Sep 26, 2010
ENCORE Watch out, the moon is full… of intrigue. Our lovely satellite is blamed for all sorts of Earth-bound mischief –“ from robberies to shape-shifting to general nutty behavior. It´s also the setting for more than one loony tale. In this hour, as NASA spacecraft return to the moon, a look at the mythology it inspires.
Discover the true correlation between crime and a full moon… the 1835 reports of unicorns and man-bats living on moon… and, our favorite hair-raising howler: the werewolf! Also, why some still insist the Apollo moon landing is a hoax.
Plus, space travel –“ boxed and bundled.
- Phil Plait –“ Keeper of the skeptical website badastronomy.com and author of Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . .
- Matthew Goodman –“ Author of The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
- Jim Underdown –“ Executive Director for the Center for Inquiry West, Los Angeles and keeper of the blog Hollywood Reality Check
- June Pulliam –“ English professor, Louisiana State University
- Cynthia Phillips –“ Scientist at the SETI Institute and author, most recently, of Space Exploration For Dummies (For Dummies (Math & Science))
- Paul Spudis –“ Senior scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Sep 13, 2010
Are humans unique or do we just do some things a little better than other species? In the first of our two-part series on the nature of humanity: how the influence of others has shaped our evolution.
Find out how baby talk gave root to human language and why social isolation can make us sick. Plus, the joke´s on us –“ new research says we´re not the only laughing species: meet your giggling gorilla cousins.
And, what a writer´s visit to a chimp retirement center revealed about human discomfort with our animal ancestry.
- Dean Falk –“ Anthropologist at Florida State University and author of Finding Our Tongues: Mothers, Infants, and the Origins of Language
- John Cacioppo –“ Director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago and co-author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection
- Lori Marino –“ Biologist at Emory University
- Kathryn Denning –“ Anthropologist at York University
- Charles Siebert –“ Author of The Wauchula Woods Accord: Toward a New Understanding of Animals
- Marina Davila-Ross –“ Psychologist at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K.
Sep 6, 2010
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.
Aug 30, 2010
ENCORE There´s no escape from the chattering classes –“ they talk, squawk, squeal and sing all around us. Every animal communicates in some form –“ it´s essential for survival. They´ve evolved to understand each other … but do we understand them?
Find out what´s coded in humpback whale song and whether human-cetacean dialogue is possible… how information theory reveals communication patterns within the animal kingdom… how plants call out to animals to protect them… and why only humans evolved language.
- Douglas Carlton Abrams –“ Author of Eye of the Whale: A Novel
- Laurance Doyle –“ Scientist at the SETI Institute
- Douglas Vakoch –“ Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute
- David DeGusta –“ Anthropologist at Stanford University
Aug 23, 2010
Wish you could ditch computers? There´s no escape button for that. Computers are not only a part of your daily grind, they may soon be a part of you. We´ll hear from the world´s first cyborg about why we should make nice in our arms race with machines.
Also, the secret behind the extraordinary breakthroughs that DARPA scientists are making –“ from building autonomous cars to wiring robotic surgeons.
Plus, making space for humans… and their bodily functions: the engineering tricks of toiletry. And, a carbon-based astronaut on the view of Earth from orbit.
- Kevin Warwick –“ Professor of Cybernetics at University of Reading in the U.K.
- Santiago Bilinkis –“ Student at the Singularity University
- Mary Roach –“ Writer and author of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
- Tom Jones –“ United States astronaut, space consultant, and veteran of four Space Shuttle flights
- Michael Belfiore –“ Space and Technology writer, and author of The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs
Aug 16, 2010
Wait! Before you step outside… is it Friday the 13th? Any black cats prowling around? Broken a mirror lately? Homo sapiens are a superstitious lot. Find out why our brains are wired for irrational belief. Plus, from the 2012-end-of-the-world prophesy to colliding planets –“ why some people believe the universe is out to get –˜em.
Also, Brains on Vacation takes on a challenge to relativity and our Hollywood skeptic has doubts about exorcism. It´s enough to make your head spin on Skeptic Check… but don´t take our word for it!
- Bruce Hood –“ Cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol in the U.K. and author of The Science of Superstition: How the Developing Brain Creates Supernatural Beliefs
- David Morrison –“ Director of the Carl Sagan Center for The Study of Life in The Universe at the SETI Institute and keeper of the NASA website Ask an Astrobiologist
- Martin Snow –“ Research Scientist, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder
- Jim Underdown –“ Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, West –“ Los Angeles
- Phil Plait –“ Astronomer, keeper of badastronomy.com, and author of Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . .
Aug 9, 2010
ENCORE Medicine´s back.. and this time it´s personal. Get ready to have your genome read… your brain scanned… and undergo a chemical analysis so detailed, it´ll reveal the Twinkie you had for lunch. Everyone´s different, and reading those differences at the level of the gene may provide a more accurate profile of health and how to treat disease. But are you ready to know what´s wrong with you?
Discover the future of personalized medicine with biologist Craig Venter, as well as a man who turned his body over to the new science. Learn what his tests revealed.
Plus, why stem cell research really is a horse race. And, why getting sick is sometimes the best thing.
- Craig Venter –“ Genome scientist
- Frank McCormick –“ Director of the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco
- David Ewing Duncan –“ Journalist and author of Experimental Man: What One Man´s Body Reveals about His Future, Your Health, and Our Toxic World
- Sharon Moalem –“ Neurogeneticist and Evolutionary Biologist at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of Survival of the Sickest
- Sean Owens –“ Director of the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at the University of California, Davis
- Julie Burges –“ Animal Health Technician, Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, University of California, Davis
Aug 2, 2010
What you can´t see … can make you sick. Humans have been battling viruses and bacteria since the beginning of time. The malaria parasite has been keeping deadly company with us for 500,000 years. King Tut had it and so did Julius Caesar. What´s keeping this bug going today?
Also, how disease almost halted the most ambitious engineering project in the world … how elite disease detectives puzzle out perplexing epidemics … And –“ could tiny bugs from spaaace, ace, ace be our ancestors?
- Sonia Shah –“ Author of The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years
- Michael Conniff –“ Historian, director of Global Studies at San Jose State University, and author of Black Labor on a White Canal: Panama, 1904-1981 (Pitt Latin American Series)
- Mark Pendergrast –“ Author of Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service
- Robert Zubrin –“ President of the Mars Society
Jul 26, 2010
“Aspirin and Old Lace?” Okay, it would take a bottle full of pills in a glass of elderberry wine to really harm you, but aspirin can be deadly. So can too much of anything, including water. Dose is key in toxicology, after all, but there are some poisons that can do deadly work in tiny amounts.
Hear about the chemistry of poisons … why Botox may freeze your emotions as well as your face… which animal is most lethal to humans… and how 19th-century poisoners got away with murder –“ until the birth of forensic science.
- Deborah Blum –“ Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer, author of The Poisoner´s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
- Martyn Smith –“ Toxicologist, University of California, Berkeley
- Joshua Ian Davis –“ Psychologist, Barnard College, New York
- Jamie Seymour –“ Venom biologist, director of The Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit, School of Marine Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
Jul 19, 2010
ENCORE We could choose not to pay income tax and suffer the consequences. But we can´t avoid death. The biological functions of all organisms eventually cease. But why should this be? Find out why animals die and meet one creature that is biologically immortal.
Plus, a trip to the Body Farm where decaying bodies help science…how we might cheat the Big Sleep with drugs… why Mexican cemeteries look like villages… and a doctor´s fight against one of the world´s deadliest diseases.
- Bill Bass –“ Forensic Anthropologist, founder of the University of Tennessee Forensic Research Facility. Author of Beyond the Body Farm: A Legendary Bone Detective Explores Murders, Mysteries, and the Revolution in Forensic Science and fiction, written under the pen name, Jefferson Bass. The latest: Bones of Betrayal: A Body Farm Novel.
- Stanley Brandes –“ Cultural Anthropologist, University of California, Berkeley, author of Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead: The Day of the Dead in Mexico and Beyond
- Matt Kaeberlein –“ Pathologist, University of Washington
- Ross Donaldson –“ Doctor and author of The Lassa Ward
Jul 12, 2010
ENCORE A new herbal supplements is on the shelf, and it claims to improve memory. Should you take it? It´s not easy to sort through the firehose of health and nutrition advice that comes at us daily. Find out how to get healthy about health advice, plus hear the story of Bernarr Macfadden, the eccentric who kicked off America´s fitness craze; he believed that eating less was good for you, but he didn´t believe germ theory.
Plus, our Hollywood skeptic spills his guts and other entrails for a phony class for nurses and Phil Plait gives us the latest lapse in critically-thinking brains.
It´s Skeptic Check… but don´t take our word for it.
- Phil Plait –“ Author, badastronomy.com and Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . .
- Mark Adams –“ writer and editor, and author of Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet
- Jim Underdown –“ Executive Director, Center for Inquiry, West –“ Los Angeles
- Steven Novella –“ Assistant professor of neurology at Yale School of Medicine
Jul 5, 2010
Shh –“ can you keep it down? Nope. Not unless you want to do away with civilization. Our buzzing, humming, whirling, machine-driven world is a poster child for technological progress, right? As is hearing loss. It´s driven one man to search the world for silence. We´ll hear what he didn´t hear, and what Einstein predicted we should hear in deep space, where gravitational waves may reveal the hidden sounds of the universe, including the birth of black holes.
- George Foy –“ Author of Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence
- Garret Keizer –“ Author of The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise
- Craig Hogan –“ Director for Particle Astrophysics at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Jun 28, 2010
The recipe for being a scientist was easy in the old days… just be born into a rich family, have an interest in nature and plenty of time to indulge yourself. But are the days of gentlemen scientists over? Maybe not.
We go to the Maker Faire and check out how small-scale projects have big-scale ambitions.
Also, how everyday experience often tells us something profound about the universe.
- Spencer Weart –“ Former director of the Center for the History of Physics, at the American Institute of Physics
- Tim Russ –“ Actor, and the character Tuvok on Star Trek Voyager
- Marcus Chown –“ Science writer and author of The Matchbox That Ate a Forty-Ton Truck: What Everyday Things Tell Us About the Universe
May 3, 2010
ENCORE Dr. Robot, I presume? Your appendix may be removed by motor-driven, scalpel-wielding mechanical hands one day. Robots are debuting in the medical field… as well as on battlefields. And they´re increasingly making important decisions –“ on their own. But can we teach robots right from wrong? Find out why the onslaught of silicon intelligence has prompted a new field of robo-ethics. Plus, robo-geologists: NASA´s vision for autonomous robots in space.
Apr 19, 2010
We place sharks in aquariums and elephants in zoos –“ to observe and conserve. But what if aliens have done the same to us? We´ll hear from Stephen King on a doomed result of a domed experiment –“ hatched by off-Earth beings, and why captivity may actually save some species on this planet. Plus, you´re entering the Habitable Zone: which is the best bet for life elsewhere in the Solar System –“ Europa, Enceladus or Mars?