Big Picture Science – Musical Universe

by Gary Niederhoff on July 25, 2016

musicofthespheresBIG
Big Picture Science – Musical Universe

In space, no one can hear you scream, but, using the right instruments, scientists can pick up all types of cosmic vibrations – the sort we can turn into sound. After a decade of listening, LIGO, a billion-dollar physics experiment, has detected gravitational waves caused by the collision of massive black holes, a brief shaking of spacetime that can be translated into a short squeal.

We listen to the chirp of black holes crashing into each other and wonder: could the universe contain more than individual sounds, but have actual musical structure?

A theoretical physicist and jazz saxophonist updates the ancient philosophical concept of the Music of the Spheres to probe the most vexing questions confronting modern cosmology. Find out how the evolution of the universe resembles an improvisational jazz piece, and the musical inspiration John Coltrane drew from Albert Einstein.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Janna Levin / Songs From Outer Space
Part 2: Stephon Alexander / Jazz of Science
Part 3: Stephon Alexander / Science of Jazz

{ 0 comments }

Big Picture Science – Raising the Minimum Age

by Gary Niederhoff on July 18, 2016


Big Picture Science – Raising the Minimum Age

We all try to fight it: the inexorable march of time. The fountain of youth doesn’t exist, and all those wrinkle creams can’t help. But modern science is giving us new weapons in the fight against aging. So how far are we willing to go?

Hear when aging begins, a summary of the latest biotech research, and how a lab full of youthful worms might help humans stay healthy.

Also, a geneticist who takes a radical approach: collect the DNA that codes for longevity and restructure our genome. He finds inspiration – and perhaps genes as well – in the bi-centenarian bowhead whale.

But what if age really is mind over matter? A psychologist’s extraordinary thought experiment with septuagenarian men turns back the clock 20 years. Will it work on diseases such as cancer as well?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Gordon Lithgow / Understanding Aging
Part 2: Gordon Lithgow’s Worm Lab
Part 3: George Church / Synthetic Biology
Part 4: Ellen Langer / Mind and Time

This episode originally aired on April 6, 2015

{ 0 comments }

Big Picture Science – Microbes: Resistance is Futile

July 10, 2016

Big Picture Science – Microbes: Resistance is Futile You are what you eat. Whether you dine on kimchi, carnitas, or corn dogs determines which microbes live in your stomach. And gut microbes make up only part of your total microbiome. Find out how your microbes are the brains-without-brains that affect your health and even your […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – Science Fiction True

July 4, 2016

Big Picture Science – Science Fiction True Don’t believe everything you see on TV or the movies. Science fiction is just a guide to how our future might unfold. It can be misleading, as anyone who yearns for a flying car can tell you. And yet, sometimes fantasy becomes fact. Think of the prototype cellphones […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: The Me in Measles

June 27, 2016

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: The Me in Measles Wondering whether to vaccinate your children? The decision can feel like a shot in the dark if you don’t know how to evaluate risk. Find out why all of us succumb to the reasoning pitfalls of cognitive and omission bias, whether we’re saying no to […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – Elements Never Forget

June 19, 2016

Big Picture Science – Elements Never Forget It’s elementary, Watson. Things are in flux – from the elements in the air you breathe to party balloons. We investigate the massive, historic loss of nitrogen from the atmosphere and meet the culprits behind a modern-day helium shortage. But it’s not all a disappearing act: be thankful […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – Surviving the Anthropocene

June 13, 2016

Big Picture Science – Surviving the Anthropocene The world is hot, and getting hotter. But higher temperatures aren’t the only impact our species is having on mother Earth. Urbanization, deforestation, and dumping millions of tons of plastic into the oceans … these are all ways in which humans are leaving their mark. So are we […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – How To Talk To Aliens

June 4, 2016

Big Picture Science – How To Talk To Aliens “Dear E.T. …” So far, so good. But now what? Writing is never easy, but what if your task was to craft a message to aliens living elsewhere in the universe, and your prose would represent all humankind? Got writer’s block yet? What to say to […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – Caught in a Traps

May 29, 2016

Big Picture Science – Caught in a Traps “Locked and loaded” is how one scientist recently described the San Andreas fault. Find out when this famous west-coast rift might cause “the big one;” also, the state of early earthquake warning systems. Plus, another sign of our planet’s unceasing turmoil: volcanos! Could the eruption that produced […]

Read the full article →

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage

May 23, 2016

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Busting Myths with Adam Savage Can an opera singer’s voice really shatter glass? Can you give your car a rocket-assisted boost and survive the test drive? How do you protect yourself from a shark attack? Those are among the many intriguing questions and urban legends tested by the MythBusters […]

Read the full article →