• You’re a private person. But as long as you’re on-line and have skin and hair, you’re shedding little bits of data and DNA everywhere you go. Find out how that personal information – whether or not it’s used against you – is no longer solely your own. Are your private thoughts next?

    A security expert shares stories of ingenious computer hacking … a forensic scientist develops tools to create a mug shot based on a snippet of DNA … and from the frontiers of neuroscience: mind reading may no longer be the stuff of sketchy psychics.

    Guests:

       Marc Goodman – Global security advisor, founder, Future Crimes Institute, author of Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

       Susan Walsh – Forensic geneticist, Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis

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       Marvin Chun – Psychologist, Yale University

  • Get ready for déjà vu as you listen to some of our favorite interviews from the past year. It’s our annual fundraising podcast. Come for the great interviews, stay for the great interviews. Lend us your support along the way.

    What’s for dinner? Maybe Soylent. Made by … people! We do a taste test. Then meet your gut microbes. They control your health and even your mood.

    Get tips on how to talk to aliens, why you should keep an eye on government surveillance, and the future of 3D printing human tissue. Also, why extraordinary beliefs persist – including Holocaust denial – despite the persistence of evidence to the contrary.

    And, global perspective: why Ebola won’t be the next big pandemic but sea level rise could wipe out coasts along Florida and Thailand.

    Plus, we imagine life hundreds of years ago for the renegades on the rough seas, and what the world would be like had the dinosaurs not gone extinct.

    All this and more on a special Big Picture Science podcast!

    Guests:

    •   Bill Miller – Physician and author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome

    •   Rob Rhinehart – CEO and founder of Soylent

    •   Brian Fagan – Emeritus professor of anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, author of The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels

    •   David Quammen – Science journalist, contributing writer for National Geographic Magazine, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

    . His Op Ed article about Ebola appeared in the New York Times.

    •   Shari Wells-Jensen – Professor of English, Bowling Green State University

    •   Susan Landau – Mathematician and engineer who works on cybersecurity, privacy and public policy at the Worchester Polytechnic Institute, author most recently of Surveillance or Security?: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies

    •   Will Storr – Journalist, author of The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science

    •   Ali Khademhosseini – Bioengineer, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Woman’s Hospital

  • Darwinian evolution is adaptive and slow … millennia can go by before a species changes very much. But with the tools of genetic engineering we can now make radical changes in just one generation. By removing genes or inserting new ones, we can give an organism radically different traits and behaviors. We are taking evolution into our own hands.

    It all began with the domestication of plants and animals, which one science writer says created civilization. Today, as humans tinker with their own genome, is it possible we will produce Homo sapiens 2.0?

    Also, what happens to those species who can’t control their destiny? How climate change is forcing the biggest genetic reshuffling in recorded history.

    Guests:

       Richard Francis – Science writer, author of Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World

    Juan Enriquez – Academic, businessman, author, founding director of the Life Sciences Project, Harvard Business School, managing director, Excel Venture Management, and author of Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation are Changing Life on Earth

  • We all try to fight it: the inexorable march of time. The fountain of youth doesn’t exist, and all those wrinkle creams can’t help. But modern science is giving us new weapons in the fight against aging. So how far are we willing to go?

    Hear when aging begins, a summary of the latest biotech research, and how a lab full of youthful worms might help humans stay healthy.

    Also, a geneticist who takes a radical approach: collect the DNA that codes for longevity and restructure our genome. He finds inspiration – and perhaps genes as well – in the bi-centenarian bowhead whale.

    But what if age really is mind over matter? A psychologist’s extraordinary thought experiment with septuagenarian men turns back the clock 20 years. Will it work on diseases such as cancer as well?

    Guests:

       Gordon Lithgow – Geneticist, Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, California

       Manish Chamoli – Post-doctoral researcher, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

       George Church – Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, author of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

       Ellen Langer – Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility

  • Archeologists continue to hunt for the city of Atlantis, even though it may never have existed. But, what if it did? Its discovery would change ancient history. Sometimes when we dig around in the past, we can change our understanding of how we got to where we are.

    We thought we had wrapped up the death of the dinosaurs: blame it on an asteroid. But evidence unearthed in Antarctica and elsewhere suggests the rock from space wasn’t the sole culprit.

    Also, digging into our genetic past can turn up surprising – and sometimes uncomfortable truths – from ancestral origins to genes that code for disease. But do we always want to know?

    Guests:

       Mark Adams – author, Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City

       David Morrison – Senior scientist, NASA Ames Research Center

       Peter Ward – Paleontologist, University of Washington, author of A New History of Life: The Radical New Discoveries about the Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth

       Christine Kenneally – Journalist and author of The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures

  • You are what you eat. Whether you dine on kimchi, carnitas, or corn dogs determines which microbes live in your stomach. And gut microbes make up only part of your total microbiome.

    Find out how your microbes are the brains-without-brains that affect your health and even your mood. Also, why you and your cohorts are closer than you thought: new research suggests that you swap and adopt bugs from your social set.

    Plus, the philosophical questions that are arise when we realize that we have more microbial DNA than human DNA.

    And a woman who skipped soap and shampoo for a month to see what would grow on her.

    Guests:

       Bill Miller – Physician and author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome

       Beth Archie – Biologist at the University of Notre Dame

       Nada Gligorov – Assistant professor of medical education at Mount Sinai Hospital

       Julia Scott – Freelance reporter working in San Francisco. Her article, “A Wash on the Wild Side” appeared in the May 22, 2014 issue of the New York Times Magazine. of the New York Times Magazine.

  • You love to travel. But would you if doing so meant never coming home? The private company Mars One says it will land humans on the Red Planet by 2026, but is only offering passengers one-way tickets. Hundreds of thousands of people volunteered to go.

    Meet a young woman who made the short list, and hear why she’s ready to be Mars-bound. Also, why microbes could be hiding in water trapped in the planet’s rocks. And, how a wetter, better Mars lost its atmosphere and became a dry and forbidding place.

    Plus, why Kim Stanley Robinson, author of a famous trilogy about colonizing and terraforming Mars, thinks that the current timeline for going to the planet is unrealistic.

    Guests:

       Laurel Kaye – A senior in the physics department at Duke University

       Alfonso Davila – Senior scientist at the SETI Institute

       Stephen Brecht – Physicist and president of the Bay Area Research Group

       Kim Stanley Robinson – Hugo Award-winning science Fiction author of the Mars trilogy: Red Mars (Mars Trilogy)

    , Green Mars (Mars Trilogy)

    , Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy)

  • Wondering whether to vaccinate your children? The decision can feel like a shot in the dark if you don’t know how to evaluate risk. Find out why all of us succumb to the reasoning pitfalls of cognitive and omission bias, whether we’re saying no to vaccines or getting a tan on the beach.

    Plus, an infectious disease expert on why it may take a dangerous resurgence of preventable diseases – measles, whooping cough, polio – to remind us that vaccines save lives.

    Also, a quaint but real vaccine fear: that the 18th century smallpox vaccine, made from cowpox, could turn you into a cow!

    It’s our monthly look at critical thinking … but don’t take our word for it!

    Guests:

       Paul Offit – Infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

       Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City

       Adam KorbitzLawyer specializing in space law

       Andrew Maynard – Professor of environmental health science, director, Risk Science Center, University of Michigan

  • The world is hot, and getting hotter. But higher temperatures aren’t the only impact our species is having on mother Earth. Urbanization, deforestation, and dumping millions of tons of plastic into the oceans … these are all ways in which humans are leaving their mark.

    So are we still in the Holocene, the geological epoch that started a mere 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age? Some say we’ve moved on to the age of man – the Anthropocene.

    It’s the dawn of an era, but can we survive this new phase in the history of our planet?

    Guests: 

       Pat Porter – Relative

       Jonathan Amos – Science writer for the BBC in London

       Gaia Vince – Writer, broadcaster, former editor for New Scientist, news editor of Nature, and author of Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made

       David Grinspoon – Astrobiologist, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona

       Francisco Valero – Emeritus physicist and research scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego

  • Today, scientists are familiar to us, but they weren’t always. Even the word “scientist” is relatively modern, dating from the Victorian Era.

    And it is to that era we turn as we travel to the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its College of Science with a show recorded in front of a live audience.

    Find out how the modern hunt for planets around other stars compares to our knowledge of the cosmos a century and a half ago. Also how faster computers have ushered in the realm of Big Data.

    And a science historian describes us what major science frontiers were being crossed during the era of Charles Darwin and germ theory.

    It’s then versus now on Sesquicentennial Science!

    Recorded at the Eck Center at the University of Notre Dame, February 4th, 2015

    Guests:

       Justin Crepp – Professor of physics, University of Notre Dame

       Nitesh Chawla – Professor of computer science and engineering and director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Network Sciences and Applications at Notre Dame

       John Durant – Historian of science, director of the MIT Museum

  • herlock Holmes doesn’t have a science degree, yet he thinks rationally – like a scientist. You can too! Learn the secrets of being irritatingly logical from the most famous sleuth on Baker Street. Plus, discover why animal trackers 100,000 years ago may have been the first scientists, and what we can learn from about deductive reasoning from today’s African trackers.

    Also, the author of a book on teaching physics to your dog provides tips for unleashing your inner scientist, even if you hated science in school.

    And newly-minted scientists imagine classes they wish were available to them as grad students, such as “You Can’t Save the World 101.”

    Guests: 

  • Here are questions that give a cosmologist – and maybe even you – insomnia: What happened after the Big Bang? What is dark matter? Will dark energy tear the universe apart?

    Let us help you catch those zzzzs. We’re going to provide answers to the biggest cosmic puzzlers of our time. Somewhat. Each question is the focus of new experiments that are either underway or in the queue.

    Hear the latest results in the search for gravitational waves that would be evidence for cosmic inflation, as well as the hunt for dark matter and dark energy. And because these questions are bigger than big, we’ve enlisted cosmologist Sean Carroll as our guide to what these experiments might reveal and what it all means.

    Guests:

       Sean Carroll – Cosmologist, California Institute of Technology

       Jamie Bock – Experimental cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the BICEP team

       Brendan Crill – Cosmologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and member of the Planck collaboration

       Jeff Filippini – Post-doctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, assistant professor of physics at the University of Illinois and member of the Spider team

       Neil Gehrels – Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, project scientist for WFIRST

  • “Dear E.T. …” So far, so good. But now what? Writing is never easy, but what if your task was to craft a message to aliens living elsewhere in the universe, and your prose would represent all humankind? Got writer’s block yet?

    What to say to the aliens was the focus of a recent conference in which participants shifted their attentions away from listening for extraterrestrial signals to transmitting some. In this show, we report on the “Communicating Across the Cosmos” conference held at the SETI Institute in December 2014.

    Find out what scientists think we should say. Also, how archeology could help us craft messages to an unfamiliar culture. Plus, why journalists might be well-suited to writing the message. And, a response to Stephen Hawking’s warning that attempting to contact aliens is too dangerous.

    Guests:

       Douglas Vakoch – Director of interstellar message composition, SETI Institute

       Paul Wason – Archaeologist, anthropologist and vice president for the life sciences and genetics program at the Templeton Foundation

       Al Harrison – Emeritus professor of psychology, University of California, Davis

       Morris Jones – Journalist and space analyst in Sydney, Australia

       Shari Wells-Jensen – Professor of English, Bowling Green State University

  • Don’t believe everything you see on TV or the movies. Science fiction is just a guide to how our future might unfold. It can be misleading, as anyone who yearns for a flying car can tell you. And yet, sometimes fantasy becomes fact. Think of the prototype cellphones in Star Trek.

    We take a look at science that seems inspired by filmic sci-fi, for example scientists manipulating memory as in Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And despite his famous film meltdown, Charleton Heston hasn’t stopped the Soylent company from producing what it calls the food of the future.

    Plus, why eco-disaster films have the science wrong, but not in the way you might think. And, what if our brains are simply wired to accept film as fact?

    Guests:

       Steve Ramirez -Neuroscientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

       Rob Rhinehart – CEO and founder of Soylent

       Jason Mark – Editor of Earth Island Journal

       Jeffrey Zacks – Cognitive Neuroscientist, Washington University, St. Louis, and author of Flicker: Your Brain on Movies

  • Electricity is so 19th century. Most of the uses for it were established by the 1920s. So there’s nothing innovative left to do, right? That’s not the opinion of the Nobel committee that awarded its 2014 physics prize to scientists who invented the blue LED.

    Find out why this LED hue of blue was worthy of our most prestigious science prize … how some bacteria actually breathe rust … and a plan to cure disease by zapping our nervous system with electric pulses.

    Guests:

       Siddha Pimputkar – Postdoctoral researcher in the Materials Department of the Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center under Shuji Nakamura, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

       Jeff Gralnick – Associate professor of microbiology at the University of Minnesota

       Kevin Tracey – Neurosurgeon and president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York