Monday, January 18, 2021

Big Picture Science for Jan. 18, Supercomputer Showdown







Big Picture Science - Supercomputer Showdown

Do you have a hard-to-answer question? The Summit, Sierra, Trinity, Frontier, and Aurora supercomputers are built to tackle it. Summit tops the petaflop heap – at least for now. But Frontier and Aurora are catching up as they take aim at a new performance benchmark called exascale.

So why do we need all this processing power? From climate modeling to personalized medicine, find out why the super-est computers are necessary to answer our biggest questions. But is the dark horse candidate, quantum computing, destined to leave classical computing in the dust?

Guests:

  • Katherine Riley - Director of Science, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Jack Wells - Director of Science, Oak Ridge National Laboratory National Center for Computational Sciences
  • Katie Bethea - Communications Team Lead, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Jeffrey Hawkins - Technologist and neuroscientist.  Co-founder of Palm, Handspring and Numenta
  • Eleanor Rieffel - Mathematician, NASA Ames Research Center, and co-author of “Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor,” published in Nature magazine

This repeat podcast originally aired on November 4, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/supercomputer-showdown

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, January 11, 2021

Big Picture Science for Jan. 11, Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Betting on Pseudoscience

(Repeat) Psychics may not be able to predict the future or sense your thoughts. Nonetheless, they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. But the harm from pseudoscience can go far beyond your wallet – especially when it promotes unscientific treatments for serious disease. Find out what alarming
discovery led one naturopath to quit her practice and why scientific ignorance is not bliss.

It’s our regular look at critical thinking, but don’t take our word for it.

Guests:

  • Robert Palmer – Member of the Guerilla Skeptics on the Wikipedia editing team and columnist for the Skeptical Inquirer on-line magazine
  • Lee McIntyre – Research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and lecturer on ethics at Harvard Extension School
  • Britt Marie Hermes – Former naturopath doctor; now doctoral student in evolutionary genetics at the University of Kiel, Germany

This repeat podcast originally aired on November 25, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-betting-on-pseudoscience

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.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Big Picture Science for Jan. 04, Headed For Trouble







Big Picture Science - Headed For Trouble

The stone heads on Easter Island are an enduring mystery: why were they built and why were they abandoned and destroyed? The old ideas about cultural collapse are yielding to new ones based on careful investigation on the ground - but also from above. What surprising explanations have we found and are we off base to think that ancient societies such as the Easter Islanders or the classical Egyptians were, in the end, failures? Can what we learn from these histories help predict which societies will survive?

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on September 30, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/for-good-measure

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, December 28, 2020

Big Picture Science for Dec. 28, For Good Measure






 

Big Picture Science - For Good Measure
 

(Repeat) The reign of Le Grand K has come to an end. After 130 years, this hunk of metal sitting in a Parisian vault will no longer define the kilogram. The new kilogram mass will be defined by Planck’s constant, joining three other units for redefinition by fundamental constants.  But as we measure with increasing
precision – from cesium atomic clocks to gravity waves 1000th the width of a proton – is something fundamental lost along the way?  Meanwhile, the BiPiSci team accepts the banana-measurement challenge.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on September 9, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/for-good-measure

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, December 21, 2020

Big Picture Science for Dec. 21, Handling the Holidays







Big Picture Science - Handling the Holidays

(Repeat) The stress of the holidays can make you want to hide under the covers with a warm cup of cocoa.  From gift buying to family gatherings, the holidays can feel like being inside a pressure cooker.  But don’t despair!  Science can help make the holidays a little brighter, from some gift-giving tips from our animal friends to embracing pessimism before a challenging social event to stopping that annoying merry melody on repeat in your head.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on December 23, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/handling-the-holidays

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, December 14, 2020

Big Picture Science for Dec. 14, Fire Clouds and Ice-teroids






 

Big Picture Science - Fire Clouds and Ice-teroids

Small bodies will hit the big time next year; a sample return from asteroid Bennu and the launch of both the DART and Lucy missions could unravel puzzles about the formation of the solar system, as well teach us how to deflect any asteroids headed our way. Meanwhile, the Juno mission to Jupiter has
shown us its hard-to-study poles, where swirling gas and magnetic fields rule. On Earth, warmer temperatures threaten peat bog biodiversity and the structure of the Arctic. And massive wildfires have sent soot circling the globe. They’re all highlights from the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Guests:

  • Steve Levin – Project Scientist for NASA’s Juno mission
  • Christopher Fernandez – Research associate, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University
  • Mike Fromm – Meteorologist, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
  • Nancy Chabot – Nancy Chabot is a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and DART mission coordination lead
  • Tom Statler – Program scientist on the Lucy mission in the planetary science division and planetary defense coordination office at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/fire-clouds-and-ice-teroids

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, December 07, 2020

Big Picture Science for Dec. 07, Skeptic Check: Shroom with a View






 

Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Shroom with a View

Magic mushrooms – or psilocybin - may be associated with tripping hippies and Woodstock, but they are now being studied as new treatments for depression and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Is this Age of Aquarius medicine or something that could really work? Plus, the centuries-long use of psychedelics by indigenous peoples, and a discovery in California’s Pinwheel Cave offers new clues about the relationship between hallucinogens and cave art.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-shroom-with-a-view

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, November 30, 2020

Big Picture Science for Nov. 30, Bare Bones




 

 

 

Big Picture Science - Bare Bones

You may not feel that your skeleton does very much. But without it you’d be a limp bag of protoplasm, unable to move.  And while you may regard bones as rigid and inert, they are living tissue.

Bones are also time capsules, preserving much of your personal history. Find out how evolutionary biologists, forensic anthropologists, and even radiation scientists read them.

And why won’t your dog stop gnawing on that bone?

Guests:

  • Brian Switek – Pen name of Riley Black, Author of “Skeleton Keys: the Secret Life of Bone.”
  • Ann Ross – Forensic anthropologist at North Carolina State University.  Her lab is the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Stanley Coren – Professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and author of many books about canine behavior including, “Why Does My Dog Act That Way?
  • Doug Brugge – Professor and chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/bare-bones

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, November 23, 2020

Big Picture Science for Nov. 23, Into the Deep







Big Picture Science - Into the Deep

Have you ever heard worms arguing? Deep-sea scientists use hydrophones to eavesdrop on “mouth-fighting worms.” It’s one of the many ways scientists are trying to catalog the diversity of the deep oceans — estimated to be comparable to a rain forest.

But the clock is ticking. While vast expanses of the deep sea are still unexplored, mining companies are ready with dredging vehicles to strip mine the seafloor, potentially destroying rare and vulnerable ecosystems. Are we willing to eradicate an alien landscape that we haven’t yet visited?

Guests:

  • Craig McClain - deep-sea and evolutionary biologist and ecologist, Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
  • Steve Haddock - senior scientist at the Monetary Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and co-author of a New York Times op-ed about the dangers of mining.
  • Emily Hall - marine chemist at the Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida
  • Chong Chen - deep sea biologist with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/into-the-deep

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, November 16, 2020

Big Picture Science for Nov. 16, Sex Post Facto







Big Picture Science - Sex Post Facto

Birds do it, bees do it, but humans may not do it for much longer.  At least not for having children. Relying on sex to reproduce could be supplanted by making babies in the lab, where parents-to-be can select genomes that will ensure ideal physical and behavioral traits.

Men hoping to be fathers should act sooner rather than later. These same advancements in biotechnology could allow women to fertilize their own eggs, making the need for male sperm obsolete.

Meanwhile, some animals already reproduce asexually. Find out how female African bees can opt to shut out male bees intent on expanding the hive.

Will engineering our offspring have a down side? Sex creates vital genetic diversity, as demonstrated by evolution of wild animals in urban areas. Find out how birds, rodents and insects use sex in the city to adapt and thrive.

Guests:

  • Menno Schilthuizen  – Biologist and ecologist, at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Leiden University in The Netherlands. His New York Times op-ed, “Evolution is Happening Faster Than We Thought,” is here.
  • Matthew Webster –  Evolutionary biologist, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Hank Greely – Law professor and ethicist, Stanford University, who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of biomedical technologies. His book is “The End of Sex and The Future of Reproduction.”

This repeat podcast originally aired on September 19, 2016

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/sex-post-facto

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, November 09, 2020

Big Picture Science for Nov. 09, Time Travel Agents






 

Big Picture Science - Time Travel Agents

(Repeat) Hey, let’s meet last week for coffee. Okay, we can’t meet in the past… yet. But could it be only a matter of time before we can? In an attempt to defy the grandfather paradox, scientists try sending a photon back in time to destroy itself.

Also, find out how teleportation allows particles to instantaneously skip through space-time and why sending humans wouldn’t violate the laws of physics.

But before you pack your bags for that instantaneous trip to Paris, we need to understand the nature of time. A physicist offers a testable theory and ponders how it bears on free will.

Plus, feel as if time comes to a standstill when you’re standing in line? Tricks for altering your perception of time while you wait. Some businesses already use them on you.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on October 17, 2016

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/time-travel-agents

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, November 02, 2020

Big Picture Science for Nov. 02, The Other Living World

 





 

Big Picture Science - The Other Living World

(Repeat) Reason for hope is just one thing that ecologist Carl Safina can offer.  He understands why many of us turn to nature to find solace during this stressful time. Safina studies the challenges facing the ultimate survival of many species, but also gives a portrait of animals from their point of view. He describes how diverse animals such as sperm whales, bear cubs, macaws, and chickens deal with uncertainty, and assert their quirky individuality while learning to become part of a community. So is it possible for us to reconnect not just with humanity, but also with the other living world?

Guest:


This repeat podcast originally aired on April 13, 2020

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/the-other-living-world

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, October 26, 2020

Big Picture Science for OCT. 26, Skeptic Check: Stay Skeptical







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Stay Skeptical

Whether you call it hooey, codswallop, or malarky, misinformation is not what it used to be. It’s harder to spot now. New-school BS is often cloaked in the trappings of math, science, and statistics. Can you identify which tweets about a new COVID study are fraudulent? Plus, deceptive on-line
advertisements that relentlessly beg for our attention. All in all, it’s a jungle out there. We have tips for getting through it.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-stay-skeptical

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, October 19, 2020

Big Picture Science for OCT. 19, What’s a Few Degrees?







Big Picture Science - What’s a Few Degrees?

Brace yourself for heatwave “Lucifer.” Dangerous deadly heatwaves may soon be so common that we give them names, just like hurricanes. This is one of the dramatic consequences of just a few degrees rise in average temperatures.

Also coming: Massive heat “blobs” that form in the oceans and damage marine life, and powerful windstorms called “derechos” pummeling the Midwest.

Plus, are fungal pathogens adapting to hotter temperatures and breaching the 98.6 F thermal barrier that keeps them from infecting us?

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/whats-few-degrees

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, October 12, 2020

Big Picture Science for OCT. 12, Geology is Destiny







Big Picture Science - Geology is Destiny

(Repeat) 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:


This repeat podcast was previously released on January 16, 2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/geology-is-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.