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Science Diction: The Origin Of The Word 'Atom'

November 19, 2010 9:44 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

The British poet and alchemist Thomas Norton used the word "attoms" in his 1477 poem, The Ordinal of Alchemy. Historian Howard Markel explains how Norton came to use the word, and points out earlier philosophers who raised the concept of indivisible units of matter.

Are Airport Scanners Safe?

November 19, 2010 9:44 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Some airport body scanning machines use X-rays to generate images. How much radiation is a traveler exposed to? Should frequent fliers opt for a pat down instead? Radiation expert David Brenner explains the possible public health concerns of scanning millions of passengers.

From Bach To Beer Bottles, The Physics of Music

November 19, 2010 9:44 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Why does a saxophone sound different from an oboe? How do tiny flutes produce such loud sounds? Dr. John Powell, author of How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds explains musical acoustics and more.

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Locking Up Antimatter

November 19, 2010 9:44 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Scientists at CERN, the European nuclear research facility, say they have produced and trapped molecules of antihydrogen, a form of antimatter. Physicist Jeffrey Hangst explains how they were made and captured. Will trapping antimatter help scientists learn about the construction of the universe?

Untangling The Hairy Physics Of Rapunzel

November 19, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Kelly Ward, senior software engineer for Walt Disney Animation Studios, was tasked with bringing Rapunzel's locks to life in Disney's new movie, Tangled. The hair had to look realistic, but not too real -- otherwise Rapunzel would be towing 80 pounds of hair behind her.

Flying By A Small, Hyperactive Comet

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

When it comes to comets, gassy is good, or at least informative, says astronomer Michael A'Hearn. NASA's Deep Impact probe has been snapping pictures of Hartley 2 -- a small comet that is spewing a lot of gas and dust for its size. What do researchers hope to learn from the comet?

How To Hunt For Lichens

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Lichens grow practically everywhere, but they have been neglected by scientists for years, says James Lendemer, a lichenologist with New York Botanical Garden. Lendemer took Science Friday on a trip to the Tannersville Cranberry Bog in Pennsylvania to explore the diversity of lichens living there.

The Spookiness Of Quantum Mechanics

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

It's been 75 years since Albert Einstein decried the "spooky action at a distance" of quantum entanglement. Tom Siegfried, editor-in-chief of Science News, explains how quantum mechanics is being put to use, even though scientists still don't quite understand how it works.

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The Evolving Minds Of Humans

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Why do humans have consciousness? In his new book, Self Comes To Mind, neurologist Antonio Damasio argues that consciousness gave humans an evolutionary advantage. Damasio describes the differences between self and mind, and traces the evolutionary path of the human brain.

Quantifying Happiness

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Harvard researchers have developed a Web tool for volunteers to record what they're doing and how they feel while doing it. The goal? To measure happiness. Doctoral student Matt Killingsworth describes some early results suggesting many people aren't "living in the moment."

A Conversation With The New NSF Director

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Subra Suresh, former dean of engineering at MIT, was sworn in last month as director of the National Science Foundation, which doles out billions of dollars for basic research each year. Suresh talks about his priorities and how the NSF's budget is likely to fare with the new Congress.

Bye, Bye Ivory Tower. Scientists Pledge To Speak Out

November 12, 2010 10:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

This week, a group of scientists called the "rapid response team" has promised to speak up about climate change and take skeptics head-on, even if that means participating in political debates. But does this verge on advocacy? And is that a problem? Ira Flatow and guests discuss.

Futures in Biotech 70: SBIR Funding: The Business of Science

November 7, 2010 4:43 pm | by Futures in Biotech Podcast Podcasts Comments

Host: Marc Pelletier How to fund the development of your own technology through SBIR funding. Guest: Lisa Kurek of Biotechnology Business Consultants We invite you to read, add to, and amend our show notes. Comments and suggestions on Futures in Biotech. For a free audiobook, visit...

These Babies Can Out-Climb Their Parents

November 5, 2010 9:44 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Australian brush turkeys (Alectura lathami) fend for themselves the day they hatch, says Ken Dial of the University of Montana Flight Lab. The birds fly the day they hatch, and hatchlings can climb vertical ledges better than adults, according to Dial's latest research.

Can Science Shape Human Values? And Should It?

November 5, 2010 9:44 am | by Science Friday Podcast Podcasts Comments

Ira Flatow talks with scientists and philosophers about the origins of human values, and the influence of modern scientific thought on human values. Even if science can shape human morals, should it? Or does science bring its own set of preconceptions and prejudices to moral questions?

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