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Short Wave podcast

Short Wave

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  NPR  

New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes, every weekday. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join host Emily Kwong for science on a different wavelength.

New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes, every weekday. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join host Emily Kwong for science on a different wavelength.

 

#510

A biodiesel boom (and conundrum)

There's a biodiesel boom happening! It's fueled by incentives and policies intended to cut greenhouse emissions, and is motivating some oil companies like World Energy in Paramount, California to convert their refineries to process soybean oil instead of crude. NPR's food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles explains why farmers are happy, bakers are frustrated and people who want to preserve the world's natural forests are worried. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org. ... Read more

20 Oct 2021

12 MINS

12:33

20 Oct 2021


#509

COVID-19 boosters are here

The United States is on the verge of dramatically expanding the availability of COVID-19 vaccine boosters to shore up people's immune systems. As NPR health correspondent Rob Stein reports, the Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize the boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Still, many experts argue boosters aren't needed because the vaccines are working well and it would be unethical to give people in the U.S. extra shots when most of the world is still waiting for their first. ... Read more

19 Oct 2021

11 MINS

11:09

19 Oct 2021


#508

How do we make sense of the sounds around us?

Our colleagues at All Things Considered chatted with neuroscientist Nina Kraus about her new book Of Sound Mind. She shares how our brains process and create meaning from the sounds around us. ... Read more

18 Oct 2021

09 MINS

09:05

18 Oct 2021


#507

The Mighty Mangrove

Along certain coastlines near the equator, you can find a tree with superpowers. Mangroves provide a safe haven for a whole ecosystem of animals. They also fight climate change by storing tons of carbon, thanks to a spectacular above-ground network of tangled roots. Ecologist [Alex Moore] (https://twitter.com/Dr_AlexM?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor) talks to guest host Maria Godoy about how mighty this tree is, and why it is under threat. ... Read more

15 Oct 2021

12 MINS

12:13

15 Oct 2021


#506

The mystery of the mummified Twinkie

A box of Twinkies, left alone for eight years, held some surprises for Colin Purrington. Upon having a sugar craving, combined with being "just so bored, with the pandemic," Purrington opened the box a few weeks ago. Like many people, Purrington believed Twinkies are basically immortal, although the official shelf life is [45 days] (https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/07/09/200465360/the-science-of-twinkies-how-do-they-last-so-long#:~:text=The%20Science%20Of%20Twinkies%3A%20How,Long%3F%20%3A%20The%20Salt%20%3A%20NPR&text=Live%20Sessions-,The%20Science%20Of%20Twinkies%3A%20How%20Do%20They%20Last%20So%20Darned,used%20to%20be%3A%2045%20days.) . NPR's [Nell Greenfieldboyce] (https://www.npr.org/people/4494969/nell-greenfieldboyce) talked to Purrington and explains how two scientists got involved and started unraveling the mystery of the mummified Twinkie. (Encore episode) ... Read more

14 Oct 2021

12 MINS

12:40

14 Oct 2021


#505

White scholars can complicate research into health disparities

The COVID-19 has exposed longstanding and massive health disparities in the U.S., resulting in people of color dying at disproportionately higher rates than other races in this country. Today on the show, guest host Maria Godoy talks with Usha Lee McFarling about her reporting — how new funding and interest has led to increased attention to the topic of disparities in health care and health outcomes, but also left out or pushed aside some researchers in the field — many of them researchers of color. You can follow Maria on Twitter [@MGodoyH] (https://twitter.com/mgodoyh?s=20) . Email [ShortWave@NPR.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

13 Oct 2021

13 MINS

13:17

13 Oct 2021


#504

Cockroaches are cool!

Cockroaches - do they get a bad rap? Producer Thomas Lu teams up with self-proclaimed lesbian cockroach defender [Perry Beasley-Hall] (https://twitter.com/pbeasleyhall?lang=en) to convince producer/guest host Rebecca Ramirez that indeed they are under-rated. These critters could number up to 10,000 species, but only about 30 are pesky to humans and some are beautiful! And complicated! And maybe even clean. What insect do you think gets a bad rap? Write us at [ShortWave@NPR.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . You can follow Thomas on Twitter [@ThomasUyLu] (https://twitter.com/thomasuylu) and Rebecca [@RebeccalRamirez] (https://twitter.com/rebeccalramirez?s=20) . ... Read more

12 Oct 2021

12 MINS

12:44

12 Oct 2021


#503

Bonobos and the Evolution of Nice

How did humans evolve some key cooperative behaviors like sharing? NPR Science Correspondent Jon Hamilton reports back from a bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where scientists are trying to answer that very question. (Encore episode) If you have something nice to say - email the show at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) ! ... Read more

08 Oct 2021

13 MINS

13:05

08 Oct 2021


#502

Why Music Sticks in Our Brains

Why do some songs can stick with us for a long time, even when other memories start to fade? Science reporter (and former Short Wave intern) [Rasha Aridi] (https://twitter.com/RashaAridi) explains the neuroscience behind that surprising moment of, "Wow, how do I still remember that song?!" Email the show at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

07 Oct 2021

13 MINS

13:24

07 Oct 2021


#501

Here's a better way to talk about hair

Humans have scalp hair. But why is human scalp hair so varied? Biological anthropologist [Tina Lasisi] (https://www.tinalasisi.com/) wanted to find out. And while completing her PhD at Penn State University, she developed a better system for describing hair — rooted in actual science. To hear more from Tina, check out these webinars: Why Care About Hair ( [https://bit.ly/3liJZ96] (https://bit.ly/3liJZ96) ) and How Hair Reveals the Futility of Race Categories ( [https://s.si.edu/3Dik6g8] (https://naturalhistory.si.edu/education/teaching-resources/social-studies/webinar-how-hair-reveals-futility-race-categories) ). And to dive deep into Tina's research, we recommend her paper, The constraints of racialization: How classification and valuation hinder scientific research on human variation ( [https://bit.ly/3DfDrOS] (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ajpa.24264?casa_token=QTgMkbxA1FQAAAAA:jWhEYlXfZuzDAVlfVsUtJwbX1B0JnlPqV0aFv9MPOAJiU51HmrnFZKhEMVmAs_KTbiHrlUgHR_CAIQ) ) ... Read more

06 Oct 2021

15 MINS

15:38

06 Oct 2021


#500

How foraging reconnected Alexis Nikole Nelson with food and her culture

Our colleagues at the TED Radio Hour introduce us to forager and TikTok influencer Alexis Nikole Nelson. She shares how the great outdoors has offered her both an endless array of food options and an outlet to reconnect with her food and her culture. Listen to the full TED Radio Hour episode, The Food Connection, [here] (https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/1033865683/the-food-connection) . Follow [TED Radio Hour] (https://twitter.com/TEDRadioHour) and host [Manoush Zomorodi] (https://twitter.com/manoushz) on Twitter. ... Read more

05 Oct 2021

13 MINS

13:36

05 Oct 2021


#499

The Toll Of Burnout On Medical Workers — And Their Patients

Burnout has long been a problem among health care workers. The pandemic has only made it worse. Some were hopeful COVID vaccines would provide some relief, but that hasn't been the case. Now, health care workers are leaving the industry — and they're taking their expertise with them. Plenty of surveys say that burnout hurts patient care. NPR correspondent [Yuki Noguchi] (https://www.npr.org/people/96022165/yuki-noguchi) spoke to medical workers who agree, the burnout they see on the job means that sometimes patients are not getting what they need. [Listen] (https://www.npr.org/2021/04/29/992155573/burnout-the-crisis-plaguing-health-care-workers) to our conversation with Dr. Arghavan Salles about burnout: [https://n.pr/3CYimbq] (https://n.pr/3CYimbq) Reach the show by emailing [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

04 Oct 2021

12 MINS

12:47

04 Oct 2021


#498

SURPRISE! It's A...Babbling Baby Bat?

A paper [published recently] (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/373/6557/923) in the journal Science finds similarities between the babbling of human infants and the babbling of the [greater sac-winged bat ] (https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Saccopteryx_bilineata/) (Saccopteryx bilineata) — a small species of bat that lives in Central and South America. As science correspondent [Geoff Brumfiel] (https://www.npr.org/people/279612138/geoff-brumfiel) reports, the researchers believe both bats and humans evolved babbling as a precursor to more complex vocal behavior like singing, or, in the case of people, talking.Wondering what similarities humans have to other animals? Email the human animals at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . We might dig up some answers. ... Read more

01 Oct 2021

08 MINS

08:19

01 Oct 2021


#497

Goodbye, Climate Jargon. Hello, Simplicity!

People are likely to be confused by common climate change terms like "mitigation" and "carbon neutral," according to a recent study. So how can everyone do a better job talking about climate change so that no one's left confused? NPR climate correspondent [Rebecca Hersher] (https://www.npr.org/people/384067907/rebecca-hersher) tells us the key turns out to be pretty simple. [Read more] (https://www.npr.org/2021/09/08/1033362163/enough-with-the-climate-jargon-scientists-aim-for-clearer-messages-on-global-war) of Rebecca's reporting on climate jargon: [https://n.pr/2XdfYOC] (https://www.npr.org/2021/09/08/1033362163/enough-with-the-climate-jargon-scientists-aim-for-clearer-messages-on-global-war) [Read] (https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s10584-021-03183-0?sharing_token=BjiYaOYTk1LQCEBJljE8wve4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY6P53CJY43T-w-_jBBFxNif-xumfesTbuTZxqSw7p0Uwws7HXQFIz9N4arWkWZcrqE80CVYHsVYlyjrpICyLXsF3Wco-Y3S0PIIGr2CJ6TnLrJdh3MAaAqWep0r0o4qMnI%3D) the study: [https://bit.ly/3Adj8QT] (https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s10584-021-03183-0?sharing_token=BjiYaOYTk1LQCEBJljE8wve4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY6P53CJY43T-w-_jBBFxNif-xumfesTbuTZxqSw7p0Uwws7HXQFIz9N4arWkWZcrqE80CVYHsVYlyjrpICyLXsF3Wco-Y3S0PIIGr2CJ6TnLrJdh3MAaAqWep0r0o4qMnI%3D) You can always reach the show by emailing [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) — but please, hold the jargon. ... Read more

30 Sep 2021

10 MINS

10:11

30 Sep 2021


#496

How To Help Someone At Risk Of Suicide

Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, according to the most current data. But research shows that suicide is preventable. Host Emily Kwong talks with NPR health correspondent Rhitu Chatterjee about the signs that someone you know may be thinking about dying, the ways you can support them, and how to possibly prevent suicide. (Encore episode.) ... Read more

29 Sep 2021

14 MINS

14:54

29 Sep 2021


#495

Scientists Are Racing To Save Sequoias

Based on early estimates, as many as 10,600 large sequoias were killed in last year's Castle Fire — up to 14% of the entire population. The world's largest trees are one of the most fire-adapted to wildfires on the planet. But climate change is making these fires more extreme than sequoias can handle. It's also worsening drought that is killing other conifer trees that then become a tinder box surrounding the sequoias, reports climate correspondent Lauren Sommer. Scientists warn that giant sequoias are running out of time and they're racing to save them. [Read more] (https://www.npr.org/2021/09/17/1037914390/giant-sequoia-national-park-wildfire-climate-change) of Lauren's reporting on sequoias: [https://n.pr/39IX84M] (https://n.pr/39IX84M) ... Read more

28 Sep 2021

11 MINS

11:15

28 Sep 2021


#494

A Science Reporter And A 'Mild' Case Of Breakthrough COVID

Will Stone is a science reporter for NPR. He's been reporting about the pandemic for a while now, so he knows the risks of a breakthrough infection, is vaccinated, and follows COVID guidelines as they change. Nonetheless, he got COVID - and today on the show, Will shares what he learned about his breakthrough infection, and what he wish he'd known before his "mild" case.For more of Will's reporting, check out " [I Got A 'Mild' Breakthrough Case. Here's What I Wish I'd Known] (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/12/1036356773/i-got-a-mild-breakthrough-case-heres-what-i-wish-id-known) "(https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/12/1036356773/i-got-a-mild-breakthrough-case-heres-what-i-wish-id-known)You can follow Will on Twitter [@WStoneReports] (https://twitter.com/WStoneReports?s=20) and Rhitu [@RhituC] (https://twitter.com/RhituC?s=20) . Email Short Wave at [ShortWave@NPR.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

27 Sep 2021

11 MINS

11:47

27 Sep 2021


#493

After Years Of Delays, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope To Launch In December

In December, NASA is scheduled to launch the huge $10 billion [James Webb Space Telescope] (https://www.jwst.nasa.gov/) , which is sometimes billed as the successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. NPR correspondents Rhitu Chatterjee and Nell Greenfieldboyce talk about this powerful new instrument and why building it took two decades. For more of Nell's reporting on the telescope, check out " [NASA Is Launching A New Telescope That Could Offer Some Cosmic Eye Candy] (https://www.npr.org/2021/09/16/1036600340/nasa-is-launching-a-new-telescope-that-could-offer-some-cosmic-eye-candy) ." (https://www.npr.org/2021/09/16/1036600340/nasa-is-launching-a-new-telescope-that-could-offer-some-cosmic-eye-candy)You can follow Rhitu on Twitter [@RhituC] (https://twitter.com/RhituC?s=20) and Nell [@Nell_Sci_NPR] (https://twitter.com/nell_sci_NPR?s=20) . Email Short Wave at [ShortWave@NPR.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

24 Sep 2021

14 MINS

14:09

24 Sep 2021


#492

The Surf's Always Up — In Waco, Texas

Some of the world's best artificial waves are happening hundreds of miles from the ocean—in Waco, Texas. They're so good, they're attracting top professionals, casual riders and a science correspondent named [Jon Hamilton.] (https://www.npr.org/people/2100615/jon-hamilton) Jon's been following the wave technology for years and says the progress is huge. These days, pro surfers are coming from all over to try out Waco's "Freak Peak."Read more of Jon's reporting on artificial waves: [https://n.pr/3zAX95k] (https://n.pr/3zAX95k) Wondering what insights science has to offer for other sports? Drop us a line at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

23 Sep 2021

11 MINS

11:35

23 Sep 2021


#491

Mapping The Birds Of Bougainville Island

In the early 1900s, the Whitney South Sea expedition gathered 40,000 bird specimens for the American Museum of Natural History. The collection is an irreplaceable snapshot of avian diversity in the South Pacific, but is missing key geographic data. To solve this mystery, student researchers dug into field journals to determine where birds from one island came from. ... Read more

22 Sep 2021

12 MINS

12:08

22 Sep 2021


#490

How Long Does COVID Immunity Last Anyway?

With booster shots on the horizon for some people, one of the biggest questions is: Am I still protected against COVID-19 if I've only had two doses of the vaccine? As science correspondent [Michaeleen Doucleff] (https://www.npr.org/people/348778932/michaeleen-doucleff) reports, the answer is...complicated. [Read more ] (https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/09/07/1033677208/new-studies-find-evidence-of-superhuman-immunity-to-covid-19-in-some-individuals) of Michaeleen's reporting on COVID immunity: [https://n.pr/2XIQ6KX] (https://n.pr/2XIQ6KX) Reach the show by emailing [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

21 Sep 2021

12 MINS

12:36

21 Sep 2021


#489

Afraid of Needles? You're Not Alone

Many people are afraid of needles in some capacity — about 1 in 10 experience a "high level" of needle fear, says clinical psychologist [Meghan McMurtry] (https://www.uoguelph.ca/psychology/users/c-meghan-mcmurtry) . But that fear is often underrecognized or misunderstood. That's why today's show is all about needle fear: what it is, tools to cope, and why it's important to address beyond the pandemic.Some strategies Meghan suggests to help cope with the fear of needles:- the CARD System for adults: [bit.ly/3nHIKlw] (http://bit.ly/3nHIKlw) - muscle tension technique: [bit.ly/3CBki9Z] (https://bit.ly/3CBki9Z) Listen to [Tom's reporting] (https://truestoriesinsound.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/needle-phobia/) on needle fear: [https://truestoriesinsound.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/needle-phobia/] (https://truestoriesinsound.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/needle-phobia/) Reach the show by emailing [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

20 Sep 2021

14 MINS

14:00

20 Sep 2021


#488

A Great Outdoors For Everyone

Fatima's Great Outdoors, a new children's book, centers on a girl named Fatima, who's struggling to adjust to her new life in the U.S. But on her very first camping trip with her family, Fatima unexpectedly discovers courage and joy in the outdoors. Today on the show, Emily talks to Ambreen Tariq about her new book and her social media initiative, BrownPeopleCamping. For Tariq, both efforts are a part of a common vision — to increase diversity in the outdoors and challenge definitions of what it means to belong in nature. This conversation is part of NPR's collaboration with the [Library of Congress National Book Festival] (https://www.loc.gov/events/2021-national-book-festival/) . You can email us at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

17 Sep 2021

13 MINS

13:50

17 Sep 2021


#487

A Lotl Love For The Axolotl

It is found in only one lake in the world, never grows up, and occasionally takes bites of its friends: who could we be talking about? The axolotl of course! With some help from [Dr. Luis Zambrano] (http://www.ib.unam.mx/directorio/194) , producer Berly McCoy tells us all about this remarkable creature and the ongoing efforts to protect axolotls from extinction. ... Read more

16 Sep 2021

12 MINS

12:15

16 Sep 2021


#486

Climate Change Means More Subway Floods; How Cities Are Adapting

Millions of people rely on subways for transportation. But as the world warms, climate-driven flooding in subways is becoming more and more common. NPR correspondents Lauren Sommer and Rebecca Hersher talk about how cities across the world are adapting. For more of Rebecca's reporting on climate-driven flooding, check out " [NYC's Subway Flooding Isn't A Fluke. It's The Reality For Cities In A Warming World] (https://www.npr.org/2021/09/02/1021185475/climate-change-means-more-subway-flooding-worldwide-like-new-york-just-experienc) ."(https://www.npr.org/2021/09/02/1021185475/climate-change-means-more-subway-flooding-worldwide-like-new-york-just-experienc)You can follow Lauren on Twitter [@lesommer] (https://twitter.com/lesommer?s=20) and Rebecca [@rhersher] (https://twitter.com/rhersher?s=20) . Email Short Wave at [ShortWave@NPR.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

15 Sep 2021

10 MINS

10:07

15 Sep 2021


#485

Breakthrough Infections, Long COVID And You

In rare cases, the delta variant of the coronavirus is causing vaccinated people to get sick — so-called "breakthrough infections." Now researchers are asking: Could these infections lead to long COVID, when symptoms last weeks and months? Today, science correspondent Rob Stein makes sense of the latest data, explaining what we know so far about long COVID in vaccinated people.Read more of Rob's reporting here: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/13/1032844687/what-we-know-about-breakthrough-infections-and-long-covid ... Read more

14 Sep 2021

10 MINS

10:27

14 Sep 2021


#484

The Pervasiveness Of Transgender Health Care Discrimination

A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that nearly half of transgender people have experienced mistreatment at the hands of a medical provider. NBC OUT reporter Jo Yurcaba explains the long-term impacts of this discrimination, plus a few potential solutions. • ["Nearly half of trans people have been mistreated by medical providers, report finds," NBC OUT] (https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-health-and-wellness/nearly-half-trans-people-mistreated-medical-providers-report-finds-rcna1695) • ["Protecting and Advancing Health Care for Transgender Adult Communities," Center for American Progress ] (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbtq-rights/reports/2021/08/18/502181/protecting-advancing-health-care-transgender-adult-communities/) Follow Brit ( [@bnhanson] (https://twitter.com/bnhanson) ) and Jo ( [@joyurcaba] (https://twitter.com/JoYurcaba) ) on Twitter, and email the show at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

13 Sep 2021

13 MINS

13:15

13 Sep 2021


#483

9/11 First Responders Have Higher Cancer Risks But Better Survival Rates

Twenty years later, first responders during the 9/11 attacks have an increased risk of getting some kinds of cancer. But, research shows that they're also more likely to survive. Host Emily Kwong talks to NPR correspondent Allison Aubrey about why. Read more about Allison's reporting [here] (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/09/06/1034556283/a-study-says-9-11-first-responders-survive-cancers-at-higher-rates-why) . You can follow Emily on Twitter [@EmilyKwong1234] (https://twitter.com/emilykwong1234?s=20) and Allison [@AubreyNPR] (https://twitter.com/AubreyNPR?s=20) . Email Short Wave at [ShortWave@NPR.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

10 Sep 2021

09 MINS

09:01

10 Sep 2021


#482

For Successful Wildfire Prevention, Look To The Southeast

Another destructive fire season has Western states searching for ways to prevent it. As climate correspondent Lauren Sommer reports, some answers might lie in the Southeastern U.S. The region leads the country in setting controlled fires — burns to clear vegetation that becomes the fuel for extreme fires. [Read more] (https://www.npr.org/2021/08/31/1029821831/to-stop-extreme-wildfires-california-is-learning-from-florida) of Lauren's reporting on wildfire prevention.( [https://www.npr.org/2021/08/31/1029821831/to-stop-extreme-wildfires-california-is-learning-from-florida] (https://www.npr.org/2021/08/31/1029821831/to-stop-extreme-wildfires-california-is-learning-from-florida) )And check out our previous episode on cultural burns [here] (https://www.npr.org/2021/07/21/1018886770/managing-wildfire-through-cultural-burns) . ( [https://www.npr.org/2021/07/21/1018886770/managing-wildfire-through-cultural-burns] (https://www.npr.org/2021/07/21/1018886770/managing-wildfire-through-cultural-burns) )Email the show at [shortwave@npr.org] (mailto:shortwave@npr.org) . ... Read more

09 Sep 2021

10 MINS

10:56

09 Sep 2021


#481

Fewer COVID Vaccine Doses Materialized Last Fall Than The U.S. Government Hoped

Manufacturers can expect to face unforeseen hurdles when they begin to mass-produce a brand new pharmaceutical product, and in a pandemic, there are bound to be supply chain problems as well. But in late 2020, Pfizer was delivering fewer doses than the government expected and then-federal officials told NPR they did not know why. ... Read more

08 Sep 2021

12 MINS

12:55

08 Sep 2021