Just as an avocado ripens quickly in a paper bag, bathed in the ethylene gas it releases, Christmas trees may lose their needles because of a similar "ripening" process. Raj Lada, of Nova Scotia's Christmas Tree Research Center, discusses how to block this process to prolong the life of cut firs.
Normally the eyes and brain work together in a seamless, intricate system. But what happens when the brain can no longer make sense of visual information? Neurologist Oliver Sacks talks about his new book, The Mind's Eye, and what visual disorders reveal about how the brain processes sight.
A recent survey suggests many Americans mistakenly believe the ozone hole is causing global warming. Yale's Anthony Leiserowitz, leader of that study, discusses America's climate change knowledge, and outgoing Republican Rep. Bob Inglis talks about climate skeptics on Capitol Hill.
The Navy is developing biofuel-burning F-18 fighter jets and hybrid-electric warships to increase energy independence. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus discusses those initiatives, and retired Army Gen. Steve Anderson talks about what he learned about energy-efficient camps while in Iraq.
All known life on Earth is made up mainly of six elements -- carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, sulfur and phosphorus. Felisa Wolfe-Simon talks about a strain of bacteria described in the journal Science that appears to be able to use arsenic instead of phosphorus in that mix.
Yeast, hops, grain and water all need to combine with biology, chemistry and physics to make a great glass of beer. Charlie Bamforth, University of California, Davis professor of brewing science and author of the new book Beer Is Proof God Loves Us, offers a toast to honor the beverage.
The winners of this year's Ig Nobel Prizes include work on the pain-relieving effects of swearing, researchers who studied techniques to collect whale snot, and more. The Igs honor research that "first, makes you laugh, then, makes you think," according to Marc Abrahams, the master of...
On Science Friday's first broadcast in 1991, Ira Flatow spoke with Michael Oppenheimer and F. Sherwood Rowland about what caused the ozone hole, and what should be done about it. Rowland went on to share a Nobel Prize for the research a few years later.
Science Friday made history in 1993, when it became the first national radio show to be broadcast live over the Internet. Traffic on the 'net slowed that day, as listeners from around the world logged on to try to talk to Ira Flatow and guests Brewster Kahle and Carl Malamud.
How does the way something smells influence the way it tastes? And why are smell memories more emotional than other types of memories? Brown University professor of psychiatry and human behavior Rachel Herz describes the relationship between the smell of food and its taste.
Hosts: Marc Pelletier, Vincent Racaniello, Andre Nantel, and George Farr. The '1000 Genome Project', 'Billion Dollar Human Proteome', viral killing proteins, and capturing anti-matter. Guest: Mark Gerstein Ph.D. - Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry,...
The speech-recognition algorithms behind Google Voice Search analyze thousands of hours of human speech to pick out patterns. Babies may use the same technique. Google speech recognition guru Mike Cohen and linguist Sheila Blumstein discuss how humans and computers learn language.
Kinect uses depth sensors, cameras and microphones to track the movements of players, and it's surprisingly good at weeding out distractions. Ira Flatow and guests discuss the development of the gaming technology -- and how movement can influence players' moods.
The British poet and alchemist Thomas Norton used the word "attoms" in his 1477 poem, The Ordinal of Alchemy. Historian Howard Markel explains how Norton came to use the word, and points out earlier philosophers who raised the concept of indivisible units of matter.
Some airport body scanning machines use X-rays to generate images. How much radiation is a traveler exposed to? Should frequent fliers opt for a pat down instead? Radiation expert David Brenner explains the possible public health concerns of scanning millions of passengers.