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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 Going Global | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The Internet is not the only globally-uniting phenomenon. Viruses and bacteria can circle the globe as fast as we can, and the effects can be devastating. Discover what it takes for an animal disease to become a human pandemic. Also, was hurricane Sandy a man-made disaster? The future of severe storms and climate change. Plus, the view of our science from abroad: why Brits have no trouble accepting the theory of evolution but Americans do. And what about a new annex for Silicon Valley – 12 miles out to sea? Guests: Jerry Meehl – Senior scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO Alok Jha – Science correspondent, The Guardian David Quammen – Science journalist and author, most recently of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic Max Marty – Co-founder and CEO of Blueseed Gina Luciano – Vice President, Gallagher Construction Services Descripción en español

 As You Were | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

We all want to turn back time. But until we build a time machine, we’ll have to rely on a few creative approaches to capturing things as they were – and preserving them for posterity. One is upping memory storage capacity itself. Discover just how much of the past we can cram into our future archives, and whether going digital has made it all vulnerable to erasure. Plus – scratch it and tear it – then watch this eerily-smart material revert to its undamaged self. And, what was life like pre-digital technology? We can’t remember, but one writer knows; he’s living life circa 1993 (hint: no cell phone). Also, using stem cells to save the white rhino and other endangered species. And, the arrow of time itself – could it possibly run backwards in another universe? Guests: Michael S. Malone – Professor of professional writing at Santa Clara University and the author of The Guardian of All Things: The Epic Story of Human Memory Oliver Ryder – Director of genetics, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Michael E. Smith – Chemist, Arkema, Inc 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 Pico Iyer – Writer, author of The Man Within My Head and the New York Times article, “The Joy of Quiet” Descripción en español

 Space Archaeology | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE Indiana Jones meets Star Trek in the field of space archaeology. Satellites scan ancient ruins so that scientists can map them without disturbing one grain of sand. Discover how some archaeologists forsake their spades and brushes in favor of examining historic sites from hundreds of miles high. Also, if you were to hunt for alien artifacts – what would you look for? Why ET might choose to send snail mail rather than a radio signal. Plus, the culture of the hardware we send into space, and roaming the Earth, the moon, and Mars the Google way. Guests: Alice Gorman – Archaeologist at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia Christopher Rose – Associate Director at the Wireless Information and Network Laboratory (Winlab) and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rutgers University, New Jersey Robin Hanson – Economist at George Mason University, Virginia Tiffany Montague – Engineer, and Intergalactic Federation King Almighty, Commander of the Universe, at Google, Inc. Compton Tucker – Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Descripción en español First aired June 6, 2011

 As the Worlds Turn | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

If you’re itching to get away from it all, really get away from it all, have we got some exotic destinations for you. Mars … Jupiter’s moon Europa … asteroids . Tour some enticing worlds that are worlds away, but ripe for exploration. Also, why private spaceships may be just the ticket for getting yourself into space, unless you want to wait for a space elevator. And, why one science journalist boasts of an infectious, unabashed, and unbridled enthusiasm for space travel. Guests: Cynthia Phillips – Planetary geologist, SETI Institute Britney Schmidt – Research scientist, University of Texas, Austin Paul Abell – Planetary geologist, NASA’s Johnson Space Center Richard Hollingham – Science journalist, producer of Space Boffins podcast, living in the U.K. Barry Matsumori – Senior vice president for commercial sales and business development, SpaceX Corporation Peter Swan – Space System Engineer and Vice President, International Space Elevator Consortium Descripción en español

 [Rectangular Container] Thinking | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE By thinking different, scientists can make extraordinary breakthroughs. Learn about the creative cogitation that led to the discovery of dark matter and the invention of a.c. power grids, disinfectant, and the Greek “death ray.” Also, whether one person’s man of genius is another’s mad scientist. And, the scientist who claims pi is wrong and biopunks who tinker with DNA – in their kitchens and on the cheap. Plus, from string theory to the greenhouse effect – how metaphor sheds light on science. Discover why your brain is like a rain forest (that’s a simile!). Guests: Anil Ananthaswamy – Corresponding editor for New Scientist magazine in London and author of The Edge of Physics: A Journey to Earth’s Extremes to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe Marcus Wohlsen – Reporter for the Associated Press, and author of Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life John Monahan – Author of They Called Me Mad: Genius, Madness, and the Scientists Who Pushed the Outer Limits of Knowledge Michael Hartl – Physicist, creator of “Tau Day” James Geary – Author of I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World Descripción en español First aired May 23, 2011

 Skeptic Check: Mysterious Illness | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Stuttering speech and facial tics are among the strange symptoms that swept through a New York high school. Discover what’s behind the odd outbreak, and why one sociologist sees parallels to Salem, Massachusetts 300 years ago. Also, an update on the cellphone cancer debate, and why one congressman wants warning labels on all new phones. Plus, the ultimate cleanse: giving up on food to survive on light and air. We investigate the claims of Breatharians. It’s Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it! Guests: Dennis Kucinich – U.S. Representative, Ohio’s 10th congressional district Joshua Muscat – Epidemiologist, professor of public health sciences, Penn State at Hershey College of Medicine Michael Wyde – Toxicologist, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Robert Bartholomew – Sociologist, Botany College, Auckland, New Zealand, author of Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior Gordy Slack – Science writer Benjamin Radford – Deputy editor, Skeptical Inquirer magazine Descripción en español

 Big Data | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

It’s all in the numbers. The trick is, finding what you’re looking for. But that’s the name of the game with big data. We have a giga-gigabyte of information, and combing through it will lead to new cures for disease, new discoveries about the cosmos, or clues to our social and economic behavior. But is big data Big Brother? You leave a little bit of yourself behind with each mouse click. Discover how surveillance and privacy issues bubble out of the mix, as the terabytes keep flowing in. Plus one man’s quest to know himself through the numbers as he records everything – and we do mean everything – about his body. Guests: Atul Butte – Associate professor, division chief, systems medicine, Stanford University Larry Smarr – Professor of computer science, University of California, San Diego, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, (Calit2) Karen Nelson – Microbiologist, director of the Rockville Campus of the J. Craig Venter Institute Gerry Harp – Physicist, and Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute Deirdre Mulligan – Assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information and faculty director of the Berkeley Center of Law and Technology Ken Goldberg – Professor of engineering, information and art at the University of California, Berkeley Descripción en español

 Skeptic Check: Energy Vortex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE “I feel your vibe!” Well, that describes a number of fabled locales that claim to pulse with mysterious energy – perhaps prompting books to fly across the room or airplanes to vanish into thin air. But what’s the science behind it? We examine spots marked with an X, for “extraordinary” – from a haunted house to the Bermuda Triangle – to sort out natural from supernatural phenomena. Plus, what causes the aurora borealis… a haywire Russian space probe… and just what the heck is an “energy vortex,” anyway? Guests: Phil Plait – Skeptic and keeper of Discover Magazine’s blog: badastronomy Mike Borg – Group Sales Coordinator, Winchester Mystery House Jim Underdown – Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, Los Angeles Peter Williams – Hydrodynamicist at Agilent Technologies Guy P. Harrison – Writer and business owner in Southern California, author of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True Rob Lillis – Space and Planetary Physicist, Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley Descripción en español First released January 25, 2012

 Oh, Rats! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Before you chase it with a broom, consider this – without the rat, we might miss critical insights into the nature of stress, cancer … and even love. These furry, red-eyed rodents have a unique role in medical research – and a ubiquitous companion to our urban lives. Discover the origins of the albino laboratory rat … what rat laughter sounds like, and why these four-legged fur balls don’t fall victim to the pressure of the rat race … but we do. Guests: Kelly Lambert – Behavioral Neuroscientist, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia, author of The Lab Rat Chronicles: A Neuroscientist Reveals Life Lessons from the Planet’s Most Successful Mammals Michael Gould – Professor of Oncology and Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin, Madison Jaak Panksepp – Neuroscientist, Veterinary College, Washington State University, author of The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) Pico Iyer – Writer, author of The Man Within My Head and the New York Times article The Joy of Quiet Descripción en español

 The Invisible In-Between | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

To need air is human. Our lungs thank us for each breath we take. But air is more than a transporter of O2. It shapes our weather, keeps birds aloft and moves spores from here to there. A cubic foot of air is anything but “empty” (hot dog grease particles, anyone?). The same goes for space (minus the hot dog grease). It’s a happening place. Discover why interstellar space is more than a whole lot o’ nothing; and what happens when the Voyager spacecraft leaves our solar system. Plus, catch a skydiver in action! Guests: Mako Igarashi – Skydiving instructor, Skydive Hollister, Hollister, CA Rhett Allain – Physicist at Southeastern Louisiana University, blogger for William Bryant Logan – Author of Air: The Restless Shaper of the World Robert Wagoner – Emeritus professor of physics, Stanford University Alex Filippenko – Astronomer, University of California, Berkeley Ed Stone – Physicist at CalTech, former Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, project scientist for the Voyager mission Descripción en español First aired March 28, 2011

 Skeptic Check: Monsters, Magic, and Music | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE If Bigfoot walks through a forest and no one sees him, does he exist? It’s the job of paranormal investigator Joe Nickell to find out! Discover whether eyewitness accounts are reliable when it comes to tracking down the hirsute big guy and other monsters. Also, on the subject of “seeing is believing”: how magic fools the brain. Plus, in our potpourri show: can music boost brain power? A new study says listening to music makes brains happy. Does this support the dubious “Mozart Effect,” that claims listening to Wolfie’s compositions boosts IQ? And, skeptic Phil Plait on why the so-called “super moon theory” doesn’t predict devastating earthquakes. It’s Skeptic Check… but don’t take our word for it. Guests: Joe Nickell – Paranormal investigator and author of Tracking the Man-beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More Stephen Macknik – Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona Susana Martinez-Conde – Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona Phil Plait – Astronomer, and author of the Bad Astronomy blog at Discover Magazine Valorie Salimpoor – Researcher at Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Quebec, Canada Penny Glass – Developmental psychologist and associate professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine Descripción en español First aired March 21, 2011

 ¡A.I. Caramba! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE When the IBM computer, Watson, snatched the “Jeopardy” title from its human competition, that raised the question of just how smart are machines? Could artificial intelligence ever beat humans at their own game… of being human? Hear why an A.I. expert says it’s time to make peace with your P.C.; the machines are coming. Also, why technology is already self-evolving, and presenting its own demands. Find out what technology wants. And, a man who went head-to-chip with a computer and says machines will never beat the human mind. Plus, we take a voyage into “2012: An Emotional Odyssey.” Guests: Kevin Kelly – Editor-at-large at Wired and author of What Technology Wants Henry Lieberman – Research scientist at the M.I.T. Media Laboratory Brian Christian – Science writer, poet and author of The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive Horst Simon – Deputy Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Shankar Sastry – Dean of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley Jean Paul Jacob – Scholar in Residence at U.C. Berkeley and IBM Researcher, Emeritus Descripción en español First aired March 28, 2011

 A Martian Curiosity | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

We dig the Red Planet! And so does Curiosity. After a successful landing, and a round of high-fives at NASA, the latest rover to land on Mars is on the move, shovel in mechanical hand. Discover how the Mars Science Laboratory will hunt for the building blocks of life, and just what the heck a lipid is. Plus, how to distinguish Martians from Earthlings, and the tricks Mars has played on us in the past (canals, anyone?). Also, want to visit Mars firsthand? We can point you to the sign-up sheet for a manned mission. The catch: the ticket is one-way. Guests: John Grotzinger – Geologist, California Institute of Technology, and project scientist, NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission Jennifer Heldmann – Research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center David Blake – Principal Investigator of CheMin, a mineralogical instrument that is included in the analytical laboratory of the Mars Science Laboratory mission Rachel Harris – Astrobiology student at the NASA Astrobiology Institute Stuart Schlisserman – Physician in Palo Alto, California Felisa Wolfe-Simon – NASA astrobiology research fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs Bas Lansdorp – Founder, Mars One Descripción en español

 Fuel's Paradise | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE You know the joke about the car and the snail. Look at that escargot? Well, snails may be the only thing not powering the automobiles of the future. Trees, grass, algae, even the garbage you toss on the sidewalk has potential for conversion into biofuel. What is America’s next top model fuel? Join us on a tour of the contenders. Meet a man who’s mad about miscanthus … an astrobiologist’s attraction to algae… and the blueprint for building your own biofuel bugs. Also, discover whether any of these next-generation fuel sources could take us to the stars. Put that in your rocket and burn it! Guests: Madhu Khanna – Professor of Agriculture and Environmental Economics at the University of Illinois and at the Energy Biosciences Institute Stephen Long – Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Michelle Chang – Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley Bret Stroegn – Graduate student researcher, Energy Bioscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley Jonathan Trent – Bioengineering Research Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center and founder of Global Research into Energy and the Enviornment (GREEN ) Richard Obousy – Physicist and co-founder and project leader for Project Icarus Descripción en español First released April 25, 2011.

 Olympics for the Rest of Us | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Let the games begin! The mad dash to the phone … the sudden spring out of bed … the frantic juggling of car keys, grocery bags and a cell phone! Olympic athletes may have remarkable speed and strength, but it’s easy praise the extraordinary. Here’s to the extreme averageness of the rest of us. From beer bellies to aching backs, we’re all winners in the Darwinian Olympics just by virtue of being here. Identify the one physical trait that you share with all Olympians – your head – and why it’s a remarkable human evolutionary achievement. Plus, the role of genes in putting on the pounds … and what event Spiderman would enter to win the gold. Guests: Daniel Lieberman – Professor of human evolutionary biology, Harvard University, author of The Evolution of the Human Head Callum Ross – Professor of organismal biology and anatomy, University of Chicago Kelly Brownell – Psychologist, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University Robert Peaslee – Assistant professor, College of Media and Communications, Texas Tech University and author of Web-Spinning Heroics: Critical Essays on the History and Meaning of Spider-Man Descripción en español


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