Sunday, May 20, 2018

Big Picture Science for May 21, 2018 - Your Brain's Reins












Big Picture Science - Your Brain's Reins

ENCORE: 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 encore podcast was first released on  04/10/2017

Podcast will be made available 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, May 13, 2018

Big Picture Science for May 14, 2018 - You Are Exposed












Big Picture Science - You Are Exposed

There’s no place like “ome.”  Your microbiome is highly influential in determining your health.  But it’s not the only “ome” doing so.  Your exposome – environmental exposure over a lifetime – also plays a role.

Hear how scientists hope to calculate your entire exposome, from food to air pollution to water contamination.

Plus, new research on the role that microbes play in the development of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, and the hot debate about when microbes first colonize the body.  Could a fetus have its own microbiome?

Also, choose your friends wisely: studies of microbe-swapping gazelles reveal the benefits – and the downsides – of being social.

And, why sensors on future toilets will let you do microbiome analysis with every flush.

Guests:
  • Rob Knight – Professor of Pediatrics, Computer Science and Engineering, and Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California, San Diego
  • Vanessa Ezenwa – Ecologist at the University of Georgia
  • Indira Mysorekar – Microbiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Gary Miller – Professor of public health at the Rollins School of Public Health and director of the HERCULES Exposome Research Center at Emory University. After August 2018, his lab will be at Columbia University.

You can download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/you-are-exposed

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, May 06, 2018

Big Picture Science for May 07, 2018 - We Are VR












Big Picture Science - We Are VR

Will virtual reality make you a better person?  It’s been touted as the “ultimate empathy machine,” and one that will connect people who are otherwise emotionally and physically isolated.  The promise of the technology has come a long way since BiPiSci last took a VR tour.  Find out why researchers say virtual reality is no longer an exclusive club for gamers, but a powerful tool to build community.

Seth puts on a VR headset for an immersive experience of a man who’s evicted from his apartment.  Find out why researchers say the experience creates empathy and sparks activism to address homelessness.

Also, why our spouses will love our avatars as much as they do us, the dark side of VR as a space for unchecked harassment, and consider: what if you’re already living a simulation created by your brain?

Guests:
  • Peter Rubin – Editor for Wired, author of “Future Presence: How Virtual reality is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life”
  • Jeremy Bailenson – Professor of Communication at Stanford University, founding director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, and author of “Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do”
  • Carolina Cruz-Neira – Director of the Emerging Analytics Center at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock
  • Thomas Metzinger – Philosopher of Mind and Cognitive Science, at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany

You can download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/we-are-vr

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, April 29, 2018

Big Picture Science for April 30, 2018 - What Have You Got To Move












Big Picture Science - What Have You Got To Move

ENCORE: Whether they swim, slither, jump, or fly, animal locomotion is more than just an urge to roam: it’s necessary for survival.  Evolution has come up with ingenious schemes to get from here to there.  Hear how backbones evolved as a consequence of fish needing to wag their fins, and why no animals have wheels.

Motion is more than locomotion. Test the physics of movement in your kitchen and find out what popping corn has in common with the first steam engine.

And while physics insists that atoms are always moving, find how what happens to these basic building blocks when placed in the coldest spot in the universe.  The Cold Atom Laboratory chills material to nearly absolute zero, creating some weird superfluid effects as atoms slow down.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on 03/13/2017

Podcast will be made available 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, April 22, 2018

Big Picture Science for April 23, 2018 - High Moon












Big Picture Science - High Moon

“The moon or bust” is now officially bust.  No private company was able to meet the Lunar X Prize challenge, and arrange for a launch by the 2018 deadline.  The $30 million award goes unclaimed, but the race to the moon is still on. Find out who wants to go and why this is not your parents’ – or grandparents’ – space race.

With or without a cash incentive, private companies are still eyeing our cratered companion, hoping to set hardware down on its dusty surface.  Meanwhile, while the U.S. waffles about a return to the moon, India and China are sending a second round of robots skyward.  And a proposed orbiting laboratory – the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway – may literally put scientists over, and around, the moon.

The moon continues to entice sci-fi writers, and Andy Weir’s new novel describes a vibrant lunar colony. Its premise of colonists launched from Kenya is not entirely fiction: the nation is one of many in Africa with space programs.

Guests:
  • Andy Weir – Author of “The Martian” and, most recently, “Artemis”
  • Allen Herbert – Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for NanoRacks, LLC and author of an article about emerging space programs in Africa
  • Greg Schmidt – Deputy director of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute at NASA Ames Research Center
  • Jason Crusan – NASA Director of Advanced Exploration Systems for Human Space Flight

Download podcast at -http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/high-moon

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, April 15, 2018

Big Picture Science for April 16, 2018 - Skeptic Check: Political Scientist












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Political Scientist

Hundreds of thousands of scientists took to the streets during the March for Science.  The divisive political climate has spurred some scientists to deeper political engagement – publicly challenging lawmakers and even running for office themselves.   But the scientist-slash-activist model itself is contested, even by some of their colleagues.

Find out how science and politics have been historically intertwined, what motivates scientists to get involved, and the possible benefits and harm of doing so. Is objectivity damaged when scientists advocate?

Plus, how Michael Mann became a reluctant activist, whether his “street fighter” approach is effective in defending climate science, and the price he and his family paid for speaking out.

Also, how the organization 314 Action is helping a record number of scientists run for Congress.  But will the group support only Democratic contenders?

Guests:
  • Robert Young – Geologist, Western Carolina University
  • Douglas Haynes – Historian of medicine and science, University of California, Irvine
  • Michael Mann – Professor, atmospheric science, Director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State University
  • Shaugnessy Naughton – Founder and President, 314 Action
  • Alex Berezow – Senior fellow of biomedical science at the American Council on Science and Health

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-political-scientist

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, April 08, 2018

Big Picture Science for April 09, 2018 - Brain Dust












Big Picture Science - Brain Dust

ENCORE: Know your brain?  Think again.  Driven by a hidden agenda, powered by an indecipherable web of neurons, and influenced by other brains, your grey matter is a black box.

To "know thyself" may be a challenge, and free will nonexistent, but maybe more technology can shed light on the goings on in your noggin, and the rest of your body.

Find out how tiny implanted sensors called “brain dust” may reveal what really going on.

Plus, the day when your brain is uploaded into a computer as ones and zeros.  Will you still be you?

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on 12/5/2018

Downlad podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/brain-dust

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, April 01, 2018

Big Picture Science for April 02, 2018 - Hawkingravity












Big Picture Science - Hawkingravity

Stephen Hawking felt gravity’s pull.  His quest to understand this feeble force spanned his career, and he was the first to realize that black holes actually disappear – slowly losing the mass of everything they swallow in a dull, evaporative glow called Hawking radiation.

But one of gravity’s deepest puzzles defied even his brilliant mind.  How can we connect theories of gravity on the large scale to what happens on the very small?  The Theory of Everything remains one of the great challenges to physicists.

Also, the latest on deciphering the weirdness of black holes and why the gravitational wave detector LIGO has added colliding neutron stars to its roster of successes.

Plus, a fellow physicist describes Dr. Hawking’s extraordinary deductive abilities and what it was like to collaborate with him.  And, a surprise awaits Molly when she meets a local string theorist to discuss his search for the Theory of Everything.

Guests:

Podcast will be made available 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, March 25, 2018

Big Picture Science for March 26, 2018 - 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 4/18/2016

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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Big Picture Science for March 19, 2018 - The X-Flies












Big Picture Science - The X-Flies

Insect populations are declining.  But before you say “good riddance,” consider that insects are the cornerstone of many ecosystems.  They are dinner for numerous animal species and are essential pollinators.   Mammals are loved, but they are not indispensable.  Insects are.

Meanwhile, marvel at the extraordinary capabilities of some insects.  The zany aerial maneuvers of the fly are studied by pilots.  And, contrary to the bad press, cockroaches are very clean creatures.  Also, take a listen as we host some Madagascar hissing cockroaches in our studio (yes, they audibly hiss).

Plus, how insects first evolved … and the challenges in controlling lethal ones.  Are genetically-engineering mosquitoes the best way to combat malaria?

Guests:
  • Erica McAlister – Entomologist, Senior Curator of diptera in the Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum in London, author of “The Secret Life of Flies
  • Jessica Ware – Evolutionary biologist and entomologist at Rutgers University
  • Anthony James – Vector biologist, University of California, Irvine
  • Lauren Esposito – Arachnologist, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/x-flies

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, March 11, 2018

Big Picture Science for March 12, 2018 - Shell on Earth












Big Picture Science - Shell on Earth

ENCORE: 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 encore podcast was first released on 3/27/2017

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

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Big Picture Science for March 05, 2018 - Space: Why Go There?












Big Picture Science - Space: Why Go There?

It takes a lot of energy and technology to leave terra firma. But why rocket into space when there’s so much to be done on Earth?  From the practical usefulness of satellites to the thrill of exploring other worlds, let us count the ways.

The launch of a NOAA weather satellite to join its twin provides unparalleled observation of storms, wildfires, and even lightning.  Find out what it’s like to watch hurricanes form from space.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen countries want their own satellites to help solve real-world problems, including tracking disease.  Learn how one woman is helping make space accessible to everyone.

Plus, now that we’ve completed our grand tour of the Solar System, which bodies are targets for return missions and which for human exploration?

Guests:
  • Sarah Cruddas – Space journalist, broadcaster, and author based in the U.K.
  • Jamese Sims – GOES-R Project Manager at NOAA
  • Danielle Wood – Assistant professor, MIT Media Lab, Director of the Space Enabled Research Group
  • Jim Green – NASA Planetary Science Division Director 

Download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/space-why-go-there

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, February 25, 2018

Big Picture Science for February 26, 2018 - Meet Your Robot Barista












Big Picture Science - Meet Your Robot Barista

Move over Roomba.  Café robots are the latest in adorable automation. And they may be more than a fad. As robots and artificial intelligence enter the workforce, they could serve up more than machine-made macchiato.  Digital workers are in training to do a wide variety jobs. Will humans be handed the mother of all pink slips?

We sip lattes in a robot café and contemplate the future of work. Some say the workplace will have more machines than people, while others maintain that A.I. will augment, not replace, human workers.

Meanwhile, future intelligent automation may not come from Silicon Valley.  Why China wants to become the global center for A.I.

Plus, NASA’s first bipedal humanoid robot - Valkyrie, a prototype of a construction worker for use on Mars - teaches us that moving like a human is not as easy as it looks.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/meet-your-robot-barista

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, February 17, 2018

Big Picture Science for February 19, 2018 - Quantum: Why We Want 'Em












Big Picture Science - Quantum: Why We Want 'Em

ENCORE: 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:

This encore podcast was first released on 02/06/2017

Download podcast 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.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

TED Talks: How a blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars - Wanda Diaz Merced

Description from the TED Talks Youtube site for this video published on Jul 13, 2016:


"Wanda Diaz Merced studies the light emitted by gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic events in the universe. When she lost her sight and was left without a way to do her science, she had a revelatory insight: the light curves she could no longer see could be translated into sound. Through sonification, she regained mastery over her work, and now she's advocating for a more inclusive scientific community. "Science is for everyone," she says. "It has to be available to everyone, because we are all natural explorers."




Video Source URL - https://youtu.be/-hY9QSdaReY

Original TED Talks Article