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.
Into the Deep
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?
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)
Sex Post Facto (rebroadcast)
Birds do it, bees do it, but humans may not do it for much longer. At least not for having children. Relying on sex to reproduce could be supplanted by making babies in the lab, where parents-to-be can select genomes that will ensure ideal physical and behavioral traits.
Men hoping to be fathers should act sooner rather than later. These same advancements in biotechnology could allow women to fertilize their own eggs, making the need for male sperm obsolete.
Meanwhile, some animals already reproduce asexually. Find out how female African bees can opt to shut out male bees intent on expanding the hive.
Will engineering our offspring have a down side? Sex creates vital genetic diversity, as demonstrated by evolution of wild animals in urban areas. Find out how birds, rodents and insects use sex in the city to adapt and thrive.
Menno Schilthuizen – Biologist and ecologist, at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Leiden University in The Netherlands. His New York Times op-ed, “Evolution is Happening Faster Than We Thought,” is here. Matthew Webster – Evolutionary biologist, Uppsala University, Sweden Hank Greely – Law professor and ethicist, Stanford University, who specializes in the ethical, legal and social implications of biomedical technologies. His book is “The End of Sex and The Future of Reproduction.” Originally aired September 19, 2016
Time Travel Agents (rebroadcast)
Hey, let’s meet last week for coffee. Okay, we can’t meet in the past… yet. But could it be only a matter of time before we can? In an attempt to defy the grandfather paradox, scientists try sending a photon back in time to destroy itself.
Also, find out how teleportation allows particles to instantaneously skip through space-time and why sending humans wouldn’t violate the laws of physics.
But before you pack your bags for that instantaneous trip to Paris, we need to understand the nature of time. A physicist offers a testable theory and ponders how it bears on free will.
Plus, feel as if time comes to a standstill when you’re standing in line? Tricks for altering your perception of time while you wait. Some businesses already use them on you.
Richard Muller – Physicist, University of California Berkeley, author of “Now: The Physics of Time” Seth Lloyd – Professor of quantum mechanical engineering, M.I.T. Emma Bentley – contributor David Andrews – Author of, “Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster?” Originally aired October 17, 2016
The Other Living World (rebroadcast)
Reason for hope is just one thing that ecologist Carl Safina can offer. He understands why many of us turn to nature to find solace during this stressful time. Safina studies the challenges facing the ultimate survival of many species, but also gives a portrait of animals from their point of view. He describes how diverse animals such as sperm whales, bear cubs, macaws, and chickens deal with uncertainty, and assert their quirky individuality while learning to become part of a community. So is it possible for us to reconnect not just with humanity, but also with the other living world?
Carl Safina – An ecologist and McArthur Fellow who writes extensively about the human relationship with the natural world. He is the founding president of the Safina Center, a professor at Stony Brook University, and author of many books – most recently, “Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace” originally aired April 13, 2020
Skeptic Check: Stay Skeptical
Whether you call it hooey, codswallop, or malarky, misinformation is not what it used to be. It’s harder to spot now. New-school BS is often cloaked in the trappings of math, science, and statistics. Can you identify which tweets about a new COVID study are fraudulent? Plus, deceptive on-line advertisements that relentlessly beg for our attention. All in all, it’s a jungle out there. We have tips for getting through it.
Carl Bergstrom – Evolutionary biologist at the University of Washington and author of “Calling B******t: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World.” Franziska Roesner – Associate Professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington Eric Zeng – Graduate student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington
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?
Kathy Baughman McLeod – director and senior vice president of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at The Atlantic Council Pippa Moore – Marine ecologist at Newcastle University in the U.K. Ted Derouin – Michigan farmer Jeff Dukes – Ecologist and director of Purdue Climate Change Research Center at Purdue University. Arturo Casadevall – Molecular microbiologist and immunologist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Customer ReviewsSee All
Love listening to these podcasts! Very informative about interesting subjects, especially love the space topics. 🚀
Each episode is like a roll of the dice
25% of these are great programs, well presented and easy to understand.the rest have become heavily biased and eventually have to delete them as my anger increases.
I like to hear both sides of the coin, but not feel belittled because I don’t feel compelled to follow the leader.
Please stay scientific like the earlier programs.
2020 brought nothing but political BS on this podcast. I can’t take it anymore.
I just unsubscribed and deleted all episodes.
Thanks to you
I wish I had come across this podcast sooner. Very fascinating and I like the format. Great hosting and guests as well!