Monday, July 19, 2021

Big Picture Science for July 19th, 2021 - New Water Worlds







Big Picture Science - New Water Worlds

The seas are rising. It’s no longer a rarity to see kayakers paddling through downtown Miami. By century’s end, the oceans could be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet higher, threatening millions of people and property. But humans once knew how to adapt to rising waters. As high water threatens to drown our cities, can we learn do it again.

Hear stories of threatened land: submerged Florida suburbs, the original sunken city (Venice), and the U.S. East Coast, where anthropologists rush to catalogue thousands of low-lying historical and cultural sites in harm’s way, including Jamestown, Virginia and ancient Native American sites.

But also, stories of ancient adaptability: from the First American tribes of the Colusa in South Florida to the ice age inhabitants of Doggerland. And, modern approaches to staying dry: stilt houses, seawalls, and floating cities.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on August 27, 2018

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/new-water-worlds

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, July 12, 2021

Big Picture Science for July 12th, 2021 - Cicadas and Zombie Seeds







Big Picture Science - Cicadas and Zombie Seeds

Rip van Winkle snoozed for 20 years, and Sleeping Beauty for 100. But seeds in an underground bottle have easily beaten both these records, germinating long after the scientist who buried them a few feet underground had died. We investigate biology’s long haulers–from seeds to small creatures–who are able to wake up and restart their lives, even after tens of thousands of years. Also, what are those buried 17-year cicadas doing as they wait to come back topside?

Guests:

  • Chris Simon – Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut
  • Sarah Dwyer – Chocolatier, Chouquette Chocolates
  • Frank Telewski – Director of the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden at Michigan State University, and professor in its department of plant biology
  • Rocco Mancinelli – Microbial ecologist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute


Featuring music by Dewey Dellay

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/cicadas-and-zombie-seeds

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, July 07, 2021

Big Picture Science for July 5th, 2021 - Skeptic Check: Pentagon UFO Report







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Pentagon UFO Report

When the government announced it would release a report about strange aerial phenomena, public excitement and media coverage took off like a Saturn V rocket. But what’s really in the report? Do we finally have the long-awaited evidence of alien visitation? We discuss the report’s content and
implications with both a former U.S. Air Force pilot and a skeptical investigator. And if it hasn’t proven alien presence, what happens next with those who nonetheless think Earth is being visited?

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-pentagon-ufo-report

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, June 28, 2021

Big Picture Science for June 28th - Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad






 

Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad

(Repeat) The scientific method is tried and true. It has led us to a reliable understanding of things from basic physics to biomedicine. So yes, we can rely on the scientific method. The fallible humans behind the research, not so much.  And politicians?  Don’t get us started. Remember when one brought a snowball to the Senate floor to “prove” that global warming was a hoax? Oy vey.

We talk to authors about new books that seem to cast a skeptical eye on the scientific method… but that are really throwing shade on the ambitious labcoat-draped humans who heat the beakers and publish the papers … as well as the pinstriped politicians who twist science to win votes.

Find out why the hyper-competitive pursuit of results that are “amazing” and “incredible” is undermining medical science… how a scientific breakthrough can turn into a societal scourge (heroin as miracle cure)… and what happens when civil servants play the role of citizen scientists on CSPAN.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on May 22, 2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-science-breaking-bad

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, June 21, 2021

Big Picture Science for June 21st - After the Plague







Big Picture Science - After the Plague

Everyone is familiar with the immediate consequences of a pandemic – sickness and death. But the long-term ramifications can be just as dramatic: a breakdown of the family and society, shifts in political power, and widespread appeals to magical thinking.

Plagues are societal disrupters. Their effects can linger long after the pathogens have gone.

Also, hear how art responded to a pandemic and how the Louisiana Purchase was made possible by an outbreak of fever in the Caribbean.

Guest:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/after-the-plague

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, June 14, 2021

Big Picture Science for June 14th - Flush with Excitement







Big Picture Science - Flush with Excitement

The toilet: A ubiquitous appliance that dates to the time of Shakespeare. But billions of people around the world still lack modern sanitation infrastructure. And the incentive to modernize includes the possibility that recycling human waste could help with conservation efforts, energy generation, and even medicine.

Also, a sixth-grader puts lipstick on cats’ bottoms to map places their tush has touched, and in Michigan, why peeing on the peonies can be a good thing.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/flush-with-excitement

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, June 07, 2021

Big Picture Science for June 7th - The Ears Have It







Big Picture Science - The Ears Have It

(Repeat) 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 repeat podcast originally aired on January 20, 2020

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/the-ears-have-it

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, May 31, 2021

Big Picture Science for May 31st - Air Apparent







Big Picture Science - Air Apparent

(Repeat) Whether you yawn, gasp, sniff, snore, or sigh, you’re availing yourself of our very special atmosphere. It’s easy to take this invisible chemical cocktail for granted, but it’s not only essential to your existence: it unites you and every other life form on the planet, dead or alive. The next breath you take likely includes molecules exhaled by Julius Caesar or Eleanor Roosevelt.

And for some animals, air is an information superhighway. Dogs navigate with their noses. Their sniffing snouts help them to identify their owners, detect trace amounts of drugs, and even sense some diseases. Find out what a dog’s nose knows, and why no amount of bathing and dousing in perfume can mask your personal smelliness.

Plus, why your own schnoz is key to not only enjoying a fine Bordeaux, but to survival of our species.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on December 4, 2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/air-apparent

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, May 24, 2021

Big Picture Science for May 24th - Feet Don’t Fail Me







Big Picture Science - Feet Don’t Fail Me

Standing on your own two feet isn’t easy. While many animals can momentarily balance on their hind legs, we’re the only critters, besides birds, for whom bipedalism is completely normal. Find out why, even though other animals are faster, we’re champions at getting around. Could it be that our upright stance made us human? Plus, why arches help stiffen feet, the argument for bare-footin’, and 12,000-year old footprints that tell a story about an Ice Age mother, her child, and a sloth.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/feet-dont-fail-me

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, May 17, 2021

Big Picture Science for May 17th - 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 originally aired on July 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.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Big Picture Science for May 10th - For the Birds







Big Picture Science - For the Birds

Birds have it going on. Many of these winged dinosaurs delight us with their song and brilliant plumage.  Migratory birds travel thousands of miles in a display of endurance that would make an Olympic athlete gasp.
We inquire about these daunting migrations and how birds can fly for days without rest. And what can we do to save disappearing species? Will digital tracking technology help? Plus, how 19th century bird-lovers, appalled by feathered hats, started the modern conservation movement.
Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/for-the-birds

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, May 03, 2021

Big Picture Science for May 3rd - End of Eternity







Big Picture Science - End of Eternity

Nothing lasts forever. Even the universe has several possible endings. Will there be a dramatic Big Rip or a Big Chill­–also known as the heat death of the universe–in trillions of years? Or will vacuum decay, which could theoretically happen at any moment, do us in? Perhaps the death of a tiny particle – the proton – will bring about the end.

We contemplate big picture endings in this episode, and whether one could be brought about by our own machine creations.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/end-of-eternity

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, April 26, 2021

Big Picture Science for April 26 - Skeptic Check: Flat Earth







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Flat Earth

(Repeat) The Earth is not round. Technically, it’s an oblate spheroid. But for some people, the first statement is not even approximately correct. Flat Earthers believe that our planet resembles – not a slightly squashed grapefruit – but a thick pancake. A journalist who covered a Flat Earth convention describes the rationale behind this ever-more popular belief.

So how do you establish science truth? We look at the difference between a truly scientific examination of extraordinary claims and approaches that feel and look science-y but aren’t.

Find out how one man will use telescopes and balloons in the desert to demonstrate that the Earth is a globe, while a biologist runs a test on the waters of Loch Ness to see if it contains prehistoric reptile DNA.

And what happens when amateur investigators chase ghosts, UFOs, and Bigfoot with science instruments, but without an understanding of the scientific method.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on June 11, 2018

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-flat-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, April 19, 2021

Big Picture Science for April 19 - 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:


This repeat podcast originally aired on December 16, 2019

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.



Thursday, April 15, 2021

Big Picture Science for April 12 - Venom Diagram


 

 

 

 

 

Big Picture Science - Venom Diagram

(REPEAT) We all get defensive sometimes. For some animals, evolution has provided a highly effective mechanism for saying “back off!”. A puncture by a pair of venom-filled fangs gets the point across nicely.

But one animal’s poison may be another’s cure. Some dangerous critters churn out compounds that can be synthesized into life-saving drugs.

Meet the spiny, fanged, and oozing creatures who could help defend us against such illnesses as hypertension and kidney disease.

Plus, the King of Pain - a scientist who has been stung by more than 80 species of insects in his pursuit of a better understanding of venom’s biochemistry. Find out which winged stinger scored the highest on his pain index.

And, why the drug we need most may come from the quietest members of the biosphere: turning to plants for a new generation of antibiotics.

Guests:

 
This repeat podcast originally aired on October 3, 2016

 Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/venom-diagram

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.