Undiscovered

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Since May 2017·27 episodes

A podcast about the left turns, missteps, and lucky breaks that make science happen.

Episodes

02:07
4 months ago
Hello Undiscovered fans! We're here to tell you about a new show we've been working on at Science Friday. Science Diction is a podcast about words—and the science stories behind them. Hosted by SciFri producer and self-proclaimed word nerd Johanna Mayer, each episode of Science Diction digs into...
20:21
7 months ago
These days, biologists believe all living things come from other living things. But for a long time, people believed that life would, from time to time, spontaneously pop into existence more often—and not just that one time at the base of the evolutionary tree. Even the likes of Aristotle believe...
18:15
7 months ago
In 1880, scientist Albert Michelson set out to build a device to measure something every 19th century physicist knew just had to be there. The “luminiferous ether” was invisible and pervaded all of space. It helped explain how light traveled, and how electromagnetic waves waved. Ether theory even...
23:52
7 months ago
In Apartheid-era South Africa, a scientist uncovered a cracked, proto-human jawbone. That humble fossil would go on to inspire one of the most blood-spattered theories in all of paleontology: the Killer Ape theory.  According to the Killer Ape theory, humans are killers—unique among the apes for...
25:46
S3 E1·8 months ago
“Do men need to cheat on their women?” a Playboy headline asked in the summer of 1978. Their not-so-surprising conclusion: Yes! Science says so! The idea that men are promiscuous by nature, while women are chaste and monogamous, is an old and tenacious one. As far back as Darwin, scientists were ...
15:52
S2 E12·over 1 year ago
In 1767, a young French servant boarded a ship and sailed around the world, collecting plants previously unknown to Western science. The ship’s crew knew the servant as “Jean,” the scrappy aide to the expedition’s botanist. But “Jean” had a secret. She was actually Jeanne Baret, a woman disguised...
10:40
S2 E11·over 1 year ago
Undiscovered is back between seasons with a listener question: What saved the cats? If you rewind to the Middle Ages, cats and humans were on bad terms. Cat roundups, cat torture, and even cat murder were common occurrences throughout Europe. But a series of historic events steadily delivered the...
27:46
S2 E9·over 1 year ago
In this Undiscovered Cares Report, Annie and Elah dig into a scary science headline and help Elah’s friend, David, figure out how scared he should be that his B12 vitamins will give him lung cancer. And we find out how—even with top-notch scientists, journalists, and readers—science communication...
29:38
S2 E8·over 1 year ago
In 2016, a North Carolina legislator announced that his party would be redrawing the state’s congressional district map with a particular goal in mind: To elect “10 Republicans and three Democrats.” His reasoning for this? As he explained, he did “not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 R...
34:20
S2 E7·over 1 year ago
Americans haven’t always loved whales and dolphins. In the 1950s, the average American thought of whales as the floating raw materials for margarine, animal feed, and fertilizer—if they thought about whales at all. But twenty-five years later, things had changed for cetaceans in a big way. Whales...
34:01
S2 E6·over 1 year ago
Travis Thomas is a rookie turtle researcher in Florida. He was on the verge of publishing his first big paper and naming two new species of turtle when he found out he’d been scooped by a stranger in Australia: Raymond Hoser, a.k.a. the Snake Man. Raymond is a reptile wrangler and amateur herpeto...
28:47
S2 E5·over 1 year ago
This week, Annie and Elah share an episode from one of their favorite podcasts, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Sum of All Parts. For years, Robert Schneider lived the indie rocker’s dream, producing landmark records and fronting his band, The Apples in Stereo. And then, he gave it all...
30:08
S2 E4·almost 2 years ago
Are non-native species all that bad, or are we just prejudiced against “the Other”? In the San Francisco Bay Area, one particular foreign species has been dividing environmentalists for years: the blue gum eucalyptus. Eucalyptus opponents say it’s a serious fire hazard. Defenders say there’s no g...
36:43
S2 E3·almost 2 years ago
As a critical care doctor, Jessica Zitter has seen plenty of “Hail Mary” attempts to save dying patients go bad—attempts where doctors try interventions that don’t change the outcome, but do lead to more patient suffering. It’s left her distrustful of flashy medical technology and a culture that ...
32:42
S2 E2·almost 2 years ago
Since the 1980s, Gerta Keller, professor of paleontology and geology at Princeton, has been speaking out against an idea most of us take as scientific gospel: That a giant rock from space killed the dinosaurs. Nice story, she says—but it’s just not true. Gerta's been shouted down and ostracized a...
Last updated about 3 hours ago
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