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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 Do the Math | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

One plus one is two. But what’s the square root of 64, divided by 6 over 12?* Wait, don’t run for the hills! Math isn’t scary. It helps us describe and design our world, and can be easier to grasp than the straight edge of a protractor. Discover how to walk through the city and number-crunch simultaneously using easy tips for estimating the number of bricks in a building or squirrels in the park. Plus, why our brains are wired for finger-counting … whether aliens would have calculators … and history’s most famous mathematical equations (after e=mc2). *The answer is 16 Guests: Ian Stewart – Emeritus professor of Mathematics, University of Warwick, U.K., author of In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World Michael Anderson – Psychologist and neuroscientist, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA Keith Devlin – Mathematician and Director of the Human Sciences and Technology Advanced Research Institute, Stanford University John Adam – Mathematician, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, and author of X and the City: Modeling Aspects of Urban Life Descripción en español

 Animal Instinct | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Mooooove over, make way for the cows, the chickens … and other animals! Humans can learn a lot from our hairy, feathered, four-legged friends. We may wear suits and play Sudoku, but Homo sapiens are primates just the same. We’ve met the animal, and it is us. Discover the surprising similarity between our diseases and those that afflict other animals, including pigs that develop eating disorders. Plus, what the octopus can teach us about national security … how monkeying around evolved into human speech … and the origins of moral behavior in humans. Guests: Rafe Sagarin – Marine ecologist, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona, author of Learning From the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease Barbara Natterson-Horowitz – Professor of cardiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, and co-author of Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing Kathryn Bowers – Writer, co-author of Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing Asif Ghazanfar – Neuroscientist, psychologist, Princeton University Christopher Boehm – Biological and cultural anthropologist at the University of Southern California, director of the Jane Goodall Research Center, author of Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame Descripción en español

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

ENCORE Think small to solve big problems. That, in a nutshell, is the promise of nanotechnology. In this barely visible world, batteries charge 100 times faster and drugs go straight to their targets in the body. Discover some of these nano breakthroughs and how what you can’t see can help you… …or hurt you? What if tiny machines turn out to be nothing but trouble? We’ll look at the health and safety risks of nanotech. Plus, scaling up in science fiction: why a Godzilla-sized insect is fun, but just doesn’t fly. Guests: Bill Flounders – executive director of the Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley Joseph DeSimone – professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chemical engineering at North Carolina State University David Guston – political scientist at Arizona State University where he directs The Center for Nanotechnology in Society Stan Williams – Senior Fellow and founding director of the Information and Quantum Systems Lab at Hewlett-Packard Michael LaBarbera – Professor in organismal biology, anatomy and geophysical sciences, University of Chicago Descripción en español First released February 21 2011

 Seth's Storm Shelter | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Expect the unexpected when we go digging in Seth’s storm shelter – who knows what we’ll find! In this cramped never-never land, tucked between piles of dehydrated food packets and old civil defense helmets, we stumble (but don’t step) upon marauding ants … a mission to Pluto…. “evidence” of a spaceship crash … the Apollo astronaut who shot the “Earth Rise” photograph … and Jonah Lehrer meditating on creativity. Tune in, find out and, help move this box of canned soup, will you? Guests: Mark Moffett – Entomologist, research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, author of Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions John Spencer – Planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and member of the New Horizons science team Joe Nickell – Paranormal investigator, Senior Research Fellow, Skeptical Inquirer Magazine William Anders – Astronaut on Apollo 8, and photographer of “Earth Rise” Jonah Lehrer – Author of Imagine: How Creativity Works

 Skeptic Check: OMG, GMO? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

You are what you eat. But what does that mean if your food is genetically engineered? And the chances are good that it has been engineered if you munch down on corn or soybean. The prospect of eating GM food makes some folks afraid, but is their fear warranted? Discover what experts say about the safety of genetically engineered foods … whether the technology delivers on the promised increase in yield … and the argument for and against labeling. Also, why some say the issue is not food safety, but the unethical business practices of multinationals. A filmmaker reports from the fields of India. Plus, GM crops off this planet: the role of synthetic biology in terraforming Mars. It’s Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it. Guests: Pamela Ronald – Professor in the department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis, co-author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food Ronald Lindsay – President and Chief Executive Officer and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Inquiry, and author of Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas Micha Peled – Founder, Teddy Bear Films, and the filmmaker for “Bitter Seeds” Doug Gurian-Sherman – Plant pathologist, senior scientist, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists John Cumbers – Synthetic biologist, working in Northern California

 Can We Talk? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

You can get your point across in many ways: email, texts, or even face-to-face conversation (does anyone do that anymore?). But ants use chemical messages when organizing their ant buddies for an attack on your kitchen. Meanwhile, your human brain sends messages to other brains without you uttering a word. Hear these communication stories … how language evolved in the first place… why our brains love a good tale …and how Facebook is keeping native languages from going extinct. Guests: Mark Moffett – Entomologist, research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, author of Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions V.S. Ramachandran – Neuroscientist, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego Clare Murphy – Performance storyteller, Ireland Mark Pagel – Evolutionary biologist, University of Reading, U.K., and author of Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind Margaret Noori – Poet and linguist at the University of Michigan, specializing in Ojibwe, and director of the Comprehensive Studies Program Descripción en español

 Better Mousetrap | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE It’s the perennial dream: build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. We go to San Jose’s famed Tech Museum to learn what it takes to turn a good idea into a grand success. Remember the Super Soaker squirt gun? Hear how its inventor is now changing the rules for solar energy. Where do good ideas come from? A Eureka moment in the bathtub? We’ll find out that it doesn’t happen so quickly – or easily. And finally, the life cycle of society-changing technologies, from the birth of radio to the future of the Internet. Inventions, inventors and innovation: all part of the mix on “Better Mousetrap.” Guests: Steven Johnson – Author of Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation Lonnie Johnson – Inventor and former NASA engineer; CEO of Johnson Research and Development Company Tim Wu – Professor of Communication Law at Columbia University and author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Borzoi Books) Alana Connor – Vice President Content Development, The Tech Museum, San Jose Descripción en español Originally released February 7, 2011

 Mass Transits | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

On June 5, our sister planet Venus will slowly slide across the face of the sun. This will be the last transit of Venus until 2117, so there’s no subsequent chance to observe this celestial spectacular for anyone alive today. Join us for a special episode devoted to this rare event. Two centuries ago, nations were locked in a race to be the first to measure the Venus transit. From the first observation by the “father” of British astronomy to Captain Cook’s Tahitian expedition in the 18th century, meet the pioneers who were trying to nail down the scale of the cosmos Plus, tips for observing the 2012 transit … how the Kepler spacecraft uses transits to detect Earth-like worlds … and could there be life floating in Venusian clouds? Guests: Jay Pasachoff – Astronomer, Williams College Peter Aughton – Astronomer and author of The Transit of Venus: The Brief, Brilliant Life of Jeremiah Horrocks, Father of British Astronomy Nick Lomb – Former Curator of Astronomy, Sydney Observatory, and author of Transit of Venus: 1631 to the Present Andrea Wulf – Author of Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens David Grinspoon – Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Jon Jenkins – Lead analyst with the Kepler Mission and senior scientist with the SETI Institute Descripción en español

 To Earth and Back | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

We are all Martians … or could be, if, billions of years ago, Red Plant microbes fell to Earth and eventually evolved to us. Okay, that one’s a big “if.” But microbes can survive space travel. Meet the NASA officer whose task is to keep Earth, Mars – and the entire solar system –safe from hitchhiking bacteria. And, even if we’re not Martians (darn!), did life once thrive on the Red Planet … and does it still today? Plus, why meteorites may be happy habitats for life. Guests: Catharine Conley – NASA planetary protection officer Chris McKay – Planetary scientist, NASA Ames Research Center Paul Davies – Director of the BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University Aaron Burton – Astrobiologist, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center Debbie Kolyer – Grants Manager, SETI Institute Descripción en español

 That's So Random! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE Random is as random does… makes sense doesn’t even that anyway in tune hear to randomness how lives rules. Brain chaos the drives, restoration role of help insight ecology may into randomness the, numbers sense of make statistics can’t why we or, ants not seem of erratic behavior why the may but is. Guests: Leonard Mlodinow – Theoretical physicist and author of The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (Vintage) Jon Chase – Biologist and director of the Tyson Research center at Washington University in St. Louis Lori Marino – Evolutionary biologist, Emory University Deborah Gordon – Biologist, Stanford University John Beggs – Physicist, Indiana University at Bloomington First released January 10, 2011

 Early Adapters | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE The times are a’changing – rising temperatures, growing population, and new technology coming at us faster than a greased cheetah. So how will humans respond? Find out about future farming in the city – your vegetables might be grown in downtown, hi-rise greenhouses. Also, a population expert tells us how our planet can cope with billions more people, and the man who invented the term ‘cyberspace’ describes what the future might hold for the techno-savvy. Darwinian evolution takes a long time to accommodate to new environments. But Homo sapiens can beat that rap by wielding the right technology – and becoming early adapters. Guests: Dickson Despommier – Emeritus professor of public health and microbiology at Columbia University, author of The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century William Gibson – Author, most recently, of Zero History Joel Cohen – Mathematician and biologist at Rockefeller University David DeGusta – Paleoanthropologist at the Paleoanthropology Institute in California Descripción en español First aired December 6, 2010

 Humans Need Not Apply | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE You are one-of-a-kind, unique, indispensible… oh, wait, never mind! It seems that computer over there can do what you do … faster and with greater accuracy. Yes, it’s silicon vs. carbon as intelligent, interactive machines out-perform humans in tasks beyond data-crunching. We’re not only building our successors, we’re developing emotional relationships with them. Find out why humans are hard-wired to be attached to androids. Also, the handful of areas where humans still rule… as pilots, doctors and journalists. Scratch that! Journalism is automated too – tune in for a news story written solely by a machine. Guests: Clifford Nass – Social psychologist at Stanford University and Director of the Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab Tom Jones – United States astronaut, space consultant, and veteran of four Space Shuttle flights Chris Ford – Business director at Pixar Animation Studios Eric Van De Graaff -Cardiologist at Alegent Health James Bennighof – Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and professor of music theory at Baylor University in Texas Kathy Abbott – Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Flight Deck Human Factors at the Federal Aviation Administration Kristian Hammond – Co-founder, Narrative Science Descripción en español First aired November 22, 2010.

 Second That Emotion | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

So you weep at sappy commercials and give drivers the bird. Have no regrets: emotion is what makes us human! Discover the survival value in feeling disgust … why humans are terrible liars … and how despair fuels creativity. Also, mis-firing emotions and the emotional consequences of facial paralysis. And why E.T. will need to feel fear and joy to survive. Guests: Rachel Herz – Psychologist, author of That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion Paul Ekman – Psychologist, professor emeritis, University of California, San Francisco Kathleen Bogart – Psychologist, Tufts University Gordy Slack – Science writer Jonah Lehrer – Author of Imagine: How Creativity Works Descripción en español

 Found in Space | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

ENCORE If someone asks where you get off, you can now respond with precision. Satellites and computers spit out coordinates accurate to a few paces. And digital maps stand the Copernican principle on its head – putting you at the center of everything (how does it feel?). Find out how today’s maps are shuffling our world view. Also, how does a rat navigate a maze without GPS? Hear of the plotting that goes on in that tiny rodent brain. Plus, mapping the universe and pinpointing just where we are in cosmic time – lucky for us, human evolution is right on schedule. Guests: Josh Winn – Astronomer, MIT David Redish – Neuroscientist, University of Minnesota Mario Livio – Astrophysicist, Space Telescope Science Institute and author of Is God a Mathematician? Mike Goodchild – Professor of Geography, Center for Spatial Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara Descripción en español


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