America's hugely productive food system is one of its success stories. The nation will export a projected $139.5 billion in agricultural products this fiscal year alone. It's an industry that supports "more than 1 million jobs," according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
But all that productivity has taken a toll on the environment, especially rivers and lakes: Agriculture is the nation's leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
And now a big fish story. Last month a fisherman off the coast of Sitka, Alaska, brought in a record-breaking shortraker rock-fish. At nearly 40 pounds and three and a half feet long, the bug-eyed, bright orange beast is the biggest fish of its kind ever caught by a recreational fisherman.
Up next, you know, this week was Independence Day, and to celebrate, we're going to be looking at the life of Benjamin Franklin. We know him for his role in the American Revolution, but we're going to look at the great intellectual revolution he brought to America. Maybe you didn't know about that. Well, you can find out more about it in the new book, "The Society for Useful Knowledge: How Benjamin Franklin and Friends Brought the Enlightenment to America."
Exactly a year ago this week, a video on YouTube went viral. It was called "Heat Buckles Highway, SUV Goes Airborne." A road in Wisconsin buckled so badly from the heat that it sent cars flying. Well, this year, the buckling continues. But if you're in certain parts of the country, you don't need me to tell you that. It's hot, and I'm not going to use that but-it's-a-dry-heat line, either.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Before we begin our program today, I'd like to thank you, our listeners and our public radio stations for all of your support of SCIENCE FRIDAY. During this week's transition period, an overwhelming number of you chose to stay with us, and we are grateful for that and hope that you are grateful and will show your gratitude to your public radio station for staying with us. Thank you.
That music has never been played publically before today. It's our brand new SCIENCE FRIDAY theme song. And joining me now to talk about - a little more about the tune, how to make music that sounds like science is the man who created it, BJ Leiderman, a composer, producer. I'm sure you know him, because he did the theme songs for MORNING EDITION, MARKETPLACE and I think WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Right, BJ?
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. White blood cells are part of our body's defense system. Their job is to attack invaders, and one of the first white blood cells sent out is the neutrophil. These neutrophils put out a trap to capture and destroy the invaders. But here's where it gets interesting, because in a new study, researchers say they have shown that these nets might actually activate and spread the cancer cells. It's the exact opposite of what you want. But there may be a way to counteract this problem.
Archaeologists digging in the foothills of Iran's Zagros Mountains have discovered the remains of a Stone Age farming community. It turns out that people living there were growing plants like barley, peas and lentils as early as 12,000 years ago.
The findings offer a rare snapshot of a time when humans first started experimenting with farming. They also show that Iran was an important player in the origin of agriculture.