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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad
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The scientific method is tried and true. It has led us to a reliable understanding of things from basic physics to biomedicine. So yes, we can rely on the scientific method. The fallible humans behind the research, not so much. And politicians? Don’t get us started. Remember when one brought a snowball to the Senate floor to “prove” that global warming was a hoax? Oy vey.

We talk to authors about new books that seem to cast a skeptical eye on the scientific method… but that are really throwing shade on the ambitious labcoat-draped humans who heat the beakers and publish the papers … as well as the pinstriped politicians who twist science to win votes.

Find out why the hyper-competitive pursuit of results that are “amazing” and “incredible” is undermining medical science … how a scientific breakthrough can turn into a societal scourge (heroin as miracle cure) … and what happens when civil servants play the role of citizen scientists on CSPAN.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Richard Harris / Sloppy Science
Part 2: Paul Offit / Science Gone Wrong
Part 3: Dave Levitan / Political “Science”

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Big Picture Science – 100% Invisible

by Gary Niederhoff on May 15, 2017

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Big Picture Science – 100% Invisible
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In astronomy, the rule of thumb was simple: If you can’t see it with a telescope, it’s not real. Seeing is believing. Well, tell that to the astronomers who discovered dark energy, or dark matter … or, more recently, Planet 9. And yet we have evidence that all these things exist (although skepticism about the ninth – or is it tenth? – planet still lingers).

Find out how we know what we know about the latest cosmic discoveries – even if we can’t see them directly. The astronomer who found Planet 9 – and killed Pluto – offers his evidence.

And, a speculative scenario suggests that dark matter helped do away with the dinosaurs.

Plus, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics explains why neutrinos that are zipping through your body right now may hold clues to the origin of the universe.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Mike Brown / New Planet
Part 2: Michael Lemonick / Planet X
Part 3: Arthur McDonald / Neutrino Nobel
Part 4: Lisa Randall / Dark Matter

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Big Picture Science – Time on Your Side

May 8, 2017

Big Picture Science – Time on Your Sideclick to listen! Time passes like an arrow, but what if it flew like a boomerang? Scientists are learning how to reverse time’s most relentless march: aging. But before we rewind time, let’s try to define it, because there’s plenty of debate about just what time is – […]

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Big Picture Science – Eve of Disruption

May 1, 2017

Big Picture Science – Eve of Disruptionclick to listen! Only two of the following three creations have had lasting scientific or cultural impact: The telescope … the Sistine Chapel ceiling … the electric banana. Find out why one didn’t make the cut as a game-changer, and why certain eras and places produce a remarkable flowering […]

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Big Picture Science – Spacecraft Elegy

April 24, 2017

Big Picture Science – Spacecraft Elegyclick to listen! Exploration: It’s exciting, it’s novel, and you can’t always count on a round-trip ticket. You can boldly go, but you might not come back. That’s no showstopper for robotic explorers, though. Spacecraft go everywhere. While humans have traveled no farther than the moon, our mechanical proxies are […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Glutenous Maximus

April 17, 2017

Big Picture Science – Glutenous Maximusclick to listen! Eat dark chocolate. Don’t drink coffee. Go gluten-free. If you ask people for diet advice, you’ll get a dozen different stories. Ideas about what’s good for us sprout up faster than alfalfa plants (which are still healthy … we think). How can you tell if the latest […]

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Big Picture Science – Your Brain’s Reins

April 10, 2017

Big Picture Science – Your Brain’s Reins You are your brain. But what happens when your brain changes for the worse – either by physical injury or experience? Are you still responsible for your actions? We hear how the case of a New York man charged with murder was one of the first to introduce […]

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Big Picture Science – Winging It

April 3, 2017

Big Picture Science – Winging It Ask anyone what extraordinary powers they’d love to have, and you’re sure to hear “be able to fly.” We’ve kind of scratched that itch with airplanes. But have we gone as far as we can go, or are better flying machines in our future? And whatever happened to our […]

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Big Picture Science – Shell on Earth

March 27, 2017

Big Picture Science – Shell on Earth We all may retreat to our protective shells, but evolution has perfected the calcite variety to give some critters permanent defense against predators. So why did squids and octopuses lose their shells? Find out what these cephalopods gained by giving up the shell game. Plus why Chesapeake Bay […]

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Big Picture Science – Born Legacy

March 20, 2017

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 […]

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