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Flowers are nature's ad men. They'll do anything to attract the attention of the pollinators that help them reproduce. That means spending precious energy on bright pigments, enticing fragrances and dazzling patterns.

Now, scientists have found another element that contributes to flowers' brand: their distinct electric field.

Anne Leonard, who studies bees at the University of Nevada, says our understanding of pollinator-flower communication has been expanding for decades.

The Science Of Songs You Can't Escape

Feb 21, 2013
Flickr Photo/hobvias sudoneighm

It sounds shocking, but earworms are an epidemic that affect at least 90 percent of people as often as once a week. That’s according to a Goldsmiths University study. But before you go logging onto WebMD, fear not! These earworms are more commonly referred to as songs, regular old songs — often radio hits or catchy grooves that burrow deep within the human brain. For instance, maybe you've been visited by this hungry earworm:

For a universe so old and so illustrious, the end may be boring and lightning quick: According to one Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory theoretician, if what we know about the Higgs boson subatomic particle is true, the universe may come to an end when another universe slurps us up at light speed.

The United States doesn't currently have a plan for dealing with the problem of climate change. But President Obama is expected to bring it up in his State of the Union address tomorrow night. What is he expected to say? What’s he likely to do? David S. Roberts of the Seattle-based environmental magazine Grist talks with David Hyde about his predictions on how the president will attempt to tackle climate change.

marsmet481 / Flickr

Both state and federal lawmakers have been debating over how to approach immigration reform. Immigrants themselves tend to favor paths to citizenship and educational opportunities for their children. But how do non-immigrants formulate their opinions on the subject? A recent academic study says that maybe our genes play a key role in shaping our political views. According to the research, people with a predisposition to social anxiety and fear are more likely to be critical of the unfamiliar and therefore more likely to support things like anti-immigration policy. David Hyde talks to lead author and political science professor Pete Hatemi to get the details.

Fetmano / Flickr

State toxicologist Fiona Couper recently stated that violations for driving under the influence of marijuana have not gone up since the passage of Initiative-502. But marijuana legalization is still in its early stages and to be charged with a DUI the driver has to get caught with 5 nanograms per milliliter of active THC in their bloodstream. David Hyde talks with Dr. Marilyn Huestis from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and tries to make sense of the science of marijuana intoxication.  

Some 66 million years ago, about 75 percent of species on Earth disappeared. It wasn't just dinosaurs but most large mammals, fish, birds and plankton. Scientists have known this for a long time just from looking at the fossil record. If you dig deep enough, you find lots of dinosaur bones. And then a few layers up, they're gone.

But scientists couldn't figure out exactly what had caused this phenomenon. Of course, there were lots of theories.

    

Just over one month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama and Vice President Biden are set to announce their plan for action on reducing gun violence. We'll carry the President's remarks live from the White House and hear what Beth Flynn of Washington Ceasefire and Phil Watson of the Second Amendment Foundation have to say about his proposals.

Wall Street skyscrapers
Michael Aston / Flickr

    

  What can physics teach us about finance? A great deal according to physicist and mathematician James Owen Weatherall. He says markets can be understood, and to a degree even predicted, by using principles of physics. Ross Reynolds talks to professor Weatherall about what physics can teach us about Wall Street.

Author's Twitter account

Many people say there is a heaven. But few are academic neurosurgeons. Ross Reynolds speaks with Eben  Alexander about a near-death experience he says gave him a glimpse of the afterlife that he outlines in his book, "Proof of Heaven."

Steven Senne / AP Photo

Futurist and author Ray Kurzweil thinks we’re headed for a future where machines will become more like people, people will integrate computers and machines into their bodies, and we will live longer — much longer. Ross Reynolds talks with Ray Kurzweil about his latest book, "How to Create a Mind."

Water
Flickr photo/Ibrahim Areef

The Clean Water Act turned 40 this year. What has it accomplished? Where would we be without it? And what will the next 40 years look like for clean water in this country? Weekday presents a special broadcast produced by KUOW's EarthFix and Living On Earth from Public Radio International.

I feel extremely fortunate that I get to work on The Conversation with Ross Reynolds and David Hyde (and the interns — hi interns!) But! I've been tasked with picking a mere five conversations that are my favorite from 2012 and thus, in no particular order here are my favorites. 

1. There is a joke around here that if a book has been written about the way the brain works, I will pitch a show on it. It is funny because it is true. My very favorite interview from the year was when Ross sat down with neuroscientist Simon LeVay to talk about his book on the science of sexual orientation, "Gay, Straight and the Reasons Why."


GLENEDEN BEACH, Ore. - It goes without saying that the Pacific Ocean is vast. So it may come as a surprise to hear the sea described as "crowded." Perhaps even too crowded to make room for the nascent industry of wave and tidal energy.  Taxpayers and investors have pumped tens of millions of dollars into finding ways to turn the ocean's power into electricity.  In recent weeks, high stakes negotiations to identify wave energy sites on the Oregon Coast are finally getting somewhere.

A parasite worms its way into a host, hijacks its nervous system and begins to control their behavior. Sounds like T.V. or the movies, but scientists have long known that parasites can take over and manipulate invertebrate and some vertebrate hosts. We talk with Dr. Shelley Adamo of Dalhousie University about how parasites may be turning hosts into zombies.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- President Barack Obama has been publicly warning Syria’s leaders not to use chemical weapons against their own people. The news is unexpectedly relevant in southeast Washington. Researchers at at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing new scientific techniques to trace chemical agents back to their sources.

LONG BEACH, Wash. – It’s been more than four months since the last confirmed piece of Japanese tsunami debris washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast. Even sightings of suspected disaster debris have tapered way off in recent months. Does that mean we’re just in a lull or past the worst of it?

Marine microbes are not as cute as sea otters, but they do produce about half the oxygen on the planet.  Meaning you have microscopic marine microbes to thank for every other breath you take.  And University of Washington oceanographer Ginger Armbrust just received a multi-million dollar grant to study marine microbial ecology from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.  

Ross Reynolds talks with Professor Armbrust about the latest science on the microbes that we can thank for every other breath.

Greendays Gardening: Last Greendays Until Spring

Dec 4, 2012
Frozen berry
Flickr photo/Stefan Lins

Marty Wingate, Greg Rabourn and Willi Galloway join us to answer your flower, vegetable and native plant questions. Things are getting wetter and colder. Our gardening panel takes a winter break after today, so this is your last chance until spring to have your questions answered. Call us at 206.543.5869 or email weekday@kuow.org.

Ruby de Luna

Most science exhibits focus on animals, robots or body parts. But a new exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center focuses on wellness. The goal is to help kids understand how the choices they make affect their overall health.


On today's show, we bring you some of our favorite segments of the year. We talk about vulnerability, photography and The Boss.

Is There Power In Vulnerability?

Being vulnerable and open to failure makes us uncomfortable, but according to the research of Brene Brown, we can’t have success without vulnerability. Ross Reynolds discusses the power of vulnerability with University of Houston Professor Brene Brown.

Seattle-Based Artist Goes Small Then Large To Highlight The Big Picture

The Hayden family / Wikipedia

Charles Sabine was a war correspondent with NBC for 25 years, covering conflicts all over the world — including Bosnia, Baghdad, and the Rwanda genocide. His reporting garnered him an Emmy and many other journalism awards. But four years ago his focus completely changed after getting a genetic test that revealed a lethal fate.

Ross Reynolds talks with Charles Sabine about what it is like to know you have deadly and degenerative disease in your future and the risks and rewards of genetic testing.

The Joy Of Math With Steven Strogatz

Nov 1, 2012

How does Google search the Internet? How many people should you date before getting married? And how should you arrange your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it?

Harvard Medical School Photo

George Church says scientists may one day be able to resurrect wooly mammoths and use bacteria to make cups or grow houses. David Hyde discusses the science with professor George Church.

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

David Hyde talks to Dan Schrag, a geology professor at Harvard University, who also serves on President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology about climate change and weather.

Writer Craig Childs
JT Thomas Photo

Earth is an always-changing planet. Earthquakes thrust new mountains upward, sea ice melts, oceans rise, deserts spread, species die, civilizations collapse. Award-winning writer and commentator Craig Childs traveled to the desolate places on Earth where forces of nature are forever remaking the planet. He joins us to discuss his newest book, “Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth.”

UW Professor David Montgomery says he'll march for science
Kvasir Society Photo/Joy Mathew

There are many stories of great floods out there, first and foremost the fable of Noah's ark. But some geologists have found that many of these legends have some basis in historical fact. We talk with University of Washington professor and MacArthur award-winner Dave Montgomery, the author of "The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood."

Authors of a new report says error is not the leading cause of scientific paper retractions and that the papers are being withdrawn due to fraud or suspected fraud, duplicate publication or plagiarism nearly 70 percent of the time. Ross Reynolds talks with University of Washington School of Medicine Dr. Ferric Fang about why this happens and what it means. 

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