Big Picture Science – Born Legacy

by Gary Niederhoff on March 20, 2017

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Big Picture Science – Born Legacy

We know how the stars shine, but how do you make a star? We take an all-night ride on a high-flying jet – an airborne NASA observatory called SOFIA – to watch astronomers investigate how a star is born.

You can hear the entire segment of Emma’s SOFIA adventure here.

As for how the universe was born, we know about the Big Bang but modern physics suggests that similar cosmic explosions may be happening all the time, and even hint that we could – in principle – create a new universe in a laboratory. What does this mean, and how could we do it?

From stars to universes, how it all came to be.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Meet SOFIA
Part 2: SOFIA’s Mission
Part 3: SOFIA Science
Part 4: Zeeya Merali / DIY Universe
Part 5: Zeeya Merali / The Multiverse

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Big Picture Science – What Have You Got To Move

by Gary Niederhoff on March 13, 2017

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Big Picture Science – What Have You Got To Move

Whether they swim, slither, jump, or fly, animal locomotion is more than just an urge to roam: it’s necessary for survival. Evolution has come up with ingenious schemes to get from here to there. Hear how backbones evolved as a consequence of fish needing to wag their fins, and why no animals have wheels.

Motion is more than locomotion. Test the physics of movement in your kitchen and find out what popping corn has in common with the first steam engine.

And while physics insists that atoms are always moving, find how what happens to these basic building blocks when placed in the coldest spot in the universe. The Cold Atom Laboratory chills material to nearly absolute zero, creating some weird superfluid effects as atoms slow down.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Matt Wilkinson / Life Locomotion
Part 2: Helen Czerski / Everyday Physics
Part 3: Seth Shostak / Trappist-1 System
Part 4: Anita Sengupta / Freezing Atoms

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Big Picture Science – Cosmic Conundra

March 6, 2017

Big Picture Science – Cosmic Conundra Admit it – the universe is cool, but weird. Just when you think you’ve tallied up all the peculiar phenomena that the cosmos has to offer – it throws more at you. We examine some of the recent perplexing finds. Could massive asteroid impacts be as predictable as phases […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Not So Sweet

February 27, 2017

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Not So Sweet Obesity, diabetes, heart disease … maybe even Alzheimer’s. Could these modern scourges have a common denominator? Some people believe they do: sugar. But is this accusation warranted? We talk with a journalist who has spent two decades reporting on nutrition science, and while he says there’s […]

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Big Picture Science – Thinking About Thinking

February 20, 2017

Big Picture Science – Thinking About Thinking Congratulations, you have a big brain. Evolution was good to Homo sapiens. But make some room on the dais. Research shows that other animals, such as crows, may not look smart, but can solve complex problems. Meanwhile human engineers are busily developing cogitating machines. Intelligent entities abound – […]

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Big Picture Science – Going All To Species

February 13, 2017

Big Picture Science – Going All To Species Meet your new relatives. The fossilized bones of Homo naledi are unique for their sheer number, but they may also be fill a special slot in our ancestry: the first of our genus Homo. Sporting modern hands and feet but only a tiny brain, this creature may […]

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Big Picture Science – Quantum: Why We Want ‘Em

February 6, 2017

Big Picture Science – Quantum: Why We Want ‘Em Einstein thought that quantum mechanics might be the end of physics, and most scientists felt sure it would never be useful. Today, everything from cell phones to LED lighting is completely dependent on the weird behavior described by quantum mechanics. But the story continues. Quantum computers […]

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Big Picture Science – DIY Spaceflight

January 30, 2017

Big Picture Science – DIY Spaceflight For a half-century, space has been the playground of large, government agencies. While everyone could dream of becoming an astronaut, few could actually do so. Things have changed. We hear how a geeky son of immigrant parents incentivized the ground-breaking launch of SpaceShipOne, and spawned the commercial rocket industry. […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart

January 23, 2017

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Amelia Earhart She’s among the most famous missing persons in history. On the eightieth anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, mystery still shrouds her fate. What happened during the last leg of her round-the-world trek? Theories abound. Perhaps she ran out of fuel, and plunged into the ocean … or […]

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Big Picture Science – Geology is Destiny

January 16, 2017

Big Picture Science – Geology is Destiny The record of the rocks is not just the history of Earth; it’s your history too. Geologists can learn about events going back billions of years that influenced – and even made possible – our present-day existence and shaped our society. If the last Ice Age had been […]

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