Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Solar Wind Advisory


Source - Space Weather News for Feb. 22, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SOLAR WIND ADVISORY: Earth is about to enter a stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Feb. 23rd as the solar wind speed quickens to 550 km/s or more. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Thursday and Friday nights. Updates and sightings @ Spaceweather.com

AURORA ROCKET LAUNCH: On Feb. 22nd, researchers from Dartmouth College launched a rocket directly into auroras dancing above Alaska. See the launch and find out why they did it on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Gash in the Sun's Atmosphere


Source - Space Weather News for Feb 19, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

A GASH IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: An unusually wide and sinuous hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is stretching like a gash across the sun's southern hemisphere. A roughly fan-shaped stream of solar wind flowing from the hole is gently buffeting Earth's magnetic field, and it could keep polar magnetic fields in an unsettled state for the rest of February.  Long range forecasts suggest the month could end with a moderately strong (G2-class) geomagnetic storm. This is all good news for Arctic sky watchers, who can expect regular episodes of Northern Lights in the nights ahead.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for more information and sightings.

Big Picture Science for Monday February 20, 2017 - Thinking About Thinking












Big Picture Science - Thinking About Thinking

ENCORE: Congratulations, you have a big brain.  Evolution was good to Homo sapiens.  But make some room on the dais.  Research shows that other animals, such as crows, may not look smart, but can solve complex problems.

Meanwhile human engineers are busily developing cogitating machines.   Intelligent entities abound – but are they all capable of actual thought?

Hear how crows fashion tools from new materials and can recognize you by sight.  Also, how an IBM computer may one day outthink the engineers who designed it.

Plus, scientists who simulated a rat brain in a computer, neuron-by-neuron, look ahead to modeling the human brain.  And, what brain disorders teach us about the brain and our sense of self.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on November 9, 2105

Download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/thinking-about-thinking

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.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Amazing Display of Colorful Clouds in the Arctic Stratosphere


Source - Space Weather News for Feb 13th, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

AMAZING POLAR STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS: Around the Arctic Circle, veteran sky watchers are reporting a remarkable outbreak of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs).  Floating high above Earth's surface in the normally transparent stratosphere, PSCs have filled the sky with brilliant colors that rival the aurora borealis. Some longtime residents of northern Sweden say it's the best display they've ever seen, continuing a trend in recent years of intensifying PSC activity.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com to view photos of the outbreak and to learn more about these must-see wonders of the Arctic.


















Above: Polar stratospheric clouds over Kiruna, Sweden, photographed by Mia Stålnacke on Feb. 13, 2017. Browse the photo gallery for more sightings

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday February 13, 2017 - Going All to Species












Big Picture Science - Going All to Species

ENCORE: Meet your new relatives. The fossilized bones of Homo naledi are unique for their sheer number, but they may also be fill a special slot in our ancestry: the first of our genus Homo.   Sporting modern hands and feet but only a tiny brain, this creature may link us and our ape-like ancestors.

Some anthropologists hail the discovery as that of a new hominid species.  Not all their colleagues agree.  Find out what’s at stake in the debate.

Also, the scientist who helped retrieve the fossils describes her perilous crawl through a cave with only ten inches of elbow room.  And a radical theory about what these old bones might mean: could they be from a burial two million years ago?

Guests:
  • Marina Elliott  – Paleoanthropologist, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Carl Ward – Biological anthropologist, University of Missouri
  • John Hawks - Anthropologist, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Tim White - Anthropologist, University of California, Berkeley

This encore podcast was first released on 11/02/2015

Download this encore postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/Going-All-To-Species

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.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Lunar Eclipse this Friday Night


Source - Space Weather News for Feb. 8, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

LUNAR ECLIPSE THIS FRIDAY NIGHT:
The full Moon will lose some of its usual luster on Friday night as a dusky shadow creeps across the lunar disk.  It's a penumbral lunar eclipse, visible from parts of every continent except Australia. The uneven dimming of the Moon will be easy to see if you know when to look.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information



Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon February 10 - 11, 2017 from LarryKoehn on Vimeo.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Green Comet Approaches Earth


Source - Space Weather News for Feb. 6, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

GREEN COMET APPROACHES EARTH: This week, a small green comet named "45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova" (45P for short) is approaching Earth for one of the closest comet flybys of the Space Age. On the nights around Feb. 11th, Comet 45P will be an easy target for binoculars and small telescopes, revealing itself in eyepieces as an emerald colored fuzzball. Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for sky maps and to find out what makes this little comet so green.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday February 06, 2017 - Quantum: Why We Want 'Em












Big Picture Science - Quantum: Why We Want 'Em

Einstein thought that quantum mechanics might be the end of physics, and most scientists felt sure it would never be useful.  Today, everything from cell phones to LED lighting is completely dependent on the weird behavior described by quantum mechanics.

But the story continues.  Quantum computers may be millions of times faster than your laptop, and applying them to big data could be transformational for biology and health.  Quantum entanglement – “spooky” action at a distance – may not allow faster-than-light communication, but could be important in other ways.  And there’s even the suggestion that quantum mechanics defines the difference between life and death.

Quantum physics.  It’s weird and exotic.  But it’s how the universe works.

Guests:


Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/quantum-why-we-want-em

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.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Big Hole in the Sun's Atmosphere faces Earth


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 30, 2017 - http://spaceweather.com

A BIG HOLE IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: A large, canyon-shaped hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth.  Polar geomagnetic storms are likely when the fast-moving stream arrives, probably on Feb 1st. Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for more information.

SUNSET SKY SHOW: For the next two nights, watch the southwestern sky at sunset. Mars, Venus and the crescent Moon are converging for a beautiful gathering in the evening twilight.  Visit Spaceweather.com for sky maps and photos.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 30, 2017 - DIY Spaceflight












Big Picture Science - DIY Spaceflight

For a half-century, space has been the playground of large, government agencies.  While everyone could dream of becoming an astronaut, few could actually do so.

Things have changed.  We hear how a geeky son of immigrant parents incentivized the ground-breaking launch of SpaceShipOne, and spawned the commercial rocket industry.

And while you’re waiting for a ticket to ride, why not build your own satellite to keep tabs on the kids or just check out the back forty?  A CubeSat could be your next basement project.

And the hitherto untold story of how black women mathematicians a half-century ago helped get a man into orbit, and astronauts to the moon.

Guests:

Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/diy-spaceflight

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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sunspot Surprise


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 25, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SUNSPOT SURPRISE: Barely visible only 24 hours ago, a new sunspot group big enough to swallow Earth is bubbling up through the solar surface. So far the active region poses no threat for strong solar flares, but this could change if its rapid growth continues. Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com to view a movie of sunspot genesis, and to learn how this development fits in with the recent "crash" of the sunspot cycle.

HIGH-LATITUDE AURORA WATCH: A hole in the sun's atmosphere is spewing a stream of solar wind toward Earth. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the stream arrives on Jan. 27-28. Monitor the realtimeaurora gallery for sightings.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 23, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart

She’s among the most famous missing persons in history.  On the eightieth anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, mystery still shrouds her fate.  What happened during the last leg of her round-the-world trek?

Theories abound.  Perhaps she ran out of fuel, and plunged into the ocean … or was captured by the Japanese.  A non-profit international organization, TIGHAR, suggests she was a castaway, and offers up a new analysis of bones found on a Pacific atoll during the time of the Second World War. Their researchers will return to this possible landing spot to seek more clues this summer.

We consider these theories and weigh the new evidence surrounding Earhart’s puzzling last flight.  Also, why are we uncomfortable with open-ended mysteries?

Guests:
  • Andrew McKenna – Researcher with TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery)
  • Claire Maldarelli – Editor at Popular Science Magazine
  • Andrew Maynard – Director of the Risk Innovation Lab, Arizona State University
  • John Norberg – Journalist and former writer on air and space for Purdue University

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-amelia-earhart

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.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Radiation "Clouds" Detected at Aviation Altitudes


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 20, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

RADIATION CLOUDS AT AVIATION ALTITUDES: A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Space Weather reports the discovery of radiation "clouds" at aviation altitudes. When airplanes fly through these clouds, dose rates of cosmic radiation normally absorbed by air travelers can double or more. 

Get the full story on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

High-latitude Aurora Alert


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 17, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

HIGH-LATITUDE AURORA ALERT: A large crescent-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere is facing Earth, and it is spewing a stream of high-speed solar wind. NOAA forecasters say there is a 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the solar wind arrives, probably on Jan. 18th. Sky watchers around the Arctic Circle can expect bright auroras in the nights ahead. 

Learn more on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 16, 2017 - Geology is Destiny












Big Picture Science - Geology is Destiny

The record of the rocks is not just the history of Earth; it’s your history too.  Geologists can learn about events going back billions of years that influenced – and even made possible – our present-day existence and shaped our society.

If the last Ice Age had been a bit warmer, the rivers and lakes of the Midwest would have been much farther north and the U.S. might still be a small country of 13 states.  If some Mediterranean islands hadn’t twisted a bit, no roads would have led to Rome.

Geology is big history, and the story is on-going.  Human activity is changing the planet too, and has introduced its own geologic era, the Anthropocene.  Will Earthlings of a hundred million years from now dig up our plastic refuse and study it the way we study dinosaur bones?

Plus, the dodo had the bad luck to inhabit a small island and couldn’t adapt to human predators.  But guess what?  It wasn’t as dumb as you think.

Guests:

Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/geology-destiny

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.