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Science Friday
Friday 1PM - 3PM

Science Friday is your trusted source for news and entertaining stories about science. It started as a radio show, created in 1991 by host and executive producer Ira Flatow. Science Friday produces award-winning digital videos and publishes original web content covering everything from octopus camouflage to cooking on Mars. SciFri is brain fun, for curious people.

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  • There’s a little bit of Neanderthal in most of us. Neanderthals and Homo sapiens had a long history of intermingling, before the former went extinct about 40,000 years ago. That mixing means most modern humans have some amount of Neanderthal DNA—and it accounts for up to 3% of the genome in some people.While these genetic remnants don’t have much impact on our day-to-day lives, they may be responsible for one surprising effect: pain tolerance. Recent research shows that people with Neanderthal variants in the gene SCN9A have a lower pain tolerance than people without the gene.This isn’t the only Neanderthal remnant that’s been passed down. A study from earlier this year pinpointed a certain genome region that impacts nose shape. Taller, wider noses were passed down from our Neanderthal ancestors who lived in colder climates. A larger nose warmed air before it hit the sensitive lungs. Ira speaks with Dr. Kaustubh Adhikari, assistant professor of statistics at the Open University in the United Kingdom, who worked on both of these studies. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.
  • Climate change is having a profound effect on agriculture. Farmers over the past decade have faced intensifying drought and heat stress on crops, leading many to wonder, what will agriculture look like 50 years from now?In May, at SciFri Live at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, Ira Flatow discussed the future of agriculture, and potential solutions to these problems, from innovative farming techniques, to ensuring that Iowa’s farmers of color have the resources they need to succeed. He was joined by Todd Western III, a sixth-generation Iowan farmer with Western Family Farms and senior donor advisor at Greater Twin Cities United Way, and Dr. Patrick Schnable, a distinguished professor at Iowa State University and co-founder of Dryland Genetics.Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.
  • These days, the 4th of July is known for its fireworks and cookouts. But the holiday commemorates the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important founding documents of the United States.The Declaration of Independence, alongside the Emancipation Proclamation, the Constitution, and countless other documents, is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Like any other museum, the National Archives doesn’t just house these items, it preserves them, protecting them from the degradation that happens over time. In March, at SciFri Live in Washington D.C., Ira spoke to two restoration experts about what goes on behind the scenes of the National Archives: Conservator Saira Haqqi and physicist Mark Ormsby. They discuss the history of papermaking in the US, changes in restoration science, and what “National Treasure” really got right.Transcript for this segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.
  • Earlier this year, the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington announced that pandas would be returning to the capitol. This news was met with great fanfare because the zoo’s resident pandas had returned to China last fall, leaving the District panda-less for the first time in more than 50 years.After the pandas left D.C. in the fall, SciFri producer Rasha Aridi and journalist Aja Drain dug into the juicy political history of panda conservation and how it shaped panda research. In this segment from December 2023, they look back at 80 years of panda conservation, and how “panda diplomacy” paved the way for groundbreaking science. And they try to answer the multi-million dollar question: Was it all worth it?Transcripts for each segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.
  • It’s officially summertime, and a new season of reading is here! Two science writers and voracious readers have compiled their summer reading recommendations, just for Science Friday fans. Before you head out for a week at the beach, start packing for that road trip, or stock up for a long staycation, we’ve got the list of science-y summer reads, straight from those familiar with the best on the shelf.Joining guest host Diana Plasker to offer listeners their recommendations are Riley Black, a Salt Lake City-based science writer and the author of several books, including The Last Days of the Dinosaurs: An Asteroid, Extinction, and the Beginning of Our World; and Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of several books, including The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Transcripts for this segment will be available after the show airs on sciencefriday.com. Subscribe to this podcast. Plus, to stay updated on all things science, sign up for Science Friday's newsletters.