In his new book Spillover writer David Quammen traces the evolution of Ebola, HIV and other diseases that moved from animals to humans. Quammen describes how scientists look for the reservoirs of the infectious agents, and what might be done to prevent the next pandemic.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Flora Lichtman, filling in for Ira Flatow today. The moon, it's our nearest neighbor, but we don't know much about where our companion came from. In the 1800s, Charles Darwin's son, Sir George Darwin, proposed that maybe the moon just popped off from the Earth when the Earth was spinning much faster than it is today.
A NASA spacecraft captured the clearest recording yet of what space sounds like inside Earth's radiation belts. Craig Kletzing, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, explains what causes these eerie chirping noises, and what we can learn from them.
Matthew Inman, creator of the humor site "The Oatmeal," led an online drive that raised over $1 million for a new museum to honor the inventor Nikola Tesla. Inman discusses how to build a successful crowdfunding campaign, and why Tesla is the greatest geek who ever lived.
Science Or Folklore? — The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts winter weather months in advance. Is that even scientifically possible? Meteorologist Jason Samenow, of The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, talks about the science and art of seasonal forecasting, and why even the pros at NOAA sometimes get it wrong.
In less than a month, the 2012 presidential election turned from an almost certain victory for President Obama to a neck-and-neck race. New York Times blogger and statistician Nate Silver and Princeton neuroscientist Sam Wang talk about making sense of the polls--and why not all votes are created equal.
The government recently announced a new plan to facilitate the development of solar energy projects on public land in six Western states. Lawrence Susskind, a professor of urban and environmental planning at MIT, explains what it means for the future of renewable energy.
I guess everybody, even the smartest people who ever lived, have days when they feel dumb — really, really dumb. Oct. 1, 1861, was that kind of day for Charles Darwin.
In a letter to his friend Charles Lyell, Darwin says, "I am very poorly today," and then — and I want you to see this exactly as he wrote it, so you know this isn't a fake; it comes from the library of the American Philosophical Society, courtesy of their librarian Charles Greifenstein. Can you read it?
A Chinese scientist recently suggested that prehistoric humans ate pandas. The evidence, based on cut marks on panda bones, strikes me as thin, but the report led me to a thought experiment.
How would people in the modern world react if the some population or subculture today made panda-foraging a goal? I imagine most of us would be horrified, and not only because the panda is an endangered species. The panda has become a symbol of cuteness, an animal we love to love.