Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jellyfish-shaped 'Space Lightning' Sighted over Europe


Source - Space Weather News for June 22, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

JELLYFISH SPRITES OVER EUROPE: We all know what comes out of the bottom of a thunderstorm: lightning. But do you know what comes out of the top? On June 20th, an amateur astronomer photographed incredible jellyfish-shaped 'sprites' flickering above a storm system in Austria. Such upper atmospheric lightning is a form of space weather that is being seen and photographed by increasing numbers of sky watchers.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for observing tips and more information about this phenomenon.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Big Picture Science for June 19, 2017 - Perpetual Emotion Machine












Big Picture Science - Perpetual Emotion Machine

Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you’re coming from.  Computers that can tell by your voice whether you’re pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your mood.  Empathetic electronics that you can relate to.

But wait a minute – we don’t always relate to other humans.  Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging – our emotions are often conflicted and irrational.   We cry when we’re happy.  Frown when we’re pensive.  A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience.

One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge’s blood sugar.

So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway.

Guests:

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/perpetual-emotion-machine

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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upper Atmospheric 'Heat Wave' Wipes out Noctilucent Clouds


Source - Space Weather News for June 15, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

MYSTERY OF THE MISSING NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Every year in June, far-northern sky watchers see electric-blue tendrils creeping over the western horizon at sunset. These are noctilucent clouds (NLCs) formed by summertime wisps of water vapor crystallizing around bits of meteor smoke at the edge of space.  Every year in June ... except this year.  NLCs have been mysteriously absent in June 2017, and researchers have just figured out why. A 'heat wave' in the upper atmosphere has temporarily wiped them out.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com for the full story and the prognosis for future NLCs.

Article URL - http://news.spaceweather.com/mystery-of-the-missing-noctilucent-clouds/

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Hole in the Sun's Atmosphere Turns Toward Earth


Source - Space Weather News for June 14, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

A HOLE IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE: Spewing a stream of solar wind as fast as 700 km/s (1.6 million mph), a hole in the sun's atmosphere is turning toward Earth. Forecasters expect the stream to reach our planet on June 15th or 16th with a 40% chance of minor G1-class geomagnetic storms when it arrives.  High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead, especially in the southern hemisphere where deepening autumn darkness favors visibility.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Big Picture Science for June 12, 2017 - Science Fiction













Big Picture Science - Science Fiction

ENCORE: No one knows what the future will bring, but science fiction authors are willing to take a stab at imagining it.  We take our own stab at imagining them imagining it.  Find out why the genre of science fiction is more than a trippy ride through a bizarre, hi-tech world, but a way to assess and vote on our possible shared future.

Also, an astronomer learns how many rejection slips it takes before becoming a published science fiction author …. what author Bruce Sterling wants to get off his chest … and what the joke about the neutron walking into a bar to ask the price of beer has in common with H.G. Wells, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Ridley Scott.

Oh, and the price of beer?  Bartender: “For you, no charge.”

Guests:
  • Ed Finn - Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University
  • Andrew Fraknoi – Chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College.  His story, "The Cave in Arsia Mons", is in "Building Red", here.  His list of astronomically correct science fiction is here.
  • Bruce Sterling - Science fiction author, journalist, and editor
  • Brian Malow - Science comedian, science communication officer, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

This encore podcast was first released on May 16, 2016

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/science-fiction

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, June 04, 2017

Big Picture Science for June 05, 2017 - Gene-y in a Bottle













Big Picture Science - Gene-y in a Bottle

ENCORE:  You can’t pick your parents.  But soon you may be able to change the DNA they gave you.  CRISPR technology is poised to take DNA editing to new levels of precision and speed.  Imagine deleting genes from your body that you don’t like and inserting the ones you want.  The swap might not even require a fancy lab.  Biohackers are already tinkering with genes in their homes.

Find out how CRISPR technology might change everything when the genetic lottery is no longer destiny.

Plus, a cardiologist identifies the troublesome genes that once gave us evolutionary advantages but today are fueling obesity, depression and other modern illness.

Guests:

This encore podcast was first released on March 21, 2016

Download podcast  at - http://bigpicturescience.org/Gene-y_in_a_Bottle

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.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

New Sunspot Emerges and Explodes


Source - Space Weather News for June 1, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

ACTIVE SUNSPOT: On June 1st, a small but surprisingly active sunspot rotated over the sun's eastern limb. In less than 24 hours, it has unleashed nearly a dozen C-class solar flares and hurled a pair of CMEs into space--an impressive display of fireworks. So far, none of the explosions have targeted Earth, but this could change in the days ahead as the active region rotates toward our planet.

Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Noctilucent Clouds Sighted over Europe


Source - Space Weather News for May 31, 2017: http://spaceweather.com

NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: Noctilucent cloud season has begun. Sky watchers in northern Europe are reporting tendrils of electric-blue creeping over the horizon at sunset. These are noctilucent clouds (NLCs), seeded by meteoroids at the edge of space. Typically, they appear in late May and blossom in June and July. In recent years they have been sighted in the USA as far south as Colorado and Utah.

Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com to learn more about NLCs and how to see them.