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Big Picture Science

Seth Shostak, Molly Bentley, SETI Institute

551
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9.0K
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Big Picture Science

Big Picture Science

Seth Shostak, Molly Bentley, SETI Institute

551
Followers
9.0K
Plays
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About Us

The surprising connections in science and technology that give you the Big Picture. Astronomer Seth Shostak and science journalist Molly Bentley are joined each week by leading researchers, techies, and journalists to provide a smart and humorous take on science. Our regular "Skeptic Check" episodes cast a critical eye on pseudoscience.

Latest Episodes

On Thin Ice (rebroadcast)

Water is essential for life – that we know. But the honeycomb lattice that forms when you chill it to zero degrees Celsius is also inexorably intertwined with life. Ice is more than a repository for water that would otherwise raise sea levels. It’s part of Earth’s cooling system, a barrier preventing decaying organic matter from releasing methane gas, and a vault entombing ancient bacteria and other microbes. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, global ice is disappearing. Find out what’s at stake as atmospheric CO2threatens frozen H2O. Guests: Peter Wadhams-Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University in the U.K. and the author ofA Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic Eric Rignot-Earth systems scientist, University of California, Irving, senior research scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Åsmund Asdal-Biologist, Nordic Genetic Resource Center, coordinator for operations and management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Svalbard, Norway John Priscu-Polar ...

51 MIN3 d ago
Comments
On Thin Ice (rebroadcast)

Skeptic Check: Know-It-Alls

Think you’re some kind of expert? Join the club. It’s one thing to question authority; another to offer up your untrained self as its replacement. Rebellion may be a cherished expression of American individualism, but, from sidelining Dr. Fauci to hiding public health data, find out what we lose when we silence health experts and “go with our gut” during a pandemic. Plus, from ancestors to algorithms: how we’ve replaced credentialed experts with sketchy web sites and social media posts. Guests: Charles Piller– Investigative reporter forSciencemagazine Alison Galvani–Epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis, at Yale University Tom Nichols–Professor, international affairs, U.S. Naval War College, and author of “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters” Alex Bentley–Anthropologist, University of Tennessee and author of “The Acceleration of Cultural Change: From Ancestors to Algorithms”

51 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Skeptic Check: Know-It-Alls

Something in the Air

Inhale. Now exhale. Notice anything different? Our response to the virus is changing the air in unexpected ways. A pandemic-driven pause on travel has produced clear skies and a world-wide air quality experiment. And a new study reveals that hundreds of tons of microplastics are raining down on us each day. But we can improve the quality of the breaths we do take; engineers have devised a high-tech mask that may kill coronavirus on contact. Plus, although you do it 25,000 times a day, you may not be breathing properly. Nose-breathing vs mouth breathing: getting the ins-and-outs of respiration. Guests: Janice Brahney-Environmental biogeochemist at Utah State University Sally Ng-Atmospheric scientist, chemical engineer at Georgia Tech. Chandan Sen-Professor, department of surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine. James Nestor-Author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.”

51 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Something in the Air

COVID Curiosities

COVID Curiosities Some dogs and cats have become sick with COVID. But it’s not just domestic critters that are vulnerable: zoo animals have fallen ill too. There’s more strange news about the pandemic, for example scientists who track the coronavirus in our sewage, and computer models that show that flushing the toilet can launch persistent, pathogenic plumes into the room. And scientists have warned the WHO that infectious virus remains airborne. Also, how a shortage of glass vials could delay the deployment of a vaccine. Guests: Yvette Johnson-Walker- Epidemiologist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and affiliate faculty with the University of Chicago Illinois School of Public Health. Rolf Halden- Professor and Director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University. Bryan Bzdek- Chemist, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, U.K. Megan Molteni- Staff writer, “Wired.”

51 MIN3 w ago
Comments
COVID Curiosities

Creative Brains (Rebroadcast)

Your cat is smart, but its ability to choreograph a ballet or write computer code isn’t great.A lot of animals are industrious and clever, but humans are the only animal that is uniquely ingenious and creative. Neuroscientist David Eagleman and composer Anthony Brandt discuss how human creativity has reshaped the world. Find out what is going on in your brain when you write a novel, paint a watercolor, or build a whatchamacallit in your garage. But isHomo sapiens’claim on creativity destined to be short-lived?Why both Eagleman and Brandt are prepared to step aside when artificial intelligence can do their jobs. Guests: Anthony Brandt– Professor of Composition and Theory, Rice University, and co-author of “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World” David Eagleman–Neuroscientist, Stanford University, and co-author, “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World” Originally aired February 5, 2018

51 MINJUL 6
Comments
Creative Brains (Rebroadcast)

Animals Like Us (rebroadcast)

Laughing rats, sorrowful elephants, joyful chimpanzees. The more carefully we observe, and the more we learn about animals, the closer their emotional lives appear to resemble our own. Most would agree that we should minimize the physical suffering of animals, but should we give equal consideration to their emotional stress? Bioethicist Peter Singer weighs in. Meanwhile, captivity that may be ethical: How human-elephant teamwork in Asia may help protect an endangered species. Guests: Frans de Waal-Primatologist and biologist at Emory University; author of “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.” Watchthe video of Mama and Jan Van Hooff. Peter Singer–Philosopher, professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Jacob Shell-Professor of geography at Temple University, and author of “Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants.” Kevin Schneider-Executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project Originally aired June 24, 2019

51 MINJUN 29
Comments
Animals Like Us (rebroadcast)

Let's Stick Together (rebroadcast)

Crowded subway driving you crazy? Sick of the marathon-length grocery store line? Wish you had a hovercraft to float over traffic? If you are itching to hightail it to an isolated cabin in the woods, remember, we evolved to be together. Humans are not only social, we’re driven to care for one another, even those outside our immediate family. We look at some of the reasons why this is so – from the increase in valuable communication within social groups to the power of the hormone oxytocin. Plus, how our willingness to tolerate anonymity, a condition which allows societies to grow, has a parallel in ant supercolonies. Guests: Adam Rutherford–Geneticist and author of “Humanimal: HowHomo sapiensBecame Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature – a New Evolutionary History” Patricia Churchland–Neurophilosopher, professor of philosophy emerita at the University of California San Diego, and author most recently of “Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition” Mark Moffett–Tropical biologist, Smithsonian Institution researcher, and author of “The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive and Fall” originally aired July 22, 2019

50 MINJUN 23
Comments
Let's Stick Together (rebroadcast)

Skeptic Check: Data Bias (rebroadcast)

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: Caroline Criado-Perez-Journalist and author of “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” Kade Crockford-Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts Amy Webb-Futurist, founder and CEO of the Future Today Institute, and author of “The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and There Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

50 MINJUN 15
Comments
Skeptic Check: Data Bias (rebroadcast)

Race and COVID

While citizens take to the streets to protest racist violence, the pandemic has its own brutal inequities. Black, Latino, and Native American people are bearing the brunt of COVID illness and death. We look at the multitude of factors that contribute to this disparity, most of which existed long before the pandemic. Also, how the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe maintained their coronavirus safeguards in defiance of the South Dakota governor. And, the biological reasons why we categorize one another by skin color. Guests: Marcella Nunez Smith–Associate Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Yale School of Medicine, Director, Equity Research and Innovation Center Utibe Essien–Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and a Core Investigator, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Nina Jablonski–Anthropologist, paleobiologist at Pennsylvania State University and author of, “Skin: A Natural History,” and “Living Color: the Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color.” Robert Sapolsky–Professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, and author of “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.” Harold Frazier–Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, South Dakota. The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation COVID checkpoint on Highway 212 is featured in an articleonIndianz.com.

50 MINJUN 8
Comments
Race and COVID

Soap, Skin, Sleep

Some safeguards against COVID-19 don’t require a medical breakthrough. Catching sufficient Z’s makes for a healthy immune system. And, while you wash your hands for the umpteenth time, we'll explain how soap sends viruses down the drain. Plus, your body’s largest organ – skin – is your first line of defense against the pandemic and is also neglected because of it. Find out why we're suffering from "skin hunger" during this crisis. Guests: Cody Cassidy– Author, “Who Ate the First Oyster: The Extraordinary People Behind the Greatest Firsts in History.” Nina Jablonski– Anthropologist, paleobiologist at Pennsylvania State University and author of “Skin: A Natural History.” Eti Ben Simon– Neuroscientist and sleep researcher,Center for Human Sleep Science, University of California, Berkeley

51 MINJUN 1
Comments
Soap, Skin, Sleep

Latest Episodes

On Thin Ice (rebroadcast)

Water is essential for life – that we know. But the honeycomb lattice that forms when you chill it to zero degrees Celsius is also inexorably intertwined with life. Ice is more than a repository for water that would otherwise raise sea levels. It’s part of Earth’s cooling system, a barrier preventing decaying organic matter from releasing methane gas, and a vault entombing ancient bacteria and other microbes. From the Arctic to the Antarctic, global ice is disappearing. Find out what’s at stake as atmospheric CO2threatens frozen H2O. Guests: Peter Wadhams-Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University in the U.K. and the author ofA Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic Eric Rignot-Earth systems scientist, University of California, Irving, senior research scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Åsmund Asdal-Biologist, Nordic Genetic Resource Center, coordinator for operations and management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Svalbard, Norway John Priscu-Polar ...

51 MIN3 d ago
Comments
On Thin Ice (rebroadcast)

Skeptic Check: Know-It-Alls

Think you’re some kind of expert? Join the club. It’s one thing to question authority; another to offer up your untrained self as its replacement. Rebellion may be a cherished expression of American individualism, but, from sidelining Dr. Fauci to hiding public health data, find out what we lose when we silence health experts and “go with our gut” during a pandemic. Plus, from ancestors to algorithms: how we’ve replaced credentialed experts with sketchy web sites and social media posts. Guests: Charles Piller– Investigative reporter forSciencemagazine Alison Galvani–Epidemiologist and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis, at Yale University Tom Nichols–Professor, international affairs, U.S. Naval War College, and author of “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters” Alex Bentley–Anthropologist, University of Tennessee and author of “The Acceleration of Cultural Change: From Ancestors to Algorithms”

51 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Skeptic Check: Know-It-Alls

Something in the Air

Inhale. Now exhale. Notice anything different? Our response to the virus is changing the air in unexpected ways. A pandemic-driven pause on travel has produced clear skies and a world-wide air quality experiment. And a new study reveals that hundreds of tons of microplastics are raining down on us each day. But we can improve the quality of the breaths we do take; engineers have devised a high-tech mask that may kill coronavirus on contact. Plus, although you do it 25,000 times a day, you may not be breathing properly. Nose-breathing vs mouth breathing: getting the ins-and-outs of respiration. Guests: Janice Brahney-Environmental biogeochemist at Utah State University Sally Ng-Atmospheric scientist, chemical engineer at Georgia Tech. Chandan Sen-Professor, department of surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine. James Nestor-Author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.”

51 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Something in the Air

COVID Curiosities

COVID Curiosities Some dogs and cats have become sick with COVID. But it’s not just domestic critters that are vulnerable: zoo animals have fallen ill too. There’s more strange news about the pandemic, for example scientists who track the coronavirus in our sewage, and computer models that show that flushing the toilet can launch persistent, pathogenic plumes into the room. And scientists have warned the WHO that infectious virus remains airborne. Also, how a shortage of glass vials could delay the deployment of a vaccine. Guests: Yvette Johnson-Walker- Epidemiologist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and affiliate faculty with the University of Chicago Illinois School of Public Health. Rolf Halden- Professor and Director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University. Bryan Bzdek- Chemist, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, U.K. Megan Molteni- Staff writer, “Wired.”

51 MIN3 w ago
Comments
COVID Curiosities

Creative Brains (Rebroadcast)

Your cat is smart, but its ability to choreograph a ballet or write computer code isn’t great.A lot of animals are industrious and clever, but humans are the only animal that is uniquely ingenious and creative. Neuroscientist David Eagleman and composer Anthony Brandt discuss how human creativity has reshaped the world. Find out what is going on in your brain when you write a novel, paint a watercolor, or build a whatchamacallit in your garage. But isHomo sapiens’claim on creativity destined to be short-lived?Why both Eagleman and Brandt are prepared to step aside when artificial intelligence can do their jobs. Guests: Anthony Brandt– Professor of Composition and Theory, Rice University, and co-author of “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World” David Eagleman–Neuroscientist, Stanford University, and co-author, “The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World” Originally aired February 5, 2018

51 MINJUL 6
Comments
Creative Brains (Rebroadcast)

Animals Like Us (rebroadcast)

Laughing rats, sorrowful elephants, joyful chimpanzees. The more carefully we observe, and the more we learn about animals, the closer their emotional lives appear to resemble our own. Most would agree that we should minimize the physical suffering of animals, but should we give equal consideration to their emotional stress? Bioethicist Peter Singer weighs in. Meanwhile, captivity that may be ethical: How human-elephant teamwork in Asia may help protect an endangered species. Guests: Frans de Waal-Primatologist and biologist at Emory University; author of “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.” Watchthe video of Mama and Jan Van Hooff. Peter Singer–Philosopher, professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Jacob Shell-Professor of geography at Temple University, and author of “Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants.” Kevin Schneider-Executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project Originally aired June 24, 2019

51 MINJUN 29
Comments
Animals Like Us (rebroadcast)

Let's Stick Together (rebroadcast)

Crowded subway driving you crazy? Sick of the marathon-length grocery store line? Wish you had a hovercraft to float over traffic? If you are itching to hightail it to an isolated cabin in the woods, remember, we evolved to be together. Humans are not only social, we’re driven to care for one another, even those outside our immediate family. We look at some of the reasons why this is so – from the increase in valuable communication within social groups to the power of the hormone oxytocin. Plus, how our willingness to tolerate anonymity, a condition which allows societies to grow, has a parallel in ant supercolonies. Guests: Adam Rutherford–Geneticist and author of “Humanimal: HowHomo sapiensBecame Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature – a New Evolutionary History” Patricia Churchland–Neurophilosopher, professor of philosophy emerita at the University of California San Diego, and author most recently of “Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition” Mark Moffett–Tropical biologist, Smithsonian Institution researcher, and author of “The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive and Fall” originally aired July 22, 2019

50 MINJUN 23
Comments
Let's Stick Together (rebroadcast)

Skeptic Check: Data Bias (rebroadcast)

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: Caroline Criado-Perez-Journalist and author of “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” Kade Crockford-Director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts Amy Webb-Futurist, founder and CEO of the Future Today Institute, and author of “The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and There Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity

50 MINJUN 15
Comments
Skeptic Check: Data Bias (rebroadcast)

Race and COVID

While citizens take to the streets to protest racist violence, the pandemic has its own brutal inequities. Black, Latino, and Native American people are bearing the brunt of COVID illness and death. We look at the multitude of factors that contribute to this disparity, most of which existed long before the pandemic. Also, how the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe maintained their coronavirus safeguards in defiance of the South Dakota governor. And, the biological reasons why we categorize one another by skin color. Guests: Marcella Nunez Smith–Associate Professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Yale School of Medicine, Director, Equity Research and Innovation Center Utibe Essien–Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and a Core Investigator, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Nina Jablonski–Anthropologist, paleobiologist at Pennsylvania State University and author of, “Skin: A Natural History,” and “Living Color: the Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color.” Robert Sapolsky–Professor of neuroscience at Stanford University, and author of “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.” Harold Frazier–Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, South Dakota. The Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation COVID checkpoint on Highway 212 is featured in an articleonIndianz.com.

50 MINJUN 8
Comments
Race and COVID

Soap, Skin, Sleep

Some safeguards against COVID-19 don’t require a medical breakthrough. Catching sufficient Z’s makes for a healthy immune system. And, while you wash your hands for the umpteenth time, we'll explain how soap sends viruses down the drain. Plus, your body’s largest organ – skin – is your first line of defense against the pandemic and is also neglected because of it. Find out why we're suffering from "skin hunger" during this crisis. Guests: Cody Cassidy– Author, “Who Ate the First Oyster: The Extraordinary People Behind the Greatest Firsts in History.” Nina Jablonski– Anthropologist, paleobiologist at Pennsylvania State University and author of “Skin: A Natural History.” Eti Ben Simon– Neuroscientist and sleep researcher,Center for Human Sleep Science, University of California, Berkeley

51 MINJUN 1
Comments
Soap, Skin, Sleep

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