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Nailing the Moon Landing from Big Picture Science

From Big Picture Science - Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effortless, but the moon landing was neither easy nor inevitable.  Soon after President Kennedy publicly stated the goal of sending Americans to the moon, NASA confessed that the chances of success were only about 50/50.   But on July 20, 1969, despite enormous difficulties, astronauts stepped onto the lunar regolith. In this special anniversary episode, we go behind the iconic phrases and familiar photos to consider the errors, mishaps, and the Plan B contingencies that dogged the project, as well as hear of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who made Apollo 11 possible.    Guests: Charles Fishman -  author of "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon" Matt Hayes -  President and CEO of the Museum of Flight, Seattle Geoff Nunn - Adjust curator for Space History at the Museum of Flight. David Whitehouse -  Journalist, broadcaster, and author of "Apollo 11: The Inside Story" Dee O'Hara - NASA's first aerospace nurse and flight nurse for the Apollo mission James Allen Joki - EMU Flight Controller, Apollo Mission Control, Houston. Ted Huetter - Museum of Flight public relations manager.


Big Picture Science
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Nailing the Moon Landing
2019-07-01 08:36:21
Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effortless, but the moon landing was neither easy nor inevitable.  Soon after President Kennedy publicly stated the goal of sending Americans to the moon, NASA confessed that the chances of success were only about 50/50.   But on July 20, 1969, despite enormous difficulties, astronauts stepped onto the lunar regolith. In this special anniversary episode, we go behind the iconic phrases and familiar photos to consider the errors, mishaps, and the Plan B contingencies that dogged the project, as well as hear of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who made Apollo 11 possible.    Guests: Charles Fishman -  author of "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon" Matt Hayes -  President and CEO of the Museum of Flight, Seattle Geoff Nunn - Adjust curator for Space History at the Museum of Flight. David Whitehouse -  Journalist, broadcaster, and author of "Apollo 11: The Inside Story" Dee O'Hara - NASA's first aerospace nurse and flight nurse for the Apollo mission James Allen Joki - EMU Flight Controller, Apollo Mission Control, Houston. Ted Huetter - Museum of Flight public relations manager.
50 minutes, 31 seconds


Stopping Ebola
2019-11-18 07:56:22
A new vaccine may help turn Ebola into a disease we can prevent, and a new drug may make it one we can cure.  But the political crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo has fueled violence against health workers and Ebola treatment centers.  Find out why context matters in the efforts to stop Ebola, what new drugs and vaccines are on the horizon, and whether the world is prepared for the next infectious pandemic.  Even if Ebola's threat is diminishing, what about the next pandemic?  Is the world prepared? Guests: Richard Preston - Journalist and author  of "Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History." Yap Boum - Regional representative for Africa for Epicentre, the research arm of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Cameroon. Amy Maxmen - Senior reporter, Nature.  Her most recent piece is "Behind the Front Lines of the Ebola Wars."


Supercomputer Showdown
2019-11-04 07:50:46
Do you have a hard-to-answer question?  The Summit, Sierra, Trinity, Frontier, and Aurora supercomputers are built to tackle it.  Summit tops the petaflop heap - at least for now.  But Frontier and Aurora are catching up as they take aim at a new performance benchmark called exascale.    So why do we need all this processing power?  From climate modeling to personalized medicine, find out why the super-est computers are necessary to answer our biggest questions. But is the dark horse candidate, quantum computing, destined to leave classical computing in the dust? Guests: Katherine Riley - Director of Science, Argonne National Laboratory Jack Wells - Director of Science, Oak Ridge National Laboratory National Center for Computational Sciences Katie Bethea - Communications Team Lead, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Jeffrey Hawkins - Technologist and neuroscientist.  Co-founder of Palm, Handspring and Numenta Eleanor Rieffel - Mathematician, NASA Ames Research Center, and co-author of "Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor," published in Nature magazine


Nobel Efforts
2019-10-21 08:00:56
For two Swiss astronomers, it's "Stockholm, here we come."  Their first-ever discovery of a planet orbiting another star has been awarded the most prestigious prize in science.  Find out how their exoplanet discovery led to 4,000 more and how that changes the odds of finding life beyond Earth.  Also, the Nobel committee is not alone in finding distant worlds inspirational: a musician is translating their orbital signatures into sound. Guests: Roy Gould - Biophysicist and researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Author of "Universe in Creation" Jeffrey Smith - Data scientist and a principal investigator for TESS at the SETI Institute David Ibbett - Composer and director of the Multiverse Concert Series


Battling Bacteria
2019-10-07 07:33:27
We can't say we weren't warned.  More than 75 years ago, bacteriologist Rene Dubos cautioned that misuse of antibiotics could breed drug-resistant bacteria - and he has been proved prescient.  In this episode: the rise of superbugs, why we ignored the warnings about them, how some are enlisting an old therapy to fight back, and whether we'll heed history's lessons in the face of a future pandemic.  Plus, a weird unforeseen effect of antibiotics being investigated at the Body Farm.  Guests: Fred Turek - Director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology, Department of Neurobology, Northwestern University Jennifer DeBruyn - Microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, who also works at the Anthropology Research Facility, a.k.a. the Body Farm   Steffanie Strathdee - Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author (with Tom Patterson) of  "The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug" Tom Patterson - Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author (with Steffanie Strathdee) of  "The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug" Mark Honigsbaum - Medical Historian, journalist, and lecturer at City University, London, and author of "The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris"


Headed For Trouble
2019-09-30 08:47:12
The stone heads on Easter Island are an enduring mystery: why were they built and why were they abandoned and destroyed?  The old ideas about cultural collapse are yielding to new ones based on careful investigation on the ground - but also from above.  What surprising explanations have we found and are we off base to think that ancient societies such as the Easter Islanders or the classical Egyptians were, in the end, failures?  Can what we learn from these histories help predict which societies will survive? Guests: James Grant Peterkin - Tour guide, resident, and British Honorary Consul on Easter Island Sarah Parcak - Archaeologist, Egyptologist, remote sensing expert, professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and author of Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past Carl Lipo - Anthropologist and professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York


For Good Measure
2019-09-09 07:53:48
The reign of Le Grand K has come to an end. After 130 years, this hunk of metal sitting in a Parisian vault will no longer define the kilogram. The new kilogram mass will be defined by Planck's constant, joining three other units for redefinition by fundamental constants.  But as we measure with increasing precision - from cesium atomic clocks to gravitational wave detectors able to measure spacetime distortions to 1/1000th the width of a proton - is something fundamental lost along the way?  Meanwhile, the BiPiSci team accepts the banana-measurement challenge. Guests: Jon Pratt - Mechanical engineer and engineer and Chief of the Quantum Measurement Division of the Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Wolfgang Ketterle - Physicist at MIT, Nobel Laureate Simon Winchester - Author of "The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World"


Skeptic Check: Data Bias
2019-09-02 09:00:00
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"


Granting Immunity
2019-08-12 07:44:53
"Diversity or die" could be your new health mantra. Don't boost your immune system, cultivate it! Like a garden, your body's defenses benefit from species diversity.  Find out why multiple strains of microbes, engaged in a delicate ballet with your T-cells, join internal fungi in combatting disease. Plus, global ecosystems also depend on the diversity of its tiniest members; so what happens when the world's insects bug out? Guests: Matt Richtel - Author, most recently, of "An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of The Immune System" Rob Dunn - Biologist and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University. Author of "Never Home Alone" David Underhill - Professor of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, California Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson - Professor in conservation biology at the Institute for Ecology and Nature Management at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.  Author of "Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects"  


Let's Stick Together
2019-07-22 08:56:11
Crowded subway driving you crazy?  Sick of the marathon-length grocery store line? Wish you had a hovercraft to float over traffic?  If you are itching to hightail it to an isolated cabin in the woods, remember, we evolved to be together.  Humans are not only social, we're driven to care for one another, even those outside our immediate family.   We look at some of the reasons why this is so - from the increase in valuable communication within social groups to the power of the hormone oxytocin.  Plus, how our willingness to tolerate anonymity, a condition which allows societies to grow, has a parallel in ant supercolonies. Guests: Adam Rutherford - Geneticist and author of "Humanimal: How Homo sapiensBecame Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature - a New Evolutionary History" Patricia Churchland - Neurophilosopher, professor of philosophy emerita at the University of California San Diego, and author most recently of "Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition" Mark Moffett - Tropical biologist, Smithsonian Institution researcher, and author of "The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive and Fall"


Math's Paths
2019-07-15 06:42:47
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"


Nailing the Moon Landing
2019-07-01 08:36:21
Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effortless, but the moon landing was neither easy nor inevitable.  Soon after President Kennedy publicly stated the goal of sending Americans to the moon, NASA confessed that the chances of success were only about 50/50.   But on July 20, 1969, despite enormous difficulties, astronauts stepped onto the lunar regolith. In this special anniversary episode, we go behind the iconic phrases and familiar photos to consider the errors, mishaps, and the Plan B contingencies that dogged the project, as well as hear of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who made Apollo 11 possible.    Guests: Charles Fishman -  author of "One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon" Matt Hayes -  President and CEO of the Museum of Flight, Seattle Geoff Nunn - Adjust curator for Space History at the Museum of Flight. David Whitehouse -  Journalist, broadcaster, and author of "Apollo 11: The Inside Story" Dee O'Hara - NASA's first aerospace nurse and flight nurse for the Apollo mission James Allen Joki - EMU Flight Controller, Apollo Mission Control, Houston. Ted Huetter - Museum of Flight public relations manager.


Animals Like Us
2019-06-24 08:28:17
Laughing rats, sorrowful elephants, joyful chimpanzees.  The more carefully we observe, and the more we learn about animals, the closer their emotional lives appear to resemble our own.  Most would agree that we should minimize the physical suffering of animals, but should we give equal consideration to their emotional stress?  Bioethicist Peter Singer weighs in. Meanwhile, captivity that may be ethical: How human-elephant teamwork in Asia may help protect an endangered species. Guests: Frans de Waal - Primatologist and biologist at Emory University; author of "Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves."  Watch the video of Mama and Jan Van Hooff. Peter Singer - Philosopher, professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Jacob Shell - Professor of geography at Temple University, and author of "Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants." Kevin Schneider - Executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project


Skeptic Check: Worrier Mentality
2019-05-27 08:33:35
Poisonous snakes, lightning strikes, a rogue rock from space.  There are plenty of scary things to fret about, but are we burning adrenaline on the right ones?  Stepping into the bathtub is more dangerous than flying from a statistical point of view, but no one signs up for "fear of showering" classes.  Find out why we get tripped up by statistics, worry about the wrong things, and how the "intelligence trap" not only leads smart people to make dumb mistakes, but actually causes them to make more. Guests: Eric Chudler - Research association professor, department of bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle and co-author of "Worried: Science Investigates Some of Life's Common Concerns" Lise Johnson - Director of the Basic Science Curriculum, Rocky Vista University, and co-author of "Worried: Science Investigates Some of Life's Common Concerns" Willie Turner - Vice President of Operations at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA Charles Wheelan - Senior Lecturer and Policy Fellow, Dartmouth College, and author of "Naked Statistics" David Robson - Commissioning Editor for the BBC and author of "The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes"


Is Life Inevitable?
2019-05-13 07:25:24
A new theory about life's origins updates Darwin's warm little pond.  Scientists say they've created the building blocks of biology in steaming hot springs. Meanwhile, we visit a NASA lab where scientists simulate deep-sea vent chemistry to produce the type of environment that might spawn life.  Which site is best suited for producing biology from chemistry? Find out how the conditions of the early Earth were different from today, how meteors seeded Earth with organics, and a provocative idea that life arose as an inevitable consequence of matter shape-shifting to dissipate heat. Could physics be the driving force behind life's emergence?   Guests: Caleb Scharf - Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York Laurie Barge - Research scientist in astrobiology at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Bruce Damer - Research scientist in biomolecular engineering, University of California,  Jeremy England - Physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  


Rethinking Chernobyl
2019-05-06 08:08:08
The catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986 triggered the full-scale destruction of the reactor.  But now researchers with access to once-classified Soviet documents are challenging the official version of what happened both before and after the explosion. They say that the accident was worse than we thought and that a number of factors - from paranoia to poor engineering - made the mishap inevitable.  Others claim a much larger death toll from extended exposure to low levels of radiation.  But with nuclear energy being a possibly essential component of dealing with rising carbon dioxide emissions, how do we evaluate risk under the long shadow of Chernobyl? Guests: Adam Higginbotham - Author of "Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster" Kate Brown - Historian of Environmental and Nuclear History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of "Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide for the Future" James Smith - Professor in the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth, U.K. He was interviewed for and has written a review of "Manual for Survival" Ted Nordhaus - Founder and Executive Director of The Breakthrough Institute, Berkeley, California


Gained in Translation
2019-04-22 07:59:27
Your virtual assistant is not without a sense of humor. Its repertoire includes the classic story involving a chicken and a road.  But will Alexa laugh at your jokes? Will she groan at your puns?  Telling jokes is one thing. Teaching a computer to recognize humor is another, because a clear definition of humor is lacking. But doing so is a step toward making more natural interactions with A.I.   Find out what's involved in tickling A.I.'s funny bone. Also, an interstellar communication challenge: Despite debate about the wisdom of transmitting messages to space, one group sends radio signals to E.T. anyway. Find out how they crafted a non-verbal message and what it contained. Plus, why using nuanced language to connive and scheme ultimately turned us into a more peaceful species. And yes, it's all gouda: why melted cheese may be the cosmic message of peace we need. Guests: Julia Rayz - Computer scientist and associate professor at Purdue University's Department of Computer and Information Technology Steve Adler - Mayor of Austin, Texas Doug Vakoch - Psychologist and president of the non-profit organization METI International Richard Wrangham - Biological anthropologist at Harvard University and author of "The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution"


Go With the Flow
2019-04-08 08:00:50
Solid materials get all the production credit.  Don't get us wrong, we depend on their strength and firmness for bridges, bones, and bento boxes.  But liquids do us a solid, too.  Their free-flowing properties drive the Earth's magnetic field, inspire a new generation of smart electronics, and make biology possible.  But the weird thing is, they elude clear definition.  Is tar a liquid or a solid?  What about peanut butter? In this episode: A romp through a cascade of liquids with a materials scientist who is both admiring and confounded by their properties; how Earth's molten iron core is making the magnetic north pole high-tail it to Siberia; blood as your body's information superhighway; and how a spittlebug can convert 200 times its body weight in urine into a cozy, bubble fortress. Guests: Mark Miodownik - Professor of Materials and Society, University College, London, and author of "Liquid rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow Through Our Lives" Arnaud Chulliat - Geophysicist, University of Colorado and Institut de physique du globe du Paris Philip Matthews - Comparative physiologist at the University of British Columbia Rose George - Journalist and author of "Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood"  


DecodeHer
2019-04-01 09:00:00
DecodeHer They were pioneers in their fields, yet their names are scarcely known - because they didn't have a Y chromosome.  We examine the accomplishments of two women who pioneered code breaking and astronomy during the early years of the twentieth century and did so in the face of social opprobrium and a frequently hostile work environment. Henrietta Leavitt measured the brightnesses of thousands of stars and discovered a way to gauge the distances to galaxies, a development that soon led to the concept of the Big Bang. Elizabeth Friedman, originally hired to test whether William Shakespeare really wrote his plays, was soon establishing the science of code breaking, essential to success in the two world wars.  Also, the tech industry is overwhelmingly male.  Girls Who Code is an initiative to redress the balance by introducing girls to computer programming, and encouraging them to follow careers in tech.  Guests: Jason Fagone - Author of "The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies" Lauren Gunderson - Playwright of Silent Sky, which is being performed all over the world, form the First Folio Theatre to the Repertory Philippines Reshma Saujani - Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, and the author of "Brave, Not Perfect: Fear Less, Fail More, and Live Bolder"  


Radical Cosmology
2019-02-18 07:59:40
400 years ago, some ideas about the cosmos were too scandalous to mention. When the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno suggested that planets existed outside our Solar System, the Catholic Inquisition had him arrested, jailed, and burned at the stake for heresy. Today, we have evidence of thousands of planets orbiting other stars.  Our discovery of extrasolar planets has dramatically changed ideas about the possibility for life elsewhere in the universe.  Modern theories about the existence of the ghostly particles called neutrinos or of collapsed stars with unfathomable gravity (black holes), while similarly incendiary, didn't prompt arrest, of course.  Neutrinos and black holes were arresting ideas because they came decades before we had the means to prove their existence. Hear about scientific ideas that came before their time and why extrasolar planets, neutrinos, and black holes are now found on the frontiers of astronomical research. Guests: Alberto Martínez - Professor of history, University of Texas, Austin, and author of Burned Alive: Giordano Bruno, Galileo & the Inquisition Anne Schukraft - Associate scientist, Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory Ephraim Fischbach - Professor of physics and astronomy, Purdue University Chris Impey - Professor of astronomy, University of Arizona, and author of Einstein's Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes


Keeping Humans in the Loop
2019-02-11 09:00:00
Modern technology is great, but could we be losing control?  As our world becomes more crowded and demands for resources are greater, some people worry about humanity's uncertain prospects.  An eminent cosmologist considers globe-altering developments such as climate change and artificial intelligence.  Will we be able to stave off serious threats to our future? There's also another possible source of danger: our trendy digital aids.  We seem all-too-willing to let algorithms classify and define our wants, our needs, and our behavior. Instead of using technology, are we being used by it - to inadvertently become social media's product?  And while we may be skittish about the increased data our technology collects, one sci-fi writer imagines a future in which information is a pervasive and freely available commodity.  Guests: Martin Rees - Cosmologist, astrophysicist, and Great Britain's Astronomer Royal.  Author of On the Future: Prospects for Humanity. Douglas Rushkoff - Media theorist and professor of media theory and digital economics, City University of New York.  Author of Team Human. Malka Older - Author and humanitarian worker, author of The Centenal Cycle.


Skeptic Check: Astrology Ascending
2019-02-04 08:49:40
The fault is in our stars.  And according to astrology, so is our destiny, our moods, and our character.  Mars may be in retrograde, but interest in the ancient practice of astrology is rising.  The fact that it is not science is irrelevant to those who claim "it works."  Find out why "what's your sign" is replacing "what do you do?" as an icebreaker, the historical roots of astrology and whether its truth-value matters today, and what conclusions we can draw from the many studies examining the full moon's influence on human behavior. It's our monthly look at critical thinking, but don't take our word for it! Guests: Banu Guler - CEO and co-founder of Co-Star Astrology Andrew Fraknoi - Astronomy professor at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco and The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University. Eric Chudler - Research association professor, department of bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, and curator of a collection of studies about the moon and behavior.  


Rip Van Winkle Worm
2019-01-21 08:55:39
Your shower pipes are alive.  So are your sinks, books, and floorboards.  New studies of our homes are revealing just what species live there - in the thousands, from bacteria to flies to millipedes.  Meanwhile, life keeps surprising us by popping up in other unexpected places: the deep biosphere houses the majority of the world's bacteria and the Arctic tundra has kept worms frozen, but alive, for 40,000 years. We embrace the multitude of life living on us, in us, and - as it turns out - in every possible ecological niche.  Most of it is harmless, some is beneficial, and it's all testament to the amazing diversity and adaptability of life.  In addition, the hardiest organisms suggest where we might find life beyond Earth. Guests: Rob Dunn - Professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University and at the Natural History Museum at the University of Copenhagen. Author of "Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live." Lynn Rothschild - Astrobiologist and synthetic biologist at the NASA Ames Research Center. Karen Lloyd - Environmental microbiologist and associate professor at the University of Tennessee.


True Grit
2019-01-14 08:19:31
Without sand, engineering would be stuck in the Middle Ages.  Wooden houses would line mud-packed streets, and Silicon Valley would be, well, just a valley.  Sand is the building material of modern cities, and we use more of this resource than any other except water and air.  Now we're running out of it.  Hear why the Roman recipe for making concrete was lost until the 19th century, and about the super-secret mine in North Carolina that makes your smartphone possible.  Plus, engineered sand turns stormwater into drinking water, and why you might think twice about running barefoot on some tropical beaches once you learn about their biological source. And, a special report from the coast of Louisiana where livelihoods and ecosystems depend on the successful release of Mississippi sand from levees into sediment-starved wetlands. Guests: Vince Beiser - Journalist and author of "The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization" Joe Charbonnet - Science and policy associate at the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, California Pupa Gilbert - Biophysicist and geobiologist, University of Wisconsin, Madison Rudy Simoneaux - Engineer manager, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Elizabeth Chamberlain - Post-doctoral researcher in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University


Sci-Fi From the Future
2019-01-07 08:35:36
Are you ready to defer all your personal decision-making to machines? Polls show that most Americans are uneasy about the unchecked growth of artificial intelligence. The possible misuse of genetic engineering also makes us anxious. We all have a stake in the responsible development of science and technology, but fortunately, science fiction films can help. The movies Ex Machina and Jurassic Park suggest where A.I. and unfettered gene-tinkering could lead. But even less popular sci-fi movies can help us imagine unsettling scenarios regarding over-population, smart drugs, and human cloning.  And not all tales are grim.  The 1951 film, The Man in the White Suit, weaves a humorous story of materials science run amok.    So, grab a bowl of popcorn and join us in contemplating the future of humanity as Hollywood sees it! Guest: Andrew Maynard - Physicist and professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University.  Author of Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies.


Yule Like This
2018-12-17 08:24:06
Fir tree needles embedded in carpet are a holiday headache.  Why not decorate a genetically-modified, needle-retaining tree instead?  It's just another way that science is relevant to the holidays.  We have more. How about science experiments on fruitcake?  There's a competition that includes launching it with a pneumatic device, running a heavy electric current though it, or blasting it with a blowtorch.  Meanwhile, physics provides insight into those tricky how-does-he-do-it questions about Santa's delivery rounds.    Finally, step away from the relatives and consider the implications of the winter solstice.  Enjoy a better holiday through science! Guests: Jenna Gallas - Special Event Coordinator, Manitou Springs Chamber of Congress, Colorado Laura Kramer - Manager of Science Conductors, Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond Lilian Matallana - Research Associate, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh Ben Orlin - Math teacher, and author of "Math with Bad Drawings: Illuminating the Ideas That Shape Our Reality" Ethan Siegel - Theoretical astrophysicist and owner of "Starts with a Bang!" blog Andrew Fraknoi - Astronomer and educator, author of "Introduction to Astronomy"


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These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.