The Sound of Science

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 Sound of Science is made possible by Ken Spears Construction

The Sound of Science - 'Mae Jemison'

Feb 14, 2020

Gaylen: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Joe from NIU Center for Black Studies. Joe will accompany me today as we dive deep into history. 

Joe: Mae Jemison might not be a household name, but she has been a powerhouse of science for the past 3 decades. She was the first black female astronaut, inspired by Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. 

Sound of Science - 'Neil DeGrasse Tyson'

Feb 7, 2020

Joe: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. We’re Joe and Gaylen from NIU Center for Black Studies. 

Gaylen: Today, Joe and I will explore black history beyond the stars. 

Joe:  The name Neil DeGrasse Tyson might sound familiar; he was a topic of discussion in the science community and public for a long time. His interest in the stars took off when he visited the Hayden Planetarium as a child, and from there a star was born. 

The Sound of Science - 'Tire Particles'

Jan 17, 2020

Jeremy: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy from NIU STEM Outreach, and I’m here with my colleague Sam.

Sam: We have a question from a long-time STEM supporter, Gary.

Gary: Hi, I'm Gary and I live in Sycamore. I would like to know: what happens to all the rubber that wears off tires? Where does it go? I don't see it laying along the side of the road.

The Sound of Science - 'The Uncanny Valley'

Jan 10, 2020

Sam: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach. And with me is Jeremy. Today we’re going to venture into the Uncanny Valley. 

Jeremy: The Uncanny Valley is the curve of a graph that describes people’s appreciation of a creation that mimics humanity. At a certain point, the mimicry isn’t quite good enough and it causes a negative gut reaction. Something that is clearly a cutesy cartoon is fine, so is a movie about a clone, but a rubbery-faced robot with cold dead eyes is just too weird.

The Sound of Science - 'The Future of A.I.'

Jan 3, 2020

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach

Fred: And I’m Fred Williams from NIU Division of Information Technology. I’m not an expert in Artificial Intelligence, and I don’t think anyone can truly predict the speed and breadth of AI development. However, I have some ideas as to where AI is going.

The Sound of Science - 'Hacking Humans'

Dec 30, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach

Fred: And I’m Fred Williams from NIU Division of Information Technology. In the last few episodes we’ve discussed some of the ways cyber criminals infiltrate networks to gain information and how you can try to keep that from happening. But there are ways criminals attack you directly, and you’re probably constantly targeted.

Sam: The most common are forms of phishing. That’s fishing with a p h. These are messages designed to get you to login to fake services with your common usernames and passwords.

The Sound of Science - 'Cyber Attacks'

Dec 27, 2019

Sam: Welcome to The Sound of Science. I’m Sam from STEM Outreach. 

Jessica: And I’m Jessica from NIU Division of Information Technology. We’ve already talked about databases storing your information as hashes to make it more secure. Today we’ll talk about how an attacker can get ahold of those hashes in the first place.

The Sound of Science - 'Password Math'

Dec 18, 2019

Sam: Welcome to The Sound of Science. I’m Sam from STEM Outreach. 

The Sound of Science - 'Salted Hashes'

Dec 6, 2019

  

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science. I’m Sam from STEM Outreach. 

Jessica: And I’m Jessica from NIU Division of Information Technology. With cyber-attacks on everyone’s minds, we thought it would be nice to introduce some of the basics of password security.

Sam: We’ll get into how attackers get into databases in a future episode, but for now just imagine a large company just had a breach and your information is at risk. Let’s go into some of the measures that go into keeping your information secure.

The Sound of Science - 'Non-Newtonian Fluids Pt. 2'

Nov 29, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Nicole: and I’m Nicole James from NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I researched non-Newtonian fluids like Oobleck for my PhD.

Sam: Oobleck is a cornstarch and water mixture that acts kinda funny. It’s runny and goopy until you apply a sudden force, then it feels solid. It’s one of many non-Newtonian fluids.

The Sound of Science - 'Non-Newtonian Fluids'

Nov 22, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Nicole: And I’m Nicole James from NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I researched non-Newtonian fluids for my PhD.

The Sound of Science - 'Wastewater Injection'

Nov 15, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Megan: And I’m Dr. Megan Brown from NIU Geology and Environmental Geosciences. I am a hydrogeologist interested in how fluids interact with and can induce earthquakes. 

Sam: Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has become less of a hot-button topic in the past few years, but it’s still a question we get asked every once in a while. I’ve asked Megan to dispel some myths, clear some things up, and give some tidbits about the science of hydraulic fracturing.

The Sound of Science - 'Hydraulic Fracturing'

Nov 8, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Megan: And I’m Dr. Megan Brown from NIU Geology and Environmental Geosciences. I worked as a geologist in an environmental consulting firm on the East Coast, focusing on remediation of groundwater and soil. 

Sam: Megan is here to explain a bit more about hydraulic fracturing and maybe cast it in a slightly different light.

The Sound of Science - 'Floating Magnets'

Nov 1, 2019

Jeremy: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy from NIU STEAM. 

Sam: And I’m Sam. Today’s question comes from Abus from Rockford.

Abus: I would like to know: why does magnetism make an object float? 

Jeremy: That’s an excellent question, Abus. I think most of us know that magnets can attract or repel each other depending on which way they’re facing. You might’ve even seen objects that seem to float in mid-air by using this magnetic force to oppose the force of gravity.

The Sound of Science - 'Particle Accelerators'

Oct 18, 2019

SAM: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

PHILIPPE: And I’m Philippe Piot from NIU Physics – and Sam, I want to talk about particle accelerators which are becoming increasingly useful for everyday life.

S: You and I could talk all day about them. For our listeners, though, give us a thumbnail.

P: Particle accelerators boost the energy of particles and beams for various applications. For example, CERN in Europe collided two proton beams to confirm the Higgs Boson back in 2012.

The Sound of Science - 'Interstellar Objects'

Oct 4, 2019

Jeremy: I’m Jeremy Benson with Sam Watt from NIU STEM Outreach, and it’s time for another episode of the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Sam: Today’s question comes from Pablo, and it’s not just out of this world - it’s interstellar. Pablo asks, “How do scientists know if an object came from outside our solar system?”

Jeremy: That’s a really good question, Pablo. Especially since scientists are now studying the second interstellar object that we’ve detected.

The Sound of Science - 'Photographing a Black Hole'

Sep 27, 2019

Jeremy: I’m Jeremy Benson

Sam: And I’m Sam Watt

Jeremy: And this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Sam: Today’s question comes from Peter who asks, “How can scientists take a picture of black hole?”

Jeremy: Let’s see if we can’t shed some light on that one for you Peter. You may have heard the team that produced the first black hole images just received an award for their work.  But how do you take a picture of something that doesn’t emit any light?

The Sound of Science - 'Kayaking'

Sep 20, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach. 

Christine: And I’m Christine from NIU Outdoor Adventures, and this weekend I’m going kayaking.

Sam: If you’ve never been in a kayak, it’s like most other boats - except really narrow. And light weight. And you’re almost sitting below the water level.

The Sound of Science - 'Rock Climbing'

Sep 13, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach. 

Christine: And I’m Christine from NIU Outdoor Adventures – and I’m going rock climbing! 

Sam: So what’s the science behind that – other than gravity? 

Christine: It’s about the life-saving engineering that keeps you from falling: the carabiner attached to the top, the belay device the safety person at the bottom uses, and the rope in between. 

Sam: Let’s start with the carabiner at the top. How does that giant metal clip keep a climber safe? 

The Sound Of Science - 'Cryptobiotic Soil'

Sep 6, 2019

SAM: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

CHRISTINE: And I’m Christine from NIU Outdoor Adventures. Ever wonder why parks and rangers insist that you stay on the trails?

SAM: I’m sure safety has a lot to do with it, but I wonder if sustainability also applies.

CHRISTINE: Yes, and that goes for every ecosystem – including deserts! Deserts have a unique system called cryptobiotic soil. 

SAM: Crypto meaning hidden, and biotic meaning living so… Soil we can’t see?

The Sound of Science - 'Biomimicry'

Aug 30, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach. 

Christine: And I’m Christine from NIU Outdoor Adventures. Do you know what biomimicry is?

Sam: Biomimicry… Christine, I really hope you don’t plan on spending the next two minutes making animal sounds.

Christine: (pig snort laugh) No, biomimicry refers to velcro, sharkskin swimming suits, spider silk -- things like that. Inventors and scientists look at the ways plants and animals have adapted to their environments to live, thrive, and survive.

Sam: Okay, how about an example?

The Sound of Science - 'Leave No Trace'

Aug 23, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach. 

Christine: And I’m Christine from NIU Outdoor Adventures. During our trips, we stress the idea of “Leave No Trace.”

Sam: Leave No Trace, like a stealthy rogue hiker?

Christine: No, more like a responsible and conscientious hiker. It’s simple things like picking up trash, sticking to the trails, and not feeding the animals.

Sam: Well that all seems logical, but I imagine there are reasons behind the ethics.

The Sound of Science - "Noise"

Aug 9, 2019

  

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

The Sound of Science - "The Chemistry Of Baking"

Aug 2, 2019

J: I'm Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach and I'm in the studio with Kate Powers. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Hi Jeremy, I hear you have a delicious question for me today.

J: That's right! This question is about the chemistry of baking. Lynn wants to know why many recipes call for both baking soda and baking powder. And what's the difference between the two?

K: Lynn's right. Many cookie or cake recipes call for both types of chemical raising agents.

J: Chemical raising agent? Are there other types of raising agents?

The Sound of Science - "Hard as Diamond"

Jul 26, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach and I’m in the studio with Jeremy Benson. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

J: Kate, we have a question today from Sara. She wants to know why diamonds are so hard?

K: Sara’s right, diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth. They are very important for industrial tools and scientific instruments.

J: Wait, that must be very expensive to make a tool out of diamonds!

The Sound of Science - "Rainbows"

Jul 5, 2019

Sam: I’m Sam Watt from NIU STEM Outreach and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I have a question from Madison today and Jeremy Benson is going to help me answer. Jeremy, Madison wants to understand more about rainbows. Why do we see them and why do they appear in the sky just after a rainstorm?

Jeremy: Let’s start with the basics. Sam, have you ever looked at a straw in a glass of water? What do you notice?

Sam: Well, the straw looks bent at the top of the water.

The Sound of Science - "Mosquitos"

May 17, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach here in the studio with Sam Watt and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

S: Kate, I have a question from Ellis today about the upcoming season of mosquitos! Ellis wants to know why some people get more mosquito bites than others. 

K: Sam, this is a question that has personally plagued me as I am one of the chosen ones when it comes to mosquitos - they find me irresistible.

S: Yeah, haven’t I seen you carrying mosquito repellent in your purse?

The Sound of Science - "Caterpillar Soup"

May 10, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Kate: And I’m Kate! With spring in the air, Jack wants to know why do caterpillars form cocoons. 

Sam: Most insects go through complete metamorphosis for a straightforward evolutionary reason: separating the adult population from the larva population means there’s more food for each group. If the caterpillars are busy getting fat from leaves, then there’s more sweet nectar for the adult butterflies. This reduces the competition and makes it more likely for their species to thrive and continue.

The Sound of Science - "Flu Season"

May 3, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach here in the studio with Jeremy Benson and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

J: Kate, I have a question from Jake today and I think he is just as relieved as we are that this long winter is over. Jake wants to know why we get sick more often in the winter than we do in the spring or summer.

K: Jake is right, flu season definitely coincides with wintertime. In fact, due to our prolonged winter this year we had a prolonged flu season.

The Sound of Science - "Blooming Flowers"

Apr 26, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach with Jeremy Benson and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

J: Kate, I have a question from Jeannine today. She wants to know how plants know when to bloom.

K: That’s a great question, especially considering how wacky our winter was this year. If plants bloom too soon and then a late cold snap happens, they risk frost damage. 

J: Right. How do plants know not to bloom during a warm spell in the middle of January?

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