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]


  • 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

  • Rhino conservation in a time of crisis

    28/09/2020 Duração: 09min

    The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted economies across the globe. With international travel on hiatus, the toll on tourism has been immense. So where does that leave the communities — and animals — that depend on money from travelers?

  • Taking the "folk" out of folk culture

    27/09/2020 Duração: 09min

    It’s literally in the name — folk culture depends on groups of people. Whether they’re attending a folk dance or a jam session, members of folk communities gather together to engage in a group experience. Or at least, that’s how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The daunting task of holding an Islamic funeral in a pandemic

    27/09/2020 Duração: 09min

    Grieving is difficult. Grieving during a pandemic even more so. In the Islamic tradition, a person's passing is marked with an elaborate and symbolic funeral. But what happens to those traditions when the world is put on pause, and when tragedy seems never-ending?

  • LGBTQ pride in the pandemic

    23/09/2020 Duração: 05min

    June felt different this year. The month, usually filled with technicolor LGBTQ Pride celebrations, fell quiet due to coronavirus lockdown measures. Many pride organizers adapted by hosting online pride events, which allowed queer folks from across the globe to meet while increasing the chance of homophobic cyberattacks. And these attacks did occur. This episode of DISTANCED centers around the novel pride celebrations of 2020, most held over Zoom, streamed on Facebook Live, or uploaded to YouTube. It centers stories of attendees and organizers. You’ll hear about a night hijacked by internet trolls and how the LGBTQ community can move forward. MK Manoylov reported and produced this story.

  • Wolbachia: Bacteria that are saving lives

    04/09/2020 Duração: 09min

    In this podcast, Scienceline speaks with Fred Rubino, a postdoctoral researcher at New York University, who studies Wolbachia and their survival in fruit flies. Also, Cameron Simmons, Director of Impact Assessment at the World Mosquito Program, talks about how Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are made, deployed, and the current challenges of both these bacteria and controlling diseases like dengue.

  • Are atoms, bacteria and plants conscious?

    05/08/2020 Duração: 07min

    In this podcast, Scienceline speaks to philosophers David Chalmers, Philip Goff, and biologist Karl Niklas to discuss whether atoms, plants, and bacteria are conscious.

  • Garrett Fondoules: Being alone on and off the Appalachian Trail

    17/06/2020 Duração: 06min

    Can you be a pro at isolation? If anyone could be, it seems like it would be Garrett Fondoules. Normally, he travels across the Appalachian Trail, working to map its landmarks and boundaries. Sometimes, he scarcely sees another human face. Wouldn’t a little more isolation be nothing new? Yet like everyone, Fondoules’ life has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fondoules tells Rebecca Sohn of his life before the pandemic — one filled with scenic views, folk dancing with friends, and the hard work of mapping the longest hiking-only trail in the world.

  • Is artificial intelligence changing art?

    10/06/2020 Duração: 06min

    As artists harness the powers of technology for their art, several essential questions arise. What does it mean to create art with artificial intelligence? Are these techniques truly new? And why do we even need art that uses algorithms? This seven-minute episode will explore these questions, among others.

  • What makes music sound...good?

    05/06/2020 Duração: 06min

    Think about a song you like. Regardless of the genre, the song probably includes either reverberation, distortion or both. These add texture to the music that we tend to crave. But how do they work? As a guitar player, I thought I knew. But I’d never taken a pause to think about the details. To find out what exactly reverberation and distortion are and how they are produced, I speak with Stephen Kurpis, audio engineer from Vitruvian Sound NYC.

  • Listening to the urban choir

    03/06/2020 Duração: 06min

    Perhaps you were woken up today by the calls of a singing bird — perhaps trying to mate, or simply to communicate. In an Anthropocene world, those birdsongs are changing. Songbirds today, many of whom live in the midst of human cities, are singing into increasingly noisy skies. Their songs must compete with the din of planes, trains, and automobiles — and birds have been adapting their song to compensate.

  • Hot or not, cigarette butts release toxins

    14/05/2020 Duração: 04min

    We all know smoking is bad for your health. So is second-hand smoke. It turns out, even a leftover cigarette butt could be bad for you as well. Most butts are made with plastic and are not biodegradable. Scientists know nicotine and other toxins leach out of these ubiquitous plastic waste products, but recent research shows they could expose us to hazardous chemicals through an unexpected path — the air.

  • Coronavirus: a name game

    16/04/2020 Duração: 05min

    Corryn Wetzel speaks with a professor of ethnic studies, a civil rights organization and an infectious disease expert to understand how rhetoric around COVID-19 has impacted Americans.

  • How volcanic eruptions may hold the key to averting the climate crisis

    05/02/2020 Duração: 10min

    As the world faces unprecedented climate disasters — from the months-long bushfires in Australia to the rapidly melting ice-sheets of Greenland and Antarctica — teams of scientists from around the globe are busying themselves to come up with new climate solutions.

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