Short Wave 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 Maddie Sofia for science on a different wavelength.
Short Wave
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Short Wave

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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 Maddie Sofia for science on a different wavelength.

Most Recent Episodes

A health officer screens arriving passengers from China at Changi International airport in Singapore on January 22, 2020 as authorities increased measures against coronavirus. Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

China's Coronavirus Is Spreading. But How?

A deadly virus believed to have originated in China was found in the US this week. NPR global health correspondent Jason Beaubien explains what we know and don't know about the disease — and the likelihood it will continue to spread.

China's Coronavirus Is Spreading. But How?

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Celestino Aguon, division chief of the Division of Aquatic & Wildlife Resources at the Guam Department of Agriculture, participates in a release of Ko'Ko' on Cocos Island in 2010. Ginger Haddock/Guam Department of Agriculture hide caption

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Ginger Haddock/Guam Department of Agriculture

The Comeback Bird: Meet the Ko'Ko'

For nearly forty years, the Guam Rail bird (locally known as the ko'ko') has been extinct in the wild — decimated by the invasive brown tree snake. But now, after a decades-long recovery effort, the ko'ko' has been successfully re-introduced. It is the second bird in history to recover from extinction in the wild. Wildlife biologist Suzanne Medina tells us the story of how the Guam Department of Agriculture brought the ko'ko' back, with a little matchmaking and a lot of patience. Follow host Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and reporter Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234 on Twitter. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

The Comeback Bird: Meet the Ko'Ko'

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Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a species of locust. Plagues of desert locusts have threatened agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia for centuries. Raj Kamal/Getty Images hide caption

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Raj Kamal/Getty Images

Can A Low-Carb Diet Prevent A Plague Of Locusts?

Swarms of locusts can destroy crops and livelihoods. Right now, countries in East Africa are dealing with the threat. At a lab in Tempe, Arizona, researchers are trying to figure out how to minimize the crop damage these voracious pests can cause. The answer, NPR's Joe Palca tells us, might be looking at what locusts like, and don't like, to eat. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Can A Low-Carb Diet Prevent A Plague Of Locusts?

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The mouse on the right has been engineered to have four times the muscle mass of a normal lab mouse. Se-Jin Lee/PLOS One hide caption

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Se-Jin Lee/PLOS One

Mighty Mice Return From Space

Some very unusual mice with big muscles are back on Earth after a month on the International Space Station. NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton shares the story of the two researchers behind the experiment. What they learn could help people with disabling bone and muscle diseases and another group with muscle problems, astronauts. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Mighty Mice Return From Space

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Parroquia Inmaculada Concepción church in Guayanilla was heavily damaged after a 6.4 earthquake hit Southern Puerto Rico on January 7. Eric Rojas/Getty Images hide caption

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Eric Rojas/Getty Images

2020 So Far: Fires, Floods, And Quakes

Already this year, natural disasters have wreaked havoc in Australia, Indonesia, and Puerto Rico. We look at some science behind the wildfires, floods, and earthquakes in those places with NPR reporters Rebecca Hersher and Jason Beaubien.

2020 So Far: Fires, Floods, And Quakes

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Computer generated illustration of the moment a bacteriophage lands onto the surface of a bacterium. NANOCLUSTERING/SCIENCE PHOTO LIB/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra hide caption

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NANOCLUSTERING/SCIENCE PHOTO LIB/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

Can A 100-Year-Old Treatment Help Save Us From Superbugs?

In 2015, Steffanie Strathdee's husband nearly died from a superbug, an antibiotic resistant bacteria he contracted in Egypt. Desperate to save him, she reached out to the scientific community for help. What she got back? A 100-year-old treatment that's considered experimental in the U.S. Strathdee, an infectious disease epidemiologist, tells us how it works, its limitations, and its potential role in our fight against superbugs. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Can A 100-Year-Old Treatment Help Save Us From Superbugs?

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Caretaker Salamao Mausse enters the now-defunct radar installation in Xai-Xai, Mozambique. Nichole Sobecki/Nichole Sobecki/VII for NPR hide caption

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Nichole Sobecki/Nichole Sobecki/VII for NPR

In Mozambique, Meteorologists Can't Keep Up With Climate Change

Accurate weather forecasting can be a matter of life or death. So countries with less money like Mozambique face a big challenge. They can't build and maintain their own weather radar or satellites. Instead, they rely on weather maps created by wealthier countries, like the U.S. NPR climate reporter Becky Hersher tells us what that means for Mozambique, a country where the weather's gotten worse as the climate changes. Reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.

In Mozambique, Meteorologists Can't Keep Up With Climate Change

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C. Brandon Ogbunu during a live presentation of his story. David DelPoio hide caption

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David DelPoio

Your Brain On Storytelling

Storytelling can be a powerful tool to convey information, even in the world of science. It can also shift stereotypes about who scientists are. We talked to someone who knows all about this - Liz Neeley, the Executive Director of Story Collider, a nonprofit focused on telling "true, personal stories about science." You can tell us your personal science stories by emailing, shortwave@npr.org. Plus, do some #scicomm with Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia.

Your Brain On Storytelling

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Dots of orbital debris are visible in this image of the Lunar Module Challenger from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, after docking maneuvers. The debris is from the Saturn S-IVB stage separation. NASA hide caption

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NASA

Space Junk: How Cluttered Is The Final Frontier?

Since the dawn of Sputnik in 1957, space-faring nations have been filling Earth's orbit with satellites. Think GPS, weather forecasting, telecommunications satellites. But as those have increased, so, too, has space junk. On today's show, we talk about the first mission to clean up space junk and the problem debris poses to sustainability in space. Follow Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. E-mail the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Space Junk: How Cluttered Is The Final Frontier?

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People in the United States say someone is "blind as a bat" to mean that person has poor vision. James Hager/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images hide caption

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James Hager/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

Myth Busting 'Blind As A Bat' And 'Memory Of A Goldfish'

Host Maddie Sofia and reporter Emily Kwong evaluate what truth there is to the popular phrases "blind as a bat" and "memory of a goldfish." Hint: The phrases probably weren't born out of peer-reviewed science. Tweet Maddie at @maddie_sofia and Emily at @emilykwong1234. Plus, encourage our editor to make this a series by sending fan mail to shortwave@npr.org.

Myth Busting 'Blind As A Bat' And 'Memory Of A Goldfish'

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