Try Premium for 30 days

Live games for all NFL, MLB, NBA, & NHL teams
Commercial-Free Music
No Display Ads
Big Picture Science-logo

Big Picture Science

13.2K Favorites

Big Picture Science is a one-hour radio show and podcast that connects ideas in surprising and humorous ways to illuminate the origins and evolution of life and technology on this planet... and beyond.

Big Picture Science is a one-hour radio show and podcast that connects ideas in surprising and humorous ways to illuminate the origins and evolution of life and technology on this planet... and beyond.
More Information

Location:

Mountain View, CA

Description:

Big Picture Science is a one-hour radio show and podcast that connects ideas in surprising and humorous ways to illuminate the origins and evolution of life and technology on this planet... and beyond.

Twitter:

@BiPiSci

Language:

English

Contact:

SETI Institute 189 Bernardo Ave, Suite 100 Mountain View, CA 94043 510-644-2669


Episodes

With All Our Mites

12/11/2017
More
ENCORE You are not alone. You can’t see ‘em, but your face is a festival of face mites. They’ve evolved with us for millennia. And a new study finds that hundreds of different tiny spiders, beetles, and – our favorite - book lice make your home theirs. But before you go bonkers with the disinfectant, consider: eradicating these critters may do more harm than good. Some are such close evolutionary partners with humans that they keep us healthy and can even reveal something about our...

Duration: 00:50:30


Air Apparent

12/4/2017
More
Whether you yawn, gasp, sniff, snore, or sigh, you’re availing yourself of our very special atmosphere. It’s easy to take this invisible chemical cocktail for granted, but it’s not only essential to your existence: it unites you and every other life form on the planet, dead or alive. The next breath you take likely includes molecules exhaled by Julius Caesar or Eleanor Roosevelt. And for some animals, air is an information superhighway. Dogs navigate with their noses. Their sniffing...

Duration: 00:50:30


Time Travel Agents

11/27/2017
More
ENCORE 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...

Duration: 00:50:59


Wonder Women

11/20/2017
More
We’re hearing about harassment of, and barriers to, women seeking careers in politics and entertainment. But what about science? Science is supposed to be uniquely merit-based and objective. And yet the data say otherwise. A new study reveals widespread harassment of women of color in space science. We look at the role that a hostile work environment plays in keeping women from pursuing scientific careers. While more women than ever are holding jobs in science, the percentage in tech and...

Duration: 00:50:59


Skeptic Check: Nibiru! (Again!)

11/13/2017
More
Will your calendar entry for November 19th be your last? Some people say yes, predicting a catastrophic collision between Earth and planet Nibiru on that date and the end of the world. But it won’t happen, because this hypothesized rogue world doesn’t exist. Nibiru’s malevolent disruptions have been foretold many times, most dramatically in 2012 and three times so far in 2017. But this year NASA issued a rare public assurance that doomsday was not in the offing. Find out why the agency...

Duration: 00:50:59


DNA: Nature's Hard Drive

11/6/2017
More
The biotech tool CRISPR lets us do more than shuffle genes. Researchers have embedded an animated GIF into a living organism’s DNA, proving that the molecule is a great repository for information. This has encouraged speculation that DNA could be used by aliens to send messages. Meanwhile, nature has seized on this powerful storage system in surprising ways. Scientists have learned that the 98% of our genome – once dismissed as “junk” – contains valuable genetic treasure. Find out what...

Duration: 00:52:09


Venom Diagram

10/30/2017
More
ENCORE We all get defensive sometimes. For some animals, evolution has provided a highly effective mechanism for saying “back off!”. A puncture by a pair of venom-filled fangs gets the point across nicely. But one animal’s poison may be another’s cure. Some dangerous critters churn out compounds that can be synthesized into life-saving drugs. Meet the spiny, fanged, and oozing creatures who could help defend us against such illnesses as hypertension and kidney disease. Plus, the King of...

Duration: 00:51:35


Sex Post Facto

10/23/2017
More
ENCORE 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...

Duration: 00:51:35


Too Big To Prove

10/16/2017
More
Celebrations are in order for the physicists who won the 2017 Nobel Prize, for the detection of gravitational waves. But the road to Stockholm was not easy. Unfolding over a century, it went from doubtful theory to daring experiments and even disrepute. 100 years is a major lag between a theory and its confirmation, and new ideas in physics may take even longer to prove. Why it may be your great, great grandchildren who witness the confirmation of string theory. Plus, the exciting...

Duration: 00:52:45


On Defense

10/9/2017
More
ENCORE The military is a dangerous calling. But technology can help out, so researchers are constantly trying to make soldiers safer. Writer Mary Roach investigates how scientists studying so-called human factors are protecting troops from such aggressive foes as heat, noise, and fatigue. She also learns how bad odors were once considered a secret weapon. And while soldiers have long used camouflage to help them blend in, insects may be the original masters of disguise. A discovery in...

Duration: 00:50:59


It's In Material

10/2/2017
More
Astronauts are made of the “right stuff,” but what about their spacesuits? NASA’s pressurized and helmeted onesies are remarkable, but they need updating if we’re to boldly go into deep space. Suiting up on Mars requires more manual flexibility, for example. Find out what innovative materials might be used to reboot the suit. Meanwhile, strange new materials are in the pipeline for use on terra firma: spider silk is kicking off the development of biological materials that are inspiring...

Duration: 00:50:30


Skeptic Check: Aliens - The Evidence

9/25/2017
More
ENCORE Once again the aliens have landed … in theaters. It’s no spoiler to say that the latest cinematic sci-fi, Arrival, involves extraterrestrials visiting Earth. But for some folks, the film’s premise is hardly shocking. They’re convinced that the aliens have already come. But is there any proof that aliens are here now or that they landed long ago to, for example, help build the Egyptian pyramids? Meanwhile, SETI scientists are deploying their big antennas in an effort to establish...

Duration: 00:50:30


Angles of a Hack

9/18/2017
More
Changed your computer password recently? We all try to stay one step ahead of the hackers, but the fear factor is increasing. The risks can range from stolen social security numbers to sabotaging a national power grid. Sixty years ago, when hacking meant nosing around the telephone network, it seemed innocent enough. And not all modern hacking has criminal intent. Today, there are biohackers who experiment with implanted electronic devices to improve themselves, and geoengineers who...

Duration: 00:52:07


Plan of a Hack

9/11/2017
More
Long before cyber criminals were stealing ATM passwords, phone phreaks were tapping into the telephone system. Their motivation was not monetary, but the thrill of defeating a complex, invisible network. Today “hacking” can apply to cyberwarfare, biological tinkering, or even geoengineering. Often it has negative connotations, but the original definition of “hacking” was something else. In this first of two episodes on hacking, we look at the original practitioners – the teenagers and...

Duration: 00:51:47


Born Legacy

9/4/2017
More
ENCORE We know how the stars shine, but how do you make a star? We take an all-night ride on a high-flying jet – an airborne observatory called SOFIA – to watch astronomers investigate how a star is born. As for how the universe was born, we know about the Big Bang but modern physics suggests that similar cosmic explosions may be happening all the time, and even hint that we could – in principle – create a new universe in a laboratory. What does this mean, and how could we do it? From...

Duration: 00:52:07


Elements Never Forget

8/28/2017
More
ENCORE It’s elementary, Watson. Things are in flux – from the elements in the air you breathe to party balloons. We investigate the massive, historic loss of nitrogen from the atmosphere and meet the culprits behind a modern-day helium shortage. But it’s not all a disappearing act: be thankful that oxygen showed up in our atmosphere a few billion years ago. Meanwhile, atom smashers have recently produced some new elements. Their appearance was brief, but long enough to fill out the...

Duration: 00:51:49


Musical Universe

8/21/2017
More
ENCORE In space, no one can hear you scream, but, using the right instruments, scientists can pick up all types of cosmic vibrations – the sort we can turn into sound. After a decade of listening, LIGO, a billion-dollar physics experiment, has detected gravitational waves caused by the collision of massive black holes, a brief shaking of spacetime that can be translated into a short squeal. We listen to the chirp of black holes crashing into each other and wonder: could the universe...

Duration: 00:50:30


On Thin Ice

8/14/2017
More
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...

Duration: 00:50:30


Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage

8/7/2017
More
ENCORE Can an opera singer’s voice really shatter glass? Can you give your car a rocket-assisted boost and survive the test drive? How do you protect yourself from a shark attack? Those are among the many intriguing questions and urban legends tested by the MythBusters team in front of the camera. Now that the series has ended after a 16 year run, co-host Adam Savage tells us how it all began, how he and Jamie Hyneman walked the line between science and entertainment, and why he considers...

Duration: 00:51:32


Caught in a Traps

7/31/2017
More
ENCORE "Locked and loaded” is how one scientist recently described the San Andreas fault. Find out when this famous west-coast rift might cause “the big one;” also, the state of early earthquake warning systems. Plus, another sign of our planet’s unceasing turmoil: volcanos! Could the eruption that produced the Deccan Traps, and not a rock from space, have been the nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs? One seismologist shares new evidence about some suspicious timing. And, the man who...

Duration: 00:51:49

See More