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Science

Undiscovered

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

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

31:01 | Jun 13th, 2017

After a senator calls her research a waste of taxpayer dollars, biologist Sheila Patek heads to Capitol Hill to prove what her science is worth. In December 2015, the fight over science funding got personal for biologist Sheila Patek. She discovered ...Show More
Not Your Subject

30:40 | Nov 13th, 2018

In U.S. cancer research, the most promising clinical trials are done mostly on white patients, which means people of color—and especially African Americans—are underrepresented in research that might save their lives. In this episode, a young, black ...Show More
The Magic Machine

36:43 | Sep 25th, 2018

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 o...Show More
Mouse’s Vineyard

29:01 | Jun 27th, 2017

Martha’s Vineyard has a Lyme disease problem. Now a scientist is coming to town with a possible fix: genetically engineered mice. An island associated with summer rest and relaxation is gaining a reputation for something else: Lyme disease. Martha’s ...Show More
Kurt Vonnegut and the Rainmakers

31:30 | Jun 20th, 2017

In the mid 1940s, no one would publish Kurt Vonnegut’s stories. But when he gets hired as a press writer at General Electric, the company’s fantastical science inspires some of his most iconic--and best-selling--novels. Every snowflake is unique—ex...Show More
Six Degrees

32:37 | Jun 6th, 2017

Are you just six handshakes away from every other person on Earth? Two mathematicians set out to prove we’re all connected. You have probably heard the phrase “six degrees of separation,” the idea that you’re connected to everyone else on Earth by a ...Show More
Born This Gay

33:04 | May 23rd, 2017

At the turn of the 20th century, a German doctor sets out to prove that homosexuality is rooted in biology—but his research has consequences he never intended. In pre-Nazi Germany, a doctor named Magnus Hirschfeld sets out to take down Paragraph 175,...Show More
The Meteorite Hunter

32:35 | May 15th, 2017

Deep in Antarctica, a rookie meteorite hunter helps collect a mystery rock. Could it be a little piece of Mars? In Antarctica, the wind can tear a tent to pieces. During some storms, the gusts are so powerful, you can’t leave the safety of your shelt...Show More
Boss Hua and the Black Box

37:17 | May 9th, 2017

A team of social scientists stumbles onto a cache of censored Chinese social media posts—and decides to find out what the Chinese government wants wiped from the internet. On China’s most influential microblogging platform, a wristwatch aficionado na...Show More
Mini: The Undercover Botanist

15:52 | Mar 28th

In 1767, a young French servant 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 Jea...Show More
Mini: Cats, Villains At Heart

10:40 | Dec 17th, 2018

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 s...Show More
This Headline Might Kill You

27:46 | Nov 6th, 2018

In this Undiscovered Cares Report, Annie and Elah dig into a scary science headline to 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, ...Show More
Party Lines

29:38 | Oct 30th, 2018

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 “no...Show More
The Long Loneliness

34:20 | Oct 23rd, 2018

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...Show More
Turtle v. Snake

34:01 | Oct 16th, 2018

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. Ra...Show More
Guest Episode: The Infinite God

28:47 | Oct 9th, 2018

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, ...Show More
Plants And Prejudice

30:08 | Oct 2nd, 2018

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 ...Show More
The Holdout

32:42 | Sep 18th, 2018

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 t...Show More
I, Robovie

33:52 | Sep 11th, 2018

A decade ago, psychologists introduced a group of kids to Robovie, a wide-eyed robot who could talk, play, and hug like a pro. And then, the researchers did something heartbreaking to Robovie! They wanted to see just how far kids’ empathy for a robot...Show More
Undiscovered Is Back For Season 2

02:09 | Sep 4th, 2018

Annie and Elah are back with tales of dinosaurs, robots, and more!
Mouse’s Vineyard: Update!

35:24 | Aug 23rd, 2018

It’s been two years since we followed MIT scientist Kevin Esvelt to Martha’s Vineyard. Has he created his Lyme-fighting super-mouse? We follow up.
Sick and Tired

30:12 | May 30th, 2017

When researchers publish a new study on chronic fatigue syndrome, a group of patients cry foul—and decide to investigate for themselves. A landmark study on chronic fatigue syndrome sets off a multi-year battle between patients and scientists. On one...Show More
Hi! We are Undiscovered.

02:10 | May 2nd, 2017

We're a podcast about the left turns, false starts, and lucky breaks that move science forward.