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NPR Topics: Research News
Jul 12, 2024

Research shows AI can boost creativity for some, but at a cost
Amateur writers using AI tools produced stories that were deemed more creative, but the research suggests the creativity of the group overall went down.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jul 10, 2024

Astronomers spot a mysterious black hole nestled in a cluster of stars
A report from Nature shows that astronomers may have found a medium-sized black hole, a kind they've long looked for.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jul 10, 2024

Like humans, these ants can perform leg amputations to save lives
Some ants herd aphids. Some farm fungi. And now, scientists have realized that when an ant injures its leg, it sometimes will turn to a buddy to perform a lifesaving limb amputation. Not only that — some ants have probably been amputating limbs longer than humans! Today, thanks to the reporting of ant enthusiast and science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce, we behold the medical prowess of the ant.

Want to hear more cool stories about the tiny critters among us? Email us at shortwave@npr.org — we'd love to know!

NPR Topics: Research News
Jul 08, 2024

Researcher use new statistical tools on previous data about attractiveness
A new study finds that people tend to partner up with people of similar attractiveness.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jul 08, 2024

Researchers use new statistical tools on previous data about attractiveness
A new study finds that people tend to partner up with people of similar attractiveness.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jul 01, 2024

Rapamycin may slow aging. Here's one way the drug will be tested
Longevity researchers are taking a generic drug they think may help extend people's lives. Now a dentist is testing if rapamycin stops gum disease — a canary in the coal mine for age-related diseases.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jun 28, 2024

In Lebanon, the 'Amber Man' digs up golden time capsules from the age of the dinosaurs
When dinosaurs reigned some 130 million years ago, flowering plants were taking over the world. That change is sealed in ancient amber specimens on the slopes of Lebanon that Danny Azar knows so well.


NPR Topics: Research News
Jun 28, 2024

Named after the Norse god Loki, meet Lokiceratops, a new horned dinosaur species
A brand new species of ceratops, or horned dinosaur, was recently discovered in northern Montana. The dinosaur is called Lokiceratops rangiformis, after the Norse god Loki, and is believed to have lived roughly eighty million years ago. The bones of the plant-eating dinosaur were found on private land in an area well known for its large amount of fossils, and at first, researchers thought the bones belonged to another species of dinosaur!

Want to hear more about dinosaurs or other paleontological discoveries? Email us at shortwave@npr.org to let us know. We'd love to hear from you!

NPR Topics: Research News
Jun 18, 2024

Deciphered 1,600-year-old manuscript reveals new clues about a young Jesus
Researchers say some ancient writing on a scrap of papyrus, that went unnoticed for years, is part of the earliest surviving copy of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jun 14, 2024

Why you shouldn't worry about invasive Joro spiders
Joro spiders are spreading across the east coast. They are an invasive species that most likely arrived in shipping containers from eastern Asia. Today, we look into why some people find them scary, why to not panic about them and what their trajectory illustrates about the wider issue of invasive species.

Questions? You can also email those to shortwave@npr.org.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jun 03, 2024

Misconduct claims may derail MDMA psychedelic treatment for PTSD
People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may soon have a new treatment option: MDMA, the chemical found in ecstasy. In August, the Food and Drug Administration plans to decide whether MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD will be approved for market based on years of research. But serious allegations of research misconduct may derail the approval timeline.

NPR science reporter Will Stone talks to host Emily Kwong about the clinical trials on MDMA-assisted therapy research and a recent report questioning the validity of the results.

Read Will's full story here.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 31, 2024

Trump repeats claims — without evidence — that his trial was rigged
Former President Donald Trump reiterated many of claims — without evidence — that his criminal trial was rigged, a day after a New York jury found him guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 22, 2024

Plastic junk? Researchers find tiny particles in men's testicles
The new study has scientists concerned that microplastics may be contributing to reproductive health issues.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 22, 2024

To escape hungry bats, these flying beetles create an ultrasound 'illusion'
A study of tiger beetles has found a possible explanation for why they produce ultrasound noises right before an echolocating bat swoops in for the kill.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 22, 2024

Scientists tracking Antarctic sea ice levels spotted a big shift in 2023
Winter 2023's Antarctic sea ice was at its lowest level since satellite measurements began. A new study shows how unlikely this would be without man-made factors.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 20, 2024

When sea otters lose their favorite foods, they can use tools to go after new ones
Some otters rely on tools to bust open hard-shelled prey items like snails, and a new study suggests this tool use is helping them to survive as their favorite, easier-to-eat foods disappear.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 13, 2024

On this unassuming trail near LA, bird watchers see something spectacular
At Bear Divide, just outside Los Angeles, you can see a rare spectacle of nature. This is one of the only places in the western United States where you can see bird migration during daylight hours.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 13, 2024

AI gets scientists one step closer to mapping the organized chaos in our cells
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.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 11, 2024

We've been trying to save the wrong bees
Popular slogans and ad campaigns have urged the public to save honeybees. But reports suggest those efforts were directed at saving the wrong bees.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 10, 2024

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.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 09, 2024

Researchers reveal nearly every detail of a sand grain-sized bit of brain
Scientists have imaged a tiny fragment of brain in unprecedented detail, showing detailed connections between individual neurons. The method could help researchers better understand brain circuits.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 08, 2024

In a decade of drug overdoses, more than 320,000 American children lost a parent
New research documents how many children lost a parent to an opioid or other overdose in the period from 2011 to 2021. Bereaved children face elevated risks to their physical and emotional health.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 06, 2024

Largest-ever marine reptile found with help from an 11-year-old girl
A father and daughter discovered fossil remnants of a giant ichthyosaur that scientists say may have been the largest-known marine reptile to ever swim the seas.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 04, 2024

When PTO stands for 'pretend time off': Doctors struggle to take real breaks
What's a typical vacation activity for doctors? Work. A new study finds that most physicians do work on a typical day off. In this essay, a family doctor considers why that is and why it matters.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 04, 2024

'Dance Your Ph.D.' winner on science, art, and embracing his identity
Weliton Menário Costa's award-winning music video showcases his research on kangaroo personality and behavior — and offers a celebration of human diversity, too.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 03, 2024

Orangutan in the wild applied medicinal plant to heal its own injury, biologists say
It is "the first known case of active wound treatment in a wild animal with a medical plant," biologist Isabelle Laumer told NPR. She says the orangutan, called Rakus, is now thriving.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 03, 2024

Launching an effective bird flu vaccine quickly could be tough, scientists warn
Federal health officials say the U.S. has the building blocks to make a vaccine to protect humans from bird flu, if needed. But experts warn we're nowhere near prepared for another pandemic.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 02, 2024

This week in science: biodegradable plastic, crops on Mars and deer vs. caribou
NPR's Juana Summers talks with Regina Barber and Emily Kwong of Short Wave about biodegradable plastic, simulating growing crops on Mars, and how deer are disrupting caribou populations.

NPR Topics: Research News
May 01, 2024

For birds, siblinghood can be a matter of life or death
Some birds kill their siblings soon after hatching. Other birds spend their whole lives with their siblings and will even risk their lives to help each other.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 30, 2024

How do you counter misinformation? Critical thinking is step one
An economic perspective on misinformation

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 30, 2024

Scientists restore brain cells impaired by a rare genetic disorder
A therapy that restores brain cells impaired by a rare genetic disorder may offer a strategy for treating conditions like autism, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 26, 2024

Helping women get better sleep by calming the relentless 'to-do lists' in their heads
A recent survey found that Americans' sleep patterns have been getting worse. Adult women under 50 are among the most sleep-deprived demographics.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 26, 2024

As bird flu spreads in cows, here are 4 big questions scientists are trying to answer
Health officials say there's very little risk to humans from the bird flu outbreak among dairy cattle, but there's still much they don't know. Here are four questions scientists are trying to answer.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 25, 2024

Animals get stressed during eclipses. But not for the reason you think
After studying various species earlier this month, some scientists now say they understand the origin of animal behavior during solar eclipses.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 24, 2024

A woman with failing kidneys receives genetically modified pig organs
Surgeons transplanted a kidney and thymus gland from a gene-edited pig into a 54-year-old woman in an attempt to extend her life. It's the latest experimental use of animal organs in humans.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 23, 2024

Animals are stressed during eclipses. But not for the reason you think
NPR's Juana Summers talks with biologist Adam Hartstone-Rose about his study into why animals are so stressed out during an eclipse.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 22, 2024

Oncologists' meetings with drug reps don't help cancer patients live longer
Drug company reps commonly visit doctors to talk about new medications. A team of economists wanted to know if that helps patients live longer. They found that for cancer patients, the answer is no.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 21, 2024

Genes play a very small role in determining left-handedness, research finds
NPR's Ayesha Rascoe speaks with Clyde Francks, a geneticist in the Netherlands, about the latest research into what makes people left or right-handed.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 19, 2024

Which scientists get mentioned in the news? Mostly ones with Anglo names, says study
A new study finds that in news stories about scientific research, U.S. media were less likely to mention a scientist if they had an East Asian or African name, as compared to one with an Anglo name.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 19, 2024

An 11-year-old unearthed fossils of the largest known marine reptile
When the dinosaurs walked the Earth, massive marine reptiles swam. Among them, a species of Ichthyosaur that measured over 80 feet long. Today, we look into how a chance discovery by a father-daughter duo of fossil hunters furthered paleontologist's understanding of the "giant fish lizard of the Severn." Currently, it is the largest marine reptile known to scientists.

Read more about this specimen in the study published in the journal PLOS One.

Have another ancient animal or scientific revelation you want us to cover? Email us at shortwave@npr.org — we might talk about it on a future episode!

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 18, 2024

How old is the coffee bean? Researchers investigate
Your coffee beans may have roots that stretch back 600,000 years — according to a new study.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 18, 2024

COMIC: Our sun was born with thousands of other stars. Where did they all go?
Our sun was born in a cosmic cradle with thousands of other stars. Astrophysicists say they want to find these siblings in order to help answer the question: Are we alone out there?

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 12, 2024

An artificial womb could build a bridge to health for premature babies
Artificial wombs could someday save babies born very prematurely. Even though the experimental technology is still in animal tests, there are mounting questions about its eventual use with humans.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 09, 2024

In the womb, a brother's hormones can shape a sister's future
When siblings share a womb, sex hormones from a male fetus can cause lasting changes in a female littermate. This effect exists for all kinds of mammals — perhaps humans too.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 05, 2024

The "barcodes" powering these tiny songbirds' memories may also help human memory
Tiny, black-capped chickadees have big memories. They stash food in hundreds to thousands of locations in the wild - and then come back to these stashes when other food sources are low. Now, researchers at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute think neural activity that works like a barcode may be to thank for this impressive feat — and that it might be a clue for how memories work across species.

Curious about other animal behavior mysteries? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 04, 2024

This week in science: Clever chickadees, smiling robots and haiku's most popular bugs
NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Regina Barber and Rachel Carlson of Short Wave about chickadees with awesome memories, grinning robots, and the bugs most commonly found in haiku.

NPR Topics: Research News
Apr 03, 2024

Scientists study brains to understand the joy that's felt when caring for siblings
For our series The Science of Siblings, we hear how researchers have found out that caring for siblings can make people happier.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 30, 2024

Negative leap second: Climate change delays unusual step for time standard
We're nearing a year when a negative leap second could be needed to shave time — an unprecedented step that would have unpredictable effects, a new study says.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 30, 2024

Climate change is delaying world clocks' need for a 'negative leap second'
We're nearing a year when a negative leap second could be needed to shave time — an unprecedented step that would have unpredictable effects, a new study says.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 29, 2024

California students find ancient sloth fossil
Last spring, some elementary school students in Santa Cruz found an exposed bone in a creek bed, which turned out to be an ancient fossil - it just went on display.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 29, 2024

Once lost to science, these "uncharismatic" animals are having their moment
Historic numbers of animals across the globe have become endangered or pushed to extinction. But some of these species sit in limbo — not definitively extinct yet missing from the scientific record. Rediscovering a "lost" species is not easy. It can require trips to remote areas and canvassing a large area in search of only a handful of animals. But new technology and stronger partnerships with local communities have helped these hidden, "uncharismatic" creatures come to light.

Have other scientific gray areas you want us to cover in a future episode? Email us at shortwave@npr.org!

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 28, 2024

The Colorado River rarely reaches the sea. Here's why
More than half of the Colorado River's water is used to grow crops, primarily livestock feed, a new study finds. The river and its users are facing tough decisions as the climate warms.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 23, 2024

Over 4,400 preserved human brains have been discovered across the world, study finds
NPR's Scott Simon speaks to Oxford University scientist Alexandra Morton-Hayward about how some brains are preserved thousands of years after a person's death.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 22, 2024

Most animals don't go through menopause. So why do these whales?
Across the animal kingdom, menopause is something of an evolutionary blip. We humans are one of the few animals to experience it. But Sam Ellis, a researcher in animal behavior, argues that this isn't so surprising. "The best way to propagate your genes is to get as many offspring as possible into the next generation," says Ellis. "The best way to do that is almost always to reproduce your whole life."

So how did menopause evolve? The answer may lie in whales. Ellis and his team at the University of Exeter recently published a study in the journal Nature that studies the evolution of menopause in the undersea animals most known for it. What they uncovered may even help explain menopause in humans.

Curious about other animal behavior mysteries? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 21, 2024

This week in science: whale menopause, bird rest stops and a speech-generating patch
NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Emily Kwong and Margaret Cirino about whale menopause, songbird rest stops along migratory routes, and a device that allows people with voice disorders to speak.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 20, 2024

Scientists studied how cicadas pee. Their insights could shed light on fluid dynamics
Cicadas, and the way they urinate, offer a 'perfect' lab for understanding fluid dynamics at very small scales, researchers say

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 18, 2024

More studies challenge the idea that Havana syndrome comes from foreign adversaries
Two new government studies found no unusual pattern of injury or illness in people with the mysterious cluster of symptoms known as Havana syndrome.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 18, 2024

In Havana syndrome patients, NIH scientists find no physical trace of harm
The mysterious ailments that became known as Havana syndrome left no physical evidence of injury or disease, according to two government studies.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 16, 2024

This medieval astrolabe has both Arabic and Hebrew markings. Here's what it means
This discovery sheds new light on the rich history of scholarship and intellectual exchange between Muslims, Jews and Christians during a time of Muslim rule in medieval Spain.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 13, 2024

Oil and gas companies emit more climate-warming methane than EPA reports
Oil and gas drillers are releasing more climate-warming methane than the government estimates, a new study shows.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 13, 2024

This often-overlooked sea creature may be quietly protecting the planet's coral reefs
The pickle-shaped bottom feeders may reduce the amount of microbes on the seafloor that could potentially sicken coral, scientists suggest

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 13, 2024

The lowly sea cucumber may be helping to protect coral reefs against disease
The pickle-shaped bottom feeders may reduce the amount of microbes on the seafloor that could potentially sicken coral, scientists suggest

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 13, 2024

What we know about long COVID — from brain fog to physical fatigue
"Long COVID has affected every part of my life," said Virginia resident Rachel Beale said at a recent Senate hearing. "I wake up every day feeling tired, nauseous and dizzy. I immediately start planning when I can lay down again."

Beale is far from alone. Many of her experiences have been echoed by others dealing with long COVID. It's a constellation of debilitating symptoms that range from brain fog and intense physical fatigue to depression and anxiety.

But there's new, promising research that sheds light onto some symptoms. NPR health correspondent Will Stone talks with Short Wave host Regina G. Barber about the state of long COVID research — what we know, what we don't and when we can expect treatments or even cures for it.

Have more COVID questions you want us to cover? Email us at shortwave@npr.org — we'd love to hear from you.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 08, 2024

Domestic violence may leave telltale damage in the brain. Scientists want to find it
Traumatic brain injuries from intimate partner violence are common, and potentially more severe than those seen in sports.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 08, 2024

The "shocking" tactic electric fish use to collectively sense the world
Neuroscientist Nathan Sawtell has spent a lot of time studying the electric elephantnose fish. These fish send and decipher weak electric signals, which Sawtell hopes will eventually help neuroscientists better understand how the brain filters sensory information about the outside world. As Sawtell has studied these electric critters, he's had a lingering question: why do they always seem to organize themselves in a particular orientation. At first, he couldn't figure out why, but a new study released this week in Nature may have an answer: the fish are creating an electrical network larger than any field a single fish can muster alone, and providing collective knowledge about potential dangers in the surrounding water.

Want to hear us cover more animal news? Email the show at shortwave@npr.org to let us know!

Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 06, 2024

Meet the public health researchers trying to rein in America's gun violence crisis
After the 1996 Dickey Amendment halted federal spending on gun violence research, a small group of academics pressed on, with little money or support. Now a new generation is taking up the charge.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 06, 2024

The Voyager 1 spacecraft has a big glitch. Now, NASA must figure out how to fix it
The Voyager 1 space probe is the farthest human-made object in space. It launched in 1977 with a golden record on board that carried assorted sounds of our home planet: greetings in many different languages, dogs barking, and the sound of two people kissing, to name but a few examples. The idea with this record was that someday, Voyager 1 might be our emissary to alien life - an audible time capsule of Earth's beings. Since its launch, it also managed to complete missions to Jupiter and Saturn. In 2012, it crossed into interstellar space.

But a few months ago, the probe encountered a problem. "It's an elderly spacecraft," says NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce, "and it had some kind of electronic stroke." Greenfieldboyce talks to Short Wave Host Regina G. Barber about the precarious status of Voyager 1 - the glitch threatening its mission, and the increasingly risky measures NASA is taking to try and restore it.

What interstellar adventure should we cover next? Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 05, 2024

Researchers start studying traumatic brain injury from domestic violence
Researchers may one day be able to identify biomarkers that could indicate when a patient's brain is showing signs of assault, even when they themselves are unable or too afraid to report it.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 05, 2024

A dance contest let this grad student share his research and celebrates his identity
Science magazine's annual contest "Dance Your PhD" invites grad students to present their research through dance. This year's winner, Weliton Menário Costa, showcased his work on kangaroo behavior.

NPR Topics: Research News
Mar 01, 2024

Scientists have new details on an Antarctic glacier crucial to future sea level rise
NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with glaciologist Ted Scambos about the conclusion of a multi-year study of Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, the "plug" holding back a formidable amount of ice.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 25, 2024

By accident, scientists found an underwater 'megastructure' from the Stone Age
Scientists have found what they say could be one of the oldest Stone Age megastructures in Europe: a giant stone wall on the floor of the Baltic Sea. They've dubbed it the "Blinkerwall."

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 24, 2024

The decimal point was in use 150 years before previously thought, research shows
NPR's Scott Simon talks to math historian Glen Van Brummelen about his finding that the decimal point appeared in the 1440s, earlier than thought.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 23, 2024

Study provides most detailed analysis yet of how baleen whales produce sound
Scientists have long struggled to study how whales produce sound. A new paper in the journal Nature paints the most complete picture yet of how baleen whales produce their iconic, haunting calls.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 23, 2024

Clues to a better understanding of chronic fatigue syndrome emerge from a major study
After seven years of research, the findings shed light on the long-neglected illness. Scientists say the results could lead to future trials for potential treatments.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 23, 2024

Clues to a better understanding of chronic fatigue syndrome emerge from major study
After seven years of research, the findings shed light on the long-neglected illness. Scientists say the results could lead to future trials for potential treatments.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 22, 2024

Scientists scanning the seafloor discover a long-lost Stone Age 'megastructure'
The more than half mile long wall, called the Blinkerwall, was likely used by Stone Age hunter-gatherers to herd reindeer toward a shooting blind.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 21, 2024

An ambitious NIH study has brought new attention to chronic fatigue syndrome
Long COVID has brought new attention to how complex chronic illnesses can develop in the aftermath of a viral infection. Prior research may help forward clinical trials to test possible treatments.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 21, 2024

In light of the solar maximum, a look at the biggest solar storm in recorded history
We are at the height of the Sun's activity in its eleven year cycle, known to astronomers as the solar maximum. This means that over the next several months there's going to be a lot of solar activity. It's got us thinking back to 1859. That's when astronomer Richard Carrington was studying the Sun when he witnessed the most intense geomagnetic storm recorded in history. The storm, triggered by a giant solar flare, sent brilliant auroral displays across the globe causing electrical sparking and fires in telegraph stations. This encore episode, Regina talks to solar physicist Dr. Samaiyah Farid about what's now known as the Carrington event and about what may happen the next time a massive solar storm hits Earth.

Want to hear us cover other parts of the solar system? Email the show at shortwave@npr.org to let us know!

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 19, 2024

One woolly mammoth's journey at the end of the Ice Age
Lately, paleoecologist Audrey Rowe has been a bit preoccupied with a girl named Elma. That's because Elma is ... a woolly mammoth. And 14,000 years ago, when Elma was alive, her habitat in interior Alaska was rapidly changing. The Ice Age was coming to a close and human hunters were starting early settlements. Which leads to an intriguing question: Who, or what, killed her? In the search for answers, Audrey traces Elma's life and journey through — get this — a single tusk. Today, she shares her insights on what the mammoth extinction from thousands of years ago can teach us about megafauna extinctions today with guest host Nate Rott.

Thoughts on other ancient animal stories we should tell? Email us at shortwave@npr.org and we might make a future episode about it!

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 18, 2024

A new study finds the memory systems that give trivia champions an edge
Memory is complicated. A new study co-authored by Jeopardy! contestant Monica Thieu looks at how two different memory systems might give some people an edge with recalling facts.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 14, 2024

Tai chi reduces blood pressure better than aerobic exercise, study finds
The slow-moving Chinese martial art tai chi is known to increase flexibility and balance. Now, research suggests it's more effective at reducing blood pressure than more vigorous forms of exercise.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 14, 2024

Manny loves Cayenne. Plus, 5 facts about queer animals for Valentine's Day
In a Valentine's Day exclusive report, NPR has learned there is currently a gay anteater couple at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington D.C.But this couple is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to queerness in the animal world - it's been documented in hundreds of species. We spoke with wildlife ecologist Christine Wilkinson of the "Queer is Natural" TikTok series to uncover the wildest, queerest animals of the bunch.

Questions, comments or thoughts on queer animal love? Email us at shortwave@npr.org and we might feature it on a future episode!

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 12, 2024

Across the world, migrating animal populations are dwindling. Here's why
In a landmark UN study, researchers found nearly half of the world's threatened migratory species have declining populations. More than a fifth of the assessed animals face extinction.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 09, 2024

Clownfish might be counting their potential enemies' stripes
At least, that's what a group of researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University thinks. The team recently published a study in the journal Experimental Biology suggesting that Amphiphrion ocellaris, or clown anemonefish, may be counting. Specifically, the authors think the fish may be looking at the number of vertical white stripes on each other as well as other anemonefish as a way to identify their own species. Not only that — the researchers think that the fish are noticing the minutiae of other anemonefish's looks because of some fishy marine geopolitics.

Questions, comments or thoughts on another marine sea creature you want to hear us cover? Email us at shortwave@npr.org and we might feature it on a future episode!

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 08, 2024

This week in science: moths' anti-bat signal, fish who count and GMO crops at home
Short Wave's Regina Barber and Margaret Cirino talk through how moths produce an anti-bat signal, why clownfish could be counting to 3 and the first GMO food crop sold directly to home gardeners.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 08, 2024

California sea otters nearly went extinct. Now they're rescuing their coastal habitat
California sea otter populations have rebounded in recent decades. New research finds that by feasting on shore crabs, these otters are helping to protect their coastal marsh habitat against erosion.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 05, 2024

Why wolves are thriving in this radioactive zone
In 1986 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, releasing radioactive material into northern Ukraine and Belarus. It was the most serious nuclear accident in history. Over one hundred thousand people were evacuated from the surrounding area. But local gray wolves never left — and their population has grown over the years. It's seven times denser than populations in protected lands elsewhere in Belarus. This fact has led scientists to wonder whether the wolves are genetically either resistant or resilient to cancer — or if the wolves are simply thriving because humans aren't interfering with them.

This episode, researchers Shane Campbell-Staton and Cara Love talk through what might be causing this population boom. Plus, why researchers in the field of human cancer are eager to collaborate with them.

Want to hear about other ways humans are impacting the planet? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 04, 2024

Home sapiens and Neanderthals may have interbred, new research shows
NPR's Elissa Nadworny speaks with Elena Zavala of the University of California, Berkeley, about new research showing how homo sapiens and Neanderthals interacted and may have even interbred.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 04, 2024

Homo sapiens and Neanderthals may have interbred, new research shows
NPR's Elissa Nadworny speaks with Elena Zavala of the University of California, Berkeley, about new research showing how homo sapiens and Neanderthals interacted and may have even interbred.

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 01, 2024

Meet the 'chicken from hell' 2.0: a newly discovered dinosaur
NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Kyle Atkins-Weltman, a PhD student of paleoecology at Oklahoma State University, about a newly discovered dinosaur dubbed the "chicken from hell".

NPR Topics: Research News
Feb 01, 2024

Need to track animals around the world? Tap into the 'spider-verse,' scientists say
Spiderwebs can capture environmental DNA, or eDNA, from vertebrate animals in their area, potentially making them a useful tool in animal monitoring, tracking and conservation.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 31, 2024

Spiderwebs could offer a snapshot of an ecosystem, study shows
Scientists have found that spiderwebs can be used to capture environmental DNA, which reflects the animal population of an area. The technique may help track the biodiversity of an ecosystem.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 30, 2024

Why do moths fly in circles around a light? They can't tell 'up' from 'down'
Those insects you see flying in crazed circles are trying to keep their backs towards the light because they think that direction is up, new research suggests.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 30, 2024

'Like moths to a flame'? Here's what's going on with insects and porch lights
Those insects you see flying in crazed circles are trying to keep their backs towards the light because they think that direction is up, new research suggests.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 28, 2024

Hearing loss is greater among people living in rural areas, study finds
A new study looking at hearing loss finds that it's greater among people living in rural areas. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe talks with audiologist Nicholas Reed, who co-authored the study.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 28, 2024

Coronavirus FAQ: How long does my post-COVID protection last? When is it booster time?
How long does immunity last after an infection? Are rapid tests always accurate? How often is a booster in order? In this installment of our FAQ series, we look into questions about "COVID time."

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 26, 2024

'Hot droughts' are becoming more common in the arid West, new study finds
Scientists looked at trees to better understand the interplay between temperatures and droughts in the Western U.S. Human-caused climate change is exacerbating both.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 26, 2024

That giant extinct shark, Megalodon? Maybe it wasn't so mega
The ancient extinct shark that starred in the film The Meg is thought to be the largest shark that ever swam the Earth. But there's debate over what it really looked like.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 23, 2024

The megalodon maybe wasn't so mega, research suggests
The megalodon went extinct 3.6 million years ago, and is thought to be the largest shark that ever swam the Earth. But the megalodon may not have been as big as once thought, some researchers suggest.

NPR Topics: Research News
Jan 23, 2024

New fossils suggest kelp forests have swayed in the seas for at least 32 million years
A new study of kelp forests from the coast of Washington state show that kelp forests, which host all manner of marine life, developed tens of millions of years ago.

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