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On-air now: Taboo 4:00pm–5:30pm

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Program Directory

Big Picture Science

SMS isn’t the orig­i­nal instant mes­sag­ing sys­tem. Plants can send chem­i­cal warn­ings through their leaves in a frac­tion of a sec­ond. And while we love being in the mes­sag­ing loop – fre­net­i­cal­ly refresh­ing our browsers – we miss out on impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions that no Twit­ter feed or inbox can cap­ture. That’s because eaves­drop­ping on the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of non-human species requires the abil­i­ty to decode their non-writ­ten signals.

Dive into Arc­tic waters where sci­en­tists make first-ever record­ings of the social­iz­ing clicks and squeals of nar­whals, and find out how cli­mate shifts may pol­lute their acoustic land­scape. Also, why the chem­i­cal defense sys­tem of plants has prompt­ed one biol­o­gist to give green­ery an 11 on the scale of awe­some­ness.” And, you can’t see them, but they sure can sense one anoth­er: how com­mu­ni­cat­ing microbes plan their attack.


  • Susan­na Black­wellBio-acousti­cian with Greener­idge Sci­ences. Hear her record­ings of nar­whals here.
  • Simon GilroyPro­fes­sor of botany, Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, Madi­son. His video of glow­ing green cater­pil­lar-munched plants can be viewed here.
  • Peter Green­bergPro­fes­sor of micro­bi­ol­o­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, Seattle