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 Fuel's Paradise

You know the joke about the car and the snail. Look at that escargot? Well, snails may be the only thing not powering the automobiles of the future. Trees, grass, algae, even the garbage you toss on the sidewalk has potential for conversion into biofuel. What is America´s next top model fuel? Join us on a tour of the contenders.

Meet a man who´s mad about miscanthus ... an astrobiologist´s attraction to algae... and the blueprint for building your own biofuel bugs.

Also, discover whether any of these next-generation fuel sources could take us to the stars. Put that in your rocket and burn it!

Guests:

  • Madhu Khanna –“ Professor of Agriculture and Environmental Economics at the University of Illinois and at the Energy Biosciences Institute
  • Stephen Long –“ Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Michelle Chang –“ Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley
  • Bret Stroegn –“ Graduate student researcher, Energy Bioscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley
  • Jonathan Trent –“ Bioengineering Research Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center and founder of Global Research into Energy and the Enviornment (GREEN )
  • Richard Obousy –“ Physicist and co-founder and project leader for Project Icarus

Descripción en español

04/25/11



 
 Big, Really Big

The universe is big –“ really big.* Galaxies, for instance, are often large enough to hold a trillion stars. But how did these heavenly heavyweights come to be? Hear how still-mysterious dark matter is implicated in the birth of galaxies.

Also, gamma ray bursts –“ explosions more energetic than anything since the Big Bang –“ take place somewhere in the visible universe every day. What are they, and could they obliterate life on Earth?

And, the biggest cosmic mystery de jour: dark energy. Why new, super-size telescopes may finally reveal just what it is.

We´re living large on "Big, Really Big."

*appreciative nod to Douglas Adams

Guests:

04/18/11



 
 Skeptic Check: Swimming in Denial

ENCORE Public distrust of science is higher than at any time since the Enlightenment. New Yorker writer Michael Specter argues how our anti-science bias and our irrationalism about everything from genetically modified foods to climate change to childhood vaccines endangers our future.

And remember when... a look back at scientists who at first pooh-poohed plate tectonics… meteorites, and quantum physics. How the evidence turned them around.

It´s Skeptic Check... but don´t take our word for it.

Guests:

Descripción en español

04/11/11



 
 Sex and the SETI

ENCORE Birds do it. Bees do it. But no one sings about how they do it. And frankly, not even Cole Porter can make bedroom behavior that involves decapitating your mate sound romantic. And what rhymes with "cannibalism?" But the animal world abounds with bizarre sexual behavior... and it´s all perfectly normal.

Find out how female spiders lure males to their doom... why dolphins are the friskiest of mammals... whether E.T. would have sex... and why sexual reproduction evolved in the first place.

Also, why the marketing gurus have it all wrong: driving a Hummer or wearing Gucci won´t help you land a mate. Find out what will.

Guests:

Descripción en español

04/04/11



 
 A.I. CARAMBA!

When the IBM computer, Watson, snatched the "Jeopardy" title from its human competition, that raised the question of just how smart are machines? Could artificial intelligence ever beat humans at their own game... of being human?

Hear why an A.I. expert says it´s time to make peace with your P.C.; the machines are coming. Also, why technology is already self-evolving, and presenting its own demands. Find out what technology wants.

And, a man who went head-to-chip with a computer and says machines will never beat the human mind. Plus, we take a voyage into "2011: An Emotional Odyssey."

Guests:

03/28/11



 
 Skeptic Check: Monsters, Magic, and Music

If Bigfoot walks through a forest and no one sees him, does he exist? It´s the job of paranormal investigator Joe Nickell to find out! Discover whether eyewitness accounts are reliable when it comes to tracking down the hirsute big guy and other monsters.

Also, on the subject of "seeing is believing": how magic fools the brain.

Plus, in our potpourri show: can music boost brain power? A new study says listening to music makes brains happy. Does this support the dubious "Mozart Effect," that claims listening to Wolfie´s compositions boosts IQ?

And, skeptic Phil Plait on why the so-called "super moon theory" doesn´t predict devastating earthquakes.

It´s Skeptic Check... but don´t take our word for it.

Guests:

Descripción en español

03/21/11



 
 Who's on First?

ENCORE Being first counts in science. Land that coveted spot and you´ll make history, whether it´s with the first steam engine or the discovery of our earliest human ancestor.

But what does "first" mean when technological invention so heavily builds on what´s come before… and evolution represents continuous change?

Find out how "publish or perish" made Darwin famous... why we´ll never find the first human fossil... and how powerful new telescopes are allowing us to see the earliest galaxies.

Plus, the chicken and egg battle it out in line.

Guests:

03/14/11



 
 Eureka!

ENCORE From the double-helix to the expansion of the universe, great scientific discoveries reshape our understanding of who we are and how things work. But great discoveries require more than just a great mind. We tour brainy breakthroughs from Archimedes to Darwin, and find out what made their revolutionary insights possible.

Also, why you need more than a stratospheric I.Q. to be a super-achiever. And how the invention of reading re-directed the course of civilization and re-wired our brains in the process.

Guests:

Descripción en español

03/07/11



 
 Skeptic Check: Diluted Thinking

The weaker the mixture, the stronger the potency. That paradox is a central tenet of homeopathy. More than 200 years old and developed long before germ theory, the practice is the fastest growing form of alternative medicine worldwide.

Proponents say its diluted remedies cure disease. Most scientists maintain there´s nothing in homeopathic solution but water. We´ll hear the arguments, and also the role placebos might be playing in the cure.

Plus, skeptic Phil Plait voyages to the edge of the solar system where a new planet has been discovered ... maybe!

And, consider our brains: the product of millions of years of evolution. So why aren´t we more consistent in our reasoning?

It´s Skeptic Check.... but don´t take our word for it.

Guests:

Descripción en español

02/28/11



 
 Nano Nano

Think small to solve big problems. That, in a nutshell, is the promise of nanotechnology. In this barely visible world, batteries charge 100 times faster and drugs go straight to their targets in the body. Discover some of these nano breakthroughs and how what you can´t see can help you...

...or hurt you? What if tiny machines turn out to be nothing but trouble? We´ll look at the health and safety risks of nanotech.

Plus, scaling up in science fiction: why a Godzilla-sized insect is fun, but just doesn´t fly.

Guests:

  • Bill Flounders –“ executive director of the Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley
  • Joseph DeSimone –“ professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chemical engineering at North Carolina State University
  • David Guston –“ political scientist at Arizona State University where he directs The Center for Nanotechnology in Society
  • Stan Williams –“ Senior Fellow and founding director of the Information and Quantum Systems Lab at Hewlett-Packard
  • Michael LeBarbera –“ Professor in organismal biology, anatomy and geophysical sciences, University of Chicago

Descripción en español

02/21/11


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