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

Lionfish are native to the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, but they've taken hold in the Atlantic and Caribbean, without many natural predators to keep them in check. Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images hide caption

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Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Invasive Species: We Asked, You Answered

We couldn't stop at the spotted lanternfly! (We covered that invasive species in an earlier episode.) We wanted to hear about the invasives where you live. You wrote us about cane toads in Australia, zebra mussels in Nevada; borers, beetles, adelgids, stinkbugs, and so many more. From your emails, we picked three invaders to talk about with NPR science correspondent Dan Charles. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Invasive Species: We Asked, You Answered

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Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe first encountered Ebola in 1976, before it had been identified. Since then, from his post at the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research, he has led the global search for a cure. Samantha Reinders/Samantha Reinders for NPR hide caption

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Samantha Reinders/Samantha Reinders for NPR

The Congolese Doctor Who Discovered Ebola

Jean-Jacques Muyembe is a Congolese doctor heading up the response to the current Ebola outbreak in Congo. Back in 1976, he was the first doctor to collect a sample of the virus. But his crucial role in discovering Ebola is often overlooked. NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta helps us correct the record. Follow Eyder on Twitter — he's @eyderp and Maddie's @maddie_sofia. You can always reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.

The Congolese Doctor Who Discovered Ebola

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Aluminum ingots sit stacked in a warehouse at the Port of New Orleans last year. Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

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Bloomberg via Getty Images

Aluminum's Strange Journey From Precious Metal To Beer Can

We've been celebrating 150 years of the Periodic Table. This episode, the rise of aluminum! The element is incredibly common, but was once hard to extract. That made it more valuable than gold in the 19th century. NPR's Scott Neuman gives us a short history of aluminum. Or is it aluminium? (We'll also give you the backstory behind the confusion.) Follow Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Aluminum's Strange Journey From Precious Metal To Beer Can

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The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun on Aug. 12, 2018 from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Bill Ingalls/NASA hide caption

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Bill Ingalls/NASA

Getting Closer To The Sun Than Ever Before

An ambitious mission to get a spacecraft close to the sun has revealed a strange region of space filled with rapidly flipping magnetic fields and rogue plasma waves. Science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce explains how the Parker Solar Probe may help answer one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the sun. Follow Emily Kwong on Twitter @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Getting Closer To The Sun Than Ever Before

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Researchers gave a kazoo to six orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo, including a 40-year-old female named Kobi, for an experiment to test their vocal abilities. Ian Nichols/Indianapolis Zoo hide caption

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Ian Nichols/Indianapolis Zoo

If You Give An Orangutan A Kazoo...

If you give an orangutan a kazoo, will it produce a sound? Researchers discovered that this simple instrument could offer insights into the vocal abilities of orangutans — and the evolution of human speech. Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong talks with primatologist Adriano Lameira about a growing body of evidence that humans may not be the only great apes with voice control. Follow Maddie Sofia @maddie_sofia and Emily Kwong @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

If You Give An Orangutan A Kazoo...

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CBD can be extracted from marijuana or from another strain of the cannabis plant, hemp. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

Is CBD Safe? The FDA Can't Say

Use of CBD — cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component in cannabis — has exploded in the last few years. But while it's marketed as a solution for stress, anxiety, insomnia, and pain, the Food and Drug Administration can't say it's safe. NPR health correspondent Allison Aubrey helps parse the science behind a new set of government warnings about CBD. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Is CBD Safe? The FDA Can't Say

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Transmission electron micrograph of AIDS, HIV-1 Callista Images/Getty Images hide caption

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Callista Images/Getty Images

The Evolution Of HIV Treatment

A lot has changed since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981. Globally, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by more than 55% since 2004, the deadliest year on record. But, the road to effective treatment for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was long. Maggie Hoffman-Terry, a physician and researcher who's been on the front lines of the epidemic for decades, explains how treatment has evolved, its early drawbacks, and the issue of access to medications. Follow Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

The Evolution Of HIV Treatment

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A photo from the Hubble Space Telescope of the comet 2I/Borisov at a distance of 260 million miles from Earth. NASA, ESA and D. Jewitt (UCLA) hide caption

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NASA, ESA and D. Jewitt (UCLA)

An Interstellar Wanderer Is Coming Our Way

Comet 2I/Borisov will reach its closest approach to the sun on December 8, 2019. We talk to planetary astronomer Michele Bannister about where the heck this comet came from, and what it tells us about our galaxy. Follow Maddie on Twitter — she's @maddie_sofia. And email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

An Interstellar Wanderer Is Coming Our Way

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Eye contact may trigger release of the brain hormone oxytocin in both humans and dogs. Photos by R A Kearton/Getty Images hide caption

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Photos by R A Kearton/Getty Images

Does Your Dog REALLY Love You?

Clive Wynne, founding director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, draws on studies from his lab and others around the world to explain what biology, neuroscience, and genetics reveal about dogs and love. His new book is called Dog Is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

Does Your Dog REALLY Love You?

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Your olfactory system is actually more sensitive in colder weather. Pauline Pilon/Getty Images hide caption

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Pauline Pilon/Getty Images

The Science Of Smell And Memory

Why can a smell trigger such a powerful memory? Biological anthropologist Kara Hoover explains what's going on in the brain when we smell, how smell interacts with taste, and why our sense of smell is heightened in the winter. Follow host Maddie Sofia on Twitter @maddie_sofia. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

The Science Of Smell And Memory

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