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.

How much do you know about the science that goes into making bourbon? One would think the citizens of Kentucky — the epicenter of the corn-based whiskey — would know more than the average Joe on the topic.

At a taping of PRI’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow earlier this year at the Brown Theatre in Louisville, two teams composed of local bourbon enthusiasts tried their luck at a few questions connected to the popular hard liquor. The teams’ names reflected two the most popular bourbon-based concoctions: Hot Toddy and Old Fashioned.

Get out and get some fresh air. This phrase has been uttered for decades in an attempt to promote the exercise of walking, which has always been thought to have health benefits for nearly everyone's cardiovascular system.

Scientists warn we may be creating a 'digital dark age'

Jan 1, 2018

You may think that those photos on Facebook or all your tweets may last forever, or might even come back to haunt you, depending on what you have out there. But, in reality, much of our digital information is at risk of disappearing in the future.

Unlike in previous decades, no physical record exists these days for much of the digital material we own. Your old CDs, for example, will not last more than a couple of decades. This worries archivists and archaeologists and presents a knotty technological challenge.

These days it is hard not hear about the latest massive wildfires that have ravaged Southern California. The Thomas fire, in particular, has now become the largest of its kind in the state’s history after destroying more than 280,000 acres and thousands of homes and buildings.

While a warming climate and the record drought that the state suffered from 2012 to 2015 certainly appear to be major culprits for the rash of monstrous blazes, the human/urban component may shoulder the biggest blame, according to new research.

Many of us have our cellphones within an arm’s reach at all times. It’s either in a pocket or a purse or maybe just a few inches from our face on a daily basis. Given how tethered we are to these devices, scientists have been studying any possible health maladies that could result from cellphone exposure — radiation amounts, in particular.

Today, as the Trump administration continues to bolster the fossil fuel industry — loosening regulations and giving large tax breaks to fossil fuel companies — environmentalist Bill McKibben says that it would be wise to follow the dollar to see where the future of energy is headed, globally. 

“Right now, of course, politics is making it difficult to deal with climate change in DC, but it's not stopping cold all the work that's going on,” says McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.

Even when it's not the holiday season, outdoor lighting is on the rise

Dec 27, 2017

Lighting displays are popular and fun during the holiday season, but it seems that outdoor lighting is now big all year round — and everybody wants the new, energy-efficient LEDs. But it turns out these new lights may have a dark side.

Louisiana’s coast is disappearing for a few reasons: the natural sinking of the land, saltwater intrusion and sea level rise. Now there’s another threat: a little tiny bug from the other side of the ocean. It’s killing plants and destroying marshes at the mouth of the river, worrying the state and the shipping industry.

The best science books of 2017

Dec 24, 2017

It’s that magical time of year, when Science Friday rounds up the best science books to hit shelves in 2017.

Maria Popova, the founder and editor of Brain Pickings, and Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, joined host Ira Flatow to share a few of their favorites. For their full list of picks, check out Science Friday's website.

The year's best science books for kids have something for everyone

Dec 23, 2017

Finding the perfect science book for an inquisitive kid isn’t always easy. Luckily, Science Friday education program assistant Xochitl Garcia has done the legwork: She’s curated a list of 10 scientifically accurate, gorgeously illustrated and engaging books for kids ages 0 to 11. The list also includes activities you can do together after reading the books.

Steering Toward Greener Transportation

Dec 18, 2017

How Can Math Make Your Holidays Merrier?

Dec 18, 2017

The High Energy Cost Of Bitcoin’s Rise

Dec 18, 2017

Preventing A ‘Digital Dark Age’

Dec 18, 2017

May Your Days Be Merry, But Less Bright

Dec 18, 2017

May Your Days Be Merry, But Less Bright

Dec 17, 2017

How Can Math Make Your Holidays Merrier?

Dec 17, 2017

Steering Toward Greener Transportation

Dec 17, 2017

The High Energy Cost Of Bitcoin’s Rise

Dec 17, 2017

Preventing A ‘Digital Dark Age’

Dec 17, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

The heartbeats of most species, when frightened or stressed, tend to quicken. That is not so, however, for narwhals. When the marine mammals encounter stress, their heartbeats tend to, yes, lower — in spite of the fact that the creatures already have a staggeringly slow heartbeat of 10 beats per minute when in the act of diving down into icy waters to conserve oxygen and hold their breath for extended periods of time.

In DNA testing, ‘Yeti’ samples come up bears, bears, bears

Dec 16, 2017
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/valcker/14053511789/">Valcker</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

Legend has it that a reclusive, ape-like creature roams the remote, snowy landscape of the Himalayas: the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman. But in a setback for Yeti hunters, scientists recently revealed that nine rumored Yeti samples from the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau region were — not quite.

Steering Toward Greener Transportation

Dec 16, 2017

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