If there is only one show you hear about the end of the world, let it be this one. Recorded before a live audience at the Computer History Museum on October 27th, 2012, this two-part special broadcast of Big Picture Science separates fact from fiction in doomsday prediction. In this episode: Maya prophesy for December 21, 2012 … asteroid impact and cosmic threats …. and alien invasion.
Presented as part of the Bay Area Science Festival.
Find out more about our guests and their work.
Descripción en español
Zombies are making a killing in popular culture. But where did the idea behind these mythical, cerebrum-supping nasties come from? Discover why they may be a hard-wired inheritance from our Pleistocene past.
Also, how a whimsical mathematical model of a Zombie apocalypse can help us withstand earthquakes and disease outbreaks, and how the rabies virus contributed to zombie mythology.
Plus, new ideas for how doctors should respond when humans are in a limbo state between life and death: no pulse, but their brains continue to hum.
Meet the songwriter who has zombies on the brain …. and we chase spaced-out animated corpses in the annual Run-For-Your-Lives foot race.
The Internet is not the only globally-uniting phenomenon. Viruses and bacteria can circle the globe as fast as we can, and the effects can be devastating. Discover what it takes for an animal disease to become a human pandemic. Also, was hurricane Sandy a man-made disaster? The future of severe storms and climate change.
Plus, the view of our science from abroad: why Brits have no trouble accepting the theory of evolution but Americans do. And what about a new annex for Silicon Valley – 12 miles out to sea?
We all want to turn back time. But until we build a time machine, we’ll have to rely on a few creative approaches to capturing things as they were – and preserving them for posterity. One is upping memory storage capacity itself. Discover just how much of the past we can cram into our future archives, and whether going digital has made it all vulnerable to erasure.
Plus – scratch it and tear it – then watch this eerily-smart material revert to its undamaged self. And, what was life like pre-digital technology? We can’t remember, but one writer knows; he’s living life circa 1993 (hint: no cell phone).
Also, using stem cells to save the white rhino and other endangered species. And, the arrow of time itself – could it possibly run backwards in another universe?
If you’re itching it get away from it all, really get away from it all, have we got some exotic destinations for you. Mars … Jupiter’s moon Europa … asteroids . Tour some enticing worlds that are worlds away, but ripe for exploration.
Also, why private spaceships may be just the ticket for getting yourself into space, unless you want to wait for a space elevator.
And, why one science journalist boasts of an infectious, unabashed, and unbridled enthusiasm for space travel.
Stuttering speech and facial tics are among the strange symptoms that swept through a New York high school. Discover what’s behind the odd outbreak, and why one sociologist sees parallels to Salem, Massachusetts 300 years ago.
Also, an update on the cellphone cancer debate, and why one congressman wants warning labels on all new phones.
Plus, the ultimate cleanse: giving up on food to survive on light and air. We investigate the claims of Breatharians.
It’s Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it!
It’s all in the numbers. The trick is, finding what you’re looking for. But that’s the name of the game with big data. We have a giga-gigabyte of information, and combing through it will lead to new cures for disease, new discoveries about the cosmos, or clues to our social and economic behavior.
But is big data Big Brother? You leave a little bit of yourself behind with each mouse click. Discover how surveillance and privacy issues bubble out of the mix, as the terabytes keep flowing in.
Plus one man’s quest to know himself through the numbers as he records everything – and we do mean everything – about his body.
Before you chase it with a broom, consider this – without the rat, we might miss critical insights into the nature of stress, cancer … and even love. These furry, red-eyed rodents have a unique role in medical research – and a ubiquitous companion to our urban lives.
Discover the origins of the albino laboratory rat … what rat laughter sounds like, and why these four-legged fur balls don’t fall victim to the pressure of the rat race … but we do.
To need air is human. Our lungs thank us for each breath we take. But air is more than a transporter of O2. It shapes our weather, keeps birds aloft and moves spores from here to there. A cubic foot of air is anything but “empty” (hot dog grease particles, anyone?).
The same goes for space (minus the hot dog grease). It’s a happening place. Discover why interstellar space is more than a whole lot o’ nothing; and what happens when the Voyager spacecraft leaves our solar system. Plus, catch a skydiver in action!
ENCORE 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 “2012: An Emotional Odyssey.”
First aired March 28, 2011