BiPiSci – It’s Habitable Forming

by Gary Niederhoff on August 13, 2018

Big Picture Science – It’s Habitable Forming

There’s evidence for a subsurface lake on Mars, and scientists are excitedly using the “h” word. Could the Red Planet be habitable, not billions of years ago, but today? While we wait – impatiently – for a confirmation of this result, we review the recipe for habitable alien worlds. For example, the moon Titan has liquid lakes on its surface. Could they be filled with Titanites?

Dive into a possible briny, underground lake on Mars … protect yourself from the methane-drenched rain on a moon of Saturn … and cheer on the missed-it-by-that-much planets, asteroids Ceres and Vesta.

Also, do tens of billions of potentially habitable extrasolar planets mean that Earth is not unique?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Nathalie Cabrol / Water on Mars
Part 2: Jack Holt / Lake on Mars
Part 3: Jani Radebaugh / Titan’s Lakes
Part 4: Marc Rayman / Asteroid Mission
Part 5: Phil Plait / Extrasolar Habitability


BiPiSci – Skeptic Check: Brain Gain

by Gary Niederhoff on August 6, 2018

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Brain Gain

Looking to boost your brainpower? Luckily, there are products promising to help. Smart drugs, neurofeedback exercises, and brain-training video games all promise to improve your gray matter’s performance. But it’s uncertain whether these products really work. Regulatory agencies have come down hard on some popular brain training companies for false advertising. But other brain games have shown benefits in clinical trials. And could we skip the brain workout altogether and pop a genius pill instead?

In our monthly look at critical thinking, we separate the pseudo from the science of commercial cognitive enhancement techniques.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Smart Drugs
Part 2: Brain Training
Part 3: Brain Power
Part 4: Brain Flexibility


Big Picture Science – It’s In Material

July 30, 2018

Big Picture Science: It’s In Material Astronauts are made of the “right stuff,” but what about their spacesuits? NASA’s pressurized and helmeted onesies are remarkable, but they need updating if we’re to boldly go into deep space. Suiting up on Mars requires more manual flexibility, for example. Find out what innovative materials might be used […]

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BiPiSci – Identity Crisis

July 23, 2018

Big Picture Science – Identity Crisis DNA is the gold standard of identification. Except when it’s not. In rare cases when a person has two complete sets of DNA, that person’s identity may be up in the air. Meanwhile, DNA ancestry tests are proving frustratingly vague: dishing up generalities about where you came from rather […]

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Big Picture Science – On Thin Ice

July 16, 2018

Big Picture Science – On Thin Ice Water is essential for life – that we know. But the honeycomb lattice that forms when you chill it to zero degrees Celsius is also inexorably intertwined with life. Ice is more than a repository for water that would otherwise raise sea levels. It’s part of Earth’s cooling […]

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Big Picture Science – What Goes Around

July 9, 2018

Big Picture Science – What Goes Aroundclick to listen! It’s not just tin cans and newspapers. One man says that, from a technical standpoint, everything can be recycled – cigarette butts, yoga mats, dirty diapers. Even radioactive waste. You name it, we can recycle it. But we choose not to. Find out why we don’t, […]

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Big Picture Science – Frogs’ Pants

July 2, 2018

Big Picture Science – Frogs’ Pantsclick to listen! It’s one of the most bizarre biological experiments ever. In the 18th century, a scientist fitted a pair of tailor-made briefs on a male frog to determine the animal’s contribution to reproduction. The process of gestation was a mystery and scientists had some odd-ball theories. Today, a […]

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BiPiSci – Free Range Dinosaurs

June 25, 2018

Big Picture Science – Free Range Dinosaursclick to listen! Dinosaurs are once again stomping and snorting their way across the screen of your local movie theater. But these beefy beasts stole the show long before CGI brought them back in the Jurassic Park blockbusters. Dinosaurs had global dominance for the better part of 165 million […]

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Big Picture Science – Perpetual Emotion Machine

June 18, 2018

Big Picture Science – Perpetual Emotion Machineclick to listen! Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you’re coming from. Computers that can tell by your voice whether you’re pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your […]

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BiPiSci – Skeptic Check: Flat Earth

June 11, 2018

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Flat Earthclick to listen! The Earth is not round. Technically, it’s an oblate spheroid. But for some people, the first statement is not even approximately correct. Flat Earthers believe that our planet resembles – not a slightly squashed grapefruit – but a thick pancake. A journalist who covered a […]

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