Monday, January 10, 2022

Big Picture Science for Jan. 10, 2022 - Into the Deep







Big Picture Science - Into the Deep

(Rereat) Have you ever heard worms arguing? Deep-sea scientists use hydrophones to eavesdrop on “mouth-fighting worms.” It’s one of the many ways scientists are trying to catalog the diversity of the deep oceans — estimated to be comparable to a rainforest.

But the clock is ticking. While vast expanses of the deep sea are still unexplored, mining companies are ready with dredging vehicles to strip mine the seafloor, potentially destroying rare and vulnerable ecosystems. Are we willing to eradicate an alien landscape that we haven’t yet visited?

Guests:

  • Craig McClain - deep-sea and evolutionary biologist and ecologist, Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium.
  • Steve Haddock - senior scientist at the Monetary Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and co-author of a New York Times op-ed about the dangers of mining.
  • Emily Hall - marine chemist at the Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida
  • Chong Chen - deep sea biologist with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)

This repeat podcast originally aired on November 23, 2020

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/into-the-deep

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.

Get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, January 03, 2022

Big Picture Science for Jan. 3, 2022 - 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:


This repeat podcast originally aired on October 19, 2020

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.

Get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Big Picture Science for Dec. 27, 2021 - Mycology Education








 

Big Picture Science - Mycology Education

(Repeat) 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:


This repeat podcast originally aired on 9/28/2020

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.

Get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Big Picture Science for Dec. 20, 2021 - Attack of the Mutants









Big Picture Science - Attack of the Mutants

The omicron variant is surging. More contagious than delta, omicron demonstrates how viruses use mutations to quickly adapt.

Mutations drive evolution, although most don’t do much. But occasionally a mutation improves an organism. Omicron, the latest in a string of variants, is bad for us, but good for the virus.

How mutation of viruses ensures their own survival while threatening ours, and the prospect of a universal vaccine that would protect us against all a viruses’ variants.

Guests:

  • Robert Garry – Professor of microbiology and virologist in the Tulane University School of Medicine
  • Kevin Saunders – Professor in the Duke University School of Medicine’s Human Vaccine Institute and professor of surgery

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/attack-of-the-mutants

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.

Get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Big Picture Science for Dec. 13, 2021 - 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 over 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.

Get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, December 06, 2021

Big Picture Science for Dec. 06, 2021 - Skeptic Check: Identifying UAPs









Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Identifying UAPs

The Pentagon’s report on UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) said nothing about the possibility that some might be alien spacecraft. Nonetheless, the report has generated heightened interest in figuring out what these UAPs are, and that interest extends to some scientists. We talk to two researchers who want an open and strictly scientific investigation of these phenomena. What should they do and what do they expect to find? And finally, will the possibility of alien visitors ever be resolved?

Guests:

  • Jacob Haqq-Misra – Senior Research Investigator at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science
  • Ravi Kopparapu – Planetary scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
s
Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-identifying-uaps

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.

Get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, November 29, 2021

Big Picture Science for Nov. 29, 2021 - 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 – Biologist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

This repeat podcast originally aired on October 5, 2020

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.

You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Big Picture Science for Nov. 22, 2021 - Skeptic Check: Shroom with a View






 

Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Shroom with a View

(REPEAT) Magic mushrooms – or psilocybin - may be associated with tripping hippies and Woodstock, but they are now being studied as new treatments for depression and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Is this Age of Aquarius medicine or something that could really work? Plus, the centuries-long use of psychedelics by indigenous peoples, and a discovery in California’s Pinwheel Cave offers new clues about the relationship between hallucinogens and cave art.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on December 7, 2020

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-shroom-with-a-view

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, November 15, 2021

Big Picture Science for Nov. 15, 2021 - Suitable For Life?









Big Picture Science - Suitable For Life?

Life nearby? We’ve not yet found any on our favorite planet, Mars. But even if Mars is sterile, could we ever change that by terraforming it? Or seeding it with life from Earth?

The Red Planet is not the only game in town: A new NASA mission to a Jovian moon may give clues to biology on a world where, unlike Mars, liquid water still exists.

Also, the promise of the James Webb Space Telescope and why the solar system’s largest active volcano offers clues to the habitability of other worlds.

Guests:

  • Kate Craft – Planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where she studies icy moons such as Europa.
  • Julie Rathbun – Senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute
  • Courtney Dressing – Professor of Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Chris McKay – Research scientist, NASA Ames Research Center


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/suitable-for-life

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, November 08, 2021

Big Picture Science for Nov. 08, 2021 - Your Inner Tree









Big Picture Science - Your Inner Tree

Declining biodiversity is a problem as fraught as climate change.

Loss of habitat, monoculture crops, and the damming of waterways all lead to massive species extinction. They tear at life’s delicate web, and threaten a balance established by four billion years of evolution.

Can we reassess our relationship to Nature? We consider logging efforts that make elephants part of the work force, and how to leverage the cooperative behavior of trees.

Becoming Nature’s ally, rather than its enemy.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/your-inner-tree

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, November 01, 2021

Big Picture Science for Nov. 01, 2021 - Dimming the Sun









Big Picture Science - Dimming the Sun

Does geoengineering offer a Plan B if nations at the U.N. climate meeting can't reduce carbon emissions? The Glasgow meeting has been called “the last best chance” to take measures to slow down global heating.  But we're nowhere near to achieving the emission reductions necessary to stave off a hothouse planet. We consider both the promise and the perils of geoengineering, and ask who decides about experimenting with Earth’s climate.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/dimming-the-sun

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 25, 2021

Big Picture Science for Oct. 25th, 2021 - Skeptic Check: Brain Gain







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Brain Gain

Looking to boost your brainpower? Luckily, there are products promising to help. Smart drugs, neurofeedback exercises, and brain-training video games all promise to improve your gray matter’s performance. But it’s uncertain whether these products really work. Regulatory agencies have come down har
 on some popular brain training companies for false advertising. But other brain games have shown benefits in clinical trials. And could we skip the brain workout altogether and pop a genius pill instead?

In our regular look at critical thinking, we separate the pseudo from the science of commercial cognitive enhancement techniques.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on August 6, 2018

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-brain-gain

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 18, 2021

Big Picture Science for Oct. 18th, 2021 - Radical Cosmology






 

Big Picture Science - Radical Cosmology

(Repeat) 400 years ago, some ideas about the cosmos were too scandalous to mention. When the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno suggested that planets existed outside our Solar System, the Catholic Inquisition had him arrested, jailed, and burned at the stake for heresy.

Today, we have evidence of thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Our discovery of extrasolar planets has dramatically changed ideas about the possibility for life elsewhere in the universe.

Modern theories about the existence of the ghostly particles called neutrinos or of collapsed stars with unfathomable gravity (black holes), while similarly incendiary, didn’t prompt arrest, of course. Neutrinos and black holes were arresting ideas because they came decades before we had the means to prove their existence.

Hear about scientific ideas that came before their time and why extrasolar planets, neutrinos, and black holes are now found on the frontiers of astronomical research.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on February 18, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/radical-cosmology

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 11, 2021

Big Picture Science for Oct. 11th, 2021 - Fuhgeddaboudit







Big Picture Science - Fuhgeddaboudit

A thousand years ago, most people didn’t own a single book. The only way to access knowledge was to consult their memory.

But technology – from paper to hard drives – has permitted us to free our brains from remembering countless facts. Alphabetization and the simple filing cabinet have helped to systematize and save information we might need someday.

But now that we can Google just about any subject, have we lost the ability to memorize information? Does this make our brains better or worse?

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/fuhgeddaboudit

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 04, 2021

Big Picture Science for Oct. 4th, 2021 - 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.

This repeat podcast originally aired on August 31, 2020

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.