Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Political Scientist

by Gary Niederhoff on March 18, 2019


BiPiSci – Skeptic Check: Political Scientist

Hundreds of thousands of scientists took to the streets during the March for Science. The divisive political climate has spurred some scientists to deeper political engagement – publicly challenging lawmakers and even running for office themselves. But the scientist-slash-activist model itself is contested, even by some of their colleagues.

Find out how science and politics have been historically intertwined, what motivates scientists to get involved, and the possible benefits and harm of doing so. Is objectivity damaged when scientists advocate?

Plus, how Michael Mann became a reluctant activist, whether his “street fighter” approach is effective in defending climate science, and the price he and his family paid for speaking out.

Also, how the organization 314 Action is helping a record number of scientists run for Congress. But will the group support only Democratic contenders?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Robert Young / Bad Strategy
Part 2: Douglas Haynes / Science is Politics
Part 3: Michael Mann / Activist Scientist
Part 4: Shaughnessy Naugton / 314 Action
Part 5: Alex Berezow / A Centrist’s Concern

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Big Picture Science – Hawkingravity

by Gary Niederhoff on March 11, 2019


Big Picture Science – Hawkingravity

Stephen Hawking felt gravity’s pull. His quest to understand this feeble force spanned his career, and he was the first to realize that black holes actually disappear – slowly losing the mass of everything they swallow in a dull, evaporative glow called Hawking radiation.

But one of gravity’s deepest puzzles defied even his brilliant mind. How can we connect theories of gravity on the large scale to what happens on the very small? The Theory of Everything remains one of the great challenges to physicists.

Also, the latest on deciphering the weirdness of black holes and why the gravitational wave detector LIGO has added colliding neutron stars to its roster of successes.

Plus, a fellow physicist describes Dr. Hawking’s extraordinary deductive abilities and what it was like to collaborate with him. And, a surprise awaits Molly when she meets a local string theorist to discuss his search for the Theory of Everything.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Leonard Mlodinow / Working with Hawking
Part 2: Janna Levin / Hawking Radiation
Part 3: Camuccio & Rattray / LIGO Discoveries
Part 4: Raphael Bousso / Theory of Everything

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Big Picture Science – High Moon

March 4, 2019

Big Picture Science – High Moon “The moon or bust” is now officially bust. No private company was able to meet the Lunar X Prize challenge, and arrange for a launch by the 2018 deadline. The $30 million award goes unclaimed, but the race to the moon is still on. Find out who wants to […]

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Big Picture Science – We Are VR

February 25, 2019

Big Picture Science – We Are VR Will virtual reality make you a better person? It’s been touted as the “ultimate empathy machine,” and one that will connect people who are otherwise emotionally and physically isolated. The promise of the technology has come a long way since BiPiSci last took a VR tour. Find out […]

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Big Picture Science – Radical Cosmology

February 18, 2019

Big Picture Science – Radical Cosmology 400 years ago, some ideas about the cosmos were too scandalous to mention. When the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno suggested that planets existed outside our Solar System, the Catholic Inquisition had him arrested, jailed, and burned at the stake for heresy. Today, we have evidence of thousands of planets […]

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Big Picture Science – Keeping Humans in the Loop

February 12, 2019

Big Picture Science – Keeping Humans in the Loop Modern technology is great, but could we be losing control? As our world becomes more crowded and demands for resources are greater, some people worry about humanity’s uncertain prospects. An eminent cosmologist considers globe-altering developments such as climate change and artificial intelligence. Will we be able […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Astrology Ascending

February 4, 2019

Big Picture Science – Astrology Ascending The fault is in our stars. And according to astrology, so is our destiny, our moods, and our character. Mars may be in retrograde, but interest in the ancient practice of astrology is rising. The fact that it is not science is irrelevant to those who claim “it works.” […]

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Big Picture Science – Meet Your Robot Barista

January 28, 2019

Big Picture Science – Meet Your Robot Barista Move over Roomba. Café robots are the latest in adorable automation. And they may be more than a fad. As robots and artificial intelligence enter the workforce, they could serve up more than machine-made macchiato. Digital workers are in training to do a wide variety jobs. Will […]

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Big Picture Science – Rip Van Winkle Worm

January 21, 2019

Big Picture Science – Rip Van Winkle Worm Your shower pipes are alive. So are your sinks, books, and floorboards. New studies of our homes are revealing just what species live there – in the thousands, from bacteria to flies to millipedes. Meanwhile, life keeps surprising us by popping up in other unexpected places: the […]

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Big Picture Science – True Grit

January 14, 2019

Big Picture Science – True Grit Without sand, engineering would be stuck in the Middle Ages. Wooden houses would line mud-packed streets, and Silicon Valley would be, well, just a valley. Sand is the building material of modern cities, and we use more of this resource than any other except water and air. Now we’re […]

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