© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Seeking A Scientist

The future is scary, but it doesn’t have to be! Host Dr. Kate Biberdorf (aka Kate the Chemist) is seeking scientists to guide us into the great unknown. From fungus zombies to feeling young forever, we’re puzzling out what our world could look like — and how we can get ready. A podcast from KCUR Studios and the NPR Podcast Network. Supported by The Stowers Institute For Medical Research.

Stay Connected
  • Fireworks have been used to dazzle and entertain for centuries. These spectacles can seem out of this world, and they’re directly related to Kate the Chemist’s favorite subject: chemistry. Kate answers your questions about fireworks, including what causes their sound, colors and even smell.
  • We haven’t been giving the Plant Kingdom enough credit. Plants can move, attack, communicate, and adapt — even though they don’t have what's normally defined as a brain. But do plants meet the criteria for intelligent life? That’s the question Paco Calvo and Natalie Lawrence explore in their book “Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence.”
  • Asteroids heading straight for planet Earth aren’t just a scenario out of a Hollywood thriller. Luckily, scientists around the world have long been preparing for such an “Armageddon” scenario.Kate The Chemist speaks with Nancy Chabot, one of the leaders behind NASA’s planetary defense missions, about destroying asteroids in space before they reach our atmosphere.
  • Ever since the 2023 Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of quantum dots, Kate’s phone has been ringing off the hook. Everyone wants her to explain what these tiny clusters of atoms are — and how they relate to the budding field of nanotechnology. In essence, she says, quantum dots are helping chemists make our world brighter, healthier and more energy efficient.
  • Seeking A Scientist is returning for a second season! But before we head back to the lab, Kate The Chemist wants to hear from YOU. What episode was your favorite? What do you want to hear more about from us? Leave us a review and comment on your favorite podcast platform, or email Kate directly at Kate@seekingascientist.org.
  • Over the last few years, the box office has been dominated by films like "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" that explore ideas of parallel universes, quantum worlds and alternate lives. There's some real science behind those ideas, but they may not look exactly how we imagine. Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll helps us untangle the madness from the multiverse.
  • From molds and yeasts to the mushrooms we fear and love, fungi are connected to life and death on our planet — but they're often misunderstood. We only know about 10% of the estimated 3.8 million species that exist. Do we need to be afraid of things like fungus zombies? We asked astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and mycologist Giuliana Furci to help us understand this vast kingdom, and separate “fungal fact” from “fungal fiction.”
  • In April 2023 alone, floods hit numerous regions of the United States, including land-locked states like Kansas, Tennessee and Colorado. With warmer temperatures and human activity causing the oceans to rise and the ground to sink, flooding is now a question of “when,” not “if.” NOAA oceanographer William Sweet explains why those disasters are getting worse and how we can prepare for a “floodier future.”
  • In February 2021, Texas and wide swaths of North America were shut down by Winter Storm Uri, which caused massive blackouts and left millions of people without power for days. The winter storms exposed vulnerabilities in our country’s electrical grid, and underlined the pressing need for a more reliable energy system. Is a recent breakthrough in nuclear fusion a possible path forward?
  • In 1997, Captain Charles Moore discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” the largest accumulation of plastic waste in the ocean. Since then, scientists have documented how plastic has permanently damaged marine ecosystems and even altered evolution. But marine biologist Danni Washington says it’s not all “doom and gloom" — scientists are already putting innovative solutions in motion to protect our oceans.