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

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The Wastebook

0:00 | Jun 13th, 2017

In December 2015, the fight over science funding got personal for biologist Sheila Patek. She discovered that a U.S. Senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, had included her research on mantis shrimp in his “wastebook”: a list of federally-funded projects he...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

0:00 | Jun 27th, 2017

An island associated with summer rest and relaxation is gaining a reputation for something else: Lyme disease. Martha’s Vineyard has one of the highest rates of Lyme in the country. Now MIT geneticist Kevin Esvelt is coming to the island with a poten...Show More

Kurt Vonnegut and the Rainmakers

0:00 | Jun 20th, 2017

In Kurt Vonnegut’s fourth novel, Cat’s Cradle, a runaway reaction of ice destroys the world. Kurt, who worked as a press writer at General Electric in the 1940s, was inspired by the audacious research program that his brother and a team of General El...Show More

Six Degrees

0:00 | Jun 6th, 2017

You have probably heard the phrase “six degrees of separation,” the idea that you’re connected to everyone else on Earth by a chain of just six people. It has inspired a Broadway play, a film nerd’s game, called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”...and eve...Show More

Born This Gay

0:00 | May 23rd, 2017

In pre-Nazi Germany, a doctor named Magnus Hirschfeld sets out to take down Paragraph 175, a law against “unnatural fornication” between men. Hirschfeld’s plan is to scientifically prove that homosexuality is natural, and that lesbians and gay men mi...Show More

The Meteorite Hunter

0:00 | May 15th, 2017

For 40 years, meteorite hunters have combed the Antarctic ice searching for meteorites—little chunks of space rock that fall to Earth. And now, geologist Nina Lanza has joined their ranks. In her rookie season meteorite hunting, Nina battles the wind...Show More

Boss Hua and the Black Box

0:00 | May 9th, 2017

On China’s most influential microblogging platform, a watch aficionado named Boss Hua accuses a government official of corruption. But, his posts aren’t censored. So what disappears into the black box of Chinese censorship...and what stays online? A ...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

0:00 | May 30th, 2017

A landmark study on chronic fatigue syndrome sets off a multi-year battle between patients and scientists. On one side, we have a team of psychiatrists who have researched the condition for decades, and have peer-reviewed studies to back up their con...Show More

Hi! We are Undiscovered.

0:00 | May 2nd, 2017

We're a podcast about the left turns, false starts, and lucky breaks that move science forward. We're a new podcast from Science Friday, and we premier Tuesday, May 9.