Sunday, July 16, 2017

Big Picture Science for July 17, 2017 - Eclipsing All Other Shows












Big Picture Science - Eclipsing All Other Shows

They say that the experience of watching a total eclipse is so profound, you’re not the same afterward.  If life-changing events are your thing and you’re in the lower 48 states on August 21st, let us help you make the most of viewing the Great American Solar Eclipse.

Learn the basics of where to be and what to bring, even on short notice. No eclipse glasses?  Find out why a kitchen colander is an excellent Plan B.

Also, the strange behavior of animals and private jet pilots during an eclipse.  The latter is making the FAA sweat.

Plus, how 1878 eclipse fever inspired Thomas Edison and astronomer Maria Mitchell, and what was at stake for them scientifically.  And today, with astronauts able to view the Sun from space, what new science can we still learn by eclipse expeditions on Earth?

And, NASA turns up the heat on solar studies with a probe to within a hair’s breadth of the Sun.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/eclipsing-all-other-shows

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.

CME Strike Sparks Geomagnetic Storms


Source - Space Weather News for July 16, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

CME STRIKE SPARKS GEOMAGNETIC STORMS: Geomagnetic storms are underway on July 16th following a CME strike at 0545 UT. Auroras have been sighted in New Zealand as well as US states such as Washington and Wyoming. G1-class storms happening now could intensity to G2-class in the hours ahead as Earth moves into the CME's magnetized wake.

Visit Spaceweather.com for images and updates



















Above: Auroras over Hoopers Inlet, Otago, New Zealand, on July 16, 2017. 
Photo credit: Ian Griffin

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Solar Activity Intensifies as Huge Sunspot Grows


Source - Space Weather News for July 9, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SOLAR ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES: Sunspot AR2665, which emerged just as few days ago, has mushroomed into a behemoth nearly as wide as the planet Jupiter. On July 9th the fast-growing sunspot produced an M-class solar flare and a short-lived shortwave radio blackout over east Asia and Australia. Stronger flares and Earth-directed CMEs may be in the offing as AR2665 turns toward our planet in the days ahead.

Visit Spaceweather.com for images, movies and updates.

Big Picture Science for July 10, 2017 - Frogs' Pants












Big Picture Science - Frogs' Pants

It’s one of the most bizarre biological experiments ever. In the 18th century, a scientist fitted a pair of tailor-made briefs on a male frog to determine the animal’s contribution to reproduction.  The process of gestation was a mystery and scientists had some odd-ball theories.

Today, a 5th grader can tell you how babies are made, but we still don’t know exactly what life is.  In our quest to understand, we’re still at the frogs’ pants stage.

Find out why conception took centuries to figure out.  Also, why the 1970s Viking experiments, specifically designed to detect life on Mars, couldn’t give us a definitive answer.  Plus, can knowing where life isn’t help define what it is?  Take a tour of the world’s barren places.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/frogs-pants

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, July 07, 2017

A Big Sunspot is Turning Toward Earth


Source - Space Weather News for July 7, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

BIG SUNSPOT TURNS TOWARD EARTH: A new and large sunspot is rapidly growing on the solar disk, temporarily arresting the sun's plunge into Solar Minimum. Stretching more than 70,000 km from end to end, the active region numbered AR2665 has more than doubled in size in 24 hours. This makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. So far the growing sunspot has not produced any strong flares, but this could change if its rapid growth continues apace and destabilizes the sunspot's magnetic field.

Visit Spaceweather.com for movies and updates.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Big Picture Science for July 03, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Rational Lampoon












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Rational Lampoon

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:

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.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NASA Creates Artificial 'Space Clouds'


Source - Space Weather News for June 29, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

NASA CREATES ARTIFICIAL 'SPACE CLOUDS': A rocket launched before sunrise on June 29th from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility produced an amazing display of colorful 'space clouds' over the east coast of the USA.  Onlookers described their "erupting colors" as "vivid", "spellbinding", and "brilliantly apparent" as the vaporous forms spread across the early morning sky. To learn more about the clouds, and why NASA made them, visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com

THE SOLAR ECLIPSE BALLOON NETWORK: The Great American Solar Eclipse is less than two months away. Where will you be on Aug. 21, 2017, when the Moon completely covers the sun? Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus plan to observe the eclipse from the stratosphere, photographing the Moon's shadow and collecting unique cosmic ray data high above any obscuring clouds.  We'll do it using space weather balloons launched from multiple sites along the path of totality. Learn more about how you can support or even join the Solar Eclipse Balloon Network.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Skeptic Check: How Low Can You Go?













Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: How Low Can You Go?

ENCORE
: Baby, it’s cold outside… but you still might want to be there.  Some people claim that chilly temperatures are good for your health, and proponents of cryotherapy suggest you have a blast – of sub-zero air – to stave off wrinkles and perhaps halt aging altogether.

Meanwhile the field of cryonics offers the ultimate benefit by suggesting that you put future plans – and your body – on ice when you die.  That way you might be revived when the technology to do so is developed.

So, will a chill wind blow you some good?  Possibly, as scientists are discovering that the body can endure colder temperatures than previously thought.  We examine the science of extreme cold and claims of its salubrious benefits.

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

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on 03/28/2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-how-low-can-you-go

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.

Atmospheric Radiation Update: Cosmic Rays Increasing from Coast to Coast in the USA


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

ATMOSPHERIC RADIATION UPDATE: For years, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been using space weather balloons to monitor cosmic rays in the atmosphere above California. We previously reported that dose rates have been increasing over the Golden State, more than 13% since March 2015. Now we know the same thing is happening over New England--only more so. Balloons recently launched from the Atlantic Coast of the USA have detected even stronger and more rapidly intensifying levels of cosmic radiation. What's causing this continent-wide increase?

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for the full story.






SIERRA SNOWPACK SEEN FROM THE STRATOSPHERE: A space weather balloon launched on June 23rd has captured remarkable spherical images of California's historic snowpack from the stratosphere. They show Sierra Nevada mountains laden with widespread snow despite an early summer heat wave that has sent temperatures shooting above 110 F at the base of the range.

Click on the image below to explore the scene as an interactive 360-degree image--or visit the Earth to Sky Calculus Facebook page.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jellyfish-shaped 'Space Lightning' Sighted over Europe


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

JELLYFISH SPRITES OVER EUROPE: We all know what comes out of the bottom of a thunderstorm: lightning. But do you know what comes out of the top? On June 20th, an amateur astronomer photographed incredible jellyfish-shaped 'sprites' flickering above a storm system in Austria. Such upper atmospheric lightning is a form of space weather that is being seen and photographed by increasing numbers of sky watchers.

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Big Picture Science for June 19, 2017 - 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:

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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upper Atmospheric 'Heat Wave' Wipes out Noctilucent Clouds


Source - Space Weather News for June 15, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

MYSTERY OF THE MISSING NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Every year in June, far-northern sky watchers see electric-blue tendrils creeping over the western horizon at sunset. These are noctilucent clouds (NLCs) formed by summertime wisps of water vapor crystallizing around bits of meteor smoke at the edge of space.  Every year in June ... except this year.  NLCs have been mysteriously absent in June 2017, and researchers have just figured out why. A 'heat wave' in the upper atmosphere has temporarily wiped them out.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for the full story and the prognosis for future NLCs.

Article URL - http://news.spaceweather.com/mystery-of-the-missing-noctilucent-clouds/

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Hole in the Sun's Atmosphere Turns Toward Earth


Source - Space Weather News for June 14, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

A HOLE IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: Spewing a stream of solar wind as fast as 700 km/s (1.6 million mph), a hole in the sun's atmosphere is turning toward Earth. Forecasters expect the stream to reach our planet on June 15th or 16th with a 40% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms when it arrives.  High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead, especially in the southern hemisphere where deepening autumn darkness favors visibility.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Big Picture Science for June 12, 2017 - Science Fiction













Big Picture Science - Science Fiction

ENCORE: 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

This encore podcast was first released on May 16, 2016

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.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Big Picture Science for June 05, 2017 - Gene-y in a Bottle













Big Picture Science - Gene-y in a Bottle

ENCORE:  You can’t pick your parents.  But soon you may be able to change the DNA they gave you.  CRISPR technology is poised to take DNA editing to new levels of precision and speed.  Imagine deleting genes from your body that you don’t like and inserting the ones you want.  The swap might not even require a fancy lab.  Biohackers are already tinkering with genes in their homes.

Find out how CRISPR technology might change everything when the genetic lottery is no longer destiny.

Plus, a cardiologist identifies the troublesome genes that once gave us evolutionary advantages but today are fueling obesity, depression and other modern illness.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on March 21, 2016

Download podcast  at - http://bigpicturescience.org/Gene-y_in_a_Bottle

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.