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.
Short Wave Logo
Special Series

Short Wave

New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines

As an evolutionary anatomist, Heather Smith studies the fossil record of extinct species. A sudden appendectomy as a child made her curious about what the appendix is for and why it gets inflamed. Heather Smith hide caption

toggle caption
Heather Smith

Your appendix is not, in fact, useless. This anatomy professor explains

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1228474984/1228527019" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Seaweed Generation's marine biologist Duncan Smallman at the company's workshop in Glasgow, Scotland. Robert Ormerod for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Robert Ormerod for NPR

Left: On Sept. 27, 2020, the Glass Fire burns a hillside above Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Calif. Right: The ice that covers the Arctic Ocean is shrinking as the climate gets hotter. Scientists are finding it could be linked to weather that's helping fuel disasters. Left: Noah Berger/AP Right: Andy Mahoney/University of Alaska Fairbanks hide caption

toggle caption
Left: Noah Berger/AP Right: Andy Mahoney/University of Alaska Fairbanks

Students at the Rolwaling Sangag Choling Monastery School in Beding take a break to play volleyball in the afternoon sun. Climate change is affecting the everyday lives of residents in Beding, Nepal. Snow and glaciers are melting around the high-altitude Himalayan town, and the melting coupled with more variable rainfall means river flooding is an ever-growing threat. Ryan Kellman/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ryan Kellman/NPR

Melting glaciers threaten millions of people. Can science help protect them?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1169471520/1200392857" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
LA Johnson/NPR

This is the period talk you should've gotten

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1159147189/1197916172" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
filo/Getty Images

In the hunt for a male contraceptive, scientists look to stop sperm in their tracks

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1140512789/1140514503" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marine archaeologist James Delgado, left, and beachcomber Craig Andes, right, examine one of the larger shipwreck timbers removed from sea caves off the northern Oregon coast. Andes discovered the timbers. Katie Frankowicz/KMUN hide caption

toggle caption
Katie Frankowicz/KMUN

TK splatchcock turkey Derek Campanile / Dad With A Pan hide caption

toggle caption
Derek Campanile / Dad With A Pan

This Thanksgiving, let science help you roast a tastier turkey

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1057549040/1057580680" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Cavan Images/Getty Images

Why Sweat Is A Human Superpower

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1022546464/1022584335" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) from Singapore. Justin Ng/Linfa Wang hide caption

toggle caption
Justin Ng/Linfa Wang

When you listen to a story, your brain waves actually start to synchronize with those of the storyteller. And reading a narrative activates brain regions involved in deciphering or imagining a person's motives and perspective, research has found. aywan88/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
aywan88/Getty Images

Harvard University professor Charles Lieber leaves the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston late last month. Charles Krupa/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Charles Krupa/AP

A man gets tested for diabetes at an event in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for World Diabetes Day in 2019. Mehedi Hasan/NurPhoto via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Mehedi Hasan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The WHO Knows Insulin Is Too Expensive. How It Plans To Drive Down The Price

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/803762187/805967205" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Sampson wears personal protective equipment in the lab, like these googles, which are also worn by canine law enforcement and military dogs. Doris Dahl/Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hide caption

toggle caption
Doris Dahl/Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. NIAID-RML/NIH/Flickr hide caption

toggle caption
NIAID-RML/NIH/Flickr

Coronavirus 101: What We Do — And Don't — Know About The Outbreak Of COVID-19

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/798661901/799108602" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dots of orbital debris are visible in this image of the Lunar Module Challenger from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, after docking maneuvers. The debris is from the Saturn S-IVB stage separation. NASA hide caption

toggle caption
NASA

People in the United States say someone is "blind as a bat" to mean that person has poor vision. James Hager/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
James Hager/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

Myth Busting 'Blind As A Bat' And 'Memory Of A Goldfish'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/794625042/1200397330" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Scientists on the research vessel Akademik Fedorov spent a week or so setting up a network of scientific monitoring equipment up to about 25 miles from the MOSAiC ship. Ravenna Koenig for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Ravenna Koenig for NPR

Aluminum ingots sit stacked in a warehouse at the Port of New Orleans last year. Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Art historians point to images like John Henry Fuseli's 1754 painting "The Nightmare" as early depictions of sleep paralysis. UniversalImagesGroup/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
UniversalImagesGroup/Getty Images

Seeing Monsters? It Could Be The Nightmare Of Sleep Paralysis

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/781724874/1200397462" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript