Big Picture Science – Wonder Women

by Gary Niederhoff on November 20, 2017


Big Picture Science – Wonder Women

We’re hearing about harassment of, and barriers to, women seeking careers in politics and entertainment. But what about science? Science is supposed to be uniquely merit-based and objective. And yet the data say otherwise. A new study reveals widespread harassment of women of color in space science.

We look at the role that a hostile work environment plays in keeping women from pursuing scientific careers. While more women than ever are holding jobs in science, the percentage in tech and computer science has flattened out or even dropped. A memo from a software engineer at an Internet giant claims it’s because female brains aren’t suited for tech. Find out what the science says.

Plus, women staring down discrimination. One woman’s reaction to her guidance counselor’s suggestion that she skip calculus and have babies. And SACNAS, the organization changing the face of science for Latina and Native American women.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Jill Tarter / Standout Student
Part 2: Angela Saini / Inferior Memo
Part 3: Kathryn Clancy / Hostile Environment
Part 4: Antonia Franco / SACNAS

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Nibiru! (Again!)

by Gary Niederhoff on November 13, 2017


Big Picture Science – Nibiru! (Again!)

Will your calendar entry for November 19th be your last? Some people say yes, predicting a catastrophic collision between Earth and planet Nibiru on that date and the end of the world. But it won’t happen, because this hypothesized rogue world doesn’t exist. Nibiru’s malevolent disruptions have been foretold many times, most dramatically in 2012 and three times so far in 2017. But this year NASA issued a rare public assurance that doomsday was not in the offing.

Find out why the agency decided to speak out. Meanwhile, hoaxes and alarmist stories from the 19th century demonstrate that we have a long history of being susceptible to hooey.

Also, an astronomer who doesn’t believe that Nibiru is hiding in the outer Solar System, but that Planet X is.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: David Morrison / Nibiru Nonsense
Part 2: Scheduling the End Times
Part 3: Robert E. Bartholomew / Public Panic
Part 4: Mike Brown / Planet X

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Big Picture Science – DNA: Nature’s Hard Drive

November 6, 2017

Big Picture Science – DNA: Nature’s Hard Drive The biotech tool CRISPR lets us do more than shuffle genes. Researchers have embedded an animated GIF into a living organism’s DNA, proving that the molecule is a great repository for information. This has encouraged speculation that DNA could be used by aliens to send messages. Meanwhile, […]

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Big Picture Science – Venom Diagram

October 30, 2017

Big Picture Science – Venom Diagram We all get defensive sometimes. For some animals, evolution has provided a highly effective mechanism for saying “back off!”. A puncture by a pair of venom-filled fangs gets the point across nicely. But one animal’s poison may be another’s cure. Some dangerous critters churn out compounds that can be […]

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Big Picture Science – Sex Post Facto

October 23, 2017

Big Picture Science – Sex Post Facto Birds do it, bees do it, but humans may not do it for much longer. At least not for having children. Relying on sex to reproduce could be supplanted by making babies in the lab, where parents-to-be can select genomes that will ensure ideal physical and behavioral traits. […]

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Big Picture Science – Too Big To Prove

October 16, 2017

Big Picture Science – Too Big To Prove Celebrations are in order for the physicists who won the 2017 Nobel Prize, for the detection of gravitational waves. But the road to Stockholm was not easy. Unfolding over a century, it went from doubtful theory to daring experiments and even disrepute. 100 years is a major […]

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Big Picture Science – On Defense

October 9, 2017

Big Picture Science – On Defense The military is a dangerous calling. But technology can help out, so researchers are constantly trying to make soldiers safer. Writer Mary Roach investigates how scientists studying so-called human factors are protecting troops from such aggressive foes as heat, noise, and fatigue. She also learns how bad odors were […]

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Big Picture Science – It’s In Material

October 2, 2017

Big Picture Science: It’s In Material Astronauts are made of the “right stuff,” but what about their spacesuits? NASA’s pressurized and helmeted onesies are remarkable, but they need updating if we’re to boldly go into deep space. Suiting up on Mars requires more manual flexibility, for example. Find out what innovative materials might be used […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Aliens – The Evidence

September 25, 2017

Big Picture Science: Aliens – The Evidence Once again the aliens have landed … in theaters. It’s no spoiler to say that the latest cinematic sci-fi, Arrival, involves extraterrestrials visiting Earth. But for some folks, the film’s premise is hardly shocking. They’re convinced that the aliens have already come. But is there any proof that […]

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Big Picture Science – Angles of a Hack

September 18, 2017

Big Picture Science – Angles of a Hack Changed your computer password recently? We all try to stay one step ahead of the hackers, but the fear factor is increasing. The risks can range from stolen social security numbers to sabotaging a national power grid. Sixty years ago, when hacking meant nosing around the telephone […]

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