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.
Short Wave
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Short Wave

From NPR

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.

Most Recent Episodes

Fall foliage along Riverfront Drive in Reading, PA. MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/MediaNews Group via Getty Images hide caption

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MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle/MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Micro Wave: Why Do Leaves Change Color During Fall?

Botanist and founder of #BlackBotanistsWeek Tanisha Williams explains why some leaves change color during fall and what shorter days and colder temperatures have to do with it.

Micro Wave: Why Do Leaves Change Color During Fall?

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Participants wearing FFP2 protective face masks take part in the RESTART-19 Covid transmission risk assessment study in a concert setting at an indoor arena during the coronavirus pandemic. Sean Gallup/Getty Images hide caption

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Why These Tiny Particles Are A Big Deal

For much of the pandemic, some scientists had been pushing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recognize that the coronavirus is spread through aerosols--very small particles that can linger in the air. The CDC did that this month, so we brought Senior Science Correspondent Maria Godoy onto the show to explain the distinction, and the implications for staying safe during the pandemic.

Why These Tiny Particles Are A Big Deal

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In his book How To, Randall Munroe explores whether you could open enough water bottles to fill a swimming pool — using nuclear weapons. Riverhead Books hide caption

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Riverhead Books

Randall Munroe's Absurd Scientific Advice For Real-World Problems

Randall Munroe, the cartoonist behind the popular Internet comic xkcd, finds complicated solutions to simple, real-world problems. In the process, he reveals a lot about science and why the real world is sometimes even weirder than we expect. His latest book is called How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. (Encore episode.)

Randall Munroe's Absurd Scientific Advice For Real-World Problems

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Conceptual artwork of quantum entanglement, one of the consequences of quantum theory. Two particles will appear to be linked across space and time, with changes to one of the particles (such as an observation or measurement) affecting the other one. Mark Garlick/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra hide caption

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Mark Garlick/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

Quantum Mechanics For Beginners

Monika Schleier-Smith, associate professor of physics at Stanford University, studies quantum mechanics, the theory that explains the nature of the itty bitty parts of our universe: atoms, photons, and individual particles. It's the science responsible for innovations in computers, telecommunications, and medicine. Schleier-Smith was recently awarded a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship for her work in the field. It's research that often starts in a lab and as Schleier-Smith describes, requires both troubleshooting and optimism.

Quantum Mechanics For Beginners

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Emily Garti, a junior studying nutrition, gets her twice-weekly COVID-19 test at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Elissa Nadworny/NPR hide caption

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Elissa Nadworny/NPR

The Tricky Business Of Coronavirus Testing On College Campuses

We hit the road with NPR Education Reporter Elissa Nadworny. She's been on a weekslong road trip to get an up-close view of how colleges across the U.S. are handling the pandemic. On today's show, she tells us how one university has been using mass testing to fight the spread of the coronavirus on its campus. It's a strategy that's run into some challenges, namely, student behavior.

The Tricky Business Of Coronavirus Testing On College Campuses

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SCIEPRO/Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

Micro Wave: You Mite Want To Shower After This

Today's episode is about how you're never alone.

Micro Wave: You Mite Want To Shower After This

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The German icebreaker and research vessel Polarstern is pictured at shore in Tromso, Norway. The vessel is part of the MOSAiC Expedition. Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/AFP via Getty Images

Gender Discrimination And Harassment At Sea

Back in December, we brought you two episodes on the MOSAiC expedition. With hundreds of scientists from 20 countries, the German-led polar research mission is the largest in history. But the mission has also been marked by reports of gender discrimination and harassment.

Gender Discrimination And Harassment At Sea

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Monarch butterflies, like this one in Temascaltepec, Mexico, use ultraviolet polarized light to help them navigate in flight. Omar Torres/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Omar Torres/AFP via Getty Images

Butterflies Have Hearts In Their Wings. You Won't Believe Where They Have Eyes

Adriana Briscoe, a professor of biology and ecology at UC Irvine, studies vision in butterflies. As part of her research, she's trained them to detect light of a certain color. She also explains why they bask in the sunlight, and why some of them have 'hearts' in their wings. Plus, you'll never guess where their photoreceptors are.

Butterflies Have Hearts In Their Wings. You Won't Believe Where They Have Eyes

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It probably doesn't hurt. DeAgostini/Getty Images hide caption

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DeAgostini/Getty Images

Micro Wave: Does Talking To Plants Help Them Grow?

Environmental scientist Heidi Appel explains how plants detect sound — and whether talking to yours could help them grow big and strong.

Micro Wave: Does Talking To Plants Help Them Grow?

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Nurse practitioner Willie Rios collects nasal swab for a coronavirus test from Araceli Merlos at St. John's Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles, CA. Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images hide caption

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Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

What Coronavirus Test Results Do — And Don't — Mean

Even though we've been living with the pandemic for months, there's still lots of confusion about coronavirus tests and what the results do — and don't — mean. NPR correspondent Rob Stein explains the types of tests, when they are most accurate and how to make sense of the results.

What Coronavirus Test Results Do — And Don't — Mean

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