“Follow the water” is the mantra of those who search for life beyond Earth. Where there’s water, there may be life. Join us on a tour of watery solar system bodies that hold promise for biology. Dig beneath the icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa, and plunge into the jets of Enceladus, Saturn’s satellite.
And let’s not forget the Red Planet. Mars is rusty and dusty, but it wasn’t always a world of dry dunes. Did life once thrive here? Also, the promise of life in the exotic hydrocarbon lakes of Titan.
Science-fiction author Robert J. Sawyer joins us, and relates how these exotic outposts have prompted imaginative stories of alien life.
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ENCORE They’re here! About one-third of all Americans believe we’re being visited by extraterrestrial spacecraft. But wait, you want evidence?
UFO sighting are as prevalent as flies at a picnic. But proof of visitation – well, that’s really alien.
Hear why belief in extraterrestrial UFOs persists … and why military sightings that “can’t be explained” don’t warrant rolling out a welcome mat for ET.
Plus, the most fab UFOs in the movies!
It’s Skeptic Check… but don’t take our word for it!
FIrst aired November 15, 2010.
I need my space… but oh, how to get there? Whether it’s a mission to Mars or an ascent to an asteroid, we explore the hows of human spaceflight. Also, the whys, as in, why send humans to the final frontier if robots are cheaper? Neil deGrasse Tyson weighs in.
Plus, the astronaut who lived on the ocean floor training for a visit to an asteroid. Also, the 100YSS – the 100 Year Starship project – and interstellar travel.
And, as private rockets nip at NASA’s heels, meet one of the first tourists to purchase a (pricey) ticket-to-ride into space.
What’s the world made of? Here’s a concrete answer: a lot of it is built from a dense, knee-scraping substance that is the most common man-made material. But while concrete may be here to stay, plenty of new materials will come our way in the 21st century.
Discover the better, faster, stronger (okay, not faster) materials of the future, and Thomas Edison’s ill-conceived plan to turn concrete into furniture.
Plus, printing objects in 3D… the development of artificial skin… and unearthing the scientific contributions of African-American women chemists.
“I feel your vibe!” Well, that describes a number of fabled locales that claim to pulse with mysterious energy – perhaps prompting books to fly across the room or airplanes to vanish into thin air. But what’s the science behind it?
We examine spots marked with an X, for “extraordinary” – from a haunted house to the Bermuda Triangle – to sort out natural from supernatural phenomena.
Plus, what causes the aurora borealis… a haywire Russian space probe… and just what the heck is an “energy vortex,” anyway?
A cup of coffee can leave you wired for the day. But a chip in your brain could wire you to a machine forever. Imagine manipulating a mouse without moving a muscle, and doing a Google search with your mind. Welcome to the future of the brain-machine interface.
Don your EEG thinking-cap, and discover a high-tech thought game that may be the harbinger of machine relationships to come.
Plus, the ultimate mapping project: the Human Connectdome Project aims to identify all the neural pathways in the human brain. It may help us understand what makes us human, but could it also point the way to making us smarter?
And, what all this brain research reveals about the mind and free will – who, or what, is really in charge?
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?
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.
First aired September 6, 2010
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.
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.”