805 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

    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
    Arts Week: The Literary Magazine Dissecting Health And Healing

    Arts Week: The Literary Magazine Dissecting Health And Healing

    New York's Bellevue Hospital is the oldest public hospital in the country, serving patients from all walks of life. It's also the home of a literary magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, which is now more than 20 years old. In today's encore episode, NPR arts correspondent Neda Ulaby tells Emily how one doctor at Bellevue Hospital decided a literary magazine is essential to both science and healing.

    As always, you can reach the show by emailing ShortWave@NPR.org.

    • 12 min
    Arts Week: How Art Can Heal The Brain

    Arts Week: How Art Can Heal The Brain

    Arts therapies appear to ease a host of brain disorders from Parkinson's to PTSD. But these treatments that rely on music, poetry or visual arts haven't been backed by rigorous scientific testing. Now, artists and brain scientists have launched a program to change that. NPR's brain correspondent Jon Hamilton tells us about an initiative called the NeuroArts Blueprint in this encore episode.

    If you want to know more about the neuroaesthetics research Aaron mentioned participating in, you can read the paper The brain on art: intense aesthetic experience activates the default mode network: https://bit.ly/3Vfqk9k

    • 14 min
    Arts Week: Harnessing Bacteria For Art

    Arts Week: Harnessing Bacteria For Art

    Pull out your art supplies because it's time to get crafty—with agar! We're beginning Arts Week at the intersection of biology and art. Therein lies a creative medium that's actually alive. Scientists and artists practice etching designs on petri dishes with bacterial paint that can grow and multiply. This encore episode, Aaron talks with science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce about her foray into the agar art world.

    Love the science powering another craft? Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

    • 12 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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