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Podcaster's summary: Narrators read our favorite written stories. You can listen to them anywhere, including on your smart speaker. Play for audio versions of WIRED's latest Science stories on genetic engineering, robotics, space, climate change, and more.
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|2022-Sep-28 • 9 minutes|
The Fungus That Killed Frogs—and Led to a Surge in Malaria
A global fungal pandemic wiped out amphibians, destroyed biodiversity, and ultimately increased human illness. Now a second similar pathogen is on the way.
|2022-Sep-27 • 9 minutes|
The US Is Measuring Extreme Heat Wrong
Recent studies have revealed flaws in the heat index. With rising temperatures and humidity, maybe it’s time for a more holistic approach.
|2022-Sep-26 • 8 minutes|
To Understand Brain Disorders, Consider the Astrocyte
Neurons get a lot of attention—but researchers think this star-shaped brain cell type could hold the key to treating some disorders.
|2022-Sep-23 • 7 minutes|
How to Design the Perfect Queue, According to Crowd Science
The line to see Queen Elizabeth II lying in state is snaking across central London. Could it have been done better?
|2022-Sep-22 • 8 minutes|
Teaching ‘Selfish’ Wind Turbines to Share Can Boost Productivity
A software update can help turbines become less disruptive to their neighbors and distribute the wind more efficiently.
|2022-Sep-21 • 9 minutes|
New Reservoirs Could Help Battle Droughts, but at What Cost?
Storing more water to deal with climate change seems like a no-brainer, but such reservoirs are complex undertakings with environmental issues of their own.
|2022-Sep-20 • 10 minutes|
The Legendary Frank Drake Shaped the Search for Alien Life
The influential astronomer led the hunt for extraterrestrial signals and helped make the field of astrobiology what it is today.
|2022-Sep-19 • 7 minutes|
Forget Silicon. This Computer Is Made of Fabric
The jacket can raise and lower its own hood—without chips or batteries—and might one day help disabled wearers move.
|2022-Sep-16 • 10 minutes|
Why Pain Feels Worse at Night
Many people report that their aches and pains intensify when they’re trying to sleep, but new research into the circadian clock helps explain this mystery.
|2022-Sep-15 • 9 minutes|
Humanity Is Doing Its Best Impression of a Black Hole
Daniel Holz studies the universe’s ultimate catastrophes. And he knows a thing or two about existential threats on Earth, since he helps set the Doomsday Clock.
|2022-Sep-14 • 10 minutes|
This Follicle-Hacking Drug Could One Day Treat Baldness
Researchers are working on an injectable that could get dormant follicles growing again. Trials on mice show promise.
|2022-Sep-13 • 7 minutes|
Greenland’s Melting Glaciers Spew a Complicated Treasure: Sand
Meltwater from the island’s ice sheet is loaded with the right kind of sand for concrete production—which further warms the planet.
|2022-Sep-12 • 7 minutes|
To Fight Severe Drought, China Is Turning to Technology
The country is exploring cloud seeding, GM crops, and a multibillion-dollar water-transfer system to address its worst water shortages on record.
|2022-Sep-09 • 13 minutes|
Can a Particle Accelerator Trace the Origins of Printing?
Movable metal type is often traced back to Gutenberg’s workshop, but its history is far older in Asia. Researchers are using atomic-scale tools to rewrite the narrative.
|2022-Sep-08 • 11 minutes|
Is the Psychedelic Therapy Bubble About to Burst?
A new paper argues that excitement has veered into misinformation—and scientists should be the ones to set things straight.
|2022-Sep-07 • 10 minutes|
The Long, Leguminous Quest to Give Crops Nitrogen Superpowers
Farmers have to apply heaps of emissions-heavy fertilizer to provide crops with enough nitrogen. Scientists are looking to legumes for help.
|2022-Sep-06 • 7 minutes|
Swarms of Satellites Are Tracking Illegal Fishing and Logging
In some of the world’s most inaccessible places, tiny satellites are watching—and listening—for signs of destruction.
|2022-Sep-02 • 11 minutes|
Satellites Keep the World’s Clocks on Time. What if They Fail?
Standardized time is broadcast by satellite networks around the world, but their signals are vulnerable to interference—so the UK is building a more resilient system.
|2022-Sep-01 • 9 minutes|
This Giant Sprinkler System Can Protect Cities from Wildfires
Two Spanish towns have built a network of towers that douse surrounding trees with recycled water—stopping fire in its tracks.
|2022-Aug-31 • 8 minutes|
Egg and Sperm Donors Could Be Required to Share Their Medical Records
In much of the US, donors aren’t obliged to disclose potentially inheritable health conditions. A proposed law could change that.
|2022-Aug-30 • 13 minutes|
At Some Colleges, the Fall of Roe Will Weaken Student Health Care
As students return to school, many will find restricted campus access to abortion services and information—and perhaps reproductive care in general.
|2022-Aug-29 • 6 minutes|
How Long Droughts Make Flooding Worse
Parched ground is less likely to absorb water and increases the risk of dangerous flash floods. But there are ways to mitigate these conditions.
|2022-Aug-25 • 6 minutes|
New Evidence Points to the Moon Once Being Part of Earth
Gases trapped in lunar meteorites hint that the moon was formed out of material displaced from Earth after a planetary collision.
|2022-Aug-24 • 9 minutes|
Is Oxygen the Answer to Long Covid?
Treatment options for lasting Covid symptoms are limited, but initial studies suggest hyperbaric oxygen could help.
|2022-Aug-23 • 7 minutes|
As Wildfires Get More Extreme, Observatories Are at Greater Risk
Climate change is making fire season worse. Now astronomers are feeling the heat.
|2022-Aug-22 • 6 minutes|
Doctors Are Pioneering a Better Way to Perform Autopsies on Kids
Hi-res imaging can help determine cause of death in very young babies—giving parents answers without the distress of an invasive autopsy.
|2022-Aug-19 • 10 minutes|
What If Cells Kept Receipts of Their Gene Expression?
Researchers have found a new way to keep records of when a cell’s genes turn on and off—by harnessing systems that bacteria already use for self-defense.
|2022-Aug-18 • 7 minutes|
This Laser-Firing Truck Could Help Make Hot Cities More Livable
Scientists are driving around in a specialized observatory to better understand how urban heat varies not only block to block, but door to door.
|2022-Aug-17 • 10 minutes|
The Psychology of Inspiring Everyday Climate Action
Individual choices and habits help the climate. Understanding how people think can make it happen.
|2022-Aug-16 • 8 minutes|
Swarms of Mini Robots Could Dig the Tunnels of the Future
The underground excavation industry is exploring mini robots, plasma torches, and superheated gas to replace the massive boring machines now in use.
|2022-Aug-12 • 11 minutes|
Monkeypox Originated in Animals. Could It Spill Back Into Them?
The zoonotic disease is now spreading from person to person. But if it finds a home in new wildlife species, it could settle in to become a permanent risk.
|2022-Aug-11 • 7 minutes|
The Pigs Died. Then Scientists Revived Their Cells
A new system for keeping body tissues functional after death could help make more organs available for transplant.
|2022-Aug-10 • 7 minutes|
A Minimalist Approach to the Hunt for Dark Matter
In a new experiment, researchers looked for tiny flickers in the fundamental constants of nature.
|2022-Aug-09 • 9 minutes|
NASA is Crowdsourcing Cloud Research—on Mars
Space fans around the world can help analyze data collected by the Mars Climate Sounder.
|2022-Aug-08 • 8 minutes|
How to Prevent Another European Transport Meltdown
This summer’s heat wave knocked roads, railways, and runways out of action. But existing solutions could help shore up critical infrastructure.
|2022-Aug-05 • 8 minutes|
This Stamp-Sized Ultrasound Patch Can Image Internal Organs
Getting a scan usually means a visit to a doctor and some giant equipment. What if that gear was wearable?
|2022-Aug-04 • 9 minutes|
NASA Delayed the Psyche Launch. Here’s Why That’s a Big Deal
Heavenly bodies are always in motion: Pushing back the asteroid probe’s blastoff date could require a new trajectory, longer travel time, and much more power.
|2022-Aug-03 • 10 minutes|
California Wants to Make Cheap Insulin. Here’s How It Could Work
The state plans to roll out “biosimilars” that mimic brand-name versions at a dramatically reduced price.
|2022-Aug-02 • 12 minutes|
Ring Vaccination Beat Smallpox. Could It Work for Monkeypox?
The strategy prioritizes inoculating an infected person’s closest contacts, but it can’t succeed without good contact tracing and enough vaccines.
|2022-Aug-01 • 10 minutes|
Nuclear Power Plants Are Struggling to Stay Cool
Climate change is reducing output and raising safety concerns at nuclear facilities from France to the US. But experts say adapting is possible—and necessary.
|2022-Jul-29 • 7 minutes|
Europe Has Descended Into the Age of Fire
Climate change has primed the landscape to burn. But human migration has made Europe’s wildfires increasingly catastrophic.
|2022-Jul-28 • 10 minutes|
Glacier Collapses Are a Growing but Hard-to-Predict Threat
After 11 people were killed and eight hospitalized by a glacier in early July, Italian scientists are asking how future tragedies can be avoided.
|2022-Jul-27 • 13 minutes|
Gender-Affirming Care Improves Mental Health—and May Save Lives
Scores of bills in US states aim to block medical treatments for trans youth. But research shows that these bans could have dire consequences.
|2022-Jul-26 • 10 minutes|
What Turtles Can Teach Humans About the Science of Slow Aging
7/26 New data shows that several types of the shelled reptiles can slow—and even stop—aging if the environmental conditions are right.
|2022-Jul-25 • 8 minutes|
Why the Arctic Is Warming 4 Times as Fast as the Rest of Earth
The loss of sea ice is exposing darker waters, which absorb more of the sun’s energy. It’s a devastating feedback loop with major consequences for the planet.
|2022-Jul-22 • 7 minutes|
How Heat Waves Are Messing Up Your Sleep
Higher nighttime temperatures don’t just make it harder to drift off, they can disrupt your sleep cycles and leave you with low-quality rest.
|2022-Jul-21 • 7 minutes|
Can Reengineered Aluminum Help Fill the Demand for Copper?
As the world converts to electric vehicles and renewable energy, molecular tweaks to aluminum could improve its conductivity.
|2022-Jul-20 • 10 minutes|
Texas’ Precarious Power Grid Exposes a Nasty Feedback Loop
Air conditioning saves lives. But as the planet warms, more AC use stresses the grid and drives up emissions, accelerating climate change.
|2022-Jul-18 • 8 minutes|
What Humans Can Learn From the Sea Cucumber’s Toxic Arsenal
Sea cucumbers are squishy and soft. They also employ lethal strategies to protect themselves.
|2022-Jul-15 • 8 minutes|
Turkey Probably Hasn’t Found the Rare Earth Metals It Says It Has
The deposits discovered reportedly contain enough resources to meet global demand for 1,000 years—surpassing even China’s reserves. But experts are skeptical.
|2022-Jul-14 • 8 minutes|
Is There Good News for Monarch Butterflies? Scientists Disagree
A recent study suggests that gains during the summer breeding season are making up for losses during migration. But the insects’ fate is far from assured.
|2022-Jul-13 • 9 minutes|
Abortion Pills May Force States and the FDA Into a Standoff
Under the Constitution, federal laws overrule state ones. But challenges to medication abortion will test the agency’s ability to make nationwide regulations.
|2022-Jul-12 • 7 minutes|
Scientists Are Trying to Grow Crops in the Dark
Powering plant growth with solar panels instead of photosynthesis could be a more efficient way of using the sun’s energy for food. But it’s not all good news.
|2022-Jul-11 • 10 minutes|
The Secrets of Covid ‘Brain Fog’ Are Starting to Lift
Scientists are getting closer to understanding the neurology behind the memory problems and cognitive fuzziness that an infection can trigger.
|2022-Jul-08 • 6 minutes|
Why the Search for Life on Mars Is Happening in Canada’s Arctic
Scientists show how microbes living in a salty spring near the North Pole might resemble those that could have survived on the Red Planet—or in ocean worlds.
|2022-Jul-07 • 9 minutes|
What the DNA of Ancient Humans Reveals About Pandemics
Genomic analysis of ancient remains has shed light on the origins of the black death and offers insights into the coevolution of humans and diseases.
|2022-Jul-06 • 7 minutes|
Behold the Weird Physics of Double-Impact Asteroids
Mars is littered with craters made by binary asteroids. These collisions are as intriguing as they are powerful.
|2022-Jul-04 • 8 minutes|
Forget Lasers. The Hot New Tool for Physicists Is Sound
From acoustic tweezers to holograms, engineers are taking inspiration from the field of optics—and riding the sound wave.
|2022-Jul-01 • 8 minutes|
Covid Shots for Little Kids Are Finally Here. Now for the Hardest Part
Hesitancy, bureaucracy, inequity, and the need to explain new formulas could slow down vaccine delivery to the last unprotected group.
|2022-Jun-30 • 8 minutes|
Do Birth Control Pills Affect Your Mood? Scientists Can’t Agree
Over 100 million women are estimated to use oral contraceptives, but studies on the pill’s mental health effects raise more questions than answers.
|2022-Jun-29 • 9 minutes|
This Year’s Extreme Weather Is Just Getting Started
Climate change and natural variability are making 2022 a year of big weather events—so get ready for more heat waves, droughts, and hurricanes.
|2022-Jun-28 • 8 minutes|
How the Sugars In Spit Tame the Body’s Unruly Fungi
Mucus keeps the microbiome healthy. Now scientists have clues about how it stops good microbes from going bad.
|2022-Jun-27 • 7 minutes|
The Black Carbon Cost of Rocket Launches
Researchers say that the rising number of space launches around the world will warm parts of the atmosphere and thin the ozone layer.
|2022-Jun-24 • 9 minutes|
Particle Hunters Can Spend a Lifetime Searching for Answers
In physics, experiments to answer the big questions can take decades to run—and might not produce any findings at all.
|2022-Jun-23 • 8 minutes|
The US Can Halve Its Emissions by 2030—if It Wants To
The economics are clear: Renewables are cheap enough for the country to rapidly decarbonize. Less evident is the political will to pull it off.
|2022-Jun-22 • 9 minutes|
Australia Has Finally Woken Up to Climate Change
The newly elected government has promised stricter emission limits and more renewables in the wake of fires, droughts, and floods.
|2022-Jun-21 • 9 minutes|
The FAA Says SpaceX Can't Expand Its Texas Launch Site—Yet
SpaceX must address dozens of environmental issues before it can upgrade Starbase in Boca Chica. The launch license needed for the Starship program remains pending.
|2022-Jun-20 • 9 minutes|
Monkeypox Can Be Contained—but Time Is Running Out
Testing, vaccinating, and contact tracing can control the virus in Europe and North America—unless complacency allows it to take hold.
|2022-Jun-16 • 8 minutes|
The Secret to Tastier Fake Meat? Breeding Better Beans
Scientists are using genomics to create high-protein soybeans and peas. Their aim? To make meat and milk substitutes that can rival the real thing.
|2022-Jun-15 • 8 minutes|
A New Kind of Genome Editing Is Here to Fine-Tune DNA
Instead of deleting genes, epigenetic editing modulates their activity. A new paper tests if it’s able to undo a genetic effect of early alcohol exposure.
|2022-Jun-14 • 8 minutes|
The First Privately Funded Killer Asteroid Spotter Is Here
Researchers at the B612 Foundation’s Asteroid Institute developed a new tool for tracking space-rock trajectories—even with limited data.
|2022-Jun-13 • 8 minutes|
Welcome to the Great Reinfection
A repeat encounter with Covid used to be a rarity. But now that Omicron has changed the game, expect reinfections to be the new normal.
|2022-Jun-10 • 8 minutes|
Rising Food Prices Will Make Obesity Rates Worse, Not Better
When faced with food insecurity, studies show that people opt for cheap, energy-dense meals that are bad for their health.
|2022-Jun-09 • 5 minutes|
How Ants Inspired a New Way to Measure Snow With Space Lasers
Photons wander through snow like ants through a nest. That inspired a clever new NASA technique for measuring the fluffy stuff from orbit.
|2022-Jun-08 • 7 minutes|
This Startup Wants You to Eat Ground-Up Chicken Bones
A Finnish company says it has found a way to incorporate bone into ground chicken, lowering the production cost and environmental impact of the meat. But will anyone eat it?
|2022-Jun-07 • 8 minutes|
Nuclear Fusion Is Already Facing a Fuel Crisis
It doesn’t even work yet, but nuclear fusion has encountered a shortage of tritium, the key fuel source for the most prominent experimental reactors.
|2022-Jun-06 • 9 minutes|
Why Was the Tonga Eruption So Massive? Scientists Have New Clues
Early theories suggested an underwater landslide caused a catastrophic mix of magma and seawater. Recent evidence reveals an explosion unlike anything studied before.
|2022-Jun-03 • 8 minutes|
The Story of Abortion Pills and How They Work
Mifepristone and misoprostol are a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy, but many people around the world still don’t know these drugs exist.
|2022-Jun-02 • 6 minutes|
Undersea Cables Are Carrying Scientific Secrets
Rumbles and tides create tiny, detectable disturbances in fiber optics. The world’s cables could form a vast network for detecting earthquakes and tsunamis.
|2022-Jun-01 • 9 minutes|
A Puzzling Quantum Scenario Appears to Violate a Law of Physics
By resolving a paradox about light in a box, researchers hope to clarify the concept of energy in quantum theory.
|2022-May-31 • 8 minutes|
The Wetlands Are Drowning
A long-term study of a marsh was meant to ask whether rising levels of CO2 could help wetlands thrive despite rising seas. The plants aren’t keeping up.
|2022-May-27 • 8 minutes|
This Is Where Dirty Old Cars Go to Die
The electric vehicle revolution is gathering speed—but what happens to all those polluting cars already on the road?
|2022-May-26 • 6 minutes|
Carbon-Rich Peat Is Disappearing. But Is It Also Growing?
Scientists have discovered “proto-peat” forming in the Arctic as the Earth naturally sequesters carbon, but it could take centuries to mature.
|2022-May-25 • 8 minutes|
With Dusty Solar Panels, InSight’s Days on Mars Are Numbered
After the InSight lander studied the strongest marsquake ever detected, scientists gave the space robot a negative prognosis because of its dwindling solar power.
|2022-May-24 • 9 minutes|
This Gene Mutation Breaks the Immune System. Why Has It Survived?
Two new studies found genetic mutations that cause severe immune deficiencies are common in some remote populations, leaving them highly vulnerable to viruses.
|2022-May-23 • 6 minutes|
A Powerful ISS Instrument Will Hunt for Minerals in Dusty Lands
NASA’s EMIT mission will better analyze the grime from dust-spewing regions, a critically understudied factor in climate change.
|2022-May-20 • 8 minutes|
Researchers Grew Tiny Plants in Moon Dirt Collected Decades Ago
The seedlings sprouted in the regolith scooped up in the 1960s and ’70s, but astronauts won’t be harvesting lunar spuds anytime soon.
|2022-May-19 • 8 minutes|
An Elusive Gravity Signal Could Mean Faster Earthquake Warnings
Tiny wobbles in Earth’s gravitational field could help detect big tremors faster, but they’re hard to tease out from the planet’s seismic noise.
|2022-May-18 • 10 minutes|
These Nanobots Can Swim Around a Wound and Kill Bacteria
Researchers have created autonomous particles covered with patches of protein “motors.” They hope these bots will tote lifesaving drugs through bodily fluids.
|2022-May-17 • 11 minutes|
Ticks Are Spreading in the US—and Taking New Diseases With Them
The vast majority of tick-borne disease goes unrecorded, meaning life-threatening pathogens are traveling under the radar to new locations.