Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Big Picture Science for Nov. 28, 2022 - Is Life Inevitable?







Big Picture Science - Is Life Inevitable?

(REPEAT) A new theory about life’s origins updates Darwin’s warm little pond.  Scientists say they’ve created the building blocks of biology in steaming hot springs. Meanwhile, we visit a NASA lab where scientists simulate deep-sea vent chemistry to produce the type of environment that might spawn life. Which site is best suited for producing biology from chemistry?

Find out how the conditions of the early Earth were different from today, how meteors seeded Earth with organics, and a provocative idea that life arose as an inevitable consequence of matter shape-shifting to dissipate heat. Could physics be the driving force behind life’s emergence?

Guests:

  • Caleb Scharf – Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York
  • Laurie Barge – Research scientist in astrobiology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Bruce Damer – Research scientist in biomolecular engineering, University of California,
  • Jeremy England – Physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This repeat podcast originally aired on May 13, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/is-life-inevitable

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, November 21, 2022

Big Picture Science for Nov. 21, 2022 - Vaccine Inequity









Big Picture Science - Vaccine Inequity

A radical plan could solve a historic global health inequity. Countries in the global south who waited for more than a year for ample supplies of Covid vaccines have banded together to make mRNA vaccines locally. If successful, they could end a dangerous dependency on wealthy nations and help stop pandemics before they start.

In a special episode, supported by the Pulitzer Center, journalist Amy Maxmen shares her reporting from southern Africa about the inspiring project led by the WHO that’s made fast progress. But it could fail, and a global imbalance will remain, if Big Pharma has its way. Find out what’s at stake.

Guests:

  • Amy Maxmen - Award-winning science journalist, Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Professor Petro Terblanche - Managing Director, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Dr. Kondwani Charles Jambo - Senior Lecturer and immunologist at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Clinical Research Programme in Blantyre, Malawi
  • Dr. Barney Graham, MD PhD - Former deputy director at the Vaccine Research Center at NIH and professor of medicine and microbiology immunology biochemistry at Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Emile Hendricks - Research technologist at Afrigen and Vaccines in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Achal Prabhala - Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, Coordinator at AccessIBSA, a medicines-access initiative in Bengaluru, India
  • Patrick Tippoo - Head of Science and Innovation at Biovac in Cape Town, South Africa, founding member of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI)
  • Harrison Chauluka - chief of the Mkunda village in Malawi
  • Agnes Joni - farmer in Chiradzulu, Malawi
  • Prophet Dauda - translator and writer in Blantyre, Malawi 

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/vaccine-inequity

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, November 14, 2022

Big Picture Science for Nov. 14, 2022 - Your Inner Tree









Big Picture Science - Your Inner Tree

(REPEAT) 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:


This repeat podcast originally aired on
November 8, 2021

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.

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

Monday, November 07, 2022

Big Picture Science for Nov. 07, 2022 - Fuhgeddaboudit







Big Picture Science - Fuhgeddaboudit

(REPEAT) 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:


This repeat podcast originally aired on October 11, 2021

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.

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

Monday, October 31, 2022

Big Picture Science for Oct. 31, 2022 - Lady Parts









Big Picture Science - Lady Parts

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe has ignited fierce debate about bodily autonomy. But it’s remarkable how little we know about female physiology. Find out what studies have been overlooked by science, and what has been recently learned. Plus, why studying women’s bodies means being able to say words like “vagina” without shame, a researcher who is recreating a uterus in her lab to study endometriosis, and an overdue recognition of medical pioneer Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/lady-parts

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, October 24, 2022









Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: AI Comes Alive

When a Google software engineer claimed that a piece of chatbot software was sentient, it was a major story. Just like your dog is sentient, could it be that some computer code – a chatbot system called LaMDA – has feelings?

But was it truly sentient, or was it pulling algorithmic wool over our eyes? Were we simply being fooled by high-tech mimicry? In this, our regular look at critical thinking: Skeptic Check, we ask what is the evidence that this system is sentient. Also, even A.I. that’s not sentient can still be powerful – and that
has serious implications.

Guests:

  • Blake Lemoine – Software engineer and artificial intelligence researcher
  • Oren Etzioni – Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington, and former CEO at the Allen Institute for AI in Seattle
  • Mark Coeckelbergh – Professor of Philosophy of Media and Technology, University of Vienna, and author of  “Robot Ethics

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-ai-comes-alive

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, October 17, 2022

Big Picture Science for Oct. 17, 2022 - The T-Rex Files









Big Picture Science - The T-Rex Files

T-Rex is having an identity crisis. Rocking the world of paleontology is the claim that Rex was not one species, but actually three. It’s not the first time that this particular dino has forced us to revise our understanding of the past. The discovery of the first T-Rex fossil in the 19th century taught humanity a
scary lesson: species eventually go extinct. If it happened to this seemingly invincible apex predator, it could happen to us too.

Hear how the amateur fossil hunter Barnum Brown’s discovery of T-Rex changed our understanding of ourselves, and the epilogue to the dinosaur era: how our mammalian relatives survived the potential extinction bottleneck of an asteroid impact.

Guests:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/the-t-rex-files

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, October 10, 2022

Big Picture Science for Oct. 10, 2022 - Animals Being Jerks







Big Picture Science - Animals Being Jerks

(REPEAT) They’re cute and cuddly. But they can also be obnoxious.

Science writer Mary Roach has numerous tales about how our animal friends don’t always bow to their human overlords and behave the way we’d want. The resulting encounters, such as when gulls disrupt the Vatican’s Easter mass, make for amusing stories. But others, such as wolves threatening farmers’ livestock, can be tragic.

We hear what happens at the messy crossroads of human and wildlife encounters.

Guest:


This repeat podcast originally aired on September 13, 2021

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/animals-being-jerks

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!


Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Big Picture Science for Oct. 03, 2022 - Phreaky Physics







Big Picture Science - Phreaky Physics

(REPEAT) It was a radical idea a century ago, when Einstein said space and time can be bent, and gravity was really geometry. We hear how his theories inspire young minds even today.

At small scales, different rules apply: quantum mechanics and the Standard Model for particles. New experiments suggest that muons – cousins of the electron – may be telling us that the Standard Model is wrong. Also, where the physics of both the large and small apply, and why black holes have no hair.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on August 16, 2021

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/phreaky-physics

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, September 26, 2022

Big Picture Science for Sept. 26, 2022 - Skeptic Check: Data Bias







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Data Bias

(REPEAT) Sexist snow plowing? Data that guide everything from snow removal schedules to heart research often fail to consider gender. In these cases, “reference man” stands in for “average human.” Human bias also infects artificial intelligence, with speech recognition triggered only by male voices and facial recognition that can’t see black faces. We question the assumptions baked into these numbers and algorithms.

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on September 2, 2019

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-data-bias

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, September 19, 2022

Big Picture Science for Sept. 19, 2022 - De-Permafrosting







Big Picture Science - De-Permafrosting

(REPEAT) Above the Arctic Circle, much of the land is underlaid by permafrost. But climate change is causing it to thaw. This is not good news for the planet.

As the carbon rich ground warms, microbes start to feast… releasing greenhouse gases that will warm the Earth even more.

Another possible downside was envisioned by a science-fiction author. Could ancient pathogens–released from the permafrost’s icy grip–cause new pandemics? We investigate what happens when the far north defrosts.

Guests:

  • Jacquelyn Gill – Associate professor of paleoecology at the University of Maine.
  • Jim Shepard – Novelist and short story writer, and teacher of English at Williams College, and author of “Phase Six.”
  • Scott Saleska – Global change ecologist, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, and co-founder of IsoGenie.

This repeat podcast originally aired on September 6, 2021

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/de-permafrosting

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, September 12, 2022

Big Picture Science for Sept. 12, 2022 - Like Lightning









Big Picture Science - Like Lightning

Every second, lightning strikes 50 to 100 times somewhere. It can wreak havoc by starting wildfires and sometimes killing people. But lightning also produces a form of nitrogen that’s essential to vegetation. In this episode, we talk about the nature of these dramatic sparks. Ben Franklin established their electric origin, so what do we still not know? Also, why the frequency of lightning strikes is increasing in some parts of the world. And, what to do if you find someone hit by lightning.

Guests:

  • Thomas Yeadaker – Resident of Oakland, California
  • Chris Davis – Medical doctor and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest University and Medical Director for the National Center for Outdoor Adventure Education
  • Jonathan Martin – Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Steve Ackerman – Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Peter Bieniek – Professor of Atmospheric and Space Science, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/like-lightning

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!


Thursday, September 08, 2022

Big Picture Science for Sept. 05, 2022 - Coming to Our Animal Senses









Big Picture Science - Coming to Our Animal Senses

Animals experience the world differently. There are insects that can see ultraviolet light, while some snakes can hunt in the dark thanks to their ability to sense infrared. Such differences are not restricted to vision: Elephants can hear subsonic sounds, birds navigate by magnetism, and your dog lives in a world marked by odors. In this episode, we speak to science journalist Ed Yong about how other creatures sense the world. Could we ever understand what it’s like to have the hearing of a bat or the sight of a hawk?

Guest:


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/coming-to-our-animal-senses

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, August 29, 2022

Big Picture Science for Aug 29, 2022 - Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself







Big Picture Science - Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself

(REPEAT) Do we still need doctors? There are umpteen alternative sources of medical advice, including endless and heartfelt health tips from people without medical degrees. Frankly, self-diagnosis with a health app is easier and cheaper than a trip to a clinic. Since we’re urged to be our own health advocate and seek second opinions, why not ask Alexa or consult with a celebrity about what ails us?

Find out if you can trust these alternative medical advice platforms. Plus, lessons from an AIDS fighter about ignoring the findings of medical science.

And, if AI can diagnose better than an MD, will we stop listening to doctors altogether?

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

Guests:


This repeat podcast originally aired on September 24, 2018


Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-heal-thyself

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, August 22, 2022

Big Picture Science for Aug 22, 2022 - Platypus Crazy







Big Picture Science - Platypus Crazy

(REPEAT) They look like a cross between a beaver and a duck, and they all live Down Under. The platypus may lay eggs, but is actually a distant mammalian cousin, one that we last saw, in an evolutionary sense, about 166 million years ago.

Genetic sequencing is being used to trace that history, while scientists intensify their investigation of the habits and habitats of these appealing Frankencreatures; beginning by taking a census to see just how many are out there, and if their survival is under threat.

Guests:

  • Josh Griffiths – Senior Wildlife Ecologist at Cesaar Australia.
  • Jane Fenelon – Research fellow, University of Melbourne
  • Paula Anich – Professor of Natural Resources, Northland College
  • Wes Warren – Professor of Genomics, University of Missouri
  • Phoebe Meagher – Conservation Officer, Taronga Conservation Society, Australia

This repeat podcast originally aired on August 2, 2021

Download podcast at - http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/platypus-crazy

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!