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.”
Descripción en español
First aired March 28, 2011
We dig the Red Planet! And so does Curiosity. After a successful landing, and a round of high-fives at NASA, the latest rover to land on Mars is on the move, shovel in mechanical hand.
Discover how the Mars Science Laboratory will hunt for the building blocks of life, and just what the heck a lipid is. Plus, how to distinguish Martians from Earthlings, and the tricks Mars has played on us in the past (canals, anyone?).
Also, want to visit Mars firsthand? We can point you to the sign-up sheet for a manned mission. The catch: the ticket is one-way.
ENCORE 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!
First released April 25, 2011.
Let the games begin! The mad dash to the phone … the sudden spring out of bed … the frantic juggling of car keys, grocery bags and a cell phone! Olympic athletes may have remarkable speed and strength, but it’s easy praise the extraordinary. Here’s to the extreme averageness of the rest of us. From beer bellies to aching backs, we’re all winners in the Darwinian Olympics just by virtue of being here.
Identify the one physical trait that you share with all Olympians – your head – and why it’s a remarkable human evolutionary achievement. Plus, the role of genes in putting on the pounds … and what event Spiderman would enter to win the gold.
One plus one is two. But what’s the square root of 64, divided by 6 over 12?* Wait, don’t run for the hills! Math isn’t scary. It helps us describe and design our world, and can be easier to grasp than the straight edge of a protractor.
Discover how to walk through the city and number-crunch simultaneously using easy tips for estimating the number of bricks in a building or squirrels in the park. Plus, why our brains are wired for finger-counting … whether aliens would have calculators … and history’s most famous mathematical equations (after e=mc2).
*The answer is 16
Mooooove over, make way for the cows, the chickens … and other animals! Humans can learn a lot from our hairy, feathered, four-legged friends. We may wear suits and play Sudoku, but Homo sapiens are primates just the same. We’ve met the animal, and it is us.
Discover the surprising similarity between our diseases and those that afflict other animals, including pigs that develop eating disorders. Plus, what the octopus can teach us about national security … how monkeying around evolved into human speech … and the origins of moral behavior in humans.
Expect the unexpected when we go digging in Seth’s storm shelter – who knows what we’ll find! In this cramped never-never land, tucked between piles of dehydrated food packets and old civil defense helmets, we stumble (but don’t step) upon marauding ants … a mission to Pluto…. “evidence” of a spaceship crash … the Apollo astronaut who shot the “Earth Rise” photograph … and Jonah Lehrer meditating on creativity.
Tune in, find out and, help move this box of canned soup, will you?
You are what you eat. But what does that mean if your food is genetically engineered? Chances are it has been if you’ve ever munched down on corn or soybean. The prospect of eating GM food makes some folks afraid, but is their fear warranted?
Discover what experts say about the safety of genetically engineered foods … whether the technology delivers on the promised increase in yield … and the argument for and against labeling.
Also, why some say the issue is not food safety, but the unethical business practices of multinationals. A filmmaker reports from the fields of India.
Plus, GM crops off this planet: the role of synthetic biology in terraforming Mars.
It’s Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it.
You can get your point across in many ways: email, texts, or even face-to-face conversation (does anyone do that anymore?). But ants use chemical messages when organizing their ant buddies for an attack on your kitchen. Meanwhile, your human brain sends messages to other brains without you uttering a word.
Hear these communication stories … how language evolved in the first place… why our brains love a good tale …and how Facebook is keeping native languages from going extinct.
On June 5, our sister planet Venus will slowly slide across the face of the sun. This will be the last transit of Venus until 2117, so there’s no subsequent chance to observe this celestial spectacular for anyone alive today.
Join us for a special episode devoted to this rare event. Two centuries ago, nations were locked in a race to be the first to measure the Venus transit. From the first observation by the “father” of British astronomy to Captain Cook’s Tahitian expedition in the 18th century, meet the pioneers who were trying to nail down the scale of the cosmos
Plus, tips for observing the 2012 transit … how the Kepler spacecraft uses transits to detect Earth-like worlds … and could there be life floating in Venusian clouds?