinois Brood emerges on a 17-year cycle. The last time they were seen together was in 1803. The two could overlap this spring in parts of Illinois and Iowa, where cicada enthusiasts will gather in parks to observe the emergence. “Plan to spend an afternoon or two,” recommends entomologist Dr. Laura Iles from Iowa State University. “Here in Iowa it tends to be pretty patchy even within a park, so talk to someone, a ranger, about what path to hike on and the best places to go see them.” Ira Flatow speaks with Dr. Iles about the fascinating life cycle of cicadas, how best to approach cicada tourism, and why gardeners should hold off on planting new trees this year. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:25:08

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Maybe Bonobos Aren't Gentler Than Chimps | Art Meets Ecology In A Mile-Long Poem

5/2/2024
A study found aggression between male bonobos to be more frequent than aggression between male chimpanzees. Also, visual artist Todd Gilens created a walkable poem along Reno’s Truckee River that draws parallels between urbanism and stream ecology. Bonobos Are Gentler Than Chimps? Maybe Not. Bonobos are a species of great ape, along with gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees. Over the years, they’ve gained a reputation as being calmer and more peaceful than other ape species. But recent work published in the journal Current Biology finds male bonobos may be just as aggressive as male chimpanzees, if not more so. Dr. Maud Mouginot, a postdoctoral associate in anthropology at Boston University, led the study, in which observers followed individual chimps and bonobos in the wild from morning to night, keeping track of all their interactions. The researchers found that bonobos engaged in 2.8 times more aggressive interactions and 3 times as many physical aggressions as the chimpanzees in the study. Dr. Mouginot joins guest host Arielle Duhaime-Ross to discuss the findings, what might account for the differences in aggressiveness, and what it can teach researchers about primate behavior. Art Meets Ecology In A Mile-Long Poem One year ago this month, we launched our podcast Universe Of Art, which features arts-focused science stories, like the science behind “Dune” and why a group of science illustrators created an online celebration of invertebrate butts. And to our surprise, a lot of you wrote in to tell us about your own science-inspired art projects, including artist Todd Gilens. Gilens is a visual artist and designer who collaborated with the city of Reno, Nevada, to create a mile-long poem, called “Confluence,” printed on the city’s sidewalks bordering the Truckee River. He was interested in how water shapes landscapes, and how urban architecture can mirror those natural processes. He later found the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, a University of California field station near Mammoth Lakes, and spent several field seasons with them to learn about stream ecology. Universe Of Art host D. Peterschmidt sat down with Todd to talk about how the poem came together and why he spent four field seasons in the Sierra Nevada with stream ecologists to create the piece. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:56

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When Products Collect Data From Your Brain, Where Does It Go?

5/1/2024
There are products on the market that monitor your brain waves through caps or headbands: Some aim to improve mental health, sleep, or focus, while others can plunge users into virtual reality for gaming. What happens to the neural data that neurotechnology companies collect from these devices? Consumers may be accustomed to their personal data from apps and social media being sold to third parties. However, the potential sale of brain data to a third party raises additional privacy concerns. There are no federal laws governing the data collected by these wearable devices. But Colorado recently became the first state in the country to pass legislation protecting neural data in consumer products. Guest host Arielle Duhaime-Ross talks with Jared Genser, general counsel and co-founder of The Neurorights Foundation about the current landscape of neuro privacy. Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:17:52

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Visualizing A Black Hole’s Flares In 3D

4/30/2024
The words “black hole” might bring to mind an infinite darkness. But the area right around a black hole, called the accretion disk, is actually pretty bright, with matter compressing hotter and hotter into a glowing plasma as it is sucked in. And amid that maelstrom, there are even brighter areas—bursts of energy that astronomers call flares. Scientists are trying to better understand what those flares are, and what they can tell us about the nature of black holes. This week in the journal Nature Astronomy, a group of researchers published a video that they say is a 3D reconstruction of the movement of flares around the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. Dr. Katie Bouman, an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering and astronomy at Caltech in Pasadena, California, joins guest host Arielle Duhaime-Ross to talk about the research, and how computational imaging techniques can help paint a picture of things that would be difficult or impossible to see naturally. Transcripts for this segment will be available the week after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.

Duration:00:18:16