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 hosts Emily Kwong and Aaron Scott for science on a different wavelength.

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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 hosts Emily Kwong and Aaron Scott for science on a different wavelength.

If you're hooked, try Short Wave Plus. Your subscription supports the show and unlocks a sponsor-free feed. Learn more at plus.npr.org/shortwave

Most Recent Episodes

A researcher releases a bat after taking samples and inserting a microchip into it in Faridpur, Bangladesh. Fatima Tuj Johora for NPR hide caption

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Fatima Tuj Johora for NPR

Nipah: Using sticks to find a fatal virus with pandemic potential

The Nipah virus is on the World Health Organization's short list of diseases that have pandemic potential and therefore pose the greatest public health risk. With a fatality rate at about 70%, it is one of the most deadly respiratory diseases health officials have ever seen. But as regular outbreaks began in the early 2000s in Bangladesh, researchers were left scratching their heads. Initially, the cause of the outbreaks was unknown to them. But once they identified the virus, a second, urgent question arose: How was the virus jumping from bats into humans?

Nipah: Using sticks to find a fatal virus with pandemic potential

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The ancient night sky and the earliest astronomers

Moiya McTier says the night sky has been fueling humans' stories about the universe for a very long time, and informing how they explain the natural world. In fact, Moiya sees astronomy and folklore as two sides of the same coin.

The ancient night sky and the earliest astronomers

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Dr. Yejin Choi University of Washington Professor and MacArthur Fellow, works to improve AI's understanding of common sense. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation hide caption

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John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Can you teach a computer common sense?

Over the past decade, AI has moved right into our houses - onto our phones and smart speakers - and grown in sophistication. But many AI systems lack something we humans take for granted: common sense. In this episode Emily talks to MacArthur Fellowship-winner Yejin Choi, one of the leading thinkers on natural language processing, about how she's teaching machines to make inferences about the real world.

Can you teach a computer common sense?

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Recently, Richard Trumka, the commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), suggested regulating gas stoves. A growing body of research points to health and climate risks associated with the use of gas stoves. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

How worried should you be about your gas stove?

Gas stoves are found in around 40% of homes in the United States, and they've been getting a lot of attention lately. A recent interview with Richard Trumka, the commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), quickly became fodder for outrage, viral disinformation and political fundraising after he proposed regulating the appliance. The proposal stems from a growing body of research suggesting gas stoves are unhealthy — especially for those with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and children. NPR climate and energy correspondent Jeff Brady joins us today to separate fact from fiction.

How worried should you be about your gas stove?

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Of the many species the scientists photographed aboard the RV Investigator, the deep-sea batfish made one of the biggest splashes across social media. Benjamin Healley / Museums Victoria hide caption

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Benjamin Healley / Museums Victoria

Scientists discover fantastical creatures deep in the Indian Ocean

Yi-Kai Tea, a biodiversity research fellow at the Australian Museum in Sydney, has amassed a social media following as @KaiTheFishGuy for his sassy writing and gorgeous photos of fish and other wildlife.

Scientists discover fantastical creatures deep in the Indian Ocean

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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

6 doctors swallowed Lego heads for science. Here's what came out

As an emergency physician at Western Health, in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Andy Tagg says he meets a lot of anxious parents whose children have swallowed Lego pieces. Much like Andy so many years ago, the vast majority of kids simply pass the object through their stool within a day or so. But Andy and five other pediatricians wondered, is there a way to give parents extra reassurance ... through science?

6 doctors swallowed Lego heads for science. Here's what came out

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The directors of Everything Everywhere All At Once credit their "math brain" for this genre bending story, about laundromat owner Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) battling for the fate of the multiverse. A24 hide caption

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A24

Meet the mathematical minds behind Oscar-nominated 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'

Film directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively: Daniels) reimagined the multiverse movie in their breakout film Everything Everywhere All At Once. Tuesday, the film received 11 Oscar nominations for the 95th Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. This episode, the Daniels share how science played a starring role.

Meet the mathematical minds behind Oscar-nominated 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'

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Boats are pushed up on a causeway after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. Research suggests support for some climate policies increases immediately after climate-driven disasters such as Ian. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What does our perception of time have to do with climate change? A lot.

Most people are focused on the present: today, tomorrow, maybe next year. Fixing your flat tire is more pressing than figuring out if you should buy an electric car. Living by the beach is a lot more fun than figuring out when your house might be flooded by rising sea levels.

What does our perception of time have to do with climate change? A lot.

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An artist's reconstruction of adult and newly born ichthyosaur, Shonisaurus popularis, which lived during the Triassic Period. Gabriel Ugueto / Smithsonian hide caption

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Gabriel Ugueto / Smithsonian

Fossil CSI: Cracking the case of an ancient reptile graveyard

This mystery begins in 1952, in the Nevada desert, when a self-taught geologist came across the skeleton of a massive creature that looked like a cross between a whale and a crocodile. It turned out to be just the beginning.

Fossil CSI: Cracking the case of an ancient reptile graveyard

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The ROSA machine allows surgeons to zero in on areas of the brain tied to seizures, and guides a surgical arm precisely to the target. University of California, San Diego hide caption

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University of California, San Diego

New tech gives hope for a million people with epilepsy

About three million people in the United States have epilepsy, including about a million who can't rely on medication to control their seizures. For years, those patients had very limited options. But now, in 2023, advancements in diagnosing and treating epilepsy are showing great promise for many patients, even those who had been told there was nothing that could be done. Using precise lasers, microelectronic arrays and robot surgeons, doctors and researchers have begun to think differently about epilepsy and its treatment. Today on Short Wave, host Aaron Scott talks with NPR science correspondent Jon Hamilton about these advances in treating epilepsy. He explains why folks should ask their doctors about surgery — even if it wasn't an option for them a few years ago.

New tech gives hope for a million people with epilepsy

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