Science FridayAuthor: Science Friday and WNYC Studios
24 Feb 2018

Science Friday

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Brain fun for curious people.

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    Wild Horses, Hidden Structures Behind Structures, Florida Flamingos. Feb 23, 2018, Part 1

    The gentle curve of a beam. The particular shape of a clay brick. The sharp angles of a series of trusses. You might view these elements of buildings, bridges, and structures as part of the aesthetic and artistic design, or maybe you have overlooked them completely. But for London-based structural engineer Roma Agrawal, these visual charms play an important role not only in the beauty of a building, but in the physics that keep a structure from tumbling down. Agrawal reveals the hidden engineering and physics in the buildings and bridges around you.

    Until recently, scientists believed the only horses in the world left untouched by humans were the Przewalski subspecies, in central Asia. But now, researchers discover there are no more wild horses left anywhere on Earth.

    Do Florida's flamingos really belong there? New research argues that the colorful birds are a species native to Florida, and should be protected.

    Plus, the reason why you don't see 'goosefoot' on your Thanksgiving dinner table, and other stories in science. 


  • Posted on 23 Feb 2018

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    Biohybrid Robots, Neanderthal Art. Feb 23, 2018, Part 2

    A group of engineers are building softer, squishier robots—ones you might knowingly invite into your home to hang out. Instead of sporting bodies of rigid plastic and metal, biohybrid robots often consist of 3D-printed scaffolds laced with lab-grown muscles, sourced from the cells of mice, insects, and even sea slugs. Some "bio-bots" can even heal themselves after an injury, and get back to work. A roundup of engineers talk about the growing fleet of biohybrid robots.

    Plus, since the first fossil finds in the 19th century, many have considered Neanderthals, a “sister species” of Homo sapiens, as a primitive species. Their reputation stands as unsophisticated and brutish—and not artistic. Now, new uranium dating of art in Spanish caves turns up a number that suggests they were painted by Neanderthals. And if it’s true, what does art have to do with complex thought?


  • Posted on 23 Feb 2018

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    The Physics Of Figure Skating, Aerosols, Volatile Organic Compounds. Feb 16, 2018, Part 2

    While oohing and ahhing at the powerful leaps and nimble spins on the ice at the Olympics, you may not realize you’re watching physics in action. Each jump requires a careful balance of matching the time in air to the speed and number of rotations. 

    From spray can to ocean spray, it's time to talk about aerosols. They do play a role in climate change, but not the one you might think. 

    There's a new urban air polluter on the block. Volatile organic compounds like wall paints and cleaning agents are becoming our cities' biggest sources of air pollution. 

    Could UV light zap the flu bug? Scientists are looking into a way to kill the bug even before it has a chance to get into your system, and one type of UV light could be used to disable proteins in the flu virus


  • Posted on 16 Feb 2018

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    Distorting Reality With AI, Cryptocurrency Mining, Science Standards In Idaho Schools. Feb 16, 2018, Part 1

    One woman’s dubious dance with a cow parasite left her rubbing her eyes—and medical experts scratching their heads.

    The Idaho legislature is debating how to address human-induced climate change in revised science education standards.

    A collection of AI-assisted tools could allow the average person to create videos of anyone saying or doing anything.

    The latest hacking could be used to steal your computer’s CPU power without you knowing it.


  • Posted on 16 Feb 2018

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    Venomous Or Poisonous, Crayfish Clones, Immune System Cancer Injection. Feb 9, 2018, Part 2

    Do you know the difference between a poisonous creature and a venomous one? One distinction is that poisons are often ingested or absorbed by the skin, while venoms have to be injected through a wound. Mandë Holford tells us more about her research studying these dangerous creatures.

    25 years ago, all-female crayfish species originated from a hobbyist tank in Germany. In the wild, the crustacean developed a mutation that allowed it to pick up a third set of chromosomes and reproduce clonally. Since then, the cloning crayfish have proliferated—invading waters all around the world. What do the neurons of this clonal creature tell us about its ability to adapt to different environments?

    It's known that the immune system can fight cancer—and there have been heavy investments in the search for a drug that will boost our own body’s ability to combat cancer. Now, researchers at Stanford University may have discovered a treatment that’s not only quick, but also doesn’t send the body’s immune system into overdrive.

     

     


  • Posted on 09 Feb 2018

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