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.
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?
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.
DescripciÃ³n en espaÃ±ol
First aired August 23, 2010.
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!
"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?
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.
First aired July 26, 2010
Zombies, aliens, Bigfoot, oh my!! We´ve covered –“ or rather uncovered –“ them all and more on Skeptic Check, our monthly look of critical thinking. And now we´ve collected enough strange encounters to assemble a sordid retrospective of sorts.
Sharpen your brain, it´s Skeptic Check, Beast Of. But don´t take our word for it!
The tools of forensics have moved way beyond fingerprint kits. These days, a prosecutor is as likely to wave a fMRI brain scan as a smoking gun as “Exhibit A.” Discover what happens when neuroscience has its day in court.
Meanwhile, research into the gold standard of identification, DNA, marches on. One day we may determine a suspect´s eye color from a drop of blood.
Plus, why much of forensic science –“ from fingerprinting to the polygraph –“ is more like reading tea leaves than science. And will future crime victims be robots?
We all talk about the weather. And now scientists are doing something about it: providing more accurate warnings before big storms hit. Discover how smart technology –“ with an eye on the sky –“ is taking monster weather events by storm.
Plus, why severe weather events caused by a warming planet may trigger social and economic chaos.
Also, meet the storm chaser who runs toward tornadoes as everyone else flees... and why your cell phone goes haywire when the sun kicks up a storm of its own.
Anyone who does gardening knows that life is tough. It´s also ancient –“ the first living things appeared on this planet nearly as soon as our world was habitable. We consider life on real worlds –“ like Earth and Mars –“ as well as fictional ones, such as the desert planet from the movie "Dune". We´ll hear about a new scheme to find Martians, and practical approaches to coping with climate change.
And is Pluto seeking revenge? The unmasking of a fourth moon around this former planet!
We´re making some lively discoveries in Seth´s Tool Shed on Big Picture Science.