Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Meteors from Halley's Comet


Source - Space Weather News for May 3, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

METEORS FROM HALLEY'S COMET: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquariid meteor shower.  Although the shower does not peak until later this week, a radar in Canada is already detecting strong echoes from the debris zone.  This bodes well for sky watchers who could see 30 or more meteors per hour in the nights ahead.  Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates and observing tips.

Sky map from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar
Above: This sky map from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar shows meteoroids from Halley's Comet emerging from the constellation Aquarius (ETA).

Monday, May 02, 2016

Negative Magnetic Fields Spark Auroras

 
Source - Space Weather News for May 2, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

NEGATIVE MAGNETIC FIELDS SPARK AURORAS: For the past three days Earth has been passing through a region of interplanetary space filled with negative-polarity magnetic fields. This has caused intermittent geomagnetic storms and beautiful auroras around both poles. Visit http://spaceweather.com for pictures and more information about this phenomenon.

"SPACE LIGHTNING" SIGHTED OVER THE CARIBBEAN: Sprite season is definitely underway. Only a few days after a widespread display appeared over Texas, more sprites have popped up near Puerto Rico. This time the exotic forms of upper atmospheric electricity were sighted dancing above the sea instead of land.  Learn more about land-vs-sea sprites at http://spaceweather.com.


Carribean sprites
Photo credit: Frankie Lucena and Space Weather News.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 02, 2016 - Living Computers













Big Picture Science - Living Computers

ENCORE: It’s the most dramatic technical development of recent times: Teams of people working for decades to produce a slow-motion revolution we call computing. As these devices become increasingly powerful, we recall that a pioneer from the nineteenth century – Ada Lovelace, a mathematician and Lord Byron’s daughter – said they would never surpass human ability. Was she right?

We consider the near-term future of computing as the Internet of Things is poised to link everything together, and biologists adopt the techniques of information science to program living cells.

Plus: What’s your favorite sci-fi computer?

Guests:


This encore podcast was first released on December 07, 2014

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Living_Computers

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Space Lightning over Texas


Source - Space Weather News for April 28, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

"SPACE LIGHTNING" OVER TEXAS: Last night, a photographer in Texas captured a magnificent display of sprites dancing atop a powerful thunderstorm near Dallas. Sprites are an exotic form of lightning that shoot up from thunderstorms, reaching toward space. The Texas display shows that sprite season is now underway in the northern hemisphere.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information and observing tips.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday April 25, 2016 - Skeptic Check: Your Inner Lab Coat













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Your Inner Lab Coat

ENCORE: Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have a science degree, yet he thinks rationally – like a scientist. You can too! Learn the secrets of being irritatingly logical from the most famous sleuth on Baker Street. Plus, discover why animal trackers 100,000 years ago may have been the first scientists, and what we can learn from about deductive reasoning from today’s African trackers.

Also, the author of a book on teaching physics to your dog provides tips for unleashing your inner scientist, even if you hated science in school.

And newly-minted scientists imagine classes they wish were available to them as grad students, such as “You Can’t Save the World 101.”

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on February 09 2015

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Skeptic_Check_Your_Inner_Lab_Coat

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lyrid Meters vs. the Full Moon


Source - Space Weather News for April 21, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

LYRID METEORS VS. THE FULL MOON: Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower.  Unfortunately, the shower's peak coincides with tonight's full Moon.  Will we see any Lyrids through the glare?  It's possible. NASA cameras have captured a number of Lyrid fireballs over the USA, easy to see in bright moonlight.  Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information.


Lyrid fireballs
Image source - http://spaceweather.com/

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Quiet Sunspot Wakes Up, Explodes

 
Source - Space Weather News for April 18, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

BIG SUNSPOT ERUPTS: Surprise! Quiet sunspot AR2529 isn't so quiet, after all. The heart-shaped active region erupted on April 18th (00:39 UT), producing a strong M6.7-class solar flare and shortwave radio blackouts around the Pacific. Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information.

Big Picture Science for Monday April 18, 2016 - Moving Right Along













Big Picture Science - Moving Right Along

ENCORE: You think your life is fast-paced, but have you ever seen a bacterium swim across your counter top? You’d be surprised how fast they can move.

Find out why modeling the swirl of hurricanes takes a roomful of mathematicians and supercomputers, and how galaxies can move away from us faster than the speed of light.

Also, what happens when we try to stop the dance of atoms, cooling things down to the rock bottom temperature known as absolute zero.

And why your watch doesn’t keep the same time when you’re in a jet as when you’re at the airport. It’s all due to the fact that motion is relative, says Al Einstein.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on August 18 2014

Download podcast at:http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Moving_Right_Along

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Earth Enters Solar Wind Stream


Source - Space Weather News for April 12, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

EARTH ENTERS SOLAR WIND STREAM: A G1-class geomagnetic storm is in progress on April 12th as Earth enters a stream of fast-moving solar wind.  NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of additional storming on April 13th as Earth moves deeper into the stream.  Also, a minor CME from big sunspot AR2529 could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on April 13th, further boosting the odds of storminess. 

Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Big Sunspot Gets Bigger


Source - Space Weather News for April 10, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

BIG SUNSPOT GETS BIGGER: The sun's headlong plunge into solar minimum has been interrupted by the surprise emergence of a big sunspot. Wide enough to swallow Earth with room to spare, AR2529 doubled in size over the weekend. The behemoth is now being photographed by amateur astronomers around the world and closely monitored by NASA spacecraft.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information.

Big Picture Science for Monday April 11, 2016 - Surfeit of the Vitalest













Big Picture Science - Surfeit of the Vitalest

ENCORE: In the century and a half since Charles Darwin wrote his seminal On the Origin of the Species, our understanding of evolution has changed quite a bit. For one, we have not only identified the inheritance molecule DNA, but have determined its sequence in many animals and plants.

Evolution has evolved, and we take a look at some of the recent developments.

A biologist describes the escalating horn-to-horn and tusk-to-tusk arms race between animals, and a paleoanthropologist explains why the lineage from chimp to human is no longer thought to be a straight line but, instead, a bush. Also, New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer on the diversity of bacteria living on you, and which evolutionary concepts he finds the trickiest to explain to the public.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on November 16, 2014

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Surfeit_of_the_Vitalest

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Interplanetary Magnetic Fields Trigger Geomagnetic Storm


Source - Space Weather News for April 7, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Earlier today, April 7th, Earth passed through a fold in the heliospheric current sheet, plunging our planet into a region of interplanetary space filled with negative polarity magnetic fields.  The result: a G1-class geomagnetic storm is in progress. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall on April 7-8.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday April 04, 2016 - Tale of the Distribution













Big Picture Science - Tale of the Distribution

ENCORE: We all have at least some musical talent. But very few of us can play the piano like Vladimir Horowitz. His talent was rarefied, and at the tail end of the bell curve of musical ability – that tiny sliver of the distribution where you find the true outliers. Outliers also exist with natural events: hurricane Katrina, for example, or the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Such events are rare, but they often have outsized effects.

In this hour we imagine the unimaginable – including the unexpected events labeled “black swans” – and how we weigh the risk for any of them. Also, how a supervolcano explosion at Yellowstone National Park could obliterate the western U.S. but shouldn’t stop you from putting the park on your vacation itinerary.

Guests:


This encore podcast was first released on October 19, 2014

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/Tale_of_the_Distribution

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Weekend Geomagnetic Storm


Source - Space Weather News for April 2, 2016http://spaceweather.com

WEEKEND GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A G1-class geomagnetic storm is underway on April 2nd as Earth enters a fast-moving stream of solar wind. The stream is filled with "negative polarity" magnetic fields. Such fields can easily link to Earth's own magnetic field, opening a crack in our planet's defenses against solar wind. This is why NOAA forecasters offer good odds of continued magnetic storming--a 60% chance on April 2nd followed by a 55% chance on April 3rd.  High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this weekend.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday March 28, 2016 - Skeptic Check: How Low Can You Go?












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: How Low Can You Go?

Baby, it’s cold outside… but you still might want to be there.  Some people claim that chilly temperatures are good for your health, and proponents of cryotherapy suggest you have a blast – of sub-zero air – to stave off wrinkles and perhaps halt aging altogether.

Meanwhile the field of cryonics offers the ultimate benefit by suggesting that you put future plans – and your body – on ice when you die.  That way you might be revived when the technology to do so is developed.

So, will a chill wind blow you some good?  Possibly, as scientists are discovering that the body can endure colder temperatures than previously thought.  We examine the science of extreme cold and claims of its salubrious benefits.

It’s our monthly look at critical thinking, Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it!

Guests:
Download podcast at:http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-how-low-can-you-go

You can listen to this and other episodes at http://bigpicturescience.org/, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.