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What Happens When Leaf-Cutters Can't Cut It?

December 31, 2010 8:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Leaf-cutter ants rely on their razor-sharp mandibles to snip leaves to pieces. But over time, their mandibles dull. Physicist Robert Schofield of the University of Oregon looked at what happens when the aging ants struggle with their snipping. He found they take on a new job.

Tallying America's Tweeters--The Feathered Ones

December 24, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Every year, volunteers throughout the Americas grab their notepads and binoculars to take an inventory of local birds for the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. Greg Butcher, Audubon's director of bird conservation, talks about this year's tallies and species to look for.

Searching For The Origins of Creativity

December 24, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

From Darwin's theory of evolution to the invention of YouTube, what factors play a role in innovation? Is there such a thing as an idea whose time has come? Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, talks about great conceptual advances and how to foster creativity.

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Eggnog: Spike And Let It Sit, For Safety

December 24, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

A perennial holiday dilemma: Will alcohol kill bacteria like salmonella in homemade eggnog? Microbiologists Vincent Fischetti and Raymond Schuch, from The Rockefeller University, ran an experiment in the lab to see whether salmonella can survive in a vat of spiked eggnog.

Bee Bonanza: From Hive Politics To Beekeeping

December 24, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

This Christmas marks the 200th birthday of Lorenzo Langstroth, the "Father of American Beekeeping." May Berenbaum discusses Langstroth's life and his beekeeping inventions, and Tom Seeley talks about the collective decision-making of honeybees, the subject of Seeley's new book, Honeybee Democracy.

Remembering The Y2K Problem

December 24, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

On New Year's Eve in 1999, many people were celebrating the arrival of the year 2000. Some computer experts, however, were on alert, hoping that work reprogramming computers to deal with a date change bug would pay off. Science Friday opens the archives for a look back at the Y2K problem.

How Science and Technology Influence Language

December 24, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Have you ever been Plutoed (demoted)? Is your inbox clogged with "bacn" (spam by personal request)? Are you a lifehacker (master at optimizing everyday routines)? Jonathon Keats, artist and author of Virtual Words, explains how science and technology influence language, and vice versa.

Lunar Eclipse Is A Winter Sky Highlight

December 17, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

The shadow of the Earth will pass over the moon late Monday, Dec. 20, into Tuesday morning. Meteorologist and sky watcher Joe Rao discusses the lunar eclipse, and other astronomical events to look out for this winter, including an early dawn visit by Venus on Christmas Day.

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Living Without Fear

December 17, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Doctors at University of Iowa have been studying a female patient they call "SM" for more than 20 years. SM has a damaged amygdala, a part of the brain. As a result, she doesn't experience fear. Daniel Tranel explains what doctors have learned about fear from SM, and how that information...

Visions Of Energy Efficiency Danced In Their Heads

December 17, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Homeowners hoping to save on utility bills may want to ask Santa for a storm door or insulation. Dec. 31 is the deadline for the energy tax credits that could cut your tax bill by up to $1,500. Science Friday runs down how to save some green this winter.

Science Diction: The Origin Of The Word 'Comet'

December 17, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Although comets were sighted at least as early as 1000 B.C., Greek natural philosophers named them sometime around 500 B.C., using the Greek word kometes for "a head with long hair." Science historian Howard Markel discusses the word's origins and the study of comets through the centuries.

Who's Tracking You Online?

December 17, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

Many top websites deposit tracking tools on Internet surfers' computers, in order to help online marketers target ads. Ira Flatow and guests discuss Internet tracking, and the Federal Trade Commission's suggestion that browser makers build in a sort of "do not track" button.

The Man Who Turned Taxidermy Into An Art Form

December 17, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

In Kingdom Under Glass, author Jay Kirk tells the life story of Carl Akeley, the pioneering taxidermist and adventurer who hunted elephants alongside Teddy Roosevelt and once killed a leopard with his bare hands. Taxidermist David Schwendeman runs his family's 90-year-old studio and...

Futures in Biotech 72: A Four Billion Year Old Social Network

December 14, 2010 2:42 pm | by Futures in Biotech Podcast | Comments

Host: Marc Pelletier How controlling bacterial behavior may lead to an new class of urgently needed antibiotics. Guest: Dr. Bonnie Bassler: Hughs Medical Insitute Investigator; Professor of Molecular Biology and Professor of Chemistry, Princeton University. We invite you to read, add to,...

Teaching Computers To Be More Empathetic

December 10, 2010 9:43 am | by Science Friday Podcast | Comments

High school juniors Matthew Fernandez and Akash Krishnan took the grand prize in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for designing software that decodes emotions in human speech. They say the software could be used by call centers, to direct angry callers to a human.

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