The Scienceline podcast is produced by the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program in the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. For more information, e-mail us at [email protected].


  • Restoring New York Harbor with a billion oysters

    16/02/2023 Duração: 10min

    Oysters have been a New York City culinary staple for centuries. Hundreds of years ago, when the Indigenous Lenape people lived in the region prior to European colonization, the harbor teemed with shellfish. But by the early 20th century, pollution, urban development and overharvesting erased nearly 350 square miles of oyster beds. Fast forward to the present, and a nonprofit is now working to revive the once-mighty bivalve. The Billion Oyster Project started seeding the harbor with oysters in 2010 to improve water quality, increase marine biodiversity and boost shoreline protection. Its efforts have been successful: The group is on track to meet its one-billion oyster goal by 2035. In October, Timmy Broderick spent an afternoon measuring oysters with other New Yorkers to learn more about the project and the harbor’s marine life.

  • On the hunt for hidden dams

    09/02/2023 Duração: 10min

    When you imagine a dam, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s the hulking concrete wall of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River or the Grand Coulee on the Columbia. Large barriers on large rivers, looming large on the horizon. But colossal structures like these make up only a fraction of the dams that chop up waterways across the United States. The nation’s rivers, streams and brooks are full of smaller dams — many of which aren’t monitored at the state or national level. And even though they’re small, these barriers can alter aquatic habitats and cause trouble for the species that live there. In this podcast, Madison Goldberg speaks with scientists about the issue and goes on a dam hunt of her own. Also find the full story on Scienceline's website: Music used: “Tower of Mirrors” by Blue Dot Sessions | CC BY-NC 4.0 “Copley Beat” by Blue Dot Sessions | CC BY-NC 4.0

  • Tracking hurricane-induced aging in our genetic primate relatives

    22/08/2022 Duração: 11min

    Growing up in Houston, Marina Watowich was no stranger to hurricane seasons. This familiarity now drives Watowich’s research in genomics, where she seeks to understand how the environment affects the aging process. She isn’t studying aging in humans — but in a unique population of monkeys in Puerto Rico. These monkeys live on an isolated island off Puerto Rico and give researchers unique access and insights into monkey genetics. In 2017, Hurricane Maria walloped Puerto Rico and tore down trees on the island where the monkeys live. After the storm, Watowich and colleagues discovered the primate survivors aged rapidly, findings that have implications for human aging after natural disasters. Scienceline reporter Hannah Loss speaks with Watowich on her journey to uncover the aftermath of hurricanes on aging. Also find the full story on Scienceline's website: Sounds used: Cyclone Hurricane Hugo 1989 by solostud | CC BY 3.0 Dj0287 via The Weather Channel Tetan

  • Yet another road to this great ape’s extinction

    08/04/2022 Duração: 07min

    Chimpanzees are nearing extinction in many countries. Of the four subspecies of these great apes, western chimpanzees are the most endangered. Experts estimate that their distribution is now extremely patchy, with 80% of their numbers having declined in the last 20 years. The largest-remaining population is found in the Ivory Coast in Western Africa, with smaller populations in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia.  Poaching and habitat loss are some of the well-known threats to chimpanzees. But a study published last September finds that road developments are exacerbating their population decline. Noise pollution emanating from the construction of roads and poachers gaining access to more remote locations are some of the reasons to blame. A team of primate conservationists have quantified the extent to which roads jeopardize their communities. They say that just about 4.5% of the chimp population are left unaffected by roads.  On this episode of the Scienceline podcast, reporter Niranja

  • Climate change on the global stage

    08/03/2022 Duração: 08min

    Thinking about climate change can be overwhelming, even paralyzing. Attempting to solve this global crisis will take enormous efforts by politicians, companies and local leaders to reverse the negative effects on our planet.  On this global stage, where can artistic expression fit into our response and communication efforts? Enter climate change theater — an effort by playwrights, educators and scientists to spread information and awareness about the impacts of human behavior on the environment. While filled with serious themes of melting ice caps and polluted waterways, these plays also offer hope for a positive future. Join Scienceline reporter Hannah Loss on a trip up the Hudson Valley as she experiences a global series of storytelling and live performances organized by Climate Change Theatre Action. You can read more on our website: Music: Bedtime Story for My (future) Daughter by Caity-Shea Violette, performed by Hudson River Playba

  • Do stutterers always stutter? Not really

    03/03/2022 Duração: 07min

    What do Tiger Woods, Michelle Williams and President Joe Biden all have in common? Like around 3 million people in the United States, they are all people who stutter. Stuttering commonly develops around childhood and most people stop stuttering by the time they reach adulthood. However, stuttering persists for some adults and researchers haven’t been able to figure out why. But findings from a recent study may get them one step closer to finding out: Adults don’t stutter when they talk alone. Join Scienceline reporter Kharishar Kahfi as he learns more about the communication disorder and what the new discovery adds to the field of stuttering research. You can read more on our website: Music: Thinking Music by Kevin MacLeod | Standard License Western Streets by Kevin MacLeod | Standard License Sound effect: Phone Ringing by acclivity | CC BY 3.0

  • What we gain by exercising together

    22/02/2022 Duração: 08min

    The Central Park Running Club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 in the morning. Not much stops them from starting their days together with an early morning jaunt through the park — not cold, not rain and not even January’s big snowstorm.  What’s so special about exercising together that it gets these intrepid Central Park runners out of bed and onto the road each week? In this episode of the Scienceline podcast, Emily talks to runners, a neuroscientist and a health psychologist to find out.  Find more information at Music:  Springtime After a Long Winter by Azovmusic | End-User License Agreement Sound Effects: Guitar: Alexander Nakarada | CC BY 4.0

  • How Tuvan vocalists sing two notes at once

    17/02/2022 Duração: 08min

    The Republic of Tuva, located in the Russian Federation, is known across the world for its music. If you’ve ever heard Tuvan vocalists sing, you’ll understand why. A piercing whistle hovers over a deep, buzzing drone — two very different sounds coming from the same singer’s vocal tract as he harmonizes with himself. So how do these master vocalists sing two notes at once? The answer lies in the most fundamental principles of sound. And in theory, anyone can learn to do it.  On this episode of the Scienceline podcast, experience the captivating beauty of Tuvan throat singing and the physics that makes it possible. You can find more information on Scienceline: Effects: Acoustic data from Bergevin et al. (2020) | Used with permission Music: ”My Throat” by Alash | Used with permission ”Karachal” by Alash | Used with permission

  • Fighting Fast Fashion

    15/02/2022 Duração: 08min

    Sometimes, being a “material girl” comes with a downside. An endless cycle of fashion trends doesn’t only weigh on your wallet; it takes a toll on the planet too. In 2020, the fashion industry accounted for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, which is more than the oceanic shipping and international flight industries combined. If current practices continue undeterred, experts predict emissions will only increase. Just like the larger issue of climate change, the path to fixing the fashion industry is disagreed upon. The good news? There are personal changes you can make to your shopping habits and potential policy changes that could help. Scienceline reporter Maiya Focht dives deeper into the fast fashion industry, giving you an overview of the most important trend: caring for the environment. More information on MUSIC USED IN ORDER: Dark Fog by Kevin MacLeod | standard license Raving Energy by Kevin MacLeod | Filmmu

  • The icy fate of the universe

    10/02/2022 Duração: 08min

    Have you ever wondered how the universe will end? Chances are that the answer is “yes”;  humans tend to have an innate curiosity when it comes to morbid questions. Scientists, of course, are no different. Cosmologists have pondered the ultimate fate of the universe, and many have converged on a theory: the “heat death of the universe,” also known as the “Big Freeze.” The Big Freeze theory suggests that, one day, all the energy in the universe will become evenly distributed, preventing any further action from occurring. In other words, the entire universe will essentially “freeze” into place. To learn more about this theory and the science behind it, Scienceline’s Daniel Leonard sat down with a postdoctoral researcher in cosmology (plus another special guest). Listen to what he discovered below. Read more at Music: Solstice by Ross Budgen | CC by 4.0 Art of Silence by Uniq | CC by 4.0 Sound Effects: Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice

  • Blue cheese and pale ale have been on the menu for longer than researchers thought

    08/02/2022 Duração: 06min

    Today, many charcuterie boards, servings of buffalo chicken and cobb salads feature blue cheese and possibly even a glass of beer. New evidence shows that humans’ taste for a cheese flavored by fungi may have begun as early as 800 B.C. The Hallstatt salt mines in the Eastern Alps preserved excrement left behind by the workers who extracted salt from underground. Last year, researchers analyzed molecules on four samples of paleofeces, or very old human poop, and found evidence of blue cheese and pale ale consumption as early as the Iron Age nearly 3,000 years ago. Join Scienceline reporter Delaney Dryfoos on a foray to unearth the dietary habits of European salt miners from the Bronze Age to the Baroque era. You can also listen to this episode of the Scienceline podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Music: Krainer Waltz - Traditional Austrian and Slovenian Music by JuliusH | Pixabay License

  • Everybody wants to help a cat

    03/02/2022 Duração: 06min

    Like many other volunteers, Brooklyn resident Hailee got involved with feral cat care by accident. After seeing cats in need around her neighborhood, she adopted some, found veterinary resources for others and joined a community of cat-savvy neighbors. Throughout New York City a network of volunteers and professionals are working to compassionately reduce feral cat populations. “In 2003, only 25% of animals who came into the shelters got out alive… now what the industry calls the live release rate has been consistently over 90% for the past few years,” says Kathleen O’Malley, director of community cat education for the non-profit organization Bideawee. Armed with humane traps, spay and neuter procedures, cat food and warm shelters, cat lovers have helped lower numbers of feral cats while keeping them safe at the same time. Join Scienceline reporter Tatum McConnell as she learns more about managing feral cats in New York City. You can listen to this episode of the Scienceline podcast on Apple Podcasts,

  • Today's gamers may be tomorrow's agricultural experts

    26/01/2022 Duração: 08min

    If you’re a parent, you might have the opinion that video games are a waste of time. But the U.S. Department of State, educators and other experts think that gaming might actually be the best way to engage students — especially during the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic — on important issues, like where the food we eat comes from and how agriculture can impact climate change. By using Farmcraft, a tweaked version of the popular game Minecraft that focuses on modern farming practices, students from around the world were able to compete in teams to see who could build the best farm. The next round of competition starts in February! Join Scienceline reporter Deborah Balthazar on a trip to the virtual farm. You can also listen to this episode of the Scienceline podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher. Music: Dreiton from Minecraft Volume Beta by Daniel Rosenfield (c418) | Used with Permission Farmcraft Theme by North America Scholastic Esports Federation | Used with Permission Adventures in Adve

  • The lost and future wildlife of New York City's East River

    08/04/2021 Duração: 07min

    Right in the heart of New York City is the East River, separating Manhattan and the Bronx from Brooklyn, Queens and the suburbia of Long Island. For many New Yorkers, the river is just water running under the many bridges they cross over during their daily commute.  But before the confluence of the Hudson River and the harbor became New York City, the East River was home to a diversity of wildlife including fish, oysters and whales.  What would it take to reincarnate this lost ecosystem of New York City’s central body of water? In this episode of the Scienceline podcast, we try to find the answer. For more information about this episode, please visit: Photo: New York City’s East River is lined by numerous green spaces and parks, including Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn and the East River Esplanade in Manhattan. [Credit: Ingfbruno | CC BY-SA 3.0] Music: Waltz in B Minor, Op. 69 no. 2 by Olga Gurevich | Public Doma

  • Oddities of outer space

    26/02/2021 Duração: 08min

    In the last few decades, the study of exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — has exploded. Since the first one was spotted in 1992, scientists have found thousands of different exoplanets in their own unique systems, each of which has told us something new about the cosmos. Hidden among planets made of diamond and systems that we didn’t think could exist is a wealth of scientific information. To the people that study these strange celestial bodies, finding a “weird one” is a sign that there are still questions to be answered and cosmic investigation to be done. And they are more than ready to start investigating. Photo: An artist’s interpretation of the K2-138 system. When they were discovered, these exoplanets gave scientists a window into how planets form when nothing interrupts the process. [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC) | Public Domain] Music: SYSTEM Sounds (M. Russo, A. Santaguida) For more information about thi

  • Death of a sourdough

    28/01/2021 Duração: 09min

    Last year, plenty of people took up the new hobby of baking sourdough. What better to do when you can’t leave the house? And, since sourdoughs are based on cultivating a microbial community of yeast and bacteria in what’s called a “starter,” these bakers had to learn how to care for the billions of microbes with which they now shared a kitchen. But as with many other hobbies, some of those new sourdough bakers probably gave up at some point. So what happened to their new microbe friends? What happens to a neglected sourdough starter? On this episode of the Scienceline podcast, we find out. Photo: A healthy sourdough starter can smell floral, yeasty or even like alcohol sometimes — but not rotten. [Credit: Jill Wellington | Pixabay] Music by Jahzzar and Chopin, by Frank Levy and Jeannette Fang. For more information about this episode, please visit:

  • What does the coronavirus sound like?

    21/01/2021 Duração: 06min

    In the 1980s, Mark Temple was the drummer for the indie pop band The Hummingbirds. He toured the world and saw his music played on MTV, but eventually left the band and returned to school. When the university where he teaches shut down earlier this year, Temple used his time at home to rekindle his pastime: He turned the coronavirus genome into music. Each genetic letter contained within SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was converted into a musical note, bass line or drum beat. The resulting composition, which is more than an hour long, sounds a bit like ambient electronica; it is surprisingly beautiful. But will people want to listen to music that reminds them of the pain and suffering of these last nine months? Combining interviews with musicians and researchers in Sydney, Australia, this episode of the Scienceline podcast deconstructs the story of Mark Temple, and his quest to make music out of a global crisis. Guests include: Dr. Mark Temple, a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University, a

  • The evolution of ethnobotany

    13/01/2021 Duração: 08min

    As long as humans have been around, we’ve relied on plants for our survival: as food, fuel, shelter, medicine — and to produce the oxygen we breathe. Ethnobotanists are scientists who study and catalog these complex interactions between people and plants. Yet ethnobotany has a complicated history of its own, with roots in European colonial expeditions and in the exploitation of Indigenous communities. Now, with the biodiversity crisis imperiling plants, ethnobotanists have become unexpected advocates for Indigenous knowledge rights in the quest to conserve useful plants around the world and the cultures that rely on them. Modern ethnobotanists are striving to work in partnership with their study communities to preserve much more than just plants: Languages, livelihoods and a wealth of knowledge are at stake.  Photo: Blueberry plants grow wild in Jonathan Ferrier’s homelands and study sites, and have many important medicinal uses. [Credit: Kjerstin_Michaela | Public Domain Mark 1.0] Original music by Michae

  • More than just a weather forecast

    06/01/2021 Duração: 07min

    2020 was another record-breaking year of storms and wildfires in the United States. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, reports of fiery skies above California and “unsurvivable” storm surges in Louisiana can feel like apocalyptic icing on a hellish cake. So how do meteorologists decide what to say about extreme weather? And as the climate changes, are weather reports changing too? TV weathercasters are trusted messengers for many American families — including Casey Crownhart’s family in Birmingham, Alabama. Her state often experiences hurricanes and tornadoes, and the local weatherman is something of a celebrity. But the job is far from simple. In this Scienceline audio story, climate scientist Jennifer Francis, weather reporter Andrew Freedman and TV meteorologist-turned-advocate Bernadette Woods-Placky tell Scienceline how they think about — and talk about — weather and its connections to climate change. Photo: Hurricane Delta approaching the Gulf Coast in October 2020. [Credit: Visible E

  • Birding provides escape for the pandemic-fatigued

    30/12/2020 Duração: 07min

    Watching for resident and migratory birds has provided an outlet for people to go outside during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Photo: Migratory birds like this magnolia warbler pass through New York City each year, and the pandemic hasn’t stopped them. [Jean-Guy Dallaire | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ] Music by: Chuck Fresh, Jahzzar For more information about this episode, please visit

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