Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sunspots Vanish ...Again


Source - Space Weather News for June 23, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

SUNSPOTS VANISH ...AGAIN: For the second time this month, sunspots have faded away leaving the face of the sun completely blank. This signals an important transition in the solar cycle: Solar Minimum is coming. Visit Spaceweather.com to learn about the down-to-Earth effects of low sunspot numbers.

SPECIAL WEBCAST: Have you ever wondered how NASA plans to fly astronauts to Mars? Find out on June 24th when the Coca-Cola Space Science Center visits Cape Canaveral for a live webcast about NASA's Space Launch System.  The presentation will include the bone-rattling launch of a mighty Atlas V rocket. Tune in Friday between 7 am and 11 am EDT: http://www.ccssc.org/webcast.html

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday June 20, 2016 - Elements Never Forget



Big Picture Science - Elements Never Forget

It’s elementary, Watson.  Things are in flux – from the elements in the air you breathe to party balloons.   We investigate the massive, historic loss of nitrogen from the atmosphere and meet the culprits behind a modern-day helium shortage.

But it’s not all a disappearing act: be thankful that oxygen showed up in our atmosphere a few billion years ago.  Meanwhile, atom smashers have recently produced some new elements.  Their appearance was brief, but long enough to fill out the periodic table.

And perhaps the tastiest use of an element – one that gives Seth a chilly reception.

Guests:

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/elements-never-forget

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, June 17, 2016

Weird Clouds over Antarctica


Source - Space Weather News for June 17, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

WEIRD CLOUDS OVER ANTARCTICA: This week in Antarctica, observers have been amazed by the sudden appearance of vivid color in the darkening winter sky.  It is not, however, the aurora australis.  Instead, icy clouds are forming in the normally-clear stratosphere above the frozen continent, producing an intense iridescence seldom seen at lower latitudes. Visit http://spaceweather.com for pictures of this phenomenon.

Polar Stratospheric Cloud taken by B Sudarsan Patro

Image credits: Space Weather News / B Sudarsan Patro


DOUBLE SPACE WEATHER BALLOON LAUNCH: On June 18th, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus will launch a pair of space weather balloons, simultaneously, 600 miles apart. The purpose of the experiment is to study the latitude dependence of cosmic rays penetrating Earth's atmosphere and to check models of radiation inside commercial airplanes. Launch updates will be posted at https://www.facebook.com/earthtoskycalculus

Monday, June 13, 2016

Night-shining Clouds Brighten over Europe


Source - Space Weather News for June 13, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

NIGHT-SHINING CLOUDS OVER EUROPE: Observers in Europe are reporting an outburst of bright noctilucent (night-shining) clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, these electric-blue clouds float at the edge of space and can be seen alongside the stars after sunset. Soon, they will likely spread to North America. Visit http://spaceweather.com for pictures and observing tips.

Noctilucent Clouds Taken by Svante Sandström on June 13, 2016

Image credits: Space Weather News / Svante Sandström

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday June 13, 2016 - Surviving the Anthropocene













Big Picture Science - Surviving the Anthropocene

ENCORE: The world is hot, and getting hotter. But higher temperatures aren’t the only impact our species is having on mother Earth. Urbanization, deforestation, and dumping millions of tons of plastic into the oceans … these are all ways in which humans are leaving their mark.

So are we still in the Holocene, the geological epoch that started a mere 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age? Some say we’ve moved on to the age of man – the Anthropocene.

It’s the dawn of an era, but can we survive this new phase in the history of our planet?

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on February 23, 2015

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

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, June 05, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday June 06, 2016 - How to Talk to Aliens













Big Picture Science - How to Talk to Aliens

ENCORE: “Dear E.T. …” So far, so good. But now what? Writing is never easy, but what if your task was to craft a message to aliens living elsewhere in the universe, and your prose would represent all humankind? Got writer’s block yet?

What to say to the aliens was the focus of a recent conference in which participants shifted their attentions away from listening for extraterrestrial signals to transmitting some. In this show, we report on the “Communicating Across the Cosmos” conference held at the SETI Institute in December 2014.

Find out what scientists think we should say. Also, how archeology could help us craft messages to an unfamiliar culture. Plus, why journalists might be well-suited to writing the message. And, a response to Stephen Hawking’s warning that attempting to contact aliens is too dangerous.

Guests:
  • Douglas Vakoch – Director of interstellar message composition, SETI Institute
  • Paul Wason – Archaeologist, anthropologist and vice president for the life sciences and genetics program at the Templeton Foundation
  • Al Harrison – Emeritus professor of psychology, University of California, Davis
  • Morris Jones – Journalist and space analyst in Sydney, Australia
  • Shari Wells-Jensen – Professor of English, Bowling Green State University

This encore podcast was first released on January 12, 2015.

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

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, June 04, 2016

Where did all the sunspots go?


Source - Space Weather News for June 4, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

WHERE DID ALL THE SUNSPOTS GO? Something interesting is happening on the sun.  On Friday, June 3rd, the sunspot number dropped to 0, and the solar disk is still blank this weekend. This is a sign that the sun is slowly shifting into a new phase of the solar cycle.  Learn more about the transformation on Spaceweather.com.

GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH:  NOAA forecasters say there is a 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on June 4th and 5th as Earth enters a stream of fast-moving solar wind.  This is the same stream, by the way, that triggered the fabulous Mother's Day Storm last month, when auroras were photographed in the USA as far south as Kansas and Arkansas. Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Small Asteroid Explodes over Arizona


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

SMALL ASTEROID EXPLODES OVER ARIZONA: During the early hours of June 2nd, a 3-meter wide asteroid struck Earth's atmosphere over Arizona.  The resulting explosion shook the ground and blinded cameras with a flash of light 10x brighter than the full Moon. Meteorite hunters are now scouring the landscape north of Tucson for fragments of the space rock.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates on this developing story.























Image credit: Space Weather News and Mike Lerch

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 30, 2016 - Caught in a Traps













Big Picture Science - Caught in a Traps

“Locked and loaded” is how one scientist recently described the San Andreas fault.  Find out when this famous west-coast rift might cause “the big one;” also, the state of early earthquake warning systems.

Plus, another sign of our planet’s unceasing turmoil: volcanos!  Could the eruption that produced the Deccan Traps, and not a rock from space, have been the nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs?  One seismologist shares new evidence about some suspicious timing.

And, the man who was the first to take the temperature of lava, established the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and essentially pioneered the field of volcanology a century ago is nearly lost to history.  A scientist rescues fellow volcanologist Thomas Jagger from obscurity.

Guests:

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/caught-traps

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, May 27, 2016

Noctilucent Cloud Season Begins


Source - Space Weather News for May 27, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

NOCTILUCENT CLOUD SEASON BEGINS: On May 24th, NASA's AIM spacecraft spotted wispy electric-blue clouds floating above the Arctic Ocean. This marks the beginning of the 2016 season for noctilucent clouds.  Seeded by meteoroids, icy noctilucent clouds form at the edge of space where they can be seen shining in the night sky.  Each year, their first detection by spacecraft is usually quickly followed by ground-based sightings. Indeed, a photographer in North Wales spotted some this morning.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for photos and observing tips.






















Image Creidt: Space Weather News / NASA

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rare Form of "Space Lightning" Sighted over Oklahoma


Source - Space Weather News for May 26, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

SPACE LIGHTNING OVER OKLAHOMA: Earlier this week, an enormous cluster of sprites (a.k.a. "space lightning") appeared over a thunderstorm in Oklahoma.  The outbreak was so intense, it may have warped the ionosphere above it and sparked a rare "pop-through gigantic jet."  This type of display could become more common as summer thunderstorm season unfolds across the USA.

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


















Image credits: Space Weather News and Thomas Ashcraft

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 23, 2016 - Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage

Can an opera singer’s voice really shatter glass?  Can you give your car a rocket-assisted boost and survive the test drive?  How do you protect yourself from a shark attack?   Those are among the many intriguing questions and urban legends tested by the MythBusters team in front of the camera.

Now that the series has ended after a 16 year run, co-host Adam Savage tells us how it all began, how he and Jamie Hyneman walked the line between science and entertainment, and why he considers himself a scientist but not a “skeptic.”

Also, he reveals the location of the episode, “Duct Tape Island.”

Guests:

Adam Savage - Former co-host and executive producer of MythBusters


Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-busting-myths-adam-savage

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, May 21, 2016

Midnight Sky Show


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

MIDNIGHT SKY SHOW: Tonight, the full Moon gets together with Mars and Saturn to form a bright triangle in the constellation Scorpius. The beautiful midnight encounter is visible around the world, and happens just one week before Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in more than a decade.

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to See NASA's Giant Space Balloon


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

NASA'S GIANT SPACE BALLOON: On May 17th, NASA successfully launched a gigantic helium balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand, on a 100+ day mission to the stratosphere. The 19 million cubic foot behemoth is now floating over southern Australia, and it will soon proceed to circumnavigate the southern hemisphere.  Sky watchers near the flight path can see the "space balloon" with the unaided eye and track it with backyard telescopes. Visit http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information about the balloon's fascinating payload.

MINOR GEOMAGNETIC STORMS POSSIBLE THIS WEEK: NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% to 60% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms on May 19-20 when Earth enters a stream of high-speed solar wind. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where darkening autumn skies favor visibility

















Image Credit: Space Weather News / Ray Pickard 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday May 16, 2016 - Science Fiction













Big Picture Science - Science Fiction

No one knows what the future will bring, but science fiction authors are willing to take a stab at imagining it.  We take our own stab at imagining them imagining it.  Find out why the genre of science fiction is more than a trippy ride through a bizarre, hi-tech world, but a way to assess and vote on our possible shared future.

Also, an astronomer learns how many rejection slips it takes before becoming a published science fiction author …. what author Bruce Sterling wants to get off his chest … and what the joke about the neutron walking into a bar to ask the price of beer has in common with H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Ridley Scott.

Oh, and the price of beer?  Bartender: “For you, no charge.”

Guests:
  • Ed Finn - Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University
  • Andrew Fraknoi – Chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College.  His story, "The Cave in Arsia Mons", is in "Building Red", here.  His list of astronomically correct science fiction is here.
  • Bruce Sterling - Science fiction author, journalist, and editor
  • Brian Malow - Science comedian, science communication officer, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

Download podcast at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/science-fiction

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.