Big Picture Science Seminars Big Picture Science radio show and podcast engages the public with astrobiology through lively and intelligent storytelling. Science radio doesn’t have to be dull. The only dry thing about our program is the humor. Big Picture Science takes on big questions by interviewing leading researchers and weaving together their stories of discovery in a clever and off-kilter narrative style. Seminarsen-usSat, 06 Jun 2020 05:18:44 +0000The Crater Good was “one giant leap for mankind,” but the next step forward may require going back. Yes, back to the moon. Only this time the hardware may come from China. Or perhaps Europe. In fact, it seems that the only developed nation not going lunar is the U.S. Find out why our pockmarked satellite is such hot real estate, and whether it has the raw materials we’d need to colonize it. A new theory of how the moon formed may tell us what’s below its dusty surface. But – before packing your bags – you’ll want to skim Article IX of the U.N. treaty on planetary protection. We can’t go contaminating any old planetary body, can we? Guests: James Oberg – Former Space Shuttle Mission Control engineer and space policy expert Clive Neal – Geologist, University of Notre Dame Edward Young - Cosmochemist, geochemist, UCLA Margaret Race - Biologist and research scientist at the SETI Institute Invisible 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. Guests: Michael Brown - Astronomer, California Institute of Technology Michael Lemonick - science writer and an editor at Scientific American magazine Lisa Randall - Theoretical physicist, Harvard University, author of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe Arthur McDonald - Astrophysicist emeritus, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics Conundra it – the universe is cool, but weird. Just when you think you’ve tallied up all the peculiar phenomena that the cosmos has to offer – it throws more at you. We examine some of the recent perplexing finds. Could massive asteroid impacts be as predictable as phases of the moon? Speaking of moons – why are some of Pluto’s spinning like turbine-powered pinwheels? Plus, we examine a scientist’s claim of evidence for parallel universes. And, could the light patterns from a distant star be caused by alien mega-structures? Guests: Mike Rampino - Professor of biology and environmental studies at New York University Mark Showalter - Senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California Ranga-Ram Chary – Astronomer, U.S. Planck Data Center, California Institute of Technology Madness’s the starkly beautiful setting for the new film “The Martian,” and – just in time – NASA has announced that the Red Planet is more than a little damp, with liquid water occasionally oozing over its surface. But Mars remains hostile terrain. Mark Watney, the astronaut portrayed by Matt Damon, struggles to survive there. If he has a hard time, what chance does anyone else have? Find out how long you could last just eating Martian potatoes. Also, author Andy Weir describes how he prevailed upon his readers to turn his serialized blog posts into a technically accurate thriller that inspired the film. Plus, the NASA advisor to “The Martian” sorts the science from the fiction. And, how the discovery of water on Mars might change NASA’s game plan. Guests: Andy Weir – Author, “The Martian” James Green - Director, NASA’s Planetary Science Division Christopher Wanjek - Health and science reporter based in Baltimore, Maryland James Watzin – Director, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Pursuit of Pluto is ready for its close up – but the near encounter during this historic flyby will last less than three minutes. Be ready for the action with our special New Horizons episode! Hear from researchers who are Pluto rock stars: the astronomer who discovered two of Pluto’s five moons, the planetary scientist who coined the term “dwarf planet,” and the man who claims to have “killed Pluto.” Find out how the New Horizons spacecraft will dodge rocks and other dangers as it approaches the planet and what we might learn about planet formation once we arrive. And why the battle over Pluto’s nomenclature continues. Plus, Neil deGrasse Tyson reads his hate mail – from 3rd graders. Guests: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, New York City Alan Stern – Planetary scientist, Principal Investigator, New Horizons mission Mark Showalter – Senior research scientist, SETI Institute, New Horizons team member Mike Brown – Astronomer, California Institute of Technology's All Relative century ago, Albert Einstein rewrote our understanding of physics with his Theory of General Relativity. Our intuitive ideas about space, time, mass, and gravity turned out to be wrong. Find out how this masterwork changed our understanding of how the universe works and why you can thank Einstein whenever you turn on your GPS. Also, high-profile experiments looking for gravitational waves and for black holes will put the theories of the German genius to the test – will they pass? And why the story of a box, a Geiger counter, and a zombie cat made Einstein and his friend Erwin Schrödinger uneasy about the quantum physics revolution. Guests: Jeffrey Bennett - Astronomer, author of What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein's Ideas, and Why They Matter Beverly Berger - Theoretical physicist and the Secretary for the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation Hiawatha Bray - Technology reporter, Boston Globe, author of You Are Here: From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves Paul Halpern - Physicist at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, author of Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics History continue to hunt for the city of Atlantis, even though it may never have existed. But, what if it did? Its discovery would change ancient history. Sometimes when we dig around in the past, we can change our understanding of how we got to where we are. We thought we had wrapped up the death of the dinosaurs: blame it on an asteroid. But evidence unearthed in Antarctica and elsewhere suggests the rock from space wasn’t the sole culprit. Also, digging into our genetic past can turn up surprising – and sometimes uncomfortable truths – from ancestral origins to genes that code for disease. But do we always want to know? Guests: Mark Adams - author, Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City David Morrison - Senior scientist, NASA Ames Research Center Peter Ward - Paleontologist, University of Washington, author of A New History of Life: The Radical New Discoveries about the Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth Christine Kenneally - Journalist and author of The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures love to travel. But would you if doing so meant never coming home? The private company Mars One says it will land humans on the Red Planet by 2026, but is only offering passengers one-way tickets. Hundreds of thousands of people volunteered to go. Meet a young woman who made the short list, and hear why she’s ready to be Mars-bound. Also, why microbes could be hiding in water trapped in the planet’s rocks. And, how a wetter, better Mars lost its atmosphere and became a dry and forbidding place. Plus, why Kim Stanley Robinson, author of a famous trilogy about colonizing and terraforming Mars, thinks that the current timeline for going to the planet is unrealistic. Guests: Laurel Kaye - A senior in the physics department at Duke University Alfonso Davila - Senior scientist at the SETI Institute Stephen Brecht - Physicist and president of the Bay Area Research Group Kim Stanley Robinson - Hugo Award-winning science Fiction author of the Mars trilogy: Red Mars (Mars Trilogy), Green Mars (Mars Trilogy), Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy) Check: The Me in Measles whether to vaccinate your children? The decision can feel like a shot in the dark if you don’t know how to evaluate risk. Find out why all of us succumb to the reasoning pitfalls of cognitive and omission bias, whether we’re saying no to vaccines or getting a tan on the beach. Plus, an infectious disease expert on why it may take a dangerous resurgence of preventable diseases – measles, whooping cough, polio – to remind us that vaccines save lives. Also, a quaint but real vaccine fear: that the 18th century smallpox vaccine, made from cowpox, could turn you into a cow! It’s our monthly look at critical thinking … but don’t take our word for it! Guests: Paul Offit – Infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City Adam Korbitz – Lawyer specializing in space law Andrew Maynard – Professor of environmental health science, director, Risk Science Center, University of Michigan Descripción en español This episode was tagged with: vaccines measles psychology biology medicine skepticism the Anthropocene world is hot, and getting hotter. But higher temperatures aren’t the only impact our species is having on mother Earth. Urbanization, deforestation, and dumping millions of tons of plastic into the oceans … these are all ways in which humans are leaving their mark. So are we still in the Holocene, the geological epoch that started a mere 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age? Some say we’ve moved on to the age of man – the Anthropocene. It’s the dawn of an era, but can we survive this new phase in the history of our planet? Guests: Pat Porter – Relative Jonathan Amos – Science writer for the BBC in London Gaia Vince – Writer, broadcaster, former editor for New Scientist, news editor of Nature, and author of Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made David Grinspoon – Astrobiologist, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona Francisco Valero – Emeritus physicist and research scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego Descripción en español This episode was tagged with: astrobiology ecology anthropology geology environment climate climate change anthropocene