Science Friday

Fridays from 2pm to 4pm
  • Hosted by Ira Flatow

Science Friday is a weekly science talk show, broadcast live over public radio stations nationwide. Each week is focused on science topics that are in the news. The show is dedicated to bringing an educated, balanced discussion to bear on the scientific issues at hand. Call 1-800-989-8255 to join the conversation.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/voteprime/6453261303">Adam Gerard</a>/<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/voteprime/6453261303">CC BY NC-SA 2.0</a>

CAPTCHAs — think those little forms with jumbles of letters and numbers — have long been the Web’s gatekeepers between humans and robots. Short for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart,” the tests are meant to be too complex for computers to solve.

Two arachnid experts share their four favorite spider facts

Nov 13, 2017
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jean_hort/6049139123/">Jean and Fred</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

If you’re afraid of spiders, join the club: Catherine Scott and Eleanor Spicer Rice have been right there with you.

“I used to be terrified of spiders until I was about 25 years old and started studying them,” Scott says. These days, she’s an arachnologist and Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto. Rice, for her part, is now an entomologist with a book, “Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Spiders,” due out this winter. 

So, what changed?

What can fly, swim and dive? This tiny robotic insect.

Nov 12, 2017

Imagine going to the beach and catching sight of a bee buzzing past you, then watching as it dives into the water, swims below the surface and shoots back into the air a few seconds later.

Along The Kelp Highway

Nov 11, 2017

The Secret Life Of Tiny Bees

Nov 11, 2017

After wildfires, health risks linger

Nov 11, 2017
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/n28307/35524037680/">Glenn Beltz</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

People returning to their homes in northern California after fleeing the region’s devastating wildfires are facing another hazard: the cleanup process.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/41294655@N00/8590559279/">Bradley Weber</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

You may know Leonardo da Vinci best for masterpieces like the “Mona Lisa” or his oft-reproduced “Vitruvian Man” drawing, but the famous artist’s interests didn’t end with art. A true Renaissance man, da Vinci studied engineering, science and just about anything that caught his eye — filling more than 7,000 notebook pages with lists and observations over the course of his life. “Leonardo was curious to know everything there was to know about everything you could know about creation, including how we fit into it,” says biographer Walter Isaacson.

In a long-ago neutron star collision, scientists find a cosmic goldmine

Nov 6, 2017

Around 130 million years ago, two neutron stars — those strange, compacted cores of dead stars — smashed into one another. The resulting “kilonova” explosion sent ripples through space-time and hurtled heavy metals like platinum and gold into space. Now, astronomers have detected the signals from that long-ago collision, in the form of gravitational waves and electromagnetic signals. 

The Trump administration wants to put Americans back on the moon

Nov 5, 2017
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/emmett_ns_tullos/179781786/">Emmett Tullos</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

The United States’ newly revived National Space Council recently met for the first time, and in a speech before the council — tasked with setting the country’s space agenda — Vice President Mike Pence called for a return to the moon and the development of a base there.

When Science Takes The Freelance Route

Nov 4, 2017

Does Math Have A Place In The Courtroom?

Nov 4, 2017

Killer Cone Snails…For Your Health?

Nov 4, 2017

A Space Rock Makes An Interstellar Visit

Nov 4, 2017
Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

It’s been more than 50 years since Dr. Jane Goodall first traveled to Gombe, Tanzania, as an amateur scientist and began amassing observations that would change the way we understand chimpanzees and even humans. Now a new documentary, “JANE,” reconstructs Goodall’s time in the Gombe forest, drawing on a trove of recently discovered archival footage.

The science behind 'baby talk'

Oct 29, 2017
<a href="https://pixabay.com/en/baby-child-newborn-arms-499976/">jakobking85</a>/<a href="https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage">CC0</a>. Image cropped.

We’ve all heard adults cooing to babies in “baby talk” — that high-pitched, singsong cadence we tend to slip into around infants. The overall effect of baby talk may sound unnatural, but as Princeton neuroscientist Elise Piazza explains, the exaggerated high pitch, repetition, rhythm and even the pauses in baby talk can give babies important acoustical information about how language works.

Up to about 100,000 years ago, our human ancestors coexisted with Neanderthals in Europe and interbred with them for thousands of years. The Neanderthals eventually went extinct, but many of us still carry around fragments of Neanderthal DNA.

“Everybody whose genetic roots are outside Africa [is] partly descended from Neanderthals,” says Svante Paabo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. “So there are billions of people, in the order of six, seven billion people, who actually carry parts of the genome of Neanderthals today.”

The Future, Coming ‘Soonish’

Oct 28, 2017

Is It Time For CRISPR 2.0?

Oct 28, 2017

In Defense Of Spiders

Oct 28, 2017

The Health Risks That Follow A Wildfire

Oct 26, 2017

Pages