Monday, August 29, 2016

Cosmic Rays in Earth's Atmosphere are Intensifying

Soruce - Space Weather News for Aug. 29, 2016:

COSMIC RAYS IN THE ATMOSPHERE:'s high-altitude balloon program has just released another six months of radiation data. They show that cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere are intensifying, continuing a trend that began more than a year ago.  Visit to learn why and to find out about the down-to-Earth consequences of cosmic radiation.

CHINESE QUANTUM PHYSICS SATELLITE: Did you know? Earlier this month, China launched a quantum physics satellite designed to beam un-hackable messages to Earth and test exotic theories such as quantum teleportation. An amazing photo featured on today's edition of shows the quantum satellite at work. Check it out.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday August 29, 2016 - DIY Diagnosis

Big Picture Science - DIY Diagnosis

Got aches and pains?  Critters in the Cretaceous would have been sympathetic.  A new study reveals that painful arthritis plagued a duck-billed dinosaur.  Scientists impressively diagnosed the animal’s condition without a house call by examining its 70 million-year old bones.

The technology we use for health diagnoses are becoming so sophisticated, some people are prompted to bypass doctors and do it themselves.  Meet a man who had his genome sequenced and then had all 70 gigabytes delivered directly to him so that he could gauge his genetic health.

Also, practitioners who are trying to improve cognitive function using a battery and a few wires.   Find out the possible risks and benefits of DIY brain stimulation.

  • Jennifer Anne - Recent graduate, University of Manchester, studies injuries and diseases in dinosaurs.
  • Carl Zimmer - Science writer, author.  National correspondent for STAT, an online magazine that reports on the frontiers of science and medicine.  His weekly column “Matter,” appears in the New York Times.
  • Peter Simpson-Young - A graduate student at the University of Sydney studying neuroscience.
  • Anna Wexler - Neuroethicist and PhD candidate in the History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society program at MIT.

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You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Spectacular Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 27, 2016:

SPECTACULAR CONJUNCTION: This weekend, Jupiter and Venus are having a spectacular conjunction in the sunset sky. Separated by only a fraction of a degree, the two brightest planets almost look like they're going to touch. This heavenly meeting is easy to see from the southern hemisphere, but much more challenging from the north.

Visit for more information and the latest images.


Bright planets over Brisbane, Australia, on Aug. 27, 2016. Photo credit: Stephen Mudge.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Auroras Mixing with Twilight around the Arctic Circle

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 23, 2016:

AURORAS VS. TWILIGHT: A G1-class geomagnetic storm on Aug. 23-34 has sparked late summer auroras around the Arctic Circle, mixing twilight-blue with aurora-green.  It's a palette of rare beauty, which you can only see at this time of year.  Visit for photos and updates about the ongoing storm.

A SPACE WEATHER BALLOON OVER THE ANDES: Over the past three days, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have launched multiple space weather balloons from sites spanning 3 countries, two continents, and more than 10,000 miles.  It's a giant radiation experiment to measure how well Earth's atmosphere protects us from cosmic rays.  A highlight so far comes from Chile, where a balloon was launched near the South Atlantic Anomaly. Radiation measurements have not yet been reduced, but photography of the space weather payload soaring more than 120,000 feet over the Andes is spectacular. 

Visit for pictures and more information about this experiment.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday August 22, 2016 - They Know Who You Are

Big Picture Science - They Know Who You Are

ENCORE: You’re a private person. But as long as you’re on-line and have skin and hair, you’re shedding little bits of data and DNA everywhere you go. Find out how that personal information – whether or not it’s used against you – is no longer solely your own. Are your private thoughts next?

A security expert shares stories of ingenious computer hacking … a forensic scientist develops tools to create a mug shot based on a snippet of DNA … and from the frontiers of neuroscience: mind reading may no longer be the stuff of sketchy psychics.


This encore podcast was first released on May 18, 2015

Download this podcast at:

You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Giant Bolt of "Space Lightning" Sighted over China

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 16, 2016:

SPACE LIGHTNING OVER CHINA: While photographing the Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 13th, a sky watcher in China captured rare images of a "gigantic jet" leaping out of a thundercloud. The luminous purple and red structure stretched its tentacles almost to the edge of space before vanishing in full view of dozens of onlookers. 

Visit for photos and more information about this phenomenon.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday August 15, 2016 - Are We Over the Moon?

Big Picture Science - Are We Over the Moon?

When astronaut Gene Cernan stepped off the moon in 1972, he didn’t think he’d be the last human ever to touch its surface.  But no one’s been back.  Hear astronaut Cernan’s reaction to being the last man on the moon, the reasons why President Kennedy launched the Apollo program, and why Americans haven’t returned.

Now other countries – and companies – are vying for a bigger piece of the space pie. Find out who – or what – will be visiting and even profiting.  Will the moon become an important place to make money?

Plus, the moon landing was a great step for “a man,” and “men not machines” make space history.  But what about women?  More than a dozen were qualified for space flight in the early 1960s.  Hear from one of these original “Mercury 13,” and find out why NASA grounded them.


  • Gene Cernan – Retired American naval officer, former NASA Astronaut.
  • John Logsdon – Professor emeritus, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University
  • Al Hallonquist – Aerospace historian
  • Robert Richards – Founder and CEO of Moon Express
  • Sarah Ratley – Former pilot, member of the "Mercury 13"
  • Dan Durda – Planetary scientist, Southwest Research Institute.

This postcast downloaded at:

You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday August 08, 2016 - Skeptic Check: After the Hereafter

ENCORE: There are few enduring truths, but one is that no one gets out of life alive. What’s less certain is what comes next. Does everything stop with death, or are we transported to another plane of existence? First-hand accounts of people who claim to have visited heaven are offered as proof of an afterlife. Now the author of one bestseller admits that his story was fabricated.

We’ll look at the genre of “heaven tourism” to see if it has anything to say about the possible existence of the hereafter, and why the idea of an afterlife seriously influences how we live our lives on Earth.

Also, a neurologist describes what is going on in the brain during near-death and other out-of-body experiences.

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


This encore podcast was first released on Monday 25 May 2015

Download podcast at:

You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Perseid Meteor Outburst

Source - Space Weather News for August 7, 2016:

PERSEID METEOR OUTBURST: Do you love the Perseid meteor shower?  This year, you will love it even more. Forecasters say the 2016 Perseids should be twice as active as usual, filling the sky with 200+ meteors per hour on peak nights between Aug. 11th and 13th.  This is happening because Earth is heading for an unusually rich stream of debris from parent comet Swift-Tuttle.

Visit for sky maps, observing tips, and links to live webcasts of the Perseid outburst.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Sun Swallows a Comet

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 3, 2016:

THE SUN IS SWALLOWING A COMET: One of the brightest sungrazing comets of the last 20 years is plunging toward the sun and vaporizing furiously. The icy visitor from the outer solar system may only have hours left to "live."

Visit for photos and updates.

Magnetic Storm Sparks Summertime Auroras

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 3, 2016:

SUMMERTIME AURORAS: As expected, a high-speed stream of solar wind (with a CME embedded in the flow) hit Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of Aug. 2nd.  The resulting G1-class geomagnetic storm sparked bright auroras across countries in Europe as well as several northern-tier US states.  The show might not be over. NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of similar storms on August 3rd as Earth continues to feel the effects of the solar wind. 

Visit for photos and more information.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Geomagnetic Storm Warning for Aug. 2nd

Source - Space Weather News for July 31, 2016:
GEOMAGNETIC STORM WARNING: NOAA forecasters estimate a 65% chance of geomagnetic storms on Aug. 2nd when a CME is expected to strike Earth's magnetic field.  A solar wind stream following close on the heels of the CME could boost storm levels to G2 (moderately strong). High latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. 

Visit for updates and more information.

Big Picture Science for Monday August 01, 2016 - On Defense

Big Picture Science - On Defense

The military is a dangerous calling.  But technology can help out, so researchers are constantly trying to make soldiers safer.  Writer Mary Roach investigates how scientists studying so-called human factors are protecting troops from such aggressive foes as heat, noise, and fatigue.  She also learns how bad odors were once considered a secret weapon.

And while soldiers have long used camouflage to help them blend in, insects may be the original masters of disguise.  A discovery in fossilized amber shows that a variety of bugs employed D.I.Y. camouflaging tricks 100 million years ago.

But where is the defense race headed?  The top-secret branch of the Pentagon whose job is to make tomorrow happen today has some ideas.  A reporter shares DARPA’s plan for augmented super-soldiers.

Plus, do we always need a technological boost to stay safe?  Find out how your innate chemical defense system protects you.  It’s an adrenaline rush!


Download podcast at:

You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chinese Rocket Disintegrates over the USA

Source - Space Weather News for July 28, 2016:

CHINESE ROCKET DISINTEGRATES OVER THE USA: The body of an experimental Long March 7 rocket (a type of rocket expected to play a key role in the construction of a future Chinese space station) disintegrated in the atmosphere above the western USA last night.  The glowing trail was spotted from Utah, Nevada, and much of California. 

Visit for photos, video and more information.

THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER IS BEGINNING: Earth is entering the outskirts of a broad stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters don't expect the shower to peak until Aug.11-13, but already NASA cameras are detecting Perseid fireballs streaking across the night sky as the shower slowly intensifies.

Visit to see the first Perseid of 2016.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Big Picture Science for Monday July 25, 2016 - Musical Universe

Big Picture Science - Musical Universe

In space, no one can hear you scream, but, using the right instruments, scientists can pick up all types of cosmic vibrations – the sort we can turn into sound.  After a decade of listening, LIGO, a billion-dollar physics experiment, has detected gravitational waves caused by the collision of massive black holes, a brief shaking of spacetime that can be translated into a short squeal. 
We listen to the chirp of black holes crashing into each other and wonder: could the universe contain more than individual sounds, but have actual musical structure? 
A theoretical physicist and jazz saxophonist updates the ancient philosophical concept of the Music of the Spheres to probe the most vexing questions confronting modern cosmology.  Find out how the evolution of the universe resembles an improvisational jazz piece, and the musical inspiration John Coltrane drew from Albert Einstein.

Download podcast at:

You can listen to this and other episodes at, and be sure to check out Blog Picture Science, the companion blog to the radio show.