Science Friday

Science Friday

Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Brain fun for curious people.

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Why Are Gas Stoves Under Fire?

If you were online at all last week, you probably encountered conversations about gas stoves. The sudden stove discourse was sparked by a comment made by a commissioner on the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to a Bloomberg reporter, in which the commissioner discussed plans to regulate gas stoves. Those comments morphed via repetition into inaccurate rumors of an impending ban on stoves fueled by ‘natural gas,’ or methane, currently used in around 38% of US homes. The CPSC later clarified that the agency was “researching gas emissions in stoves and exploring new ways to address health risks,” but was not looking to ban gas stove use.

That said, studies have found that gas stoves are a major source of indoor air pollution, and can emit nitrogen oxides that have been found to exacerbate asthma symptoms. Last summer, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution informing physicians of the stoves’ link to asthma. A report published in December estimates that over 12% of childhood asthma cases may be attributable to gas stove emissions.

The stove debate flares beyond asthma, however. Some municipalities, including New York City, are moving to phase out the use of natural gas in new construction for reasons related to climate change. And Washington state has put in place rules mandating the use of electric heat (with fossil fuel-derived heating allowed as a backup option) in new construction this year.

Rebecca Leber, senior reporter covering climate at Vox, joins Ira to explain the heated words over gas stove use, and how they fit into a larger battle over fossil fuel usage and climate change.

What Will The Next Generation Of COVID-19 Vaccines Look Like?

The first COVID-19 vaccine was approved just over two years ago. Since then, the virus continues to mutate. With each new variant, the virus seems to evade our current vaccines more effectively, faster than we can make effective new mRNA boosters.

Coronaviruses frequently spill over from animals to humans, like the original SARS and MERS viruses, which are both types of coronaviruses. Researchers are working on the next generation of coronavirus vaccines that aim to protect us against multiple emerging variants—and even prevent future pandemics.

Ira talks with Dr. Pamela Bjorkman, professor of biology and bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology, about her work to develop a vaccine that would protect against several types of coronaviruses.

And later, Ira talks with Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University, about the nasal vaccine she’s researching and the hurdles in bringing it to market.



The Sweet Song Of The $7 Violin

Stringed instruments can be a joy to the ears and the eyes. They’re handcrafted, made of beautiful wood, and the very best ones are centuries old, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, or sometimes even millions.

But there’s a new violin in the works—one that’s 3D-printed. It costs just a few bucks to print, making it an affordable and accessible option for young learners and classrooms.

Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Brown is a concert violinist and the founder and director of the AVIVA Young Artists Program in Montreal, Quebec, and she’s been tinkering with the design of 3D-printed violins for years. She talks with Ira about the science behind violins, the design process, and how she manages to turn $7 worth of plastic into a beautiful sounding instrument.

Learn more about the project, as well as its progress, beta testing, and release date at

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs on

Vorige afleveringen

  • 949 - Gas Stoves, Next Gen Vaccines, Printed Violins. January 20, 2023, Part 2 
    Fri, 20 Jan 2023 - 0h
  • 948 - Children’s Antibiotics Shortage, Bat Vocalizations, Life’s Biggest Questions. January 20, 2023, Part 1 
    Fri, 20 Jan 2023 - 0h
  • 947 - Tech To Watch, Pests. January 13, 2023, Part 2 
    Fri, 13 Jan 2023 - 0h
  • 946 - Lab-Grown Meat Progress, Early Human Migration Updates. January 13, 2023, Part 1 
    Fri, 13 Jan 2023 - 0h
  • 945 - Science Comedy, Shifting Rules For Abortion Pills. Jan 6, 2023, Part 1 
    Fri, 06 Jan 2023 - 0h
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