Short Wave: The Science Behind That Fresh Rain Smell

Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria.

But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery… until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.

In this episode, we hear from Klas Flärdh, a professor of microbiology at Lund University in Sweden; Mahmoud Al-Bassam, a researcher at University of California, San Diego; and Paul Becher, a chemical ecologist and a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

You can find their paper in Nature Microbiology here.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Rebecca Ramirez, edited by Viet Le, and fact-checked by Berly McCoy and Emily Vaughn herself.

 

Short Wave Podcast

It’s science for everyone, using a lot of creativity and a little humor. Join host Maddie Sofia for science on a different wavelength.


Science Topics
Biology, Microbiology
Middle School, High School
7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, Adults

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