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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 Time for a Map | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

It’s hard to get lost these days. GPS pinpoints your location to within a few feet. Discover how our need to get from A to B holds clues about what makes us human, and what we lose now that every digital map puts us at the center. Plus, stories of animal navigation: how a cat found her way home across Florida, and the magnetic navigation systems used by salmon and sea turtles. Also, why you’ll soon be riding in driverless cars. And, how to map our universe. Guests: John Bradshaw – Director of the University of Bristol’s Anthrozoology Institute, author of Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behavior Can Make You A Better Friend to Your Pet and, most recently, Cat Sense Kenneth Lohmann – Biologist at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Simon Garfield – Author of On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks William “Red” Whittaker – Roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University James Trefil – Physicist at George Mason University, author of Space Atlas: Mapping the Universe and Beyond Descripción en español

 Our Tasteless Show | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Imagine biting into a rich chocolate donut and not tasting it. That’s what happened to one woman when she lost her sense of smell. Discover what scientists have learned about how the brain experiences flavor, and the evolutionary intertwining of odor and taste. Plus a chef who tricks tongues into tasting something they’re not. It’s chemical camouflage that can make crabgrass taste like basil and turn bitter crops into delicious dishes – something that could improve nutrition world-wide. Meanwhile, are we a tasty treat for aliens? Discover whether we might be attractive snacks for E.T. And, out-of-this-world recipes from a “gAstronomy” cookbook! Guests: Bonnie Blodgett – Author of Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing—and Discovering—the Primal Sense Gordon Shepherd – Neurobiologist, Yale University School of Medicine, author of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters Homaro Cantu – Chef and owner of restaurants Moto and iNG in Chicago, chairman and founder of Cantu Designs Firm Niki Parenteau – Astrobiologist, SETI Institute Markus Hotakainen – Astronomer, chef, author of gAstronomical Cookbook Descripción en español

 Happy Daze | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE Calling all pessimists! Your brain is wired for optimism! Yes, deep down, we’re all Pollyannas. So wipe that scowl off your face and discover the evolutionary advantage of thinking positive. Also, enjoy other smile-inducing research suggesting that if you crave happiness, you should do the opposite of what your brain tells you to do. Plus, why a “well-being index” may replace Dow Jones as a metric for success … a Twitter study that predicts your next good mood … and whether our furry and finned animal friends can experience joy. Guests: Frank Drake – Astronomer and author of the Drake Equation Tali Sharot – Cognitive neuroscientist at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at the University College London and the author of The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain Michael Macy – Sociologist at Cornell University His team’s Twitter study: Carol Graham – Economist at the Brookings Institution and author of The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being David DiSalvo – Science and technology writer, author of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite Robin Ince – U.K.-based comedian Jonathan Balcombe – Animal behavior scientist and author of The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure Descripción en español First released October 17, 2011

 Skeptic Check: About Face | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Face it – humans are pattern-seeking animals. We identify eyes, nose and mouth where there are none. Martian rock takes on a visage and the silhouette of Elvis appears in our burrito. Discover the roots of our face-tracking tendency – pareidolia – and why it sometimes leads us astray. Plus, why some brains can’t recognize faces at all … how computer programs exhibit their own pareidolia … and why it’s so difficult to replicate human vision in a machine Guests: Phil Plait – Astronomer, Skeptic, and author of Slate Magazine’s blog Bad Astronomy Josef Parvizi – Associate professor, Stanford University, and clinical neurologist and epilepsy specialist at Stanford Medical Center Nancy Kanwisher – Cognitive neuroscientist, at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT Greg Borenstein – Artist, creative technologist who teaches at New York University Pietro Perona – Professor of electrical engineering, computation and neural systems, California Institute of Technology Descripción en español

 Whodunit, Who'll Do It? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE The tools of forensics have moved way beyond fingerprint kits. These days, a prosecutor is as likely to wave a fMRI brain scan as a smoking gun as “Exhibit A.” Discover what happens when neuroscience has its day in court. Meanwhile, research into the gold standard of identification, DNA, marches on. One day we may determine a suspect’s eye color from a drop of blood. Plus, why much of forensic science – from fingerprinting to the polygraph – is more like reading tea leaves than science. And will future crime victims be robots? Guests: Owen Jones – Professor of law, Professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee Manfred Kayser – Forensic molecular biologist, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands Marc Goodman – Founder, The Future Crimes Institute David Faigman – Law professor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco Descripción en español First aired September 19, 2011

 Say La Vie | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Researchers have discovered life in a buried Antarctic lake. But we’re not surprised. Life is amazingly adaptive. Expose it to any environment – heat, ice, acid or even jet fuel – and it thrives. But this discovery of life under the ice may have exciting implications for finding biology beyond Earth. Scientists share their discovery, and how they drilled down through a half-mile of ice. Also, plunge into another watery alien world with director James Cameron, and the first solo dive to the deepest, darkest part of the ocean. Plus, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist tries to create life in his lab to learn more about biology’s origins, and martian fossils abound in Robert J. Sawyer’s latest sci-fi novel. Guests: Helen Amanda Fricker – Glaciologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, San Diego Jill Mikucki – Microbiologist at the University of Tennessee Chris McKay – Planetary scientist, NASA Ames Research Center Jack Szostak – Nobel Prize winning chemist, Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital James Cameron – film director and explorer-in-residence for National Geographic Robert J. Sawyer – Hugo Award-winning author; most recently: Red Planet Blues Descripción en español

 Skeptic Check: Science Blunders | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

We’ve all had an “oops” moment. Scientists are no exception. Sometimes science stumbles in the steady march of progress. Find out why cold fusion is a premier example why you shouldn’t hold a press conference before publishing your results. Also, how to separate fumbles from faux-science from fraud. Plus, why ignorance is what really drives the scientific method. And our Hollywood skeptic poses as a psychic for Dr. Phil, while our Dr. Phil (Plait) investigates the authenticity of a life-bearing meteorite. Guests: Phil Plait – Skeptic and author of Slate Magazine’s blog Bad Astronomy Michael Gordin – Historian of science at Princeton University, author of The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe David Goodstein – Physicist, California Institute of Technology Stuart Firestein – Neuroscientist, chair of the biology department, Columbia University, and author of Ignorance: How It Drives Science Jim Underdown – Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, Los Angeles Descripción en español

 Whither the Weather? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE We all talk about the weather. And now scientists are doing something about it: providing more accurate warnings before big storms hit. Discover how smart technology – with an eye on the sky – is taking monster weather events by storm. Plus, why severe weather events caused by a warming planet may trigger social and economic chaos. Also, meet the storm chaser who runs toward tornadoes as everyone else flees… and why your cell phone goes haywire when the sun kicks up a storm of its own. Guests: Michael Smith – Meteorologist, founder of WeatherData and author of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather George Kourounis – Explorer and storm chaser Jeffrey Scargle – Research astrophysicist in the Astrobiology and Space Science Division at NASA Ames Research Center Ken Caldeira – Climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology Christian Parenti – Contributing editor of The Nation, visiting scholar at the City University of New York, and author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence Descripción en español First released September 12, 2011

 Ultimate Hook Up | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE Imagine moving things with your mind. Not with telekinesis, but with the future tools of brain science. Meet a pioneer in the field of computer-to-brain connection and discover the blurry boundary where the mind ends and the machine begins. Plus, how new technology is sharpening the “real” in virtual reality. And, whether our devotion to digital devices is changing what it means to be human. Guests: Miguel Nicolelis – Director for the Center for Neuroengineering at Duke University, and author of Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines and How it Will Change our Lives Jeremy Bailenson – Director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University and co-author of Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution Jim Blascovich – Psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and co-author of Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution Sherry Turkle – Professor of social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other Descripción en español First released July 4, 2011

 Skeptic Check: They're Baack! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE Could you have had a past life? Is it possible that some part of you is the reincarnation of a person – or maybe an animal – that lived long ago? We’ll hear the story of a young boy who started having nightmares about a plane crash. His parents thought he was the reincarnation of a downed, World War II fighter pilot. But his story might not fly. Also … is there any biological basis for reincarnation? Animals that indulge in the big sleep. Suspended animation is Hollywood’s favorite device for interstellar travel … But could we really put a dimmer switch on human metabolism? Learn how techniques for hitting the hold button for humans might be just around the corner. Guests: Cynthia Meyersburg – Research psychologist at Harvard University Tori Hoehler – Astrobiologist at the NASA Ames Research Center André Bormanis – Screenwriter, producer and former science consultant for “Star Trek” Matt Andrews – Biologist at the University of Minnesota, Duluth Phil Plait – Astronomer, and author of the Bad Astronomy blog at Slate Mark Roth – Biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Descripción en español First released June 27, 2011

 Remembers Only | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE You must remember this… wait, wait… I had it… on the tip of my tongue… (Memory is a tricky thing and most of us would like to improve it)… oh, yes: Discover the secrets of stupefying, knock-your-socks-off recall by a U.S. Memory Champion. Also, almost everything we know about memory comes from the life of one man born in 1926 and known as H.M., the world’s “most unforgettable amnesiac.” Plus, the sum total of the global data storage capacity in hard drives, thumb drives, the Internet, you name it… guess how many exabytes it comes to? Guests: Larry Squire – Professor of psychiatry and neurosciences and psychology at the University of California, San Diego and a scientist at the VA Medical Center in San Diego Jacopo Annese – Neuroanatomist and Director of the Brain Observatory at the University of California, San Diego Joshua Foer – Author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Martin Hilbert – Economist and social scientist, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Descripción en español First released May 30, 2011

 Before the Big Bang | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

It’s one of the biggest questions you can ask: has the universe existed forever? The Big Bang is supposedly the moment it all began. But now scientists wonder if there isn’t an earlier chapter to our origin story. And maybe chapters before that! What happened before the Big Bang? It’s the ultimate prequel. Plus – the Big Bang as scientific story: nail biter or snoozer? Guests Roger Penrose – Cosmologist, Oxford University Sean Carroll – Theoretical physicist, Caltech, 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 Simon Steel – Astronomer, Tufts University Andrei Linde – Physicist, Stanford University Jonathan Gottschall – Writer, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human Marcus Chown – Science writer and cosmology consultant for New Scientist magazine Descripción en español

 Doomsday Live, Part 2 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

If there is only one show you hear about the end of the world, let it be this one. Recorded before a live audience at the Computer History Museum on October 27th, 2012, this two-part special broadcast of Big Picture Science separates fact from fiction in doomsday prediction. In this second episode: a global viral pandemic … climate change … and the threat of assimilation by super-intelligent machines. Presented as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Find out more about our guests and their work.Guests: Kirsten Gilardi – Wildlife veterinarian at the University of California, Davis. leader of the Gorilla Doctors program, and team leader for the US-AID Emerging Pandemic Threats PREDICT program Ken Caldeira – Climate scientist, Carnegie Intuition for Science at Stanford University Luke Muehlhauser – Executive Director of the Singularity Institute Bradley Voytek – Neuroscience researcher at the University of California, San Francisco Descripción en español

 Doomsday Live, Part I | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

If there is only one show you hear about the end of the world, let it be this one. Recorded before a live audience at the Computer History Museum on October 27th, 2012, this two-part special broadcast of Big Picture Science separates fact from fiction in doomsday prediction. In this episode: Maya prophesy for December 21, 2012 … asteroid impact and cosmic threats …. and alien invasion. Presented as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Find out more about our guests and their work.Guests: Guy P. Harrison – Science writer and author of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True Andrew Fraknoi – Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, California Descripción en español

 No Expiration Date | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE We all have to go sometime, and that final hour is the mother of all deadlines. But scientists are working to file an extension. Discover how far we can push the human expiration date. Plus, the animal with the shortest lifespan and the chemistry that causes your pot-roast to eventually clothe itself in fuzzy green mold. Also, a clock that won’t stop ticking (for 10,000 years) and our love-hate relationship with that long-lived hydrocarbon that keeps our snack cakes fresh: plastic! Guests: Martin Bucknavage- Senior Food Safety Extension Associate, Department of Food Science at Penn State Leonard Guarente – Biologist, Laboratory for the Science of Aging, M.I.T. Alexander Rose – Executive Director and Clock Project Manager, Long Now Foundation Rick Hochberg – Biologist, University of Massachusetts – Lowell Susan Freinkel – Author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story Descripción en español First aired June 13, 2011


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