The underground life forms that have taken over Centralia

The underground life forms that have taken over Centralia

Centralia, Pennsylvania was a town destroyed by a nightmarish, decades-long subterranean fire. While there are almost no people left there, scientists have discovered some new residents: heat-loving microbes who have appeared to capitalize on the fire. In this “Trial & Error” episode, we collect and regrow some of the mystery microbes from Centralia, and try…

We tested NYC water for lead contamination

We tested NYC water for lead contamination

Lead contamination got a lot of national attention because of the crisis in Flint, Michigan. But today, lead pipes are still tainting tap water across America. In this episode of “Trial & Error,” we explore how lead enters the water supply, how to test for it, and find out whether our own homes are at…

We tested NYC water for lead and the results were confounding

We tested NYC water for lead and the results were confounding

Lead contamination got a lot of national attention because of the crisis in Flint, Michigan. But today, lead pipes are still tainting tap water across America. In this episode of “Trial & Error,” we explore how lead enters the water supply, how to test for it, and find out whether our own homes are at…

This algorithm decodes rat squeaks and could revolutionize animal research

This algorithm decodes rat squeaks and could revolutionize animal research

Rats are social and chatty critters, but most of their chatter is above the frequency that human ears can hear. If researchers could listen to what rats are “saying,” it could change countless experiments. This week, we try our hand at recording ultrasonic rat squeaks, and visit some scientists who built their own software to…

Is gallium nitride the silicon of the future?

Is gallium nitride the silicon of the future?

The global electronics industry has been fueled by silicon from the get-go, but that may soon change. Products are slowly appearing that replace silicon with gallium nitride, a material that promises to shrink technology down while making it more efficient. We take a look inside one of these products to find out how gallium nitride…

Tiny meteorites are everywhere. Here’s how to find them.

Tiny meteorites are everywhere. Here’s how to find them.

Literal tons of tiny meteorites fall to Earth every day, but are next to impossible to find once they land. At least, that’s what the scientific community assumed. In this pilot episode of our “Trial & Error” experiment series, we go on a hunt for micrometeorites with the help of the amateur scientist who showed…

Why doctors are worried about the Apple Watch EKG

Why doctors are worried about the Apple Watch EKG

The Apple Watch Series 4 learned a new trick: it can now perform an EKG, or electrocardiogram. It’s a test that can detect heart problems, and it could save lives. But it could also have some unintended side effects: self-diagnosis, false positives, and other headaches for doctors and hospitals everywhere. We took the new EKG…

What the world looks like to an algorithm

What the world looks like to an algorithm

Artificial intelligence is governing more and more of our lives, but the way it sees and understands the world is completely different from you or me. For this video, we found a way to look around inside AI’s “brain.” First, we asked fellow humans to guess paintings made by a computer program. And then, the…

Old nuclear bomb tests are still haunting us today

Old nuclear bomb tests are still haunting us today

In 1946, the American military detonated a nuke underwater in the Pacific Ocean to see what would happen to abandoned warships nearby. In this video, we trace the far-reaching consequences of that test. It leads all the way to the present day; to a major American city; and to a nuclear scandal that’s cost millions…