Astrophysicist Adam Frank says that science has united us during this very difficult year. Writing for NBCNews.com, Frank argues, "It is no overstatement to say that science saved our lives and our hope for the future. And it did so by overcoming all the denialists who attack its validity, dismiss its honesty and power, and repeatedly call for its funding to be cut."

He discusses those ideas, and he joins colleagues to explain how scientists are using "football field-sized lasers to recreate conditions deep inside alien worlds." This is how scientists could decide, in the future, which planets to zero in on... in the search for other civilizations. Our guests:

  • Adam Frank, Helen F. and Fred H. Gowen Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester
  • Gilbert 'Rip' Collins, professor of mechanical engineering and physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, associate director for the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and director for the Center for Matter at Atomic Pressures
  • Sarah Stewart, professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Davis

Students at RIT are making international news for a discovery they made related to medieval manuscripts. The students developed a system that uses ultraviolet-florescence imaging to read text that's invisible to the naked eye. In their process, they discovered lost text on a 15th-century manuscript, revealing it was a palimpsest -- a manuscript on parchment with multiple layers of writing. The discovery and the system the students created will help libraries around the world learn more about medieval texts and collections.

The RIT project was a collaboration with the University of Rochester, where faculty and students are also making advancements in textual science. Is Rochester becoming a hub for this kind of work?

Our guests discuss the recent project, its impact, and what's next in the field of textual science locally and around the world. Our guests:

  • Roger Easton, professor at RIT's Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
  • Gregory Heyworth, associate professor of English and Textual Science at the University of Rochester
  • Lisa Enochs, second-year student double majoring in motion picture science and imaging science at RIT
  • Zoë LaLena, second-year imaging science student at RIT
  • Madeline Rose, Take 5 Scholar in English literature, computational linguistics, and classical mythology and ethics at the University of Rochester


SpaceX is expected to become the first private company ever to launch astronauts into Earth’s orbit on Wednesday when its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are slated to take off from the Kennedy Space Center and transport two NASA crew members to the International Space Station.

The launch is scheduled for 3:22 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 30. Watch live in our player above.

Pittsford Town Board member Stephanie Townsend is speaking out about the need for scientific literacy. She says the pandemic has underscored the erosion of this kind of literacy, and "understanding the scope, limits, and process of science is critical to an informed citizenry and electorate. No one study 'proves' anything."

This hour, we discuss scientific literacy in America and how improving it could impact responses to the pandemic. Our guests:

  • Stephanie Townsend, director of research and analytics at ROC the Future, and member of the Pittsford Town Board
  • Barney Ricca, professor in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at St. John Fisher College
  • Dr. Mario Elia, M.D., physician based in Ontario, Canada

CL!X Photography

A Pittsford Sutherland High School student is getting national recognition for his nuclear fusion project.

Simon Narang, 17, was named a top 300 scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search. 

The prestigious competition recognizes promising young scientists who are developing ideas that could solve society's most urgent problems.

As an intern at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester, Narang worked on software designed to help develop greater energy production in nuclear fusion.

image provided

What happens when you combine comedy and science?

"Laughing uncontrollably, and then you have that 'aha' moment that just shifts the way you perceive something." 

That's how comedian Shane Mauss describes his "Stand Up Science" show, which makes its Rochester debut this weekend.

Mauss was following a traditional path to comedy success, with appearances on "Conan", "Jimmy Kimmel Live", Comedy Central, Showtime, and the BBC when he found a way to combine both of his passions.

WATCH: Meet Rochester's citizen scientists

Apr 23, 2019

Spring is finally here and that means people throughout Rochester are eager to head outside and embrace the slightly warmer temperatures. Once you finally get outside, do you ever stop and take the time to notice the environment around you? The City of Rochester’s Department of Youth and Recreation has created a group called Earth Explorers. As WXXI’s Lisa Famiglietti explains, the goal is to get kids to enjoy the great outdoors while taking part in a little something called “citizen science.”

A group of graduate students at the University of Rochester is leading an initiative that encourages more people of color to pursue STEM-related majors and professions. According to the National Science Foundation, 70 percent of scientists and engineers employed full time are white, and underrepresented minorities in those professions earn less than their white co-workers.

The Rochester Chapter of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering has plans to address the disparities. We hear from members about their goals and their work. In studio:

  • Antonio Tinoco Valencia, president of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and Ph.D. candidate in organic chemistry
  • Shukree Abdul-Rashed, vice-president of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and Ph.D. candidate in organic chemistry
  • Marian Ackun-Farmmer, social-relations chair for the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering
  • Anthony Plonczynski-Figueroa, faculty advisor for the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and director of operation for the David T. Kearns Center, University of Rochester

Can science provide absolute knowledge and understanding? Three scientists have united to say that it can not, and they go further: they write that science can suffer from a blind spot, ignoring the power and value of human experience. It's not a condemnation of science -- not at all. Rather, the scientists argue that science provides vital insight into the world as we experience it, but it does not supplant our experience, which needs to be taken into account.

This controversial piece has sparked debate in the scientific community. Two of the three authors join us on Connections. Our guests:

  • Adam Frank, professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester, and author of several books, the latest being "Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth"
  • Marcelo Gleiser, theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire

Stink bugs are just about everywhere, but good news: we’re releasing samurai wasps to kill them. If that perhaps doesn’t sound like a perfect idea, the experts are here to assuage your concerns.

They explain how releasing one species to kill another can be effective, and they take us into the weird and effective world of these wasps. Our guests: