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New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join hosts Emily Kwong, Aaron Scott and Regina Barber for science on a different wavelength. If you're hooked, try Short Wave Plus. Your subscription supports the show and unlocks a sponsor-free feed. Learn more at


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New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join hosts Emily Kwong, Aaron Scott and Regina Barber for science on a different wavelength. If you're hooked, try Short Wave Plus. Your subscription supports the show and unlocks a sponsor-free feed. Learn more at




Seaweed is piling up on beaches. This robot might be its match

A new robot is designed to sink sargassum before the stinky seaweed comes ashore. Blooms of sargassum, a leafy brown seaweed, have increased in size and number over the past decade. As the blooms have grown, so too has their impact on coastal communities. The stinky seaweed can wreck local economies and ecosystems — and even threaten human health, some research suggests. But the creators of the AlgaRay say that their robot might do more than halt this damage. It could also fight climate change. This week NPR is doing something new — dedicating an entire week to stories and conversations about the search for climate solutions. Head to for more stories of solutions. Have a science query? Email us at — we'd love to know!


The Tiny Worm At The Heart Of Regeneration Science

A tiny worm that regenerates entire organs. A South American snail that can regrow its eyes. A killifish that suspends animation in dry weather and reanimates in water. These are the organisms at the heart of regeneration science. But exactly how they do these things is still a mystery to scientists. Today on the show, Regina G. Barber talks to microbiologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado about this mystery. They get into what regeneration looks like, why humans can't do it (yet) and where the science may lead us in the decades to come. Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Have a science mystery? Send us your questions to


Osiris-REx and the quest to understand the solar system's origin

In 2016, NASA launched a spacecraft to do something rarely attempted before: Collect space rocks from a potentially dangerous asteroid. The mission, named OSIRIS-REx, was successful. Tuesday, scientists opened a sealed canister containing the samples from the asteroid Bennu. Science correspondent Nell Greenfieledboyce talks to host Regina G. Barber about the mission's close calls and what NASA might learn from these space rocks that are older than our planet. Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Have a space mystery? Send us your questions to


Itchy? Here's why

Ever had an itch you can't scratch? It can be maddening. And even though itch has a purpose — it's one of our bodies' alert systems — it can also go very wrong. Dermatologist Dr. Shawn Kwatra talks to host Regina G. Barber about the science of why and how we get itchy, the mysteries behind chronic itch and how his own experience with eczema, hives and seasonal allergies helps him connect with his patients.


Can't Match The Beat? Then You Can't Woo A Cockatoo

Today on the show, All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly joins Regina G. Barber and Maria Godoy for our bi-weekly science roundup. They talk through some of the latest eye-catching science news, including the percussion-intensive mating life of cockatoos, what pink diamonds today tell us about the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Nuna and the latest on the Nipah outbreak in India.


Why Sustainable Seafood Is A Data Problem

The last several decades have taken a toll on the oceans: Some fish populations are collapsing, plastic is an increasing problem and climate change is leading to coral bleaching — as well as a host of other problems. But marine biologist and World Economic Forum programme lead Alfredo Giron says there's room to hope for the seas. He works to create systems that governments and the fishing industry can use to make sure fishing is legal and sustainable so oceans thrive for years to come. In this encore episode, he talks to host Aaron Scott about his work and how managing the ocean is a lot about managing people. We spoke to Alfredo Giron about his research and thoughts, the episode is not meant to reflect the World Economic Forum's positions. Have questions about the world around you? Email us at


The James Webb Space Telescope Is Fueling Galactic Controversy

We're entering a new era of astrophysics. The James Webb Space Telescope is helping scientists test existing ideas and models of how the universe was created—on a whole new level. This telescope is sending back images of galaxies forming under a billion years after the Big Bang—way earlier than astronomers had previously expected. Not only that, scientists had anticipated that later—but still very early—galaxies would be small, barely formed blobs; instead, the galaxies in these images have spiral arms. So, today's show is all about GALACTIC CONTROVERSY! Computational astrophysicist Jorge Moreno talks with fellow astronomer and Short Wave's Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber about how these new findings are stirring up controversy in the scientific community and the lessons we can learn from galaxies. Questions or controversies? Email us at


The Latest COVID Booster Is Here. Should You Get It?

This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved new COVID vaccines this week. It comes at a time when COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise. It's also the first time that the federal government is not paying for the vaccines. Given this confluence of events, we huddled with our colleagues, intrepid health correspondents Maria Godoy and Rob Stein. They gave us the lowdown on the CDC's recommendations for who should get it, how protective the booster is, how to access it regardless of your insurance status—and even how time this booster with other vaccines that may be on your radar. Check out Rob and Maria's full COVID booster Q&A here. Have health question? Email us at


Animal Crossing: The Destructive Nature of Roads

40 million miles of road unite us. They also cause mass destruction for many species. Today, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb and host Aaron Scott go on a tour of that destruction — the subject of Ben's new book Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet. But don't worry, it's not all grim! Along the way, we learn why fewer insects are hitting our windshields, talk about the breakthrough that is highway overpasses, and how at least one bird has adapted to avoid 18-wheel semi-trucks. Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.


Why A Proposed Marine Sanctuary Could Make History

More than 5,000 square miles of central California coast could soon become the newest national marine sanctuary in the United States. It could also make history as one of the first federal sanctuaries to be initiated by a Native American tribe—the Chumash—and become part of a growing movement to give tribes a say over the lands and waters that were once theirs. NPR climate reporter Lauren Sommer dives into the details with host Regina G. Barber, touching on ocean science, heritage and what's in a name. Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Hear about some science news we haven't? Email us at


Air Pollution May Be Increasing Superbugs

Today on the show, All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro joins Aaron Scott and Regina G. Barber for our science roundup. They talk about how antibiotic resistance may spread through particulate air pollution, magnetically halted black holes and how diversified farms are boosting biodiversity in Costa Rica.


Recurring UTIs: The Infection We Keep Secretly Getting

Have frequent, burning pee? Cramping or the urge to pee even though you just went? If you haven't yet, you probably will eventually—along with an estimated 60% of women and 10% of men. That's the large slice of the population that experiences a urinary tract infections (UTI) at least once. Many people avoid talking about these infections, but about one in four women experience recurring UTIs. No matter what they do, the infections come back, again and again. So today on the show, Regina G. Barber takes producer Rachel Carlson on a tour of the urinary tract. We zoom into what recurring UTIs may have to do with changes on the DNA of our bladder cells and the hidden bacterial houses in our bladder walls. Read more about the latest research into recurring UTIs in this article from our colleagues at NPR's global health blog, Goats and Soda. Got questions about the big and small of our universe? Email us at


The Deadly Toll Heat Can Take On Humans

This year, the hottest July ever was recorded — and parts of the country were hit with heat waves that lasted for weeks. Heat is becoming increasingly lethal as climate change causes more extreme heat. So in today's encore episode, we're exploring heat. NPR climate correspondent Lauren Sommer talks with Short Wave host Regina G. Barber about how the human body copes with extended extreme heat and how today's heat warning systems could better protect the public. If you can, stay cool out there this Labor Day, dear Short Wavers. What science story do you want to hear next on Short Wave? Email us at


Food Allergies Are On The Rise. Are You Affected?

Food allergies have risen in the United States over the last few decades. Research suggests that 40 years ago the actual prevalence of food allergies was less than 1%. But this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing that almost 6% of U.S. adults and children have a food allergy. But this trend is not present in all countries — and what people are allergic to varies globally. Today, we dive into the complex world of food allergies with Dr. Waheeda Samady. She's the Director of Clinical Research at Northwestern University's Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research. Have a science question? Email us at


'Speedboat Epidemiology': Eradicating Disease One Person At A Time

Smallpox is a deadly virus. At one point, it killed almost 1 in 3 people who had it. Almost 300 million of those deaths were in the 20th century alone. It was extremely painful, highly contagious and many people thought it would be impossible to wipe out—until it was. On May 8, 1980. the 33rd World Health Assembly declared the world free of smallpox. This marked the first—and only—time a human disease was eradicated globally. Epidemiologist and host of the podcast Epidemic: Eradicating Smallpox Céline Gounder has been looking into this history. Today, she shares the intense journey to eradicate smallpox in Bangladesh (spoiler alert: there are literal speedboats) and reflects on what this history tells us about the importance of healthcare that meets the needs of individuals and communities today. Click here to check out the second season of Céline's podcast from NPR partner KFF Health News. What science story do you want to hear next on Short Wave? Email us at


What Do We Do With Radioactive Wastewater?

Workers in Japan started releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean on Thursday. Reactors at the plant began melting down after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the area. To stop the meltdown, plant workers flooded the reactors with water. But even now, when the plant is offline, the reactors need to be cooled. All that water—about 350 million gallons—is being stored on-site in over 1,000 tanks. And now, these tanks are almost full. Today on the show, host Regina G. Barber talks to NPR reporters Geoff Brumfiel and Kat Lonsdorf about the official plan for the radioactive wastewater, the science behind the release and why some are unhappy about it. What science story do you want to hear next on Short Wave? Email us at


A Tale Of Two Lunar Landing Attempts

A journey through some of the latest science stories catching our eyes. This time, we consider the Russian and Indian lunar landing attempts, how scientists are reconstructing music from people's brains and lessons from wildfires that contributed to a mass extinction of North American land mammals 13,000 years ago.


What Made Hilary Such A Weird Storm

One name has been on millions of minds — and all over the news — in the past week: Hilary. It's been decades since a storm like this has hit Southern California, so even some scientists were shocked when they heard it was coming. In today's episode, Regina Barber talks to Jill Trepanier, who studies extreme climatic events — like hurricanes and climate change — at Louisiana State University. She tells us how we use science to predict events like this, and what Hilary and future storms may or may not tell us about the changing climate. Have an interesting science story to share? Email us at


Fixing Our Failing Electric Grid... On A Budget

It's no secret that our electric grid is a flaming hot mess — and in order to reduce emissions, the U.S. needs to get a lot more renewables onto the grid. But there's a problem: Our electric grid is too old and outdated to handle this new technology. In fact, many of the copper wires on transmission lines are using technology from as far back as the early 1900s! Because of this, thousands of wind and solar projects are waiting for years to get online. The Inflation Reduction Act is incentivizing a big transition to things like electric cars, heat pumps and other devices, which means we'll need even more electricity that will further push the limits of existing infrastructure. Now more than ever, we need this new power. With this in mind, some tech companies are finding solutions to make the existing grid work better. Aaron Scott talks with NPR's climate solutions reporter Julia Simon about these solutions and how they might be a whole lot quicker — and cheaper — than you'd think.


The Key To Uncovering An Ancient Maya City? Lasers

Today we enter into the plot of a summer blockbuster adventure movie. Regina talks to NPR reporter Emily Olson about the recently uncovered ancient Maya city, Ocomtun. The large site, which researchers found using LiDAR technology, even seems to have "suburbs," flipping their expectations about how robust the Maya civilization was — and where it was. Read Emily's full story here. Have a science mystery to share? Email us at