Sunday, January 19, 2020

Big Picture Science for Jan 20, The Ears Have It













Big Picture Science - The Ears Have It

What’s the difference between a bird call and the sound of a pile driver?  Not much, when you’re close to the loudest bird ever.  Find out when it pays to be noisy and when noise can worsen your health.  Just about everyone eventually suffers some hearing loss, but that’s not merely aging.  It’s an ailment we inflict on ourselves.  Hear how a team in New York City has put sensors throughout the city to catalog noise sources, hoping to tame the tumult.

And can underwater speakers blasting the sounds of a healthy reef bring life back to dead patches of the Great Barrier Reef?

Guests:
  • Mark Cartwright – Research Assistant Professor at New York University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering
  • Charles Mydlarz – Research Assistant Professor at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Music and Audio Research Lab (MARL)
  • David Owen – Staff writer at The New Yorker, and author of Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World
  • Jeff Podos – Professor in the Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Steve Simpson – Professor of Marine Biology and Global Change, Exeter University, U.K.

This podcast will be released this coming Monday at - http://bigpicturescience.org/

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.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Big Picture Science for Jan 13, Perpetual Emotion Machine












Big Picture Science - Perpetual Emotion Machine

Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you’re coming from.  Computers that can tell by your voice whether you’re pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your mood.  Empathetic electronics that you can relate to.

But wait a minute – we don’t always relate to other humans.  Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging – our emotions are often conflicted and irrational.   We cry when we’re happy.  Frown when we’re pensive.  A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience.

One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge’s blood sugar.

So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway.

Guests:

This repeat podcast was previously released on 06/19/2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/perpetual-emotion-machine

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.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Big Picture Science for Jan 06, Your Brain's Reins












Big Picture Science - Your Brain's Reins

(Repeat) You are your brain.  But what happens when your brain changes for the worse – either by physical injury or experience?  Are you still responsible for your actions?

We hear how the case of a New York man charged with murder was one of the first to introduce neuroscience as evidence in court.  Plus, how technology hooks us – a young man so addicted to video games, he lacked social skills, or even a desire to eat.  Find out how technology designers conspire against his digital detox.

Also, even if your brain is intact and your only task is choosing a sock color, are you really in control?  How your unconscious directs even mundane behavior … and how you can outwit it.

Guests:

This repeat podcast was previously released on April 10, 2017

This podcast will be released this coming Monday at - http://bigpicturescience.org/

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.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Big Picture Science for Dec 30, Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself

(Repeat) Do we still need doctors?  There are umpteen alternative sources of medical advice, including endless and heartfelt health tips from people without medical degrees. Frankly, self-diagnosis with a health app is easier and cheaper than a trip to a clinic.   Since we’re urged to be our own health advocate and seek second opinions, why not ask Alexa or consult with a celebrity about what ails us?

Find out if you can trust these alternative medical advice platforms.  Plus, lessons from an AIDS fighter about ignoring the findings of medical science.

And, if AI can diagnose better than an MD, will we stop listening to doctors altogether?

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

Guests:
 
This repeat podcast was previously released on September 24, 2018

This podcast will be released this coming Monday at - http://bigpicturescience.org/

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.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Big Picture Science for Dec 23, Handling the Holidays













Big Picture Science - Handling the Holidays

The stress of the holidays can make you want to hide under the covers with a warm cup of cocoa.  From gift buying to family gatherings, the holidays can feel like being inside a pressure cooker.  But don’t despair!  Science can help make the holidays a little brighter, from some gift-giving tips from our animal friends to embracing pessimism before a challenging social event to stopping that annoying merry melody on repeat in your head.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/handling-the-holidays

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, December 16, 2019

Big Picture Science for Dec 16, Waste Not












Big Picture Science - Waste Not

Why create more landfill?  Perhaps you should resist the urge to toss those old sneakers, the broken ceiling fan, or last year’s smart phone.  Instead, repurpose them!  Global junk entrepreneurs are leading the way in turning trash to treasure, while right-to-repair advocates fight for legislation that would give you a decent shot at fixing your own electronic devices.

And, if you toss food scraps down the drain as you cook, are you contributing to a “fatberg” horror in the sewer?

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/waste-not

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.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Big Picture Science for Dec 09, Shell on Earth












Big Picture Science - Shell on Earth

(Repeat) We all may retreat to our protective shells, but evolution has perfected the calcite variety to give some critters permanent defense against predators.  So why did squids and octopuses lose their shells?  Find out what these cephalopods gained by giving up the shell game.

Plus why Chesapeake Bay oyster shells are shells of their former selves.  What explains the absence of the dinner-plate sized oysters of 500,000 years ago, and how conservation paleobiology is probing deep time for strategies to bring back these monster mollusks.

Also, was the Earth once encased in a giant, continental shell?  A new theory of plate tectonics.  Land ho!

Guests:
  • Rowan Lockwood – Conservation paleobiologist at the College of William and Mary.
  • Al Tanner – Ph.D. student in paleobiology at the University of Bristol, U.K.
  • Mike Brown – Professor of Geology, University of Maryland
This repeat podcast was previously released on 03/27/2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/shell-on-earth

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, December 02, 2019

Big Picture Science for Dec 02, Yule Like This












Big Picture Science - Yule Like This

(Repeat)  Fir tree needles embedded in carpet are a holiday headache.  Why not decorate a genetically-modified, needle-retaining tree instead?  It’s just another way that science is relevant to the holidays.  We have more.

How about science experiments on fruitcake?  There’s a competition that includes launching it with a pneumatic device, running a heavy electric current though it, or blasting it with a blowtorch.  Meanwhile, physics provides insight into those tricky how-does-he-do-it questions about Santa’s delivery rounds.

Finally, step away from the relatives and consider the implications of the winter solstice.

Enjoy a better holiday through science!

Guests:

This repeat podcast was previously released on 12/17/2018

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/yule-like-this

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.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Big Picture Science for Nov 25, Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience

Psychics may not be able to predict the future or sense your thoughts.  Nonetheless, they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  But the harm from pseudoscience can go far beyond your wallet – especially when it promotes unscientific treatments for serious disease.  Find out what alarming discovery led one naturopath to quit her practice and why scientific ignorance is not bliss.

It’s our regular look at critical thinking, but don’t take our word for it.

Guests:
  • Robert Palmer – Member of the Guerilla Skeptics on the Wikipedia editing team and columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer on-line magazine
  • Lee McIntrye – Research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and lecturer on ethics at Harvard Extension School
  • Britt Marie Hermes – Former naturopath doctor; now doctoral student in evolutionary genetics at the University of Kiel, Germany

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-betting-on-pseudoscience

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.

Big Picture Science for Nov 18, Stopping Ebola













Big Picture Science - Stopping Ebola

A new vaccine may help turn Ebola into a disease we can prevent, and a new drug may make it one we can cure.  But the political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo has fueled violence against health workers and Ebola treatment centers.  Find out why context matters in the efforts to stop Ebola, what new drugs and vaccines are on the horizon, and whether the world is prepared for the next infectious pandemic.  Even if Ebola’s threat is diminishing, what about the next pandemic?  Is the world prepared?

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/stopping-ebola

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.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Big Picture Science for Nov 11, Radical Cosmology













Big Picture Science - Radical Cosmology

(Repeat)  400 years ago, some ideas about the cosmos were too scandalous to mention. When the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno suggested that planets existed outside our Solar System, the Catholic Inquisition had him arrested, jailed, and burned at the stake for heresy.

Today, we have evidence of thousands of planets orbiting other stars.  Our discovery of extrasolar planets has dramatically changed ideas about the possibility for life elsewhere in the universe.

Modern theories about the existence of the ghostly particles called neutrinos or of collapsed stars with unfathomable gravity (black holes), while similarly incendiary, didn’t prompt arrest, of course.  Neutrinos and black holes were arresting ideas because they came decades before we had the means to prove their existence.

Hear about scientific ideas that came before their time and why extrasolar planets, neutrinos, and black holes are now found on the frontiers of astronomical research.

Guests:
This repeat podcast was previously released on 02/18/2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/radical-cosmology

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, November 04, 2019

Big Picture Science for Nov 04, Supercomputer Showdown













Big Picture Science - Supercomputer Showdown

Do you have a hard-to-answer question?  The Summit, Sierra, Trinity, Frontier, and Aurora supercomputers are built to tackle it.  Summit tops the petaflop heap – at least for now.  But Frontier and Aurora are catching up as they take aim at a new performance benchmark called exascale.

So why do we need all this processing power?  From climate modeling to personalized medicine, find out why the super-est computers are necessary to answer our biggest questions. But is the dark horse candidate, quantum computing, destined to leave classical computing in the dust?

Guests:
  • Jack Wells - Director of Science, Oak Ridge National Laboratory National Center for Computational Sciences
  • Eleanor Rieffel - Mathematician, NASA Ames Research Center, and co-author of “Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor,” published in Nature magazine
  • Amanda Preske - Chemist, owner of Circuit Breaker Labs
  • Katherine Riley - Director of Science, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Katie Bethea - Communications Team Lead, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Jeffrey Hawkins – Technologist and neuroscientist.  Co-founder of Palm, Handspring and Numenta

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/supercomputer-showdown

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, October 28, 2019

Big Picture Science for Oct. 28, Skeptic Check: Rational Lampoon












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Rational Lampoon

(Repeat)  Two heads may be better than one.  But what about three or more?  A new study shows that chimpanzees excel at complex tasks when they work in groups, and their accumulated knowledge can even be passed from one generation to the next.
But group-think also can be maladaptive.  When humans rely on knowledge that they assume other people possess, they can become less than rational.
Find out why one cognitive scientist says that individual thinking is a myth.  Most of your decisions are made in groups, and most derive from emotion, not rationality.
Also, why we know far less than we think we do.  For example, most people will say they understand how an everyday object like a zipper works, but draw a blank when asked to explain it.
Plus, why we have a biological drive to categorize people as “us” or “them,” and how we can override it.

Guests:

This repeat podcast was previously released on 7/3/2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-rational-lampoon

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.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Big Picture Science for Oct. 21, Nobel Efforts













Big Picture Science - Nobel Efforts

For two Swiss astronomers, it’s “Stockholm, here we come.”  Their first-ever discovery of a planet orbiting another star has been awarded the most prestigious prize in science.  Find out how their exoplanet discovery led to 4,000 more and how that changes the odds of finding life beyond Earth.  Also, the Nobel committee is not alone in finding distant worlds inspirational: a musician is translating their orbital signatures into sound.

Guests:
  • Roy Gould - Biophysicist and researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Author of “Universe in Creation
  • Jeffrey Smith - Data scientist and a principal investigator for TESS at the SETI Institute
  • David Ibbett - Composer and director of the Multiverse Concert Series

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/nobel-efforts

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.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Big Picture Science for Oct. 14, Go With the Flow













Big Picture Science - Go With the Flow

(Repeat) Solid materials get all the production credit.  Don’t get us wrong, we depend on their strength and firmness for bridges, bones, and bento boxes.  But liquids do us a solid, too.  Their free-flowing properties drive the Earth’s magnetic field, inspire a new generation of smart electronics, and make biology possible.  But the weird thing is, they elude clear definition.  Is tar a liquid or a solid?  What about peanut butter?

In this episode: A romp through a cascade of liquids with a materials scientist who is both admiring and confounded by their properties; how Earth’s molten iron core is making the magnetic north pole high-tail it to Siberia; blood as your body’s information superhighway; and how a spittlebug can convert 200 times its body weight in urine into a cozy, bubble fortress.

Guests:

This repeat podcast was previously released on 04/08/2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/go-with-the-flow


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.