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Science
Natural Sciences

Transistor

Updated 7 days ago

Science
Natural Sciences
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Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Read more

Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

iTunes Ratings

41 Ratings
Average Ratings
25
12
3
0
1

This rocks

By morphy232 - Mar 17 2016
Read more
Love love love the trace elements series. Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek rock it.

Inspiring, intelligent, interesting

By mdvmcr - Jun 12 2015
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Smart, interesting and I always come away with something I want to research more. Excellent!!

iTunes Ratings

41 Ratings
Average Ratings
25
12
3
0
1

This rocks

By morphy232 - Mar 17 2016
Read more
Love love love the trace elements series. Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek rock it.

Inspiring, intelligent, interesting

By mdvmcr - Jun 12 2015
Read more
Smart, interesting and I always come away with something I want to research more. Excellent!!

Listen to:

Cover image of Transistor

Transistor

Updated 7 days ago

Read more

Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

The Skinny on Your Skin

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Art by Noa Kaplan. Photo by Jed Kim

Your skin is your largest organ and is also is a thriving ecosystem, covered in bacteria. While many of us consider regular showers key to keeping our skin healthy, a group of scientists — and artists — are starting to ask: Could the future of skin care not be soap, but bacteria?

Inside the Episode

Biologist Christina Agapakis visits AOBiome in Cambridge, Mass. to talk with the team there that has developed a bacterial mist you spritz on your skin several times a day instead of showering.

Then, it’s off to rethink one of the most common skin problems, pimples. We meet Noa Kaplan, who makes sculptures based from ultra-magnified shots of her pores.

©Noa Kaplan

©Noa Kaplan

We also explore how fabric could support our skin’s ecosystem. Fashion futurist Suzanne Lee talks about the not-too-distant future when our clothes may do more than just cover us – they may be made from living bacteria and designed to interact with our skin. Check out this article about Suzanne’s process, and her TED Talk.

This episode was produced by Kerry Donahue and Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and mixed by David Herman.

Music credits:

Hauschka: “Cube” from Salon des amateurs

Four Tet: “As Serious As Your Life” from Rounds

Anna Meredith: “Bubble Gun” from Jet Black Raider

Pye Corner Audio: “Palais Spectres” from Sleep Games

Laurie Spiegel: “Patchwork” from The Expanding Universe

Apr 09 2015

17mins

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Science’s Blind Spots

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One of the things we assign to science is that there are true, absolute facts. But scientists are human and, it turns out, as prone to blind spots in their thinking as the rest of us, especially when cultural assumptions and biases get in the way.



Emily Martin

& Richard Cone

In this episode, biologist Christina Agapakis explores ways these blind spots, especially around gender and sexism, have affected research and women’s careers in science. She talks with one of her heroes, anthropologist Emily Martin, and her husband, biophysicist Richard Cone, about Emily’s 1991 article “The Egg & The Sperm.” Reading that article about the ways cultural romantic assumptions limited scientists’ understanding of human reproduction was a turning point for Christina as a young scientist who considered her feminism as something separate from science.



Kate Clancy

She also talks with anthropologist Kate Clancy who has spent a lot of time thinking and writing about the ways women’s careers in science are different from men’s. Kate offers some thoughts on what science needs to consider to truly bring in more underrepresented voices and perspectives. New perspectives and voices in science may be key to science seeing blind spots for the first time.

Episode Extras — Your Transistor producers have picked out some further reading on this topic and how it affects both men and women:

This episode was produced by Kerry Donahue and Sruthi Pinnamaneni, and mixed by David Herman.

Music Credits:

Hauschka: “Cube” from Salon des amateurs

Anna Meredith: “Bubble Gun” from Jet Black Raider

Four Tet: “As Serious As Your Life” from Rounds

Not Waving: “Two-Way Mirror” from Intercepts

Laurie Spiegel: “Patchwork” from The Expanding Universe

May 14 2015

16mins

Play

The Indiana Jones of Math

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Ken Golden isn’t your typical mathematician. He’s the Indiana Jones of Mathematics. He gets up from behind his desk, armed with mathematical theory and gets out into the world, having adventures and finding unifying math behind seemingly unconnected subjects.

In this episode, we find him out on the Arctic sea ice drawing on math developed for stealth technology to understand not only the ice, but the bones of people with osteoporosis.

This episode was produced by Ben Harden in 2014 for PRX’s STEM Story Project. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz.

Image by: Amanda Kowalski

Oct 05 2015

8mins

Play

Early Bloom

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When University of Washington researcher David Rhoades discovered that plants could communicate with each other, he was laughed out of science. But now, three decades later, science is reconsidering.

His discovery came on the heels of the book The Secret Life of Plants, which claimed plants were sentient, emotional creatures with the ability to communicate telepathically with humans. It was a huge bestseller and Rhoades’ experiments sounded like they were straight from the book. His work was criticized, grant funding disappeared, and he eventually left science.

Today, however, Rhoades’ experiments have been replicated, and his theories confirmed. Scientists have found evidence that plants not only communicate with each other but also acknowledge kin, respond to sound waves, and share resources through networks of underground fungi.



Bonus! Hear how this radio story went from script to sound-designed mini-doc in this episode of the HowSound podcast:

For even more about the craft of radio storytelling — subscribe to HowSound right here.

Early Bloom was produced by Peter-Frick Wright and Robbie Carver of 30 Minutes West. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz.

May 07 2015

9mins

Play

Nautilus special: “To Save California, Read Dune”

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The sci-fi epic of Dune takes place on a desert planet. There, the water in even a single tear is precious. Can Dune offer lessons for drought-stricken California of 2015?

This is a special episode featuring science magazine Nautilus.

This episode was produced for PRX and Nautilus by David Schulman.

Nov 05 2015

20mins

Play

The Next Generation of Galapagos Scientists

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What motivates young people to become scientists? Meet Maricruz Jaramillo and Samoa Asigau, two young women scientists from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean, whose professional aspirations have taken them to the Galapagos Islands. Science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined Mari and Samoa in the Galapagos, where they are studying a type of malaria that is affecting native bird populations.

Maricruz Jaramillo (standing) and Samoa Asigau wait for their ride back to the Charles Darwin Research Station after an early morning of catching birds in an agricultural area on Santa Cruz Island.

Samoa holds a male yellow warbler that was caught in a mistnet. Each bird gets weighed and measured, and a small blood sample is taken from underneath one wing to test later for malaria.

Mari measures the wing of a male yellow warbler. This species of warbler is endemic to the Galapagos.

Samoa (left) and Mari look out over the mist-covered hillside at Media Luna, a peak about 2,000 feet above sea level on the island of Santa Cruz. A reddish, broad-leafed shrub called Miconia robinsoniana dominates the landscape.

Samoa (L) says growing up in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, she thought of herself as a “fancy city girl.” She is 7 years old in this family snapshot. Mari (R) has always loved being close to nature.

This episode was produced and reported by St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Véronique LaCapra in 2013 for our STEM Story Project. It was mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz. All photos (except childhood photos courtesty of the scientists) by Véronique LaCapra.

Apr 23 2015

8mins

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Forensics in Flames

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Over the past 20 years, there’s been a revolution in the science of arson investigations. Many of the clues that had been used for decades to determine that a fire was not accidental, especially the analysis of burn patterns on walls and floors, have been proven to be false. Reporter Michael May looks closely at two deadly fires to explore the cutting edge of fire science.

For more on this case, here’s Dave Mann of the Texas Observer on NPR’s All Things Considered last year:

This episode was produced by Michael May in 2013 for PRX’s STEM Story Project. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image from Shutterstock.

Aug 18 2015

12mins

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The Last of the Iron Lungs

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As storms raged through Oklahoma in 2013, Martha Lillard waited them out from inside her iron lung. She is one of just dozens of polio survivors who still rely on their decades-old machines.

The Last of the Iron Lungs is a portrait of Martha, who contracted polio in 1953. To Martha, the 1940s iron lung is comfort and survival. As a researcher explains in the story, newer machines operate differently, forcing air into the lungs in a way that doesn’t feel right for iron lung patients.

Producer Julia Scott sent us some thoughts about her experience reporting this story:

“Martha’s story is fascinating enough on its own. It’s a radio producer’s dream to be able to capture the kinds of sounds no one will ever hear again – the mechanical bellows, pushing air through a machine older than Martha herself.

“Reporting this story made me realize how distant and abstracted polio has become in our national memory. Martha’s bedroom is dominated by her iron lung, a relic of history that most people my age may never even have heard of (I’m 32). To her, it’s a trusted companion and a lifelong friend. But the iron lung symbolized one of the most terrifying, unpredictable health epidemics of the 20th century. Archival photos like this one brought home the sheer scale of the outbreak – and the prospect of lifelong paralysis that thousands of people endured.

“One of the highlights of this project was being able to try out Martha’s iron lung – something I was a little scared to do. I laid down on the sliding cot, pushed my head through her foam neck collar and she sealed me in. It wasn’t claustrophobic, but I wasn’t counting on how hard it would be stop drawing breath and let the respirator take over pushing my diaphragm in and out, forcing air to whoosh into my throat. ‘Stop trying to breathe!’ Martha instructed. For her, lying in the iron lung is the most comfortable sensation in the world.

“Since the story has aired I’ve received emails from people whose families were touched by polio, grandfathers and great-aunts who spent time in an iron lung but graduated to breathing on their own. They see Martha’s story as part of the same continuum.”

This episode was reported and produced by Julia Scott. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz.

Image of Martha Lillard © Julia Scott.

Jul 06 2015

8mins

Play

Finding the Elusive Digital Stradivarius

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A hammer tap to the bridge

— light as a dried pea —

helps Curtin capture an acoustic

instrument’s sound signature.

In music, everything seems to have another digital life. Pianists can play with different voicings on an electric keyboard. Guitarists can filter their instrument’s signal through a pedal or amp to create various effects. Why shouldn’t violinists be able to digitally harness the sound of a Stradivarius? For starters, it takes an incredible feat of engineering to make an authentic-sounding digital violin. Radio reporter (and violinist!) David Schulman takes us to visit a top violinmaker who has been working with a physicist and two engineers to create a prototype digital violin.

Inside the Episode:

Scientists say the violin is one of the hardest instruments to mimic. But MacArthur Award-winning violin maker Joseph Curtin has been working for several years with physicist Gabi Weinreich, along with sound engineer John Bell and industrial designer Alex Sobolev, to create a digital violin. They say its sound will be hard to tell from a recording of a Strad.



Data from 12 different locations let violinmaker Joseph Curtin digitize a violin’s sonic fingerprint.



Joseph Curtin and Alex Sobolev with prototypes of the digital violin



Joseph Curtin’s workbench, where he carves, builds and varnishes his acoustic instruments.



Closeup of some of the pigments and syses used in varnishes for finishing acoustic instruments.

Convolution Reverb samples:

Bonus — Meet David Schulman, the reporter of this story:

PRX was able to ask producer/reporter David Schulman about his experience making this audio story. He says,

“The chance to do this piece brought together several things I am deeply fascinated by — music, violins, sound-rich audio storytelling, and the nature of creativity & discovery.”

Something that didn’t make the final cut of the story, which sheds more light on why a digital Stradivarius is so difficult to engineer, is

“Weinreich’s research has shown that a violin’s sound is in fact deeply varied in the spatial dimension, and that, with each note, the physical power and direction of the overtones changes widely  — one likely reason why it’s hard to actually record an acoustic violin well.”

On convolution, the name of the technology developed for the digital Strad, David says,

“With it’s potential for alternate aural realities, [convolution] is a richly metaphorical area for scientists, artists and storytellers […] Imagine a situation in which  convolution impulse maps are the most vivid documentation remaining of a ransacked temple, or a lost Stradivarius.”

While he was gathering tape and doing interviews, David tells us that he was even able to play some of Curtin’s instruments, an added bonus for someone who is a musician on top of being a radio producer. Still, such an idyllic experience still was not without its challenges:

“The central challenge of the piece involved using demos to link several rich — though rather technical — ideas,and to arrive at a final comparison where you’d hear the digital Strad and an actual Strad, side by side.”



This episode was reported and produced by David Schulman in 2013 for PRX’S STEM Story Project. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed by Erika Lantz.

Photos: David Schulman

May 29 2015

9mins

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That Crime of the Month

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What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her actions to PMS? We revisit the court case for — and the science behind — the first use of the “PMS defense” in this country, back in 1981. Featuring the true crime show, Criminal.

This episode was produced by Criminal — Phoebe Judge, Lauren Spohrer, and Eric Mennel — in 2014 for PRX’s STEM Story Project. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Erika Lantz.

Jul 16 2015

11mins

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Outside Podcast: Frozen Alive

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We are interrupting your regularly scheduled podcast feed with a special new episode on the science of survival from Outside Magazine and PRX. Here’s the first episode on the cold, hard facts about what happens when you get lost in the snow.

To get future episodes, which come every two weeks, subscribe to the Outside Podcast on iTunes or wherever you lsiten. You can also get the full scoop from PRX’s press release.

Mar 30 2016

31mins

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Orbital Path: Must Be Aliens

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Loyal Transistor listeners will remember astronomer Michelle Thaller, who hosted three episodes for us early in 2015. She’s back, now with her own monthly podcast from PRX called Orbital Path. It’s all about stars, the universe, and us — for space lovers or just the curious.

The debut episode features the infamous Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, as Michelle and Phil talk about why aliens get the credit for almost everything unexplainable. And episode two is in the works with another guest you won’t want to miss.

Enjoy the show — and get links to subscribe to Orbital Path here.

Orbital Path is produced by Lauren Ober.

Dec 17 2015

14mins

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All By Myself…Maybe

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“52 Hz” is the name given to a mysterious whale that vocalizes at a different frequency than other whales. Some refer to him as “The World’s Loneliest Whale,” but other scientists aren’t convinced that its unique call has left the whale isolated at all.

Craig and George went on a whale watch when they reported this story. See their photos and videos here.

This episode was produced for PRX & Transistor by Craig Shank and George Drake Jr. of Everything Sounds, and was mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image from Shutterstock. Not 52 Hz.

Nov 20 2015

8mins

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Trace Elements: Mystery at the Lake

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Lake Oneida on April 24, 2016. Photo by Carl Hagmann

Special episode #4 featuring Trace Elements with Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek. In the 1970s, a geochemist and a biologist banded together to solve a mystery at Lake Oneida in upstate New York. What they found is changing the way we think about human life, and where the origins of life come from.

Guests:

Kenneth Nealson, professor, University of Southern California

Willard Moore, professor emeritus, University of South Carolina

Apr 21 2016

14mins

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Trace Elements: Upgrade

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It’s here! Episode three of our special five-part series called Trace Elements with hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek.

Hacking your hearing aid to implanting NFC tags into your hands — we are now in the age of DIY Bio. Dive into the growing underworld of body modification from the backrooms of tattoo shops to the lab in your kitchen.

Guests:

Frank Swain, biohacker/community manager at New Scientist

Amal Graafstra, CEO of Dangerous Things

Meredith Patterson, technologist

Apr 07 2016

19mins

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Bluegrass…for Wolves?

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What kind of music do animals like? A woman who studies how non-human creatures go mad throws concerts for captive animals to try and enrich their lives, and researchers weigh in on how we can understand animal tastes for music with science. Plus, a bluegrass concert for 52 wolves.

Here’s a video of the concert featured in the audio story:

Music for Wolves: Black Prairie from Aubree Bernier-Clarke on Vimeo.

This episode was produced for PRX and Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen by Britt Wray in 2014. It was mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Dec 07 2015

9mins

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Disease Detectives On the Case

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Ebola, salmonella, even measles. All of these have a source, and disease detectives trained at the CDC know how to find the culprits. Join two rookies as as they solve “the case of the nutty dish”.

This episode was originally produced by Philip Graitcer for PRX’s STEM Story Project in 2014. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Jan 07 2016

9mins

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Trace Elements: The Musical

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Ta-da! Our fifth special episode with Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek of Trace Elements is here. Let us know what you enjoyed about their series and what surprised you in the comment section below. In just five episodes they’ve covered the science of feeling no fear, illusions with robots, bio-hacking, a mystery at a lake, and this time…

Birds of a feather may flock together — but it turns out birds that live in the city sing at higher frequencies, louder, and more often than their rural friends to outmatch the noise pollution of cars and people. The din of city life is creating new divisions between bird species. Researchers like Elizabeth Derryberry are finding those high-pitched tenors of the bird world aren’t quite as attractive to mates as the lower Barry Whites of the country.

Guests:

Elizabeth Derryberry, Tulane University

David Luther, George Mason University

May 05 2016

15mins

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The Invention of the Home Pregnancy Test

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We love a good backstory to a scientific invention that is ubiquitous today. Meet the women who got pregnancy tests out of labs and into homes.

In the episode:

Audrey Peattie

Margaret Crane

Gloria Allen

Special thanks to Dr. Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (University of Cambridge), whose research provided the basis for this piece.

This episode was brought to us by the podcast Mother, produced by Amy Gastelum and Anne Noyes Saini.

Feb 29 2016

11mins

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Trace Elements: Fooled Ya

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Cristina & Marco hanging out with EDI

Episode two of our special five-part series called Trace Elements — with hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek — is here. This time: the how and why of illusion. Maybe you’ll get some April Fools ideas.

Marco Tempest is not your average magician. He uses robots to do magic tricks on stage — but the real trick is in how easily he can get an audience to believe that robot has personality and is almost human.

Guests: Marco Tempest, cyberillusionist

Matt Berlin, co-founder IFRobotics, LLC

Kate Darling, researcher, MIT Media Lab

Engineer: Andrew Kramer

Theme Song: Rory Jackson

Additional Music: Lullatone, Keen Collective, and Golden Gram

Special Thanks: The Great Shiftini, aka Craig LeMoult

Mar 24 2016

17mins

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No Inoculation without Representation!

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Vaccinations, in one form or another, have been around longer than the United States. In fact, during the Revolutionary War in 1776, future first lady Abigail Adams pursued the controversial scientific technique to protect her 5 children against a threat more dangerous than an army of Redcoats. Here’s Luke Quinton with the story.

Nov 13 2017

9mins

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Cosmic Ray Catchers

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Cosmic rays from outer space sound like science fiction. They’re not—invisible particles flung from outer space pass through our bodies every minute. But not all cosmic rays are equal; Some are immensely powerful and very rare. For decades scientists have wondered where they're coming from – and what could possibly be hurling them at Earth. Now, they're getting closer to finding out.  Ross Chambless has the story.

Oct 30 2017

10mins

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Three Letters on Broom Bridge

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Every October 16th hundreds of people gather in Dublin to celebrate Ireland's greatest mathematician, William Rowan Hamilton. And get this – It was his act of vandalism on Broom Bridge in 1843 that put him in the history books – it actually changed mathematics forever. Samuel Hanson brings us the story.

Oct 16 2017

10mins

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After A Flood

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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left devastation in their wake all across the southern United States as unimaginable quantities of water swallowed up small towns and cities alike. But what happens to that water and how can cities better prepare ahead of time? Two years ago, reporter Jenny Chen followed two so-called flood hydrologists to learn more about the preparation.

Oct 02 2017

9mins

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Bowl Tastes Delicious

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What if the size of our dinner plate, its color, the material of our cutlery - even background sounds - all affect how our food tastes? In other words, what if it’s not just about what we cooked for dinner, but the context of the meal itself?

Reporter Quentin Cooper brings us this story.

Sep 18 2017

10mins

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Hurry Up and Listen

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Underneath our vrooms, beeps, and rumbles, natural sound may be more important than we think.

Sep 04 2017

10mins

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A Job for the Bee Team

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On May 2, 2015, beekeepers Pam Arnold and Kristy Allen got hit with a pesticide. They couldn't see it or smell it, but when they saw their bees writhing on the ground and dying they knew something was seriously wrong. They called a panel of scientists at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Aug 21 2017

10mins

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An Ovarian Transplant Between Twins

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Thirty-six-year-old twins Carol and Katy are physically identical in every way but one: Katy was born without ovaries, and wanted to start a family. The science and ethics behind ovarian transplants as a treatment for infertility.

Aug 08 2017

11mins

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Tick Tock Biological Clock

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The headlines are often full of advice for women about when they should have children. Marnie Chesterton goes digging into the fertility stats and myths for modern women. Prepare to be surprised.

May 17 2017

11mins

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Owning the Clouds

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Humans have always been interested in controlling the weather. In the past we used raindances and sacrifices; today we turn to science. Cloud seeding is practiced all over the world, but there's still a lot we don't know about it. Delve into the surprising history, the controversial present, and the uncertain future of cloud seeding.

Apr 28 2017

10mins

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Spotting Fake Art -- with Math

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Visual stylometry is a branch of mathematics that can determine the style of a particular artist’s body of work.

Apr 03 2017

7mins

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Engineering NYC from Below

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Head underground to hear how some of the first subways were built, and how they are built today.

This story was originally produced by Bishop Sand in 2013. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Adam E. Moreira | Music: Whurlywind from Podington Bear

Mar 09 2017

10mins

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700 Fathoms Under the Sea

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This 1948 graphic shows sound traveling on an axis 700 fathoms down in the Atlantic.

Something unusual happens about a half mile under the sea. Ocean physics create a special zone where sound travels for hundreds, even thousands of miles. Whales use it, and cold warriors plumbed its secrets. Listen in:

This story was produced by David Schulman in 2014. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Feb 07 2017

8mins

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Sidedoor from the Smithsonian: Shake it Up

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For the next few episodes, we’re featuring the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, and humanity unexpectedly overlap — just like in their museums.

In this episode: an astronomer has turned the night sky into a symphony; an architecture firm has radically re-thought police stations; and an audiophile builds a successful record company on under-appreciated sounds.

For even more from Sidedoor, subscribe in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Music credits under backannounce: “Candy” by Jahzzar.

Jan 20 2017

24mins

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Sidedoor from the Smithsonian: Butting Heads

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For the next few episodes, we’re featuring the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, and humanity unexpectedly overlap — just like in their museums.

In this episode: two besties turn into lifelong enemies over a dining room; a researcher embraces the panda craze; and why some dinosaur skulls were built to take a beating.

For even more from Sidedoor, subscribe in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Music credits under backannounce: “Walking Barefoot On Grass” by Kai Engel.

Dec 09 2016

19mins

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Sidedoor from the Smithsonian: Masters of Disguise

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For the next few episodes, we’re featuring select episodes from the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, humanity and where they unexpectedly overlap — just like their museums. Up first: tales of scientific deception and trickery.

For even more from Sidedoor, subscribe in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dec 01 2016

19mins

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Dance: It’s Only Human

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Bronwyn Tarr with Carimbó dancers.

Oxford evolutionary neuroscientist Bronwyn Tarr was in a remote area of Brazil to begin an experiment. On her first night there, she heard distant drumbeats, went looking for them, and experienced firsthand what she was there to study: how dancing develops a sense of community.

This story was produced by Katie Burke in 2015 with the assistance of Jagmeet Mac, and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image by: José Roberto Corrêa

Nov 11 2016

10mins

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The Words are a Jumble

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Vissarion Shebalin was not a great composer. But his music could unlock an important truth about how the brain processes music and language.

This story was produced by Tobin Low in 2015 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Oct 20 2016

10mins

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The Art and Science of Polynesian Wayfinding

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Ancient navigators traveled across the Pacific without the aid of maps or instruments. We’ll hear from modern-day navigators in New Zealand, Hawai’i and North America about the techniques used to do so. This is the art and science of Polynesian wayfinding, brought to us by producer Lily Bui.

This story was produced by Lily Bui in 2015 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz. Image by Lily Bui.

Sep 21 2016

11mins

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Remaking the Science Fair

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This episode is brought to you by… science fair memories. I (your host Genevieve) remember being inspired to create my sixth grade science fair project by a visit to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (more on that below).

I found this piece from Adam Hochberg in our archive. It’s about schools remaking science fairs to include more actual science and less papier-mâché volcanos. Enjoy!

As mentioned in the episode, here’s a photo of my Rube Goldberg machine that I built after seeing Newton’s Dream — a large contraption of golf balls moving along tracks — at the Franklin Institute. My version is obviously a bit simpler: drop a ball from the top, and it would roll through the pipe to flip a die suspended on a pipe cleaner inside the box box.

Here’s a video of Netwon’s Dream. Jump to about 21 seconds to see it more in action.

What inspired you to create when you were a child? Do you have a favorite science fair project you’ve seen or done? Share your #sciencefairmemory with me in the comments below or @TransistorShow.

The story in this podcast was produced by Adam Hochberg in 2013. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Photo copyright Genevieve Sponsler.

Sep 02 2016

7mins

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