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

This 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.

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.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

New Sunspot Emerges and Explodes


Source - Space Weather News for June 1, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

ACTIVE SUNSPOT: On June 1st, a small but surprisingly active sunspot rotated over the sun's eastern limb. In less than 24 hours, it has unleashed nearly a dozen C-class solar flares and hurled a pair of CMEs into space--an impressive display of fireworks. So far, none of the explosions have targeted Earth, but this could change in the days ahead as the active region rotates toward our planet.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Noctilucent Clouds Sighted over Europe


Source - Space Weather News for May 31, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Noctilucent cloud season has begun. Sky watchers in northern Europe are reporting tendrils of electric-blue creeping over the horizon at sunset. These are noctilucent clouds (NLCs), seeded by meteoroids at the edge of space. Typically, they appear in late May and blossom in June and July. In recent years they have been sighted in the USA as far south as Colorado and Utah.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com to learn more about NLCs and how to see them.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Big Picture Science for May 29, 2017 - The Crater Good













Big Picture Science - The Crater Good

ENCORE: It was “one giant leap for mankind,” but the next step forward may require going back.  Yes, back to the moon.  Only this time the hardware may come from China.  Or perhaps Europe.  In fact, it seems that the only developed nation not going lunar is the U.S.

Find out why our pockmarked satellite is such hot real estate, and whether it has the raw materials we’d need to colonize it.  A new theory of how the moon formed may tell us what’s below its dusty surface.

But – before packing your bags – you’ll want to skim Article IX of the U.N. treaty on planetary protection.  We can’t go contaminating any old planetary body, can we?

Guests:
  • James Oberg - Former Space Shuttle Mission Control engineer and space policy expert
  • Clive Neal - Geologist, University of Notre Dame
  • Edward Young - Cosmochemist, geochemist, UCLA
  • Margaret Race - Biologist and research scientist at the SETI Institute

This encore podcast was first released on February 29 2017

Download this encore podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/crater-good

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 27, 2017

Geomagnetic Storm Underway (G2-class)


Source - Space Weather News for May 27, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

G2-CLASS GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A moderately strong G2-class geomagnetic storm is underway on May 27-28 as Earth moves through the wake of a CME that swept past our planet just hours ago. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where deepening autumn darkness favors visibility.

Check Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Big Picture Science for May 22, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad

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:

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.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Aurora Named "Steve"


Source - Space Weather News for May 21, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

AN AURORA NAMED "STEVE": This weekend, a solar wind storm has sparked sightings of a mysterious filamentary aurora named "Steve" over the badlands of Alberta, Canada. Although the form has been seen for many years dancing among ordinary auroras, researchers do not fully understand what causes it. New clues recently emerged when a European Space Agency satellite flew directly through Steve.

The phenomenon is highlighted on today's edition of  Spaceweather.com.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Anthropogenic Space Weather


Source - Space Weather News for May 18, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

ANTHROPOGENIC SPACE WEATHER: A new study just published in the journal Space Science Reviews outlines some of the surprising ways human activity can affect space weather. A key example involves VLF radio waves, which are used to communicate with submarines. These waves have formed an unintentional bubble around our planet, clearing out "killer electrons" from Earth's radiation belts. Learn more on today's edition of Spaceweather.com.

SOLAR WIND STORM PREDICTED: The solar wind around Earth is about to speed up. Velocities could top 700 km/s on May 19th when a stream of gaseous material flowing from a hole the sun's atmosphere reaches our planet. G2-class geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras are possible on May 19th and 20th. Stay tuned to Spaceweather.com for updates.