808 episodes

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

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    • Science
    • 4.7 • 5.5K Ratings

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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

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    The Biologist Who Talks With Cells

    The Biologist Who Talks With Cells

    The human body is made up of more than 30 trillion cells, but how do they all work together? It's all about communication! "They talk through molecules going from one cell to the adjacent cell," says Dr. Sandra Murray, a professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of Pittsburgh who studies how cells communicate with each other to do complex tasks, like close a wound or deliver a baby.

    This year, Dr. Murray became the first person of color elected as president of the American Society for Cell Biology. She talks with host Aaron Scott about the beautiful language of cells, how she made her way as a Black woman in STEM, and what gives her hope in her field today.

    • 14 min
    What Makes Hawaii's Erupting Volcanoes Special

    What Makes Hawaii's Erupting Volcanoes Special

    Just after Thanksgiving, for the first time in almost 40 years, Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano erupted. It's one of several ongoing eruptions – including Kilauea, also on Hawaii, and Indonesia's Mount Semeru. At just over half the size of the big island of Hawaii, Mauna Loa is the world's biggest active volcano.

    Today, volcanologist Alison Graettinger talks to Scientist in Residence Regina G. Barber about what makes Mauna Loa's eruption different than Indonesia's and others around the Pacific, and what it reveals about planet Earth.

    Watch the U.S. Geological Survey's live video of the eruption here.

    • 12 min
    'One Mississippi...' How Lightning Shapes The Climate

    'One Mississippi...' How Lightning Shapes The Climate

    When lightning strikes a giant tree in the tropical rainforest, there's usually no fire, no blackened crater — you might not even notice any damage. But come back months later, as Evan Gora does, and you may find that tree and dozens around it dead. Gora, a forest ecologist who studies lightning in tropical forests, says we are just beginning to understand how lightning actually behaves in these forests, and what its implications are for climate change. On today's episode, Evan Gora tells Aaron Scott about shocking discoveries in lightning research, and why Evan has developed a healthy respect for the hazards it poses – both to individual researchers and to the forests that life on Earth depends on.

    • 12 min
    Don't Call It Dirt: The Science Of Soil

    Don't Call It Dirt: The Science Of Soil

    It's easy to overlook the soil beneath our feet, or to think of it as just dirt to be cleaned up. But soil wraps the world in an envelope of life: It grows our food, regulates our climate, and makes our planet habitable. "What stands between life and lifelessness on our planet Earth is this thin layer of soil that exists on the Earth's surface," says Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, a soil scientist at the University of California-Merced.

    Just ... don't call it dirt.

    "I don't like the D-word," Berhe says. Berhe says soil is precious, taking millennia to regenerate. And with about a third of the world's soil degraded, according to a UN estimate, it's also at risk. Prof. Berhe, who is also serving as Director of the U. S. Dept. of Energy's Office of Science, marks World Soil Day by telling Aaron Scott about the hidden majesty of soil and why it's crucial to tackling the climate crisis.

    • 11 min
    Arts Week: Physics Meets The Circus

    Arts Week: Physics Meets The Circus

    Julia Ruth's job takes a lot of strength, a lot of balance, and a surprising amount of physics. She's a circus artist — and has performed her acrobatic Cyr wheel routine around the world. But before she learned her trade and entered the limelight, she was on a very different career path — she was studying physics. Julia talks with Emily (who also shares a past life in the circus) about her journey from physicist to circus artist, and how she learned her physics-defining acts.

    • 12 min
    Arts Week: The Life Cycle Of A Neuron

    Arts Week: The Life Cycle Of A Neuron

    An exhibit that blended science and technology for an immersive art experience went on display in Washington, DC and New York City in 2021 and 2022. It invited visitors to explore the cells in their brain. The installation was a partnership between the Society for Neuroscience and technology-based art space, ARTECHOUSE. In this encore episode, producer Thomas Lu talks to neuroscientist John Morrison and chief creative officer Sandro Kereselidze about the Life of a Neuron.

    Curious about other ways science intersects with art? Email us at ShortWave@NPR.org.

    • 13 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
5.5K Ratings

5.5K Ratings

ScatchNsniff ,

Love it

Feeds my nerdy brain. Listen on Spotify to hear the new ones without a subscription.

Helena123456789 ,

Please get rid of Aaron Scott

He sounds like an overly-earnest 8th grade boy.

I expect more professionalism from NPR.

Woco moto ,

Skipped half episodes to avoid politics

Heavy political slant and not science. Hard to decide how much is science vs. pushing a message. Skip through about half of them after a couple minutes.

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