Sunday, January 22, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 23, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart

She’s among the most famous missing persons in history.  On the eightieth anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, mystery still shrouds her fate.  What happened during the last leg of her round-the-world trek?

Theories abound.  Perhaps she ran out of fuel, and plunged into the ocean … or was captured by the Japanese.  A non-profit international organization, TIGHAR, suggests she was a castaway, and offers up a new analysis of bones found on a Pacific atoll during the time of the Second World War. Their researchers will return to this possible landing spot to seek more clues this summer.

We consider these theories and weigh the new evidence surrounding Earhart’s puzzling last flight.  Also, why are we uncomfortable with open-ended mysteries?

Guests:
  • Andrew McKenna – Researcher with TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery)
  • Claire Maldarelli – Editor at Popular Science Magazine
  • Andrew Maynard – Director of the Risk Innovation Lab, Arizona State University
  • John Norberg – Journalist and former writer on air and space for Purdue University

This postcast will be released 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.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Radiation "Clouds" Detected at Aviation Altitudes


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 20, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

RADIATION CLOUDS AT AVIATION ALTITUDES: A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Space Weather reports the discovery of radiation "clouds" at aviation altitudes. When airplanes fly through these clouds, dose rates of cosmic radiation normally absorbed by air travelers can double or more. 

Get the full story on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

High-latitude Aurora Alert


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 17, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

HIGH-LATITUDE AURORA ALERT: A large crescent-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere is facing Earth, and it is spewing a stream of high-speed solar wind. NOAA forecasters say there is a 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when the solar wind arrives, probably on Jan. 18th. Sky watchers around the Arctic Circle can expect bright auroras in the nights ahead. 

Learn more on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 16, 2017 - Geology is Destiny












Big Picture Science - Geology is Destiny

The record of the rocks is not just the history of Earth; it’s your history too.  Geologists can learn about events going back billions of years that influenced – and even made possible – our present-day existence and shaped our society.

If the last Ice Age had been a bit warmer, the rivers and lakes of the Midwest would have been much farther north and the U.S. might still be a small country of 13 states.  If some Mediterranean islands hadn’t twisted a bit, no roads would have led to Rome.

Geology is big history, and the story is on-going.  Human activity is changing the planet too, and has introduced its own geologic era, the Anthropocene.  Will Earthlings of a hundred million years from now dig up our plastic refuse and study it the way we study dinosaur bones?

Plus, the dodo had the bad luck to inhabit a small island and couldn’t adapt to human predators.  But guess what?  It wasn’t as dumb as you think.

Guests:

Download postcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/geology-destiny

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, January 12, 2017

Sunspot Numbers Crashing in 2017


Source - Space Weather News for Jan. 12, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

SUNSPOTS VANISH: So far this year, the sun has been blank more than 90% of the time. Only one very tiny sunspot observed for a few hours on Jan. 3rd interrupted a string of spotless days from New Year's through Jan. 11th. To find a similar sequence of blank suns, we have to go back to May of 2010, almost 7 years ago. What does this mean? Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for the full story.

SPACE WEATHER CONTINUES: No sunspots? No problem. Observers around the Arctic Circle are still observing magnificent auroras. A new apparition is possible on Jan. 12th or 13th when a narrow stream of solar wind is expected to brush against Earth's magnetic field. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of polar geomagnetic storms. Monitor the realtime aurora gallery for sightings.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 09, 2017 - No Face to Hide












Big Picture Science -  No Face to Hide

ENCORE: Face it – your mug is not entirely yours.  It’s routinely uploaded to social media pages and captured on CCTV cameras with – and without – your consent.  Sophisticated facial recognition technology can identify you and even make links to your personal data.  There are few places where you’re safe from scrutiny.
  
Find out how a computer analyzes the geometry of a face and why even identical twins don’t fool its discerning gaze.  Proponents say that biometrics are powerful tools to stop crime, but the lack of regulation concerns privacy groups.  Do you want to be identified – and your habits tracked – whenever you step outside? 
 
Plus, astronomy meets forensics.  How analyzing photos and paintings using weather records, sky charts, and phases of the moon help solve intriguing mysteries, including the history of an iconic V.J. Day photo.
 
Guests:
  • Donald Olson – Physicist, astronomer, Texas State University
  • Marios Savvides – Computer engineer, Director, CyLab Biometrics Center, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Alvaro Bedoya – Executive director, Center on Privacy and Technology, Georgetown Law

This encore podcast was first released on September 21, 2015

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/no-face-to-hide

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, January 01, 2017

Big Picture Science for Monday January 02, 2017 - The Light Stuff












Big Picture Science - The Light Stuff

ENCORE: The light bulb needs changing.  Edison’s incandescent bulb, virtually unaltered for more than a century, is now being eclipsed by the LED.  The creative applications for these small and efficient devices are endless: on tape, on wallpaper, even in contact lenses.  They will set the world aglow.  But is a brighter world a better one?

Discover the many ingenious applications for LEDs and the brilliance of the 19th century scientist, James Clerk Maxwell, who first discovered just what light is.  But both biologists and astronomers are alarmed by the disappearance of dark.   Find out how light pollution is making us and other animals sick and – when was the last time you saw a starry night?

Guests:
  • Ian Ferguson – Engineer, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Jay Neitz – Professor, department of ophthalmology, University of Washington
  • Martin Hendry – Professor, gravitational astrophysics and cosmology, University of Glasgow
  • John Barentine  – Program manager, International Dark Sky Association

This encore podcast was first released on August 24, 2015

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/the-light-stuff

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, December 31, 2016

Rare Clouds Forming in the Stratosphere


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

POLAR STRATOSPHERIC CLOUDS: Earth's stratosphere is normally free of clouds. Not this weekend, though. Observers around the Arctic Circle are reporting an outbreak of brilliantly-colored polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). Some PSCs are associated with the destruction of ozone and can even cause regional ozone holes. The clouds observers are seeing now are so beautiful, they rival the auroras as must-see wonders of the Arctic.

Learn more on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Strange Sounds from Auroras Recorded in Sweden


Source -Space Weather News for Dec. 30, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

AURORA SOUNDS IN SWEDEN: The idea that auroras make noise has long been controversial.  However, whole groups of listeners in northern Sweden have recently heard strange sounds during magnetic storms.  On Christmas night, an aurora tour guide recorded the audio using his iPhone--and it sounds like Star Wars blaster fire. 

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

HERE COMES THE SOLAR WIND (AGAIN): 2016 might get one more blast of Arctic auroras before the year is over.  Another stream of solar wind is heading for Earth, and it could arrive before New Year's Eve. Monitor the realtime aurora gallery for sightings.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Spotless Sun Sparks Unusual Pink Auroras


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

SPOTLESS SUN SPARKS PINK AURORAS: For the past three days and nights, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle have witnessed a strange display of pink and white auroras. Many veteran observers say they've never seen anything quite like it.  Stranger still, the display was ignited by a completely blank sun. No sunspots were involved. What's going on? 

Pictures and an explanation are highlighted on today's edition of Spaceweather.com

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday December 26, 2016 - The Fix is In












Big Picture Science - The Fix is In

ENCORE: The moon jellyfish has remarkable approach to self-repair.  If it loses a limb, it rearranges its remaining body parts to once again become radially symmetric.  Humans can’t do that, but a new approach that combines biology with nanotechnology could give our immune systems a boost.  Would you drink a beaker of nanobots if they could help you fight cancer?

Also, materials science gets into self-healing with a novel concrete that fixes its own cracks.

Plus, why even the most adaptive systems can be stretched to their limit.  New research suggests that the oceans will take a millennium to recover from climate change. 
 
Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on August 03, 2015

Download this podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/fixisin

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, December 21, 2016

Solstice Geomagnetic Storm


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

SOLSTICE GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Around the Arctic Circle, the longest night of the year has arrived with perfect timing. A high-speed stream of solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 21st (the northern winter solstice) filling the long hours of darkness with Northern Lights. At the time of this alert, a moderately strong G2-class geomagnetic storm is underway, and more storms are in the offing. Flowing from a huge hole in the sun's atmosphere, this solar wind stream is broad. Earth could take days to cross it.

Check Spaceweather.com for updates.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Auroras for Christmas?


Source - Space Weather News for Dec. 19, 2016: http://spaceweather.com

AURORAS FOR CHRISTMAS? Earth is about to enter a solar wind stream flowing from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere. Polar G1-class geomagnetic storms are expected to begin on Dec. 21st with magnetic unrest continuing through Dec. 25th as Earth slowly crosses the broad stream of solar wind. Santa, be alert for Northern Lights!

Updates and aurora sightings may be found on Spaceweather.com

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday December 19, 2016 - Skeptic Check: Fear Itself












Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Fear Itself

ENCORE: Shhh.  Is someone coming? Okay, we’ll make this quick.  There are a lot of scary things going on in the world.  Naturally you’re fearful.  But sometimes fear has a sister emotion: suspicion.  A nagging worry about what’s really going on. You know, the stuff they aren’t telling you.  Don’t share this, but we have evidence that both our fear response and our tendency to believe conspiracy theories are evolutionarily adaptive.

A sociologist who studies fear tells us why we’re addicted to its thrill when we control the situation, and how the media exploit our fear of losing control to keep us on edge.  Plus, we examine some alien “cover-ups” and discover why it’s not just the tinfoil hat crowd that falls for outrageous plots.

It’s Skeptic Check …. but you didn’t hear it from us!

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on December 21, 2015

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-fear-itself

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, December 11, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday December 12, 2016 - Are Animals Really That Smart?












Big Picture Science - Are Animals Really That Smart?

You own a cat, or is it vice versa?  Family friendly felines have trained their owners to do their bidding.  Thanks to a successful evolutionary adaptation, they rule your house.

Find out how your cat has you wrapped around its paw.  And it’s not the only animal to outwit us.  Primatologist Frans de Waal shares the surprising intellectual capabilities of chimps, elephants, and bats.  In fact, could it be that we’re simply not smart enough to see how smart animals are?

Plus, the discovery of a fossilized dinosaur brain.  Were those lumbering lizards more clever than we thought?

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/are-animals-really-smart

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.