Sunday, May 21, 2017

Big Picture Science for May 22, 2017 - Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad

Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad

The scientific method is tried and true. It has led us to a reliable understanding of things from basic physics to biomedicine.  So yes, we can rely on the scientific method.  The fallible humans behind the research, not so much.  And politicians?  Don’t get us started.  Remember when one brought a snowball to the Senate floor to “prove” that global warming was a hoax?  Oy vey.

We talk to authors about new books that seem to cast a skeptical eye on the scientific method… but that are really throwing shade on the ambitious labcoat-draped humans who heat the beakers and publish the papers … as well as the pinstriped politicians who twist science to win votes.

Find out why the hyper-competitive pursuit of results that are “amazing” and “incredible” is undermining medical science … how a scientific breakthrough can turn into a societal scourge (heroin as miracle cure) … and what happens when civil servants play the role of citizen scientists on CSPAN.


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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.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Aurora Named "Steve"

Source - Space Weather News for May 21, 2017:

AN AURORA NAMED "STEVE": This weekend, a solar wind storm has sparked sightings of a mysterious filamentary aurora named "Steve" over the badlands of Alberta, Canada. Although the form has been seen for many years dancing among ordinary auroras, researchers do not fully understand what causes it. New clues recently emerged when a European Space Agency satellite flew directly through Steve.

The phenomenon is highlighted on today's edition of

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Anthropogenic Space Weather

Source - Space Weather News for May 18, 2017:

ANTHROPOGENIC SPACE WEATHER: A new study just published in the journal Space Science Reviews outlines some of the surprising ways human activity can affect space weather. A key example involves VLF radio waves, which are used to communicate with submarines. These waves have formed an unintentional bubble around our planet, clearing out "killer electrons" from Earth's radiation belts. Learn more on today's edition of

SOLAR WIND STORM PREDICTED: The solar wind around Earth is about to speed up. Velocities could top 700 km/s on May 19th when a stream of gaseous material flowing from a hole the sun's atmosphere reaches our planet. G2-class geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras are possible on May 19th and 20th. Stay tuned to for updates.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Geomagnetic Storm Watch (G2-class)

Source - Space Weather News for May 15, 2017:

: NOAA forecasters say there is a 40% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms on May 16th as Earth enters a stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun's atmosphere. The storm could intensify to G2-class (moderately strong) on May 17th when an incoming CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially in the southern hemisphere where deepening autumn darkness favors visibility.

Visit for more information and updates.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Big Picture Science for May 15, 2017 - 100% Invisible

Big Picture Science - 100% Invisible

ENCORE:  In astronomy, the rule of thumb was simple: If you can’t see it with a telescope, it’s not real.  Seeing is believing.  Well, tell that to the astronomers who discovered dark energy, or dark matter … or, more recently, Planet 9.   And yet we have evidence that all these things exist (although skepticism about the ninth – or is it tenth? – planet still lingers).

Find out how we know what we know about the latest cosmic discoveries – even if we can’t see them directly.  The astronomer who found Planet 9 – and killed Pluto – offers his evidence.

And, a speculative scenario suggests that dark matter helped do away with the dinosaurs.

Plus, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics explains why neutrinos that are zipping through your body right now may hold clues to the origin of the universe.


This encore podcast was first released 02/08/2016

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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.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Cosmic Rays Intensify over California

Source - Space Weather News for May 12, 2017:

COSMIC RAYS INTENSIFY: The solar cycle is plunging to its lowest level in years. As sunspots vanish and the sun's magnetic field weakens, cosmic rays are penetrating the inner Solar System in greater numbers than usual. High-altitude balloon flights over California have detected the change in the form of increased radiation levels in our planet's atmosphere.

Visit today's edition of to see the latest data and to learn how intensifying cosmic rays can affect us on Earth.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Jupiter-Moon Conjunction--Tonight!

Source - Space Weather News for May 7, 2017:

JUPITER-MOON CONJUNCTION: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southeast. You'll see Jupiter and the waxing gibbous Moon rising together in the constellation Virgo, only couple of degrees apart. If possible, try to catch the tight pair before the sky fades completely black. The sight of these two bright celestial bodies framed by twilight blue is beautiful indeed. Sky maps and photos @

STAR WARS DAY CME: On May the 4th (Star Wars Day), unstable magnetic fields in the sun's atmosphere shifted and hurled a CME into space. The cloud's velocity was relatively low, and it might take 6 whole days to cross the sun-Earth divide. NOAA forecasters expect the CME to arrive on May 10th, possibly causing geomagnetic activity around the poles. Stay tuned to for updates

Big Picture Science for May 08, 2017 - Time on Your Side

Big Picture Science - Time on Your Side

Time passes like an arrow, but what if it flew like a boomerang?  Scientists are learning how to reverse time’s most relentless march: aging.  But before we rewind time, let’s try to define it, because there’s plenty of debate about just what time is – a fundamental component of the universe or a construct of our consciousness?

Find out why, even though pondering the future may cause heartburn, mental time travel has an evolutionary survival advantage.

Plus, your brain as a clock; why “brain age” may be more accurate than chronological age in determining lifespan.

And while a million-dollar monetary prize hopes to inspire researchers to crack the aging code, one group claims they already have.  By reprogramming special genes, they’ve reversed the biological clocks in mice.  Find out when human trials begin. 

  • Dean Buonomano – Neurobiologist and psychologist at UCLA and author of “Your Brain is a Time Machine
  • James Cole – Postdoc studying neuroanatomy, Imperial College London
  • Joon Yun – Radiologist, head of Palo Alto Investors and creator and sponsor of the Palo Alto Longevity prize
  • Pradeep Reddy – Research Scientist at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California

Download postcast 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.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Meteors from Halley's Comet

Source - Space Weather News for May 2, 2017:

METEORS FROM HALLEY'S COMET: A radar in Canada has detected radio echoes coming from the constellation Aquarius. This is a sign that the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower is underway. In the days ahead ahead our planet will cross a network of debris streams from Halley's Comet, producing a drizzle of eta Aquarids numbering 10 to 30 meteors per hour in the northern hemisphere and perhaps twice that number in the southern hemisphere. Usually, the eta Aquarid shower peaks around May 6th. This year, there might be an additional enhancement on May 4th or 5th. 

Check today's edition of for more information and observing tips.