Science Friday

Science, technology, environment and health news and discussion with host Ira Flatow.

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Friday, April 18, 2014 Permalink

Science Friday: Maple Syrup, Earth's Cousin and Global Warming

Drawing by NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech
 

Drawing by NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

The Sticky Science Behind Maple Syrup

Plant physiologist Abby van den Berg traces how maple sap flows through trees and onto your plate.

For centuries, maple syrup producers have used taps, vacuum pumps, and tubing to collect the sugary sap from mature maple trees. A new technique by Abby van den Berg and her colleagues at the Proctor Maple Research Center may revolutionize the industry by allowing producers to collect sap plantation-style, directly from the cut tops of juvenile trees.

 

 

 


 

Discovering Your Inner Fish

Evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin takes us through the evolutionary story of how the human body evolved from our fish and reptilian ancestors.

Why do we hiccup? How are human hands similar to fish fins? Neil Shubin, evolutionary biologist and author of Your Inner Fish, takes us through the evolutionary story of how the human body evolved from our fish and reptilian ancestors.

 


 

Amir Aczel: 'Why Science Does Not Disprove God'

Aczel's latest book chronicles the New Atheist movement, taking aim at scientists like Richard Dawkins.

In his new book Why Science Does Not Disprove God, science writer Amir Aczel chronicles the New Atheist movement, taking aim at scientists like Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss who attempt to use biology and physics to disprove the existence of God. Aczel argues that their scientific arguments are flawed, and those who say God and science cannot possibly coexist "distort both the process of science and its value."

 


 

How a Warming Planet Will Change What's on Your Plate

Climate change has already cut yields of wheat and corn, taking a bite out of gains achieved by better farming technology.

The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are out, and the news from the farm is dim. Researchers say climate change has already cut yields of wheat and corn, taking a bite out of gains achieved by better farming technology. Add in a growing world population, expected to hit nine billion by 2050, and you have what sustainability expert Jonathan Foley calls “one of the biggest dangers to the planet”: our need to eat.

 


 

Spotting Earth's Cousin in the Cosmos

Astronomers have found a planet about the size of Earth, far enough from its star to host liquid water.

In the journal Science, astronomers report finding the closest thing yet to our planetary twin: a planet just slightly larger in diameter than the Earth, orbiting the star Kepler 186 at a distance perfect for liquid water—if there is any water, that is. Study author Elisa Quintana, a research scientist at the SETI Institute and the NASA Ames Research Center, talks about how she detected this cosmic cousin, named Kepler 186f, and how we might determine what its surface is really like.

 


 

E.O. Wilson: ‘A Window on Eternity’

E.O. Wilson discusses the recovery and biodiversity of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park.

In his new book, A Window on Eternity, biologist E.O. Wilson takes a walk through Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique to discover the rebirth of the formerly war-ravaged preserve, and to observe ‘the little things that run the world.’