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Science Friday

Fridays 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Covering the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies, Science Friday is the trusted source for news about science, technology, and other cool stuff. Each week host Ira Flatow mixes it up with people in the know and those who want to be. It's brain fun, for curious people. For over 22 years, Science Friday has brought the top stories in science to radio listeners and given them a chance to join in the discussion by asking questions and making comments during the live broadcast.

Biting Into the First In Vitro Burger

Aug 9, 2013

Dutch scientists cooked up the first hamburger made from laboratory-grown meat. Researcher Nicholas Genovese, who is studying stem cell lines for in vitro meat, and journalist Josh Schonwald, who ate the burger, give us their review.

Resilin is a protein found in insects that allows them to jump long distances and beat their wings quickly. The material stores and releases energy due to its unique structure. Biomedical engineer Kristi Kiick is researching how to use these pliable proteins for medical purposes.

Teaching Newton's Laws Through Rhyme

Aug 2, 2013



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Would you rather learn geology from this guy?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: First of all, the substance of moraines are merely the rocks that have been chipped off from the sides of the containing rock mountains, let's say.

FLATOW: (Snoring) Oh, excuse me. Or this guy?




This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. You've seen the movies: A killer asteroid approaching the earth. Cue the dramatic music. Hollywood heroes - James Garner's my favorite - to save the day. But in order to stop an asteroid, first you need to be able to find it, track it, and maybe even know a bit more about asteroids, so you have a better chance of dealing with it successfully.

Reexamining the Definition of Cancer

Aug 2, 2013



Welcome back. I'm Ira Flatow.

The 'Uncool' Passion of Jonathan Franzen

Jul 26, 2013

Best-selling novelist Jonathan Franzen has fallen in love...with birds. Writing for the July issue of National Geographic magazine, Franzen describes how migrating songbirds are being hunted in high numbers in Egypt, Albania, and other places along the Mediterranean. Franzen tells SciFri about the songbirds' plight and how his passion for birds has evolved.

One of the biggest mysteries of the new detective novel The Cuckoo's Calling was the identity of the author. It was written by Robert Galbraith, which was revealed to be the pseudonym of Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. Patrick Juola, professor of computer science at Duquesne University, discusses how he used computerized text analysis to uncover the mystery.

MERS Virus Update

Jul 26, 2013

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by a newly discovered virus in the same family as SARS. Most of the documented cases have come from Saudi Arabia, which has seen a 54 percent mortality rate in those patients. Martin Cetron, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses the emerging virus.

Ever tried to make your own sunscreen? A water bottle rocket? How about a cardboard canoe? Eric Wilhelm, founder of Instructables, and Mike Szczys, managing editor at, discuss their favorite do-it-yourself summer projects. And Bon Appetit's Andrew Knowlton suggests some cooking hacks, like "cooler corn" and turning your BBQ into a smoker.

Fish Oil: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Jul 19, 2013

Fish oil may have some benefit for the heart. But a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute links higher blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil to a higher risk of prostate cancer. Study author Alan Kristal says the potential mechanism is unclear, but he warns that supplements can sometimes increase the risk of the very diseases they're meant to prevent.

Astronomers have detected a previously unseen moon orbiting Neptune, bringing the planet's moon count to 14. Mark Showalter, an astronomer at the SETI Institute, describes how he spotted the 12-mile moon while combing through old images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

For years, electrical experts have been calling for a "smart grid" that could better sense and adapt to changing conditions, from electrical outages to shifts in power consumption. Massoud Amin, referred to by some as the "father of the smart grid," talks about how and why the country should improve its aging electrical infrastructure.

Reporting in Science, researchers write of discovering four radio bursts from outer space. Physicist Duncan Lorimer, who detected the first such explosion in 2007, discusses what could be causing these radio signals, such as evaporating black holes, an idea proposed by Stephen Hawking in the 1970s.

A day at the shore can leave beachgoers with more than a sunburn — a gulp of seawater can expose swimmers to disease-causing microbes like norovirus, salmonella, and adenovirus. Marine scientist Rachel Noble and environmental medicine researcher Samuel Dorevitch discuss the risk, and what's being done to limit swimmers' exposure.

Can White Blood Cells Spread Cancer?

Jul 5, 2013



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. White blood cells are part of our body's defense system. Their job is to attack invaders, and one of the first white blood cells sent out is the neutrophil. These neutrophils put out a trap to capture and destroy the invaders. But here's where it gets interesting, because in a new study, researchers say they have shown that these nets might actually activate and spread the cancer cells. It's the exact opposite of what you want. But there may be a way to counteract this problem.