Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: How Low Can You Go

by Gary Niederhoff on June 26, 2017

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: How Low Can You Go
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Baby, it’s cold outside… but you still might want to be there. Some people claim that chilly temperatures are good for your health, and proponents of cryotherapy suggest you have a blast – of sub-zero air – to stave off wrinkles and perhaps halt aging altogether.

Meanwhile the field of cryonics offers the ultimate benefit by suggesting that you put future plans – and your body – on ice when you die. That way you might be revived when the technology to do so is developed.

So, will a chill wind blow you some good? Possibly, as scientists are discovering that the body can endure colder temperatures than previously thought. We examine the science of extreme cold and claims of its salubrious benefits.

It’s our monthly look at critical thinking, Skeptic Check … but don’t take our word for it!

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Seth Abramovitch / Cryotherapy
Part 2: Gordon Giesbrecht / Phreezing Physiology
Part 3: Historic Cryosuspension
Part 4: Grant Shoffstall / Cryonic Suspension

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Big Picture Science – Perpetual Emotion Machine

by Gary Niederhoff on June 19, 2017

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Big Picture Science – Perpetual Emotion Machine
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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 mood. Empathetic electronics that you can relate to.

But wait a minute – we don’t always relate to other humans. Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging – our emotions are often conflicted and irrational. We cry when we’re happy. Frown when we’re pensive. A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience.

One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge’s blood sugar.

So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Rosalind Picard / Empathetic Electronics
Part 2: Robert Sapolsky / Biology of Behavior
Part 3: Robert Sapolsky / Free Will
Part 4: Rosalind Picard / Emotional Transaction

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Big Picture Science – Science Fiction

June 12, 2017

Big Picture Science – Science Fiction No one knows what the future will bring, but science fiction authors are willing to take a stab at imagining it. We take our own stab at imagining them imagining it. Find out why the genre of science fiction is more than a trippy ride through a bizarre, hi-tech […]

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Big Picture Science – Gene-y in a Bottle

June 5, 2017

Big Picture Science – Gene-y in a Bottleclick to listen! You can’t pick your parents. But soon you may be able to change the DNA they gave you. CRISPR technology is poised to take DNA editing to new levels of precision and speed. Imagine deleting genes from your body that you don’t like and inserting […]

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Big Picture Science – The Crater Good

May 29, 2017

Big Picture Science – The Crater Goodclick to listen! It was, “a giant leap for mankind,” but the next step forward may require going back. Yes, back to the moon. Only this time the hardware may come from China. Or perhaps Europe. In fact, it seems that the only developed nation not going lunar is […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Bad

May 22, 2017

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Science Breaking Badclick to listen! 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 […]

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Big Picture Science – 100% Invisible

May 15, 2017

Big Picture Science – 100% Invisibleclick to listen! 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 […]

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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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