Big Picture Science show

Big Picture Science

Summary: Big Picture Science is a one-hour radio show and podcast that connects ideas in surprising and humorous ways to illuminate the origins and evolution of life and technology on this planet... and beyond.

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 Meet Your Replacements | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

There’s no one like you. At least, not yet. But in some visions of the future, androids can do just about everything, computers will hook directly into your brain, and genetic human-hybrids with exotic traits will be walking the streets. So could humans become an endangered species? Be prepared to meet the new-and-improved you. But how much human would actually remain in the humanoids of the future? Plus, tips for preventing our own extinction in the face of inevitable natural catastrophes. Guests: Robin Hanson – Associate professor of economics, George Mason University Luke Muehlhauser – Executive director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute Stuart Newman – Professor of cell biology and anatomy, New York Medical College Annalee Newitz – Editor of, and author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction Descripción en español

 Skeptic Check: Mummy Dearest | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Shh …mummy’s the word! We don’t want to provoke the curse of King Tut. Except that there are many curses associated with this fossilized pharaoh – from evil spirits to alien malevolence. So it’s hard to know which one we’d face. We’ll unravel secrets about the famous young pharaoh, including the bizarre events that transpired after the discovery of his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and learn what modern imaging reveals about life 3,000 years ago. Plus, we dispel myths about how to make a mummy, while learning the origin of that notorious mummy curse. Also, discover why superstitions have survival value. Guests: Jo Marchant – Author of The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut’s Mummy Andrew Wade – Physical anthropologist, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario Salima Ikram – Professor of Egyptology, American University, Cairo Stuart Vyse – Professor of psychology, Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition F. DeWolfe Miller – Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Descripción en español

 Exoplanets | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

You may be unique, but is your home planet? NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has uncovered thousands of planetary candidates, far far beyond our solar system. Some may be habitable and possibly even Earth-like. But now a failure in its steering apparatus may bring an abrupt end to this pioneering telescope’s search for new worlds. But Kepler has a massive legacy of data still to be studied. Many new worlds will undoubtedly be found in these data. Hear why the astronomer who has discovered the greatest number of exoplanets is hopeful about the hunt for alien life, and meet the next generation of planet-hunting instruments. Also, “Weird worlds? That was our idea!” Sci-fi writers lay claim to the first musings on exotic planetary locales. And a biographer of Magellan and Columbus describes the dangerous hunt for new worlds five centuries ago. Guests: Charlie Sobeck – Engineer, deputy project manager, Kepler Mission, NASA Ames Research Center Geoff Marcy – Astronomer, University of California, Berkeley Dan Clery – Deputy news editor, European office of Science Laurence Bergreen – author of Voyage to Mars, Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504, Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (P.S.) Robert J. Sawyer – Hugo Award-winning author; most recently of Red Planet Blues Descripción en español

 This Land Is Island | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

There are many kinds of islands. There’s your iconic sandy speck of land topped with a palm tree, but there’s also our home planet – an island in the vast seas of space. You might think of yourself as a biological island … until you tally the number of microbes living outside – and inside – your body. We go island hopping, and consider the Scottish definition of an island – one man, one sheep – as well as the swelling threat of high water to island nations. Also, how species populate islands … and tricks for communicating with extraterrestrial islanders hanging out elsewhere in the cosmos. Guests: Edward Chamberlin – Professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at the University of Toronto; fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; author of Island: How Islands Transform the World Bill McKibben – Writer, activist and professor of environmental studies, Middlebury College, founder of Justin Sonnenburg – Microbiologist, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University Guy Consolmagno – Astronomer, Vatican Observatory Margaret Race – Ecologist, SETI Institute Descripción en español First released January 9, 2012.

 Cosmos: It's Big, It's Weird | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE It’s all about you. And you, and you, and you and you… that is, if we live in parallel universes. Imagine you doing exactly what you’re doing now, but in an infinite number of universes. Discover the multiverse theory and why repeats aren’t limited to summer television. Plus, the physics of riding on a light beam, and the creative analogies a New York Times science writer uses to avoid using the word “weird” to describe dark energy and other weird physics. Also, people who concoct their own theories (some would say fringe) of the universe: is all matter made up of tiny coiled springs? Guests: Brian Greene – Physicist and mathematician, Columbia University, and author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos Dennis Overbye – Reporter, New York Times Simon Steel – Science educator at University College London Margaret Wertheim – Science writer, author of Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything Descripción en español First released January 9, 2012.

 ZZZZZs Please | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

We’ve all hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off, but why do we crave sleep in the first place? We explore the evolutionary origins of sleep … the study of narcolepsy in dogs … and could novel drugs and technologies cut down on our need for those zzzzs. Plus, ditch your dream journal: a brain scanner may let you record – and play back – your dreams. And, branch out with the latest development in artificial light: bioluminescent trees. How gene tinkering may make your houseplants both grow and glow. Guests: Emmanuel Mignot – Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and director of the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, Stanford University Kyle Taylor – Molecular biologist at Glowing Plant Jerry Siegel – Neuroscientist and professor of psychiatry, the University of California, Los Angeles Jack Gallant – Professor of psychology and neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley Descripción en español

 Skeptic Check: Hostile Climate | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

It’s a record we didn’t want to break. The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere hits the 400 parts-per-million mark, a level which some scientists say is a point of no return for stopping climate change. A few days later, a leading newspaper prints an op-ed essay that claims CO2 is getting a bad rap: it’s actually good for the planet. The more the better. Skeptic Phil Plait rebuts the CO2-is-awesome idea while a paleontologist paints a picture of what Earth was like when the notorious gas last ruled the planet. Note: humans weren’t around. Plus, our skit says NO to O2 … and a claim that climate change skeptics have borrowed from the Creationists’ playbook in challenging the teaching of established science in schools. Guests: Phil Plait – Astronomer, skeptic, and author of Slate Magazine’s blog Bad Astronomy Peter Ward – Paleontologist and biologist, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington in Seattle Josh Rosenau – Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education Eugenie Scott – Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education Descripción en español

 Fundest Show Ever | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

You can remember yesterday, but not tomorrow. But why? We consider the arrow of time and why its direction was set by the Big Bang. Also, artificial blood cells and life in a deep Antarctic lake. You’ll hear how Stephen King thinks that humankind is metaphorically living under a big dome, and why we really want to go into space, according to Neil Tyson. And … skeptical takes on faces in cheese sandwiches and the supposedly special powers of psychics. All this and more on this special Big Picture Science podcast. Guests: Jeremy Bailenson – Director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University and co-author of Infinite Reality: The Hidden Blueprint of Our Virtual Lives Sean Carroll – Theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, author of The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World Helen Amanda Fricker – Glaciologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego Jill Mikucki – Microbiologist at the University of Tennessee Jennifer Heldmann – Research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center Jonathan Coulton – Singer and songwriter Joseph DeSimone – Professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chemical engineering at North Carolina State University Stephen King – Novelist, author of Under the Dome: A Novel Phil Plait – Astronomer, Skeptic, and author of Slate Magazine’s blog Bad Astronomy Benjamin Radford – Deputy editor, Skeptical Inquirer magazine Steven Novella – Physician at Yale University, host of the podcast, “Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe” Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicst, American Museum of Natural History, and author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier William Anders – Astronaut on Apollo 8, and photographer of “Earth Rise” Jim Underdown – Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, Los Angeles Descripción en español

 Stomach This | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Not all conversation is appropriate for the dinner table – and that includes, strangely enough, the subject of eating. Yet what happens during the time that food enters our mouth and its grand exit is a model of efficiency and adaptation. Author Mary Roach takes us on a tour of the alimentary canal, while a researcher describes his invention of an artificial stomach. Plus, a psychologist on why we find certain foods and smells disgusting. And, you don’t eat them but they could wiggle their way within nonetheless: surgical snakebots. Guests: Mary Roach – Author, most recently, of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal Martin Wickham – Head of Nutrition, Leatherhead Food Research, U.K. Paul Rozin – Professor of psychology, University of Pennsylvania Michael Gershon – Professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center Howie Choset – Professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University Descripción en español

 De-Extinction Show | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Maybe goodbye isn’t forever. Get ready to mingle with mammoths and gaze upon a ground sloth. Scientists want to give some animals a round-trip ticket back from oblivion. Learn how we might go from scraps of extinct DNA to creating live previously-extinct animals, and the man who claims it’s his mission to repopulate the skies with passenger pigeons. But even if we have the tools to bring vanished animals back, should we? Plus, the extinction of our own species: are we engineering the end of humans via our technology? Guests: Beth Shapiro – Associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, University of California, Santa Cruz Ben Novak – Biologist, Revive and Restore project at the Long Now Foundation, visiting biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz Hank Greely – Lawyer working in bioethics, director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University Melanie Challenger – Poet, writer, author of On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature Nick Bostrom – Director of the Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University Descripción en español

 Deep Time | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Think back, way back. Beyond last week or last year … to what was happening on Earth 100,000 years ago. Or 100 million years ago. It’s hard to fathom such enormous stretches of time, yet to understand the evolution of the cosmos – and our place in it – your mind needs to grasp the deep meaning of eons. Discover techniques for thinking in units of billions of years, and how the events that unfold over such intervals have left their mark on you. Plus: the slow-churning processes that turned four-footed creatures into the largest marine animals that ever graced the planet and using a new telescope to travel in time to the birth of the galaxies. Guests: Jim Rosenau – Artist, Berkeley, California Robert Hazen – Senior staff scientist at the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, executive director of the Deep Carbon Observatory and the author of The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet Neil Shubin – Biologist, associate dean of biological sciences at the University of Chicago, and the author of The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People Nicholas Pyenson – Curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Alison Peck – Scientist, National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia Descripción en español

 Skeptic Check: Forget with the Program | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE Just remember this: memory is like Swiss cheese. Even our recollection of dramatic events that seem to sear their images directly onto our brain turn out to be riddled with errors. Discover the reliability of these emotional “flashbulb” memories. Also, a judge questions the utility of eyewitness testimony in court. And, don’t blame Google for destroying your powers of recall! Socrates thought the same thing about the written word. Plus, Brains on Vacation! Guests: Phil Plait – Astronomer, Skeptic, and author of Slate Magazine’s blog Bad Astronomy Craig Stark – Neurobiologist, Director for the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at Univeristy of California, Irvine Ronald Reinstein – Former judge on the Superior Court of Arizona and judicial consultant for the Arizona Supreme Court Betsy Sparrow – Psychologist, Columbia University Descripción en español First released May 7, 2012

 Seth's Wine Cellar | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

There are always surprises when we sort through Seth’s wine cellar – who knows what we’ll find! In this cramped cavern, tucked between boxes of old fuses and a priceless bottle of 1961 Chateau Palmer Margaux, we discover the next generation of atomic clock … the key to how solar storms disrupt your cell phone … nano-gold particles that could make gasoline obsolete … and what NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has learned about how our solar system stacks up to others. Tune in, find out and, help us lift these boxes, will you? Guests: Chris Sorensen – Physicist, Kansas State University Anne Curtis – Senior research scientist, National Physical Laboratory, U.K. Jonathan Eisen – Evolutionary biologist, University of California, Davis Karel Schrijver – Solar physicist, Lockheed Martin, Advanced Technology Center Jonathan Fortney – Astronomer, University of California, Santa Cruz Sanjoy Som – Astrobiologist, NASA Ames Research Center Descripción en español

 Anthropocene and Heard | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE What’s in a name? “Holocene” defines the geologic epoch we’re in. Or were in? Goodbye to “Holocene” and hello “Anthropocene!” Yes, scientists may actually re-name our geologic era as the “Age of Man” due to the profound impact we’ve had on the planet. We’ll examine why we’ve earned this new moniker and who votes on such a thing. Plus, discover the strongest evidence for human-caused climate change. Also, why cities should be celebrated, not reviled… a musing over the possible fate of alien civilizations … and waste not: what an unearthed latrine – and its contents – reveal about ancient Roman habit and diet. Guests: William Steffen – Climate scientist and the Executive Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University, Canberra Simon Donner – Geographer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver Edward Glaeser – Economist, Harvard University, author of Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier Douglas Vakoch – Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute Mark Robinson – Director of Environmental Archaeology at the University of Oxford Erica Rowan – Doctoral student, University of Oxford Descripción en español First released October 24, 2011

 Skeptic Check: Friends Like These | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

We love our family and friends, but sometimes their ideas about how the world works seem a little wacky. We asked BiPiSci listeners to share examples of what they can’t believe their loved-ones believe, no matter how much they hear rational explanations to the contrary. Then we asked some scientists about those beliefs, to get their take. Discover whether newspaper ink causes cancer … if King Tut really did add a curse to his sarcophagus … the efficacy of examining your irises – iridology – to diagnose disease … and more! Oh, and what about string theory? Is it falsifiable? Guests: Steven Novella – Physician at Yale University, host of the podcast, “Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe” Matthew Hutson – Author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane Brian Greene – Physicist, Columbia University, author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory Guy Harrison – Author of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True and, most recently, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian Descripción en español


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