Sep 24, 2012
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.
- Atul Butte – Associate professor, division chief, systems medicine, Stanford University
- Larry Smarr – Professor of computer science, University of California, San Diego, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, (Calit2)
- Karen Nelson – Microbiologist, director of the Rockville Campus of the J. Craig Venter Institute
- Gerry Harp – Physicist, and Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute
- Deirdre Mulligan – Assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information and faculty director of the Berkeley Center of Law and Technology
- Ken Goldberg – Professor of engineering, information and art at the University of California, Berkeley
Sep 10, 2012
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.
- Kelly Lambert – Behavioral Neuroscientist, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia, author of The Lab Rat Chronicles: A Neuroscientist Reveals Life Lessons from the Planet’s Most Successful Mammals
- Michael Gould – Professor of Oncology and Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Jaak Pankseep – Neuroscientist, Veterinary College, Washington State University, author of The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
- Pico Iyer – Writer, author of The Man Within My Head and the New York Times article The Joy of Quiet
Sep 3, 2012
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!
- Mako Igarashi – Skydiving instructor, Skydive Hollister, Hollister, CA
- Rhett Allain – Physicist at Southeastern Louisiana University, blogger for Wired.com
- William Bryant Logan – Author of Air: The Restless Shaper of the World
- Robert Wagoner – Emeritus professor of physics, Stanford University
- Alex Filippenko – Astronomer, University of California, Berkeley
- Ed Stone – Physicist at CalTech, former Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, project scientist for the Voyager mission
Aug 20, 2012
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.”
- Kevin Kelly – Editor-at-large at Wired and author of What Technology Wants
- Henry Lieberman – Research scientist at the M.I.T. Media Laboratory
- Brian Christian – Science writer, poet and author of The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive
- Horst Simon – Deputy Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
- Shankar Sastry – Dean of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
- Jean Paul Jacob – Scholar in Residence at U.C. Berkeley and IBM Researcher, Emeritus
First aired March 28, 2011
Aug 13, 2012
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.
- John Grotzinger – Geologist, California Institute of Technology, and project scientist, NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission
- Jennifer Heldmann – Research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center
- Rachel Harris – Astrobiology student at the NASA Astrobiology Institute
- Stuart Schlisserman – Physician in Palo Alto, California
- Felisa Wolfe-Simon – NASA astrobiology research fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs
- Bas Lansdorp – Founder, Mars One
Aug 6, 2012
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!
- Madhu Khanna – Professor of Agriculture and Environmental Economics at the University of Illinois and at the Energy Biosciences Institute
- Stephen Long – Professor of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Michelle Chang – Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley
- Bret Stroegn – Graduate student researcher, Energy Bioscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley
- Jonathan Trent – Bioengineering Research Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center and founder of Global Research into Energy and the Enviornment (GREEN )
- Richard Obousy – Physicist and co-founder and project leader for Project Icarus
First released April 25, 2011.
Jul 23, 2012
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.
- Daniel Lieberman – Professor of human evolutionary biology, Harvard University, author of The Evolution of the Human Head
- Callum Ross – Professor of organismal biology and anatomy, University of Chicago
- Kelly Brownell – Psychologist, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University
- Robert Peaslee – Assistant professor, College of Media and Communications, Texas Tech University and author of Web-Spinning Heroics: Critical Essays on the History and Meaning of Spider-Man
Jun 25, 2012
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?
- Mark Moffett – Entomologist, research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, author of Adventures among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions
- John Spencer – Planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and member of the New Horizons science team
- Joe Nickell – Paranormal investigator, Senior Research Fellow, Skeptical Inquirer Magazine
- William Anders – Astronaut on Apollo 8, and photographer of “Earth Rise”
- Jonah Lehrer – Author of Imagine: How Creativity Works
Jun 18, 2012
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.
- Pamela Ronald – Professor in the department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis, co-author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food
- Ronald Lindsay – President and Chief Executive Officer and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Inquiry, and author of Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas
- Micha Peled – Founder, Teddy Bear Films, and the filmmaker for “Bitter Seeds”
- Doug Gurian-Sherman – Plant pathologist, senior scientist, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
- John Cumbers – Synthetic biologist, working in Northern California
May 28, 2012
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?
- Jay Pasachoff – Astronomer, Williams College
- Peter Aughton – Astronomer and author of The Transit of Venus: The Brief, Brilliant Life of Jeremiah Horrocks, Father of British Astronomy
- Nick Lomb – Former Curator of Astronomy, Sydney Observatory, and author of Transit of Venus: 1631 to the Present
- Andrea Wulf – Author of Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens
- David Grinspoon – Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Jon Jenkins – Lead analyst with the Kepler Mission and senior scientist with the SETI Institute