The Sound of Science

The Sound of Science - "Pee in the Pool"

Jul 27, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

(K) Today we’re going to tackle a question that we all try not to think about, but one that surely crosses everyone’s mind during the summer. Is there pee in the pool?

(P) Not what I want to talk about, but what about that chemical in pool water that changes color if someone pees in it?

(K) That is one persistent urban myth! There is no color changing chemical that indicates that someone peed in the pool.

(P) So, if that isn’t a real indicator, how do we know?

The Sound of Science - "Fireflies"

Jul 20, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

(P) We’re answering listener questions this month and today we have a great summer question. “How do fireflies light up?” Living in the Midwest, one of my favorite signs of summertime is seeing fireflies winking across the fields. How can fireflies light themselves up on command?

The Sound of Science - "Wavy View"

Jul 13, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

(K) We’re answering listener questions this month and today we have another summer question. Andy asks, “Why do things look wavy when looking at them across the roadway in the summer?”

(P) Great question, Andy. There’s a lot of science in the answer. First, you likely know from experience that the air you are looking through when things look wavy is hotter than the air around it. That’s usually from heat radiating off a dark surface like the road or the hood of your car. Let’s talk about what that does to light speed.

The Sound of Science - "The Color of the Sea"

Jul 6, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

We’re answering listener questions this month and today we have another question on color. Neeha’s question is, “Why does the sea look blue?"

Well, Neeha, the short answer would be because water is blue. 

Wait a minute, my bottle of water is clear, not blue. What’s going on?

Water is a very faint blue so it appears clear in your bottle. The deeper the water, the deeper the blue.

But not all lakes and oceans are the same color. Why not?

We're pretty comfortable with vision and glasses. We have our eyes checked regularly, and when our sight becomes blurry we put on glasses to bring the view back into focus. But do we get our ears checked regularly? And if our hearing becomes “blurry” do we put on hearing devices to help us hear? Why can't hearing aids “fix” hearing loss as simply as glasses can “fix” vision? 

You're listening to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

If you ever listen to music, chances are you can hear right away if an instrument isn’t quite in tune with the rest of the group.  But very few people could accurately tune an instrument just by ear.  There are people who possess what musicians call “perfect pitch,” but most players today rely on digital tuners.  But how did musicians tune their instruments before there were electronic tuners?

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. Our program is not always about the physics of acoustics in music. Sound has a vast effect on science and society alike.  

Have you ever seen a commercial for a restaurant where they have close-ups of juicy steaming delectable foods and your mouth starts to water?  Or you think, I can have a burger for an early dinner? Commercials and ads employ a psychological tactic called classical conditioning.

The Sound of Science - "Hemholtz Resonators"

Jun 22, 2018

With me today I have a Hemholtz resonator. This is an incredibly complex instrument, so I’ll do my best to describe it. It’s a glass bottle with a long neck, and I got 6 for about 10 bucks. Okay, it’s a beer bottle, but it is in fact a Hemholtz resonator.”

The Sound of Science - "Resonance"

Jun 22, 2018

What do kids on a swing, musical instruments, and microwave ovens have in common? They all use an underlying scientific concept called resonance as well as being common parts of our daily lives.

With me are two tuning forks, each tuned to 256 Hz. I’m going to strike one and only one tuning fork. After a second or two I’ll put my hand on that tuning fork to stop it. I’m not going to touch the second fork at all. Listen closely.

The Science Of Cicada Songs

Jun 15, 2018

It’s that time of year again: when cicada songs flood our warm summer nights, announcing their presence as they attract mates. As a kid I was told they only came out every 7 years. I was confused because I heard them every year. It turns out whomever told me they emerge every 7 years was wrong on two counts: some species of cicadas emerge every year, and some emerge every 13 or 17 years.

The Science of Gut Rumbles

Jun 8, 2018

Whoo, that was embarrassing. I accidentally let my borborygmi go. Of course, borborygmi is involuntary, I can’t help it. Borborygmi, the rumbling sound of your gut, doesn’t come from your stomach, nor is it solely because you’re hungry.

WNIJ and NIU STEAM are partnering to create “The Sound of Science,” a weekly series explaining important science, technology, engineering and math concepts using sound. The feature will air at 1:04 p.m. Fridays as a lead-in to Science Friday. The first “Sound of Science” episode airs today.

“STEM is a topic of great interest to our audience – especially with Science Friday listeners," WNIJ General Manager Staci Hoste explained, "so it makes sense to add NIU STEM experts to the mix of information our listeners get during this very popular national program.”