Big Picture Science – New Water Worlds

by Gary Niederhoff on May 20, 2019


Big Picture Science – New Water Worlds

The seas are rising. It’s no longer a rarity to see kayakers paddling through downtown Miami. By century’s end, the oceans could be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet higher, threatening millions of people and property. But humans once knew how to adapt to rising waters. As high water threatens to drown our cities, can we learn do it again.

Hear stories of threatened land: submerged Florida suburbs, the original sunken city (Venice), and the U.S. East Coast, where anthropologists rush to catalogue thousands of low-lying historical and cultural sites in harm’s way, including Jamestown, Virginia and ancient Native American sites.

But also, stories of ancient adaptability: from the First American tribes of the Colusa in South Florida to the ice age inhabitants of Doggerland. And, modern approaches to staying dry: stilt houses, seawalls, and floating cities.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Jeff Goodell / Doomed Miami
Part 2: Brian Fagan / Ancestral Adaptation
Part 3: David Anderson / Endangered History
Part 4: Jeff Goodell / Flood Solutions

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Big Picture Science – Is Life Inevitable?

by Gary Niederhoff on May 13, 2019


Big Picture Science – Is Life Inevitable?

A new theory about life’s origins updates Darwin’s warm little pond. Scientists say they’ve created the building blocks of biology in steaming hot springs. Meanwhile, we visit a NASA lab where scientists simulate deep-sea vent chemistry to produce the type of environment that might spawn life. Which site is best suited for producing biology from chemistry?

Find out how the conditions of the early Earth were different from today, how meteors seeded Earth with organics, and a provocative idea that life arose as an inevitable consequence of matter shape-shifting to dissipate heat. Could physics be the driving force behind life’s emergence?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Laurie Barge / Hydrothermal Vents
Part 1 expanded: with additional commentary by Caleb Scharf
Part 2: Bruce Damer / Chemical Crucibles
Part 2 expanded: with additional commentary by Caleb Scharf
Part 3: Jeremy England / Entropic Kismet
Part 3 expanded: with additional commentary by Caleb Scharf

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Big Picture Science – Rethinking Chernobyl

May 6, 2019

Big Picture Science – Rethinking Chernobyl The catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986 triggered the full-scale destruction of the reactor. But now researchers with access to once-classified Soviet documents are challenging the official version of what happened both before and after the explosion. They say that the accident was worse […]

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Big Picture Science – Identity Crisis

April 29, 2019

Big Picture Science – Identity Crisis DNA is the gold standard of identification. Except when it’s not. In rare cases when a person has two complete sets of DNA, that person’s identity may be up in the air. Meanwhile, DNA ancestry tests are proving frustratingly vague: dishing up generalities about where you came from rather […]

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Big Picture Science – Gained in Translation

April 22, 2019

Big Picture Science – Free Range Dinosaursclick to listen! Your virtual assistant is not without a sense of humor. Its repertoire includes the classic story involving a chicken and a road. But will Alexa laugh at your jokes? Will she groan at your puns? Telling jokes is one thing. Teaching a computer to recognize humor […]

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BiPiSci – Free Range Dinosaurs

April 15, 2019

Big Picture Science – Free Range Dinosaursclick to listen! Dinosaurs are once again stomping and snorting their way across the screen of your local movie theater. But these beefy beasts stole the show long before CGI brought them back in the Jurassic Park blockbusters. Dinosaurs had global dominance for the better part of 165 million […]

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Big Picture Science – Go With the Flow

April 8, 2019

Big Picture Science – DecodeHer Solid materials get all the production credit. Don’t get us wrong, we depend on their strength and firmness for bridges, bones, and bento boxes. But liquids do us a solid, too. Their free-flowing properties drive the Earth’s magnetic field, inspire a new generation of smart electronics, and make biology possible. […]

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Big Picture Science – DecodeHer

April 1, 2019

Big Picture Science – DecodeHer They were pioneers in their fields, yet their names are scarcely known – because they didn’t have a Y chromosome. We examine the accomplishments of two women who pioneered code breaking and astronomy during the early years of the twentieth century and did so in the face of social opprobrium […]

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Big Picture Science – You Are Exposed

March 25, 2019

Big Picture Science – You Are Exposed There’s no place like “ome.” Your microbiome is highly influential in determining your health. But it’s not the only “ome” doing so. Your exposome – environmental exposure over a lifetime – also plays a role. Hear how scientists hope to calculate your entire exposome, from food to air […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Political Scientist

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. […]

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