Science, technology, environment and health news and discussion with host Ira Flatow.
11 a.m. and 10 p.m. Friday
Science Friday Headlines
Reggie Watts Builds a Synthesizer, Bit by Bit
The instrument behind most of modern pop music isn't just for electronics geeks anymore. Toy company littleBits' "Synth Kit" is an analog modular synthesizer anyone can put together. Comedian and musician Reggie Watts takes Little Bits' diminutive synth for a spin and explains what makes synths tick (and buzz, and sing).
Science Book Picks for 2013
Do you have a favorite science-themed book from this past year? We're making our list, and checking it twice, when Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum and Brainpickings.org editor Maria Popova join Ira Flatow to share their top science, technology, and environmental books of 2013.
In a New Play, Trusty Sidekick Is a Supercomputer
Fed up with human shortcomings, the characters in Madeleine George's play turn to high-tech companions. Could machines be assistants, friends, and even partners? The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence explores the amazing things technology can do for us...and what it can't.
This Doc's Miracle Drug? Exercise
Sports medicine doctor Jordan Metzl says he's found a miracle drug that prevents almost every illness, is 100 percent effective, and has very few side effects: exercise. In his new book The Exercise Cure, he prescribes specific cardio and strength training regimens to treat everything from depression and stress to heart disease and diabetes.
Fixing 'Misfolded' Proteins for New Drug Treatments
Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers were able to fix "misfolded" proteins and restore their function in mice. Lead researcher Michael Conn discusses how to mend an incorrectly folded protein and what this may mean for developing future therapies for a variety of diseases.
Dissecting America's $3 Trillion Medical Bill
In "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," a 26,000-word investigative piece in TIME magazine, journalist and entrepreneur Steven Brill catalogues the myriad reasons for America's skyrocketing healthcare costs, from extravagantly paid administrators at nonprofit hospitals to bloated bills for hospital care. And Obamacare, he argues, won't do much to solve the problem.
Speech Science: Tongue Twisters and Valley Girls
Drawing from research presented at this year's Acoustical Society of America conference, psycholinguist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel untangles tongue twisters to look at speech planning patterns, and professor Amalia Arvaniti discusses the "Valley Girl" dialect.
Would More Technology Mean Safer Trains?
In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring most rail networks to install "positive train control" collision technology by 2015. Engineering professor Christopher Barkan discusses train safety systems, how "positive train control" might prevent accidents, and whether railroads will be able to meet the deadline.
The Simpsons' Secret? It's Written by Math Geeks
For 25 seasons, The Simpsons writers have been smuggling math onto Americans' TV screens. Author Simon Singh helps Ira decode the show's numberplay, while former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen remembers how he helped Homer solve Fermat's Last Theorem (sort of).
China Shoots 'Jade Rabbit' Rover to the Moon
This week China launched its Chang'e-3 lunar lander, with the Jade Rabbit moon rover on board. BBC science editor David Shukman, who got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of China's secretive space program during a recent trip there, talks about the motivations behind the country's moonshot.