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 Cosmos: It's Big, It's Weird

It’s all about you. And you, and you, and you and you… that is, if we live in parallel universes. Imagine you doing exactly what you’re doing now, but in an infinite number of universes.

Discover the multiverse theory and why repeats aren’t limited to summer television.

Plus, the physics of riding on a light beam, and the creative analogies a New York Times science writer uses to avoid using the word “weird” to describe dark energy and other weird physics.

Also, people who concoct their own theories (some would say fringe) of the universe: is all matter made up of tiny coiled springs?

Guests:

01/09/12



 
 Light, the Universe, and Everything

ENCORE What’s it all about? And we mean ALL. What makes up this vast sprawling cosmos? Why does it exist? Why do we exist? Why is there something rather than nothing? Ow, my head hurts!

For possible answers, we travel to the moment after the Big Bang and discover all that came into being in those few minutes after the great flash: time, space, matter, and light. Plus, the bizarre stuff that makes up the bulk of the universe: dark energy and dark matter.

Also, what we set in motion with the invention of the light blub. How artificial light lit up our homes, our cities and – inadvertently – our skies.

Guests:

Descripción en español

First aired September 6, 2010

01/02/12



 
 Sensor Sensibility

Have you lost your senses? You’ll find them everywhere you look. Sensors respond to external stimuli – light, sound, temperature and much else – to help us make sense (ha!) of our universe. And more are on their way. “Ubiquitous sensing” is the term that describes a world blanketed by tiny sensors: on bridges, in paint and medicine bottles, and even in our brains!

Discover where you’ll find sensors next. And, has the world’s largest detection device found the elusive particle that will help explain the universe? Where are you, Higgsy-wiggsy?

Also, out-of-this world sensors have detected a possibly Earth-like planet. What’s next for the Kepler planet-hunters?

Plus, DIY sensor kits, and, if computers can do all that, why can’t we send the odor of, say, freshly-baked bread over the Internet? The case for a smell-o-meter.

Guests:

12/19/11



 
 Going Viral

The term “bird flu” is a misnomer, scientists say, because almost all human influenza originates in our feathered friends. How it lands in you and spreads is another matter …

Hear what it takes for a virus to go global, from a virus hunter who plans to stop epidemics in their tiny DNA tracks with an innovative global surveillance system.

Also, why your genome is littered with fossil viruses of the past … the two largest viruses discovered so far, Mimi and Mega, square off … and, what it takes for ideas to “go viral.”

Guests:

12/12/11



 
 Science's Alliances

Mom and apple pie. Computers and silicon. Martians and death rays. Some things just go together naturally. But how about science and politics? Science and religion? Science and fiction? These pairings are often unnatural and contentious … but they don’t have to be.

Discover how science can team up with other endeavors in productive, if surprising, symbiosis.

Meet a particle physicist, turned U.S. Congressman, who calls for more scientists on Capitol Hill. Also, a tour of the Golden Age of Islamic Science.

Plus, scientists named Elmo and Super Grover 2.0 teach small children to conduct experiments with the help of chickens and dancing penguins.

And, it’s not quite science but it’s not entirely ficition either: how sci-fi helps shape our cultural debates about the future.

Guests:

12/05/11



 
 Skeptic Check: Dubiology

There’s no harm talking to your houseplant, but will your chatter really help it grow? We look at various biological claims, from whether plants feel pain to the ability of cats to predict earthquakes. Feline forecasters, anyone?

Also, when does understanding biology have important implications for health and policy? The arguments for and against genetically modified foods, and the danger of “pox parties” as a replacement for childhood vaccination.

Plus, the history and current state of scientific literacy in the United States. When did we stop trusting science?

Guests:

11/28/11



 
 We've Got You Made

ENCORE Wish you could ditch computers? There´s no escape button for that. Computers are not only a part of your daily grind, they may soon be a part of you. We´ll hear from the world´s first cyborg about why we should make nice in our arms race with machines.

Also, the secret behind the extraordinary breakthroughs that DARPA scientists are making –“ from building autonomous cars to wiring robotic surgeons.

Plus, making space for humans... and their bodily functions: the engineering tricks of toiletry. And, a carbon-based astronaut on the view of Earth from orbit.

Guests:

Descripción en español

First aired August 23, 2010.

11/21/11



 
 Blame it on Bacterio

Think small! Microbes are tinier than the dot at the end of this sentence, yet they can make humans sicker than dogs, dogs sicker than humans, jump from animal to human and keep scientists guessing when and where the next disease will appear.

Discover how doctors diagnosed one man´s mysterious infection, the role that animals play as hosts for disease, and why the rate of emerging diseases is increasing worldwide.

Also, why your kitchen is a biosafety hazard, and how the Human Microbiome Project will tally all the microbes on –“ and in –“ you.

Plus, the extreme places on Earth where microbes thrive and what it suggests for the existence of alien life. And, how one strain of bacteria helped a farmer grow a pumpkin the weight of a small car!

Guests:

Descripción en español

11/14/11



 
 NASA or What?

"Making space for everyone" could be NASA´s motto. But as commercial spaceships get ready to blast off, that populist idea is being tested. Space cowboys in the private sector say they´re the ones who can provide unfettered access to space, for tourists and scientists alike.

Meet a scientist who already has a ticket to ride on SpaceShip Two and discover what he hopes to learn about asteroids during his five minutes of weightlessness.

Plus, NASA in motion: it´s back to the moon as the GRAIL mission probes the interior of our lovely lunar satellite. Also, can you dig it? The rover Curiosity can. It´s headed to Mars to hunt for clues to alien life ... with a jackhammer.

Also, as the Hubble Space Telescope shuts down, the James Webb Space Telescope revs up. Or does it? The telescope is designed to study the birth of galaxies and hunt for evidence of water on far away worlds. But will Congress pull the plug?

Guests:

11/07/11



 
 What's Your Poison?

ENCORE Aspirin and Old Lace? Okay, it would take a bottle full of pills in a glass of elderberry wine to really harm you, but aspirin can be deadly. So can too much of anything, including water. Dose is key in toxicology, after all, but there are some poisons that can do deadly work in tiny amounts.

Hear about the chemistry of poisons ... why Botox may freeze your emotions as well as your face... which animal is most lethal to humans... and how 19th-century poisoners got away with murder –“ until the birth of forensic science.

Guests:

Descripción en español

First aired July 26, 2010

10/10/11


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