Reggie Watts Builds a Synthesizer, Bit by Bit
December 13, 2013

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
December 13, 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
December 13, 2013

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
December 13, 2013

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
December 13, 2013

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
December 6, 2013

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
December 6, 2013

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?
December 6, 2013

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
December 6, 2013

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
December 6, 2013

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.


At STREB Action Lab, Dance and Physics Collide
November 29, 2013

Choreographer Elizabeth Streb pushes the boundaries of Newtonian physics--with dance. In her show Forces, dancers fly, fall, and collide in mid-air. No wonder the "action architect" has her share of scientist fans, among them, big-thinking particle physicist Lisa Randall.

Eating 'Wilder' Foods for a Healthier Diet
November 29, 2013

In Eating on the Wild Side, author Jo Robinson reveals how the nutrition and flavor has been bred out of supermarket fruits and vegetables. Robinson tells us what we can do to reclaim our wild roots and the nutrition from our foods.


Annual Prizes Honor the Stranger Side of Science
November 29, 2013

If you've ever wondered about opera's effects on mouse heart surgery, or pondered the timing of when cows are likely to get up or lie down, you're in luck. At the annual IgNobel Prize ceremony, awards go to scientific research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think.

Budget Cuts Leave Curiosity and Cassini in Limbo
November 22, 2013

Upcoming NASA budget cuts may force the agency to choose between two of its flagship planetary missions--the Mars Curiosity rover and the Cassini mission to Saturn. Wired reporter Adam Mann discuss how much it takes to run these missions and what discoveries we could miss out on.


Stores Are Snooping Into Your Smartphone
November 22, 2013

Retailers have used various techniques to analyze in-store buying behavior, such as surveys, video surveillance, and buyer reward programs. Some stores have been tapping into the technology in smartphones to track shoppers' actions. New York Times reporter Quentin Hardy discusses how they're doing this and what information they can gather.

A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits?
November 22, 2013

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers reported an association between daily nut consumption and a reduction in the risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and other major chronic diseases. Lead author Charles Fuchs discusses these findings.


ISON: The Comet of the Century... or Is It?
November 22, 2013

When astronomers spotted Comet ISON in 2012, some christened it the "Comet of the Century." It initially failed to live up to the hype. But this month, ISON blazed brighter and sprouted several tails. Astronomers like Andrew Fraknoi are following the comet as it scrapes past the sun, where it could be destroyed--or emerge, even more spectacular than before.

When Water Flows Uphill
November 22, 2013

In the Leidenfrost Effect, a water droplet will float on a layer of its own vapor if heated to a certain temperature. This common cooking phenomenon takes center stage in a series of playful experiments by physicists at England's University of Bath, who discovered new and fun means to manipulate the movement of water.


How to Avoid 'Food Failures' This Thanksgiving
November 22, 2013

Remember last year's overcooked, dried-out turkey? Don't let it become a tradition. In this episode of "Food Failures," Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food, dishes up a few tips for Turkey Day--like cooking turkey breasts separately from the legs, or microwaving potatoes to free up real estate on the stove.

Using Modern Ballistics to Crack 'Cold Case JFK'
November 22, 2013

If the JFK assassination happened today, would we have the tools to crack the case? Ballistics experts Luke and Mike Haag apply 3D laser and Doppler technology to the crime scene for new insights into the "single bullet theory" and the "grassy knoll."