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Playlist: Science

Compiled By: Jeff Conner

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Big Picture Science (Series)

Produced by Big Picture Science

Most recent piece in this series:

Rip Van Winkle Worm

From Big Picture Science | Part of the Big Picture Science series | 54:00


Your shower pipes are alive. So are your sinks, books, and floorboards. New studies of our homes are revealing just what species live there – in the thousands, from bacteria to flies to millipedes. Meanwhile, life keeps surprising us by popping up in other unexpected places: the deep biosphere houses the majority of the world’s bacteria and the Arctic tundra has kept worms frozen, but alive, for 40,000 years.

We embrace the multitude of life living on us, in us, and – as it turns out – in every possible ecological niche. Most of it is harmless, some is beneficial, and it’s all testament to the amazing diversity and adaptability of life. In addition, the hardiest organisms suggest where we might find life beyond Earth.


Originally aired January 21, 2019


Sidedoor (Series)

Produced by Smithsonian

Most recent piece in this series:

Wild Orchid Mystery

From Smithsonian | Part of the Sidedoor series | 22:47

Side_door_logo_640x640_small You probably know orchids as the big, colorful flowers found in grocery stores and given as housewarming gifts. But those tropical beauties represent only a fraction of the estimated 25,000 orchid species worldwide. While their showy relatives fly off the shelves, North America’s more understated native orchids are disappearing in the wild. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are working to protect these orchids and their habitats, but first they need solve a surprisingly difficult problem: how to grow one.

Planetary Radio (Series)

Produced by Mat Kaplan

Most recent piece in this series:

A Venus Phosphine Scoop! The Return of Jane Greaves

From Mat Kaplan | Part of the Planetary Radio series | 28:50


Astronomer Jane Greaves and her worldwide team have had quite a ride. It has been two years since the Cardiff University professor announced evidence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. Many scientists were and still are skeptical, but Jane is back with more data, including some that she shares with us first. She and Mat talk about what this could mean. Phosphine-belching Venusian penguins are very unlikely, but we want your artists’ concepts of them! That’s in addition to yet another space trivia contest from Bruce Betts. Hear and discover more at https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2022-jane-greaves-more-venus-phosphine

Climate One (Series)

Produced by Climate One

Most recent piece in this series:

2022-08-19 Will Sustainable Aviation Ever Take Off?

From Climate One | Part of the Climate One series | 58:58


For those of us who love to travel, climate guilt weighs heavily. Civil aviation accounts for about 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and that number is going up. But while electrifying cars and trucks is already well underway, flying planes on anything other than liquid fuels remains devilishly difficult. Despite that difficulty, there are options. Sustainable aviation fuels, or SAFs, hold the most promise, as they can theoretically drop right into existing engines and infrastructure. Fred Ghatala, Director for Carbon and Sustainability for Advanced Biofuels Canada, says, “Sustainable aviation fuel can be used up to 50% of the fuel blends. Engine manufacturers are making engines that are 100% compatible. So, SAF is like Rudy on the sidelines of the Notre Dame game saying put me in coach I'm completely ready. I don't have any technical limitations. I'm just more expensive. And so, that's part of the role of policy to do it.” 

Stephanie Searle, Director for the Fuels Program and the United States Region at the International Council on Clean Transportation, argues that the easiest way to make biofuels isn’t necessarily the best:

 “For example you could take soybean oil or palm oil and turn it into biofuel, put in a jet  – very easy – and that's gonna be one of the cheapest pathways. But that's not gonna get us climate mitigation, because as we use more food crops towards biofuel, we’re diverting them from food and feed markets, which is going to lead farmers to cut down rainforest and convert land elsewhere around the world to produce more crops.” 

The second go-to feedstock for sustainable aviation fuels is waste oils and fats,like used cooking oil after frying french fries or animal fats or parts of the cow that we don't like to eat. But as Searle explains, there’s an availability problem here as well. “If we use them for SAF, we’re just gonna be diverting them from biofuel that’s already used in the road sector or from other uses like animal feed and soapmaking.” 

Searle does believe there is a sustainable solution, though: “The real long-term solution, and the only one that can be scaled to actually replace a very significant fraction of petroleum demand in aviation, is the very advanced technologies like cellulosic biofuel that could turn things like trash – like literally the trash in your household – into very low carbon biofuel that would get us great climate mitigation gains.” 

To bring any of these solutions into widespread use, Fred Ghatala, Director of Carbon & Sustainability, Advanced Biofuels Canada, argues that we need clear policy: “There will always be airlines that are leading by example and blending sustainable aviation fuel, and there's others that will probably never choose to do so if it's not obligated, because it is an added cost.”

While SAFs are clearly the best solution for longer flights, short flights could turn to technology like battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell planes. Scott Cary, Project Manager at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, gives insight into the viability of these two options: 

“At the Lab we’re talking to a different manufacturer pretty much every week from electric to hydrogen and varying sizes up to roughly 70 seats at this point. You've got a market roughly 30% of the market is under 500 miles. And that generally works for both of those technologies.” 

Apart from the new promising technologies, what can we do now to limit our carbon emissions when we travel? Christina Beckmann, Co-creator of Tomorrow’s Air and Vice President of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, has some suggestions, “One of the things that has been reminded to me, or encouraged, is fly like a nerd, which is fly newer aircraft, which are more efficient. Fly economy if we have fewer unfilled seats. Choose regular size aircraft. The very small aircraft and very large aircraft are less efficient. And fly direct.” 

Sound Ecology (Series)

Produced by Jessica Eden

Most recent piece in this series:

Sound Ecology: Apapane

From Jessica Eden | Part of the Sound Ecology series | 01:00

Sound_ecology_logo_small The apapane is a forest bird native to the Hawaiian islands. It is a member of the honeycreeper family and an important pollinator.

Got Science? (Series)

Produced by Got Science

Most recent piece in this series:

The Latest Science on the Global Climate Crisis

From Got Science | Part of the Got Science? series | 29:02


In this episode

Colleen and Rachel discuss:

  • the interwoven role of science in international climate negotiations
  • the need for global action on climate change
  • how the climate crisis is affecting those countries who have contributed the least to heat-trapping emissions

A Moment of Science (Series)

Produced by WFIU

Most recent piece in this series:

AMOS 22.175: Pluto's Icy Volcanoes, 9/2/2022

From WFIU | Part of the A Moment of Science series | 02:00

Mos-fullcolor-rgb-stacked_small Pluto's Icy Volcanoes

Bioneers - Revolution From the Heart of Nature (Series)

Produced by Bioneers

Most recent piece in this series:

05-17: Nature’s Phoenix: Fire As Medicine, 8/24/2022

From Bioneers | Part of the Bioneers - Revolution From the Heart of Nature series | 28:30

Chad_hanson_small Contemporary Western fire science is integrating what Indigenous Peoples discovered over thousands of years of observation, and trial and error: fire is key to optimizing forest vitality and biodiversity. The merging of these two ways of knowing could signal the end to our misguided policy of fire suppression, and the beginning of fire-resilient communities with a new relationship to one of nature’s most elemental and fearful forces. With fire ecologists Chad Hanson and Frank Kanawha Lake.

The 90-Second Naturalist (Series)

Produced by WGUC/ WVXU

Most recent piece in this series:

90 Second Naturalist August 2022 Modules

From WGUC/ WVXU | Part of the The 90-Second Naturalist series | 34:30


The 90 Second Naturalist connects to listeners' innate love of nature through compelling stories that entertain, inform and promote interaction with the natural world.


Hosted by Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the 90 second modules present a bite-sized look at the world's wonders.


The modules are self contained and can fit easily into any format. They are produced to air each weekday and are available by month.

This Week in Water (Series)

Produced by H2O Radio

Most recent piece in this series:

This Week in Water for August 14, 2022

From H2O Radio | Part of the This Week in Water series | 06:00

H2o_logo_240_small A new study warns of megafloods in California—a disaster that seems implausible as the state confronts a historic megadrought.

Composting is an easy way to keep landfills from being a climate disaster.

Old-growth grasslands” have been an overlooked climate solution. But that could be changing. 

Researchers ranked 57,000 of the most commonly consumed foods by their environmental impact