479 episodes

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.

Big Picture Science SETI Institute

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 72 Ratings

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.

    Skeptic Check: Data Bias (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”

    Originally aired September 2, 2019
    Featuring opening theme by Jun Miyake
    Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science.
     
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    • 54 min
    De-Permafrosting

    De-Permafrosting

    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.

    Originally aired September 6, 2021
    Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake
    Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science.
    You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!
     
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    • 54 min
    Like Lightning

    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
    Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake
    Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science.
     
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 54 min
    Coming to Our Animal Senses

    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:
    Ed Yong – Science writer for The Atlantic whose coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic earned him a Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism. He is the author of, “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us.” 
    Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake
    Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science.
     
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 54 min
    Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself (rebroadcast)

    Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself (rebroadcast)

    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:


    Katherine Foley – Science and health reporter at Quartz, and author of the article “Alexa is a Terrible Doctor”


    Paul Offit – Professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of “Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information”


    Richard Marlink – Director Rutgers Global Health Institute.


    Shinjini Kundu – Research Fellow, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


    Stuart Schlisserman – Internist, Palo Alto, California

     
    originally aired September 24, 2018
    A special offer to Big Picture Science listeners: Receive 60% off the first month of a MEL Physics, MEL Chemistry or MEL STEM subscription. Just go to MELscience.com and use the promo code BPS or follow this link: https://melscience.com/sBI3/.
    Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science.
    You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!
     
     
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 54 min
    Platypus Crazy (rebroadcast)

    Platypus Crazy (rebroadcast)

    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

    Originally aired August 2, 2021
    Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake
    A special offer to Big Picture Science listeners: Receive 60% off the first month of a MEL Physics, MEL Chemistry or MEL STEM subscription. Just go to MELscience.com and use the promo code BPS or follow this link: https://melscience.com/sBI3/. You like science, that’s why you listen to Big Picture Science. So why not check out MEL science for your kids?
    Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science.
    You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support!
     
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
72 Ratings

72 Ratings

TheBellaGurl ,

Lets Stick together episode - one of the best

You have to listen to this one. Wait to you learn what other animal uses and controls fire to their own ends. Amazing. Also - chimps can't stand not knowing every chimp that they see. But - yep humans don't care.

MikeyMike66 ,

The Great Work of JHI

Thank you for pointing out the Johns Hopkins Institute's great work on this pandemic. The incredible insight into the future from their 2017 paper SPARS 2025 so accurately predicted and depicted the present we now live in so accurately, it almost seems planed.

o97toi76f ,

Soooo good

Thanks so much to the BPS staff members for producing such a valuable and high quality science program. I love it.

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