1,075 episodes

New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — in just under 15 minutes. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join hosts Emily Kwong and Regina Barber 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

Short Wave Short Wave

    • Science
    • 4.7 • 5.8K Ratings

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New discoveries, everyday mysteries, and the science behind the headlines — in just under 15 minutes. It's science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join hosts Emily Kwong and Regina Barber 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

    Scientists Reveal Mysterious Origin of Baobab Trees, Rafiki's Home in 'The Lion King'

    Scientists Reveal Mysterious Origin of Baobab Trees, Rafiki's Home in 'The Lion King'

    Baobabs are sometimes called the "tree of life" with their thick trunks, crown of branches and flowers that only open at twilight. But theories about their geographic origin was divided among three places: the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, the Kimberley region of western Australia and the dry forests of the island nation of Madagascar. To solve this mystery, a global research team led by scientists at the Wuhan Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences examined high-quality genomic data from all eight baobab species. Have another origin story you want us to cover? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

    Climate Change Is Coming For Your Chocolate

    Climate Change Is Coming For Your Chocolate

    Chocolate may never be the same. The majority of chocolate is made in just two countries and erratic weather from climate change is decreasing cocoa production. A handful of extreme weather events—from drought to heavy rainfall—could have lasting effects on the chocolate industry. Yasmin Tayag, a food, health and science writer at The Atlantic, talks to host Emily Kwong about the cocoa shortage: What's causing it, how it's linked to poor farming conditions and potential solutions. Plus, they enjoy a chocolate alternative taste test.

    Read Yasmin's full article.

    Have a food science story you want us to cover? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

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    • 13 min
    How AI Is Cracking The Biology Code

    How AI Is Cracking The Biology Code

    As artificial intelligence seeps into some realms of society, it rushes into others. One area it's making a big difference is protein science — as in the "building blocks of life," proteins! Producer Berly McCoy talks to host Emily Kwong about the newest advance in protein science: AlphaFold3, an AI program from Google DeepMind. Plus, they talk about the wider field of AI protein science and why researchers hope it will solve a range of problems, from disease to the climate.

    Have other aspects of AI you want us to cover? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

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    • 14 min
    NEWS: NOAA Issues First Severe Geomagnetic Storm Watch Since 2005

    NEWS: NOAA Issues First Severe Geomagnetic Storm Watch Since 2005

    Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observed a cluster of sunspots on the surface of the sun this week. With them came solar flares that kicked off a severe geomagnetic storm. That storm is expected to last throughout the weekend as at least five coronal mass ejections — chunks of the sun — are flung out into space, towards Earth! NOAA uses a five point scale to rate these storms, and this weekend's storm is a G4. It's expected to produce auroras as far south as Alabama. To contextualize this storm, we are looking back at the largest solar storm on record: the Carrington Event. Want us to cover more about the sun? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

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    • 13 min
    How Autism Can Look Very Different, Even in Identical Twins

    How Autism Can Look Very Different, Even in Identical Twins

    Sam and John Fetters, 19, are identical twins on different ends of the autism spectrum. Sam is a sophomore at Amherst College and runs marathons in his free time. John attends a school for people with special needs and loves to watch Sesame Street in his free time. Identical twins like Sam and John pose an important question for scientists: How can a disorder that is known to be highly genetic look so different in siblings who share the same genome?

    Check out more of NPR's series on the Science of Siblings.

    More science questions? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

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    • 10 min
    The Wonderous World Of Nudibranchs

    The Wonderous World Of Nudibranchs

    Emily gets super nerdy with former host Maddie Sofia get as they dive into the incredible world of nudibranchs in this encore episode. Not only are these sea slugs eye-catching for their colors, some of them have evolved to "steal" abilities from other organisms — from the power of photosynthesis to the stinging cells of their venomous predators. These sea slugs are going to blow your mind!

    You can email Short Wave at shortwave@npr.org.

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    • 12 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
5.8K Ratings

5.8K Ratings

😀😁😃😆😄😃😁😀😃😀😁😍😍😍 ,

Response to a reviewer

When was their ever easiest and sexiest comments I’ve been listening for several years now and have not heard one. Great podcast! Don’t listen to the negative reviews!

Mogadeet1451 ,

Stop calling scientists “nerds”

The content is excellent, but the hosts sound like school teachers working hard to get a bunch of middle school kids excited about science. I really hate that researchers are always described as “nerds” about their subject. It sounds so juvenile. Are you going to call oncologists “cancer nerds”? Know your audience. If someone is listening to this podcast, they are likely already interested in science. You don’t have to work so hard to be enthusiastic.

Unemployed Hero ,

Overproduced - Used to be 5 Stars

Good hosts, interesting topics, & knowledgeable guests. Unfortunately it’s hard to hear them speaking with the overpowering “background” music & unnecessary sound effects. It used to be added to just the intro/end (which is fine) but now there’s music pretty much the whole time. This overproduction has made one of my favorite podcasts unlistenable

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