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.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Big Picture Science for OCT. 05, Talk the Walk





 

  

Big Picture Science - Talk the Walk

Birds and bees do it … and so do fish. In a discovery that highlights the adaptive benefits of walking, scientists have discovered fish that can walk on land. Not fin-flap their bodies, mind you, but ambulate like reptiles.

And speaking of which, new research shows that T Rex, the biggest reptile of them all, wasn’t a sprinter, but could be an efficient hunter by outwalking its prey.

Find out the advantage of legging it, and how human bipedalism stacks up. Not only is walking good for our bodies and brains, but not walking can change your personality and adversely affect your health.

Guests:

  • Hans Larsson – Paleontologist and biologist, and Director of the Redpath Museum at McGill University in Montréal.
  • Shane O’Mara – Neuroscientist and professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College Dublin. He is the author of “In Praise of Walking.”
  • Brooke Flammang – Biologists at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/talk-the-walk

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, September 28, 2020

Big Picture Science for Sep. 28, Mycology Education






 

Big Picture Science - Mycology Education

Beneath our feet is a living network just as complex and extensive as the root systems in a forest. Fungi, which evolved in the oceans, were among the first to colonize the barren continents more than a half-billion years ago. They paved the way for land plants, animals, and (eventually) you.

Think beyond penicillin and pizza, and take a moment to consider these amazing organisms. Able to survive every major extinction, essential as Nature’s decomposers, and the basis of both ale and antibiotics, fungi are essential to life. And their behavior is so complex you’ll be wondering if we shouldn’t call
them intelligent!

Guest:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/mycology-education

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, September 21, 2020

Big Picture Science for Sep. 21, Hubble and Beyond







Big Picture Science - Hubble and Beyond

The universe is not just expanding; it’s accelerating. Supermassive black holes are hunkered down at the center of our galaxy and just about every other galaxy, too. We talk about these and other big discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, now in orbit for 30 years.

But two new next-generation telescopes will soon be joining Hubble: the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. Hear what cosmic puzzles they’ll address. Plus, life in a clean room while wearing a coverall “bunny suit”; what it takes to assemble a telescope.

Guests: 

  • Meg Urry – Professor of physics and astronomy, Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Yale University
  • John Grunsfeld – Former NASA Associate Administrator, and astronaut
  • Kenneth Harris – Senior Project Engineer, Aerospace Corporation


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/hubble-and-beyond

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, September 15, 2020

Big Picture Science for Sep. 14, Life on Venus?







Big Picture Science - Life on Venus?

Have scientists found evidence of life on Venus? Known for its scorching temperatures and acidic atmosphere, Earth’s twin hardly seems a promising place for living things. But could a discovery of phosphine by researchers at MIT point to a high-altitude biosphere on this nearby world?

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/life-on-venus

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, September 07, 2020

Big Picture Science for Sep. 07, Space: Why Go There?


 

 

 

 

 

Big Picture Science - Space: Why Go There?

(Repeat) It takes a lot of energy and technology to leave terra firma. But why rocket into space when there’s so much to be done on Earth? From the practical usefulness of satellites to the thrill of exploring other worlds, let us count the ways.

The launch of a NOAA weather satellite to join its twin provides unparalleled observation of storms, wildfires, and even lightning. Find out what it’s like to watch hurricanes form from space.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen countries want their own satellites to help solve real-world problems, including tracking disease. Learn how one woman is helping make space accessible to everyone.

Plus, now that we’ve completed our grand tour of the Solar System, which bodies are targets for return missions and which for human exploration?

Guests: 

  • Sarah Cruddas – Space journalist, broadcaster, and author based in the U.K. 
  • Jamese Sims – GOES-R Project Manager at NOAA 
  • Danielle Wood – Assistant professor, MIT Media Lab, Director of the Space Enabled Research Group 
  • Jim Green – NASA Planetary Science Division Director 
 
This repeat podcast was previously released on March 5, 2018

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/space-why-go-there

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, August 31, 2020

Big Picture Science for Aug 31, Home Invasions

 







 

Big Picture Science - Home Invasions

As we struggle to control a viral invader that moves silently across the globe and into its victims, we are also besieged by other invasions. Murder hornets have descended upon the Pacific Northwest, threatening the region’s honeybees. In Africa, locust swarms darken the sky. In this episode, we draw on a
classic science fiction tale to examine the nature of invasions, and what prompts biology to go on the move.

Guests: 

  • Peter Ksander – Associate professor at Reed College in the Department of Theater. Producer of the spring 2020 production of War of the Worlds
  • Eva Licht – A senior at Reed College, and producer and director of War of the Worlds
  • Chris Looney – Entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, where he manages its general entomology laboratory
  • Nipun Basrur – Neurobiologist at The Rockefeller University
  • Amy Maxmen – Reporter at the journal Nature, in which her story about pandemic war games appeared.


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/home-invasions

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, August 24, 2020

Big Picture Science for Aug 24, The X-Flies

 






 

Big Picture Science - The X-Flies

Insect populations are declining. But before you say “good riddance,” consider that insects are the cornerstone of many ecosystems. They are dinner for numerous animal species and are essential pollinators. Mammals are loved, but they are not indispensable. Insects are.

Meanwhile, marvel at the extraordinary capabilities of some insects. The zany aerial maneuvers of the fly are studied by pilots.  And, contrary to the bad press, cockroaches are very clean creatures. Also, take a listen as we host some Madagascar hissing cockroaches in our studio (yes, they audibly hiss).

Plus, how insects first evolved … and the challenges in controlling lethal ones. Are genetically-engineering mosquitoes the best way to combat malaria?

Guests:

  • Erica McAlister – Entomologist, Senior Curator of diptera in the Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum in London, author of “The Secret Life of Flies
  • Jessica Ware – Evolutionary biologist and entomologist at Rutgers University
  • Anthony James – Vector biologist, University of California, Irvine
  • Lauren Esposito – Arachnologist, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco


This repeat podcast was previously released on March 19, 2018

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/x-flies

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, August 17, 2020

Big Picture Science for Aug 17, Skeptic Check: Worrier Mentality






 

 

Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Worrier Mentality

(Repeat) Poisonous snakes, lightning strikes, a rogue rock from space.  There are plenty of scary things to fret about, but are we burning adrenaline on the right ones?  Stepping into the bathtub is more dangerous than flying from a statistical point of view, but no one signs up for “fear of showering” classes.

Find out why we get tripped up by statistics, worry about the wrong things, and how the “intelligence trap” not only leads smart people to make dumb mistakes, but actually causes them to make more.

Guests:  


This repeat podcast was previously released on May 27, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-worrier-mentality

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, August 10, 2020

Big Picture Science for Aug 10, Math's Paths

 

 





 

Big Picture Science - Math's Paths

(Repeat) If you bake, you can appreciate math’s transformative properties.  Admiring the stackable potato chip is to admire a hyperbolic sheet.  Find out why there’s no need to fear math - you just need to think outside the cuboid.  Also, how nature’s geometric shapes inspire the next generation of squishy robots and an argument for radically overhauling math class.  The end point of these common factors is acute show that’s as fun as eating Pi.

Guests: 


This repeat podcast was previously released on July 15, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/maths-paths

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, August 04, 2020

Big Picture Science for Aug 3, On Thin Ice














Big Picture Science - On Thin Ice

(Repeat) Water is essential for life – that we know. But the honeycomb lattice that forms when you chill it to zero degrees Celsius is also inexorably intertwined with life.

Ice is more than a repository for water that would otherwise raise sea levels. It’s part of Earth’s cooling system, a barrier preventing decaying organic matter from releasing methane gas, and a vault entombing ancient bacteria and other microbes.

From the Arctic to the Antarctic, global ice is disappearing. Find out what’s at stake as atmospheric CO2 threatens frozen H2O.

Guests:
  • Peter Wadhams - Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University in the U.K. and the author of A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic
  • Eric Rignot - Earth systems scientist, University of California, Irving, senior research scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Åsmund Asdal - Biologist, Nordic Genetic Resource Center, coordinator for operations and management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Svalbard, Norway
  • John Priscu - Polar biologist, Montana State University

This repeat podcast was previously released on August 14, 2017

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/on-thin-ice

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, July 27, 2020

Big Picture Science for July 27, Skeptic Check: Know-It-Alls
















Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Know-It-All

Think you’re some kind of expert? Join the club. It’s one thing to question authority; another to offer up your untrained self as its replacement. Rebellion may be a cherished expression of American individualism, but, from sidelining Dr. Fauci to hiding public health data, find out what we lose when we silence health experts and “go with our gut” during a pandemic. Plus, from ancestors to algorithms: how we’ve replaced credentialed experts with sketchy web sites and social media posts.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-know-it-alls

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, July 26, 2020

Big Picture Science for July 20, Something in the Air














Big Picture Science - Something in the Air

Inhale. Now exhale. Notice anything different? Our response to the virus is changing the air in unexpected ways. A pandemic-driven pause on travel has produced clear skies and a world-wide air quality experiment. And a new study reveals that hundreds of tons of microplastics are raining down on us each day.

But we can improve the quality of the breaths we do take; engineers have devised a high-tech mask that may kill coronavirus on contact. Plus, although you do it 25,000 times a day, you may not be breathing properly. Nose-breathing vs mouth breathing: getting the ins-and-outs of respiration.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/something-in-the-air

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.