Sunday, August 30, 2015

Big Picture Science for Monday 31 August 2015 - What Lies Beneath

Big Picture Science - What Lies Beneath

What you can’t see may astound you.  The largest unexplored region of Earth is the ocean.  Beneath its churning surface, oceanographers have recently discovered the largest volcano in the world – perhaps in the solar system.
Find out what is known – and yet to be discovered – about the marine life of the abyss, and how a fish called the bristlemouth has grabbed the crown for “most numerous vertebrate on Earth” from the chicken.
Plus, the menace of America’s Cascadia fault, which has the potential to unleash a devastating magnitude 9 earthquake. 
Follow Dr. Sager’s voyage back to Tamu Massif in Fall 2015.

•  Bruce Robison – Deep sea biologist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
•  William Sager – Marine geophysicist, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston
•  Chris Goldfinger  - Marine geologist, geophysicist, paleo-seismologist, Oregon State University

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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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aurora Watch, Aug.27-28

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 27, 2015:

Earth's polar magnetic field is storming as our planet passes through a region of south-pointing magnetism in the solar wind.  Last night (Aug. 26-27), observers around the Arctic Circle saw some of their first auroras in months and Northern Lights descended across the Canadian border into multiple US states.  Solar wind conditions favor more geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras on Aug. 27-28.  Check for more information and updates.

AURORA ALERTS:  Don't sleep through the auroras.  Get a phone call when geomagnetic storms are underway.  Space weather alerts are available from (text) and (voice).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Big Picture Science for Monday 24 August 2015 - The Light Stuff

Big Picture Science - The Light Stuff

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?
•  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

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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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Astronauts see "sprites" and "trolls" from Earth orbit

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 20, 2015:

This month, astronauts onboard the International Space Station have witnessed exotic forms of lightning that reach up from thunderclouds near Earth's surface all the way to the edge of space.  Their photographs of "sprites" and "trolls" dancing over Mexico are a must-see.  These forms can been seen from Earth's surface, too. 

Observing tips and more information are available on today's edition of

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Big Picture Science for Monday 17 August 2015 - Skeptic Check: Skeptic Seth

Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Skeptic Seth

Are you skeptical?  Sure, you raise an eyebrow when some Nigerian prince asks for your bank numbers, or when a breakfast cereal claims that it will turn your kid into a professional athlete overnight.

But what do you really know about the benefits of organic milk?  Or the power of whitening ingredients in your toothpaste?  How credible is what you read on Twitter?

Today, information overwhelms us, and the need to keep our skeptical wits about us has never been greater.  We follow Seth around as he faces the daily onslaught of hype and hokum.

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

•   Steven Novella  – Assistant professor of neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and host of the “Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe” podcast
•   Guy P. Harrison – journalist and author.  His latest book, Good Thinking: What You Need to Know to be Smarter, Safer, Wealthier, and Wiser, will be in bookstores in October 2015.  
•   Andrew Maynard – Professor in the School for Innovation in Society, Arizona State University
•   Peter Adams – Senior vice president for educational programs with the News Literacy Project
•   Daniel Armistead – Dentist, Palo Alto, California

Download episode 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.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rare "Gigantic Jets" erupt from Hurricane Hilda

Source - Space Weather News for Aug. 14, 2015:

: A rare form of upward lightning that reaches almost to the edge of space has been observed shooting up from Hurricane Hilda as the storm approaches Hawaii.  See the video and learn more about these "gigantic jets" on today's edition of

INFERIOR CONJUNCTION OF VENUS:  The planet Venus is turning into a whisper-thin crescent as it passes almost directly between the Earth and Sun this weekend.  Photos and observing tips are available on

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Perseid Meteor Shower

Source - NASA Science News for August 11, 2015

This week, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters say the show could be especially good because the Moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on Aug. 12-13.

The complete article can be found here:

A companion video is posted below and can also be viewed at:

Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Big Picture Science for Monday 10 August 2015 - Solar System Vacation

Big Picture Science - Solar System Vacation

Ever gone bungee jumping on Venus?  Of course not.  No one has.  However your great-great-great grandchildren might find themselves packing for the cloudy planet … or for another locale in our cosmic backyard.  That’s what we picture as we accelerate our imagination to escape velocity and beyond – and tour vacation spots that are out of this world.

An enormous mountain and an impressive canyon await you on Mars.  If the outer solar system is more your thing, consider making a ten minute free-fall on Miranda, a moon of Uranus, or step up to the challenge of playing catch on an asteroid..

Also, just opened up: Pluto. A member of the New Horizons science team describes why the dwarf planet could be a holiday haven.  Bring your crampons for ice climbing!


•   Andrew Fraknoi – Chair of the astronomy department, Foothill College
•   Lori Fenton - Planetary scientist, SETI Institute 
•   David Grinspoon – Astrobiologist, author of Venus Express
•   Mark Showalter – Planetary scientist, SETI institute, and member of the New Horizons team
•   Michael Busch – Planetary scientist, SETI Institute

Download episode 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.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Perseid Fireballs

Source - Space Weather News for August 5, 2015:

PERSEID FIREBALLS:  One meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other--and it's underway now. Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower.  NASA all-sky cameras are detecting an increasing number of Perseid fireballs as the shower's peak approaches on Aug. 12-13.

Check for updates and more information.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Big Picture Science for Monday 03 August 2015 - The Fix is In

Big Picture Science - The Fix is In

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. 
•   Lea Goentoro – Professor of biology, California Institute of Technology
•   Michael Abrams - Biologist, California Institute of Technology
•   Sarah Moffitt – Paleo-oceanographer, Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis
•   Mark Miodownik – Materials scientist, director of the Institute of Making, University College, London.  Author of “Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape our Man-Made World
•   Shawn Douglas  - Computer scientist, assistant professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco

Download episode 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.