300 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 Wizzard Media

    • Natural Sciences

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.

    Math's Paths (rebroadcast)

    Math's Paths (rebroadcast)

    If you bake, you can appreciate math’s transformative properties.  Admiring the stackable potato chip is to admire a hyperbolic sheet.  Find out why there’s no need to fear math - you just need to think outside the cuboid.  Also, how nature’s geometric shapes inspire the next generation of squishy robots and an argument for radically overhauling math class.  The end point of these common factors is acute show that’s as fun as eating Pi.
    Guests:
    Eugenia Cheng – Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, tenured at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and author of “How to Bake Pi” Shankar Venkataramani – Professor of math at the University of Arizona Steven Strogatz – Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University and author of “Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe” Daniel Finkel – Mathematician and founder and director of operations at “Math for Love”  

    • 51 min
    On Thin Ice (rebroadcast)

    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 CO2 threatens frozen H2O. 
    Guests:
    Peter Wadhams- Emeritus Professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University in the U.K. and the author of A 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 biologist, Montana State University Originally aired August 14, 2017
     

    • 51 min
    Skeptic Check: Know-It-Alls

    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 for Science magazine 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 min
    Something in the Air

    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 min
    COVID Curiosities

    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 min
    Creative Brains (Rebroadcast)

    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 is Homo 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 min

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