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 Outta This World

Earth may not be rare after all. New data from NASA´s Kepler mission suggests that the universe is chock-a-block with planets. More than a thousand new possible planets have just been found, and more than fifty of these might be suitable for life. Ready for cosmic company? We discuss the results of the Kepler mission in a roundtable with some of its top scientists.

Meanwhile, the Voyager spacecraft continues to be humanity´s point man in the race to interstellar space. Poised to leave our solar system, we reflect on the mission –“ including its on-board messages for aliens.

Plus, out-of-this world science. From lab coats to warp speed: does Hollywood get it right? Does it matter?

Guests:

  • Jon Jenkins –“ Co-principal investigator for the Kepler Mission
  • Doug Caldwell –“ Co-investigator and instrument scientist for the Kepler Mission
  • Jessie Christiansen –“ Data scientist working on the Kepler mission
  • Ed Stone –“ Professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, and former Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Jennifer Ouellette –“ Writer and former director, National Academy of Sciences´ Science and Entertainment Exchange

Descripción en español

02/14/11



 
 Better Mousetrap

It´s the perennial dream: build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. We go to San Jose´s famed Tech Museum to learn what it takes to turn a good idea into a grand success.

Remember the Super Soaker squirt gun? Hear how its inventor is now changing the rules for solar energy.

Where do good ideas come from? A Eureka moment in the bathtub? We´ll find out that it doesn´t happen so quickly –“ or easily.

And finally, the life cycle of society-changing technologies, from the birth of radio to the future of the Internet.

Inventions, inventors and innovation: all part of the mix on "Better Mousetrap."

Guests:

Descripción en español

02/07/11



 
 Skeptic Check: ESP or Think Again

You´re right: it´s a show about ESP. And, correct again: we´re excited about the publication of a paper that claims precognition exists. You´ve already divined what our paranormal investigator says about the paper, whether the statistics that it cites are significant, and what the editor-in-chief of a major scientific journal has to say on the tricky matter of publishing such a result at all.

You´re not surprised that Brains on Vacation takes on the matter of Armageddon-by-exploding-star, because, you knew that. You also knew that it will be an excellent show. But, tune in anyway –“ consider it a repeat.

Guests:

01/31/11



 
 Gone Missing!

We all hear about research discoveries, but what about what scientists don´t find? Tune in for a round-up of eureka moments that have yet to come, such as the hunt for the dark energy of the universe and the search for the elusive elementary particle responsible for the mass of objects.

Also, we miss the woolly mammoth so much, scientists plan to clone the hairy beast and bring the extinct animal back.

Plus, why the missing link is no longer missing, what extrasolar planets have now been found, and –“ NASA money for science: where´d it go?

Guests:

01/24/11



 
 You've Got Sol!

It´s the star of our solar system, but much about the Sun is still mysterious. Find out what a new NASA mission to our favorite fireball might discover about its super-hot outer regions.

Also, why the most common stars in the galaxy don´t shine thanks to nuclear energy as our Sun does. And, recreating Sol´s energy source on Earth at the National Ignition Facility.

Plus, an ex-Star Wars animator and photographer on how to film an atomic blast.

Guests:

  • Peter Kuran –“ An animator on Star Wars, now a filmmaker, documentarian of “”http://www.atomcentral.com/trinity.html">Trinity and Beyond," and author of How To Photograph an Atomic Bomb
  • Davy Kirkpatrick –“ Astronomer, California Institute of Technology, and scientist for NASA´s WISE mission
  • Stuart Bale –“ Physicist at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of the Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory
  • Mike Dunne –“ Physicist, and Program Director for Fusion Energy at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory
    01/17/11



     
     That's So Random!

    Random is as random does... makes sense doesn´t even that anyway in tune hear to randomness how lives rules.

    Brain chaos the drives, restoration role of help insight ecology may into randomness the, numbers sense of make statistics can´t why we or, ants not seem of erratic behavior why the may but is.

    Guests:

    01/10/11



     
     Do Computers Byte?

    ENCORE The march of computer technology continues. But as silicon chips and search engines become faster and more productive –“ can the same be said for us?

    The creator of Wolfram Alpha describes how his new "computational knowledge engine" is changing –“ and improving –“ how we process information. Meanwhile, suffering from data and distraction burnout? Find out what extremes some folks take to stop their search engines.

    Also, the Singularity sensation of humans merging with machines... and, why for the ancient Greeks all of this is "been there, done that." A deep sea dive turns up a 2,000 year old computer!

    Guests:

    Descripción en español

    01/03/11



     
     Seth's Storage Locker

    ENCORE It´s always an adventure to go digging in Seth´s storage locker –“ who knows what we´ll find ...

    In this imposing pile of paraphernalia, tucked between boxes of socket wrenches and old 45s, we stumble upon the hunt for extrasolar planets, the evidence for water on moons of the solar system, theories of language, a controversial hypothesis for the peopling of the Americas, and a new dinosaur fossil.

    Guests:

    Descripción en español

    12/27/10



     
     Skeptic Check: Cell Phone Danger

    Every ten microseconds, someone places a cell phone call. These portable gadgets are ubiquitous, and increasingly a take-for-granted part of everyday life.

    But could cell phones be dangerous? Could holding a microwave transmitter up to your head for hours each day substantially increase the risk of cancer?

    We investigate some of the latest thinking on the danger of cell phones, and also explain that everyone –“ even you –“ is a radio transmitter.

    It´s Skeptic Check on Are We Alone. And we´ve got your number.

    Guests:

    12/20/10



     
     Method to Our Mathness

    The language of science is mathematics. As incredible as it seems, the universe seems to run according to laws we can write down on chalkboards.

    But it´s not just lab-coated researchers who wield the tool of math: Madison Avenue knows that if they tell you that a shampoo is 32 percent better, you´re likely to buy it.

    Also, how scientists of the early twentieth century were forced to invent entirely new mathematical paradigms to describe the cosmos on big scales and small –“ the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

    Plus, what about everyday arithmetic? Have pocket calculators and digital cash registers dumbed down the populace?

    Guests:

    12/13/10


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