Short Wave

Short Wave

New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — all in about 10 minutes, every weekday. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join host Maddie Sofia for science on a different wavelength.

Episodes

September 23, 2021 14 min
In December, NASA is scheduled to launch the huge $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which is sometimes billed as the successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. NPR correspondents Rhitu Chatterjee and Nell Greenfieldboyce talk about this powerful new instrument and why building it took two decades.

For more of Nell's reporting on the telescope, check out "NASA Is Launching A New Telescope That Could Offer Some Cosm...
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Some of the world's best artificial waves are happening hundreds of miles from the ocean—in Waco, Texas. They're so good, they're attracting top professionals, casual riders and a science correspondent named Jon Hamilton. Jon's been following the wave technology for years and says the progress is huge. These days, pro surfers are coming from all over to try out Waco's "Freak Peak."

Read more of Jon's ...
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September 21, 2021 12 min
In the early 1900s, the Whitney South Sea expedition gathered 40,000 bird specimens for the American Museum of Natural History. The collection is an irreplaceable snapshot of avian diversity in the South Pacific, but is missing key geographic data. To solve this mystery, student researchers dug into field journals to determine where birds from one island came from.
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September 20, 2021 12 min
With booster shots on the horizon for some people, one of the biggest questions is: Am I still protected against COVID-19 if I've only had two doses of the vaccine? As science correspondent Michaeleen Doucleff reports, the answer is...complicated.

Read more of Michaeleen's reporting on COVID immunity: https://n.pr/2XIQ6KX

Reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
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September 20, 2021 14 min
Many people are afraid of needles in some capacity — about 1 in 10 experience a "high level" of needle fear, says clinical psychologist Meghan McMurtry. But that fear is often underrecognized or misunderstood. That's why today's show is all about needle fear: what it is, tools to cope, and why it's important to address beyond the pandemic.

Some strategies Meghan suggests to help cope with the fear of needles:

- th...
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September 16, 2021 13 min
Fatima's Great Outdoors, a new children's book, centers on a girl named Fatima, who's struggling to adjust to her new life in the U.S. But on her very first camping trip with her family,
Fatima unexpectedly discovers courage and joy in the outdoors. Today on the show, Emily talks to Ambreen Tariq about her new book and her social media initiative, BrownPeopleCamping. For Tariq, both efforts are a part of a common vision...
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September 15, 2021 12 min
It is found in only one lake in the world, never grows up, and occasionally takes bites of its friends: who could we be talking about? The axolotl of course! With some help from Dr. Luis Zambrano, producer Berly McCoy tells us all about this remarkable creature and the ongoing efforts to protect axolotls from extinction.
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Millions of people rely on subways for transportation. But as the world warms, climate-driven flooding in subways is becoming more and more common. NPR correspondents Lauren Sommer and Rebecca Hersher talk about how cities across the world are adapting.

For more of Rebecca's reporting on climate-driven flooding, check out "NYC's Subway Flooding Isn't A Fluke. It's The Reality For Cities In A Warming World."

(...
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September 13, 2021 10 min
In rare cases, the delta variant of the coronavirus is causing vaccinated people to get sick — so-called "breakthrough infections." Now researchers are asking: Could these infections lead to long COVID, when symptoms last weeks and months? Today, science correspondent Rob Stein makes sense of the latest data, explaining what we know so far about long COVID in vaccinated people.

Read more of Rob's reporting here: https://...
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A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that nearly half of transgender people have experienced mistreatment at the hands of a medical provider. NBC OUT reporter Jo Yurcaba explains the long-term impacts of this discrimination, plus a few potential solutions.

"Nearly half of trans people have been mistreated by medical providers, report finds," NBC OUT

"Protecting and Advancing Health Care for Trans...
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Twenty years later, first responders during the 9/11 attacks have an increased risk of getting some kinds of cancer. But, research shows that they're also more likely to survive. Host Emily Kwong talks to NPR correspondent Allison Aubrey about why.

Read more about Allison's reporting here.

You can follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyKwong1234 and Allison @AubreyNPR. Email Short Wave at ShortWave@NPR.org.
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Another destructive fire season has Western states searching for ways to prevent it. As climate correspondent Lauren Sommer reports, some answers might lie in the Southeastern U.S. The region leads the country in setting controlled fires — burns to clear vegetation that becomes the fuel for extreme fires.

Read more of Lauren's reporting on wildfire prevention.
(https://www.npr.org/2021/08/31/1029821831/to-stop-extreme-wildfires-...
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Manufacturers can expect to face unforeseen hurdles when they begin to mass-produce a brand new pharmaceutical product, and in a pandemic, there are bound to be supply chain problems as well. But in late 2020, Pfizer was delivering fewer doses than the government expected and then-federal officials told NPR they did not know why.
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September 6, 2021 13 min
The universe is so much bigger than what people can see, and astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan is trying to figure out that which we can not see. Producer Rebecca Ramirez talks with Priya and reports on the theory about some of the secret scaffolding of the universe: dark matter.
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September 2, 2021 14 min
Today, we bid farewell to our founding host, Maddie Sofia!

In this special episode, the Short Wave team and some of our listeners remind Maddie of the huge impact she's had on all of us. There is laughter, a lot of crying, and so, so much appreciation for our duderino.

Maddie, may you come back into our orbit soon. We're so excited to cheer you on in your future adventures!
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September 1, 2021 12 min
Maddie and Emily get super nerdy one last time as they dive into the incredible world of nudibranchs. Not only are these sea slugs eye-catching for their colors, some of them have evolved to "steal" abilities from other organisms — from the power of photosynthesis to the stinging cells of their venomous predators. These sea slugs are going to blow your mind!

You can email Short Wave at shortwave@npr.org.
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August 31, 2021 14 min
We're marking Maddie's last week on Short Wave!

Today, Maddie wanted to highlight a COVID-related episode from earlier this year. The pandemic has been a big part of our coverage and this particular episode stands out.

We hear reflections from two emergency room health workers on the pandemic, how their lives have changed and their hopes as more and more people get vaccinated.

Tomorrow, a new episode!

Are you a healthcare w...
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August 30, 2021 12 min
It's Day 2 of our trip down Maddie Sofia memory lane! Today's encore episode is all about how you're never really alone.

We look at the tiny mites that live on your skin — including your face. They come out at night and mate. And we're not totally sure what they eat. See? Don't you feel better already?

Researcher Megan Thoemmes tells us about the lives of these eight-legged creatures — and what they can tell us ...
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This week is our last with Maddie as a host, so we're spending it with a trip down memory lane. The first episode Maddie invites us to relive and enjoy is our first listener question episode on the science behind thrill-seeking. She talks to psychologist Ken Carter about why some people love to get scared.

Reach the show by emailing shortwave@npr.org.
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August 26, 2021 10 min
Going on a run and curious about how muggy it's going to be out? Maddie Sofia chats with producer Thomas Lu about relative humidity and why some meteorologists are telling us to pay more attention to dew point temperature, not relative humidity. Plus — how moisture in the air and temperature influence the way our body "feels" when we're outside.

Click here for the National Weather Service Heat Index chart referenced...
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