The Names They are a-Changin’

by Molly Bentley on May 23, 2011

Hey, AWA fans! This is a heads-up that we’re changing the name of the show! Beginning in mid-July, the show will be re-titled Big Picture Science. The content won’t change (although we hope to improve!) and the humor will remain (audible sighs of relief). The name better reflects the scope of the science.

Before you protest. Consider this: if you ran an art gallery of 20th-century modernism how would calling it The Salvador Dali Studio capture the energy of Pollock’s splatter paintings, the saturated color of Barnett Newman, never mind the radical minimalism of Kazimir Malevich during his white-on-white phase?

Or, if your car dealership sold everything from Porsches to Pintos, would you print fliers and risk life and limb to drop them from small airplanes so that people could “Stop by Cadillac Kingdom for a real deal?”

Or if your restaurant menu ran from boiled squid to baklava, would customers flock to Casa De Tortilla? (Although, if you featured everything “from crepes to papadum” you’d be okay – ha ha, that’s because they’re both essentially tortillas).

Anyway, Are We Alone to become Big Picture Science. You get the picture. The Big Picture.

Radical in its time

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar KathyO May 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

AWA is one of my favorite podcasts, but not only because of the name. I look forward to continuing to hear entertaining science stories.

Speaking of which, that kitchen science story was pretty amazing. I’m frankly surprised that the home biologists had that much success. When PCR (the rapid DNA sequencing technique you mention) was first invented, our lab tried replicating it on the cheap. We finally bought the commercial apparatus. That said, that equipment might be much more affordable today.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

avatar Molly Bentley May 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Thanks, Kathy O!

avatar KathyO May 31, 2011 at 5:47 pm

You’re very welcome. I do have one more general question. Most of the episodes that you air don’t seem to have any place to post comments about that particular episode. For example, this page has a post about the name change (into which I snuck my comment about PCR), and then a post from a month ago about turning off the telescope array, but nothing in between. If I have a a question or comment about an episode for which there’s no blog entry, where should I send it?


avatar Gary Niederhoff June 1, 2011 at 10:37 am

Thanks for the feedback, Kathy. The list of shows is on the right side of the blog under “Show Archive”, where each show has its own post. In each show post, there is a list of the segments of the show. So, you can comment on the show in general at:

Or comment on the Biopunk segment here:

Thanks for listening!

avatar William June 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

Good call. I quite enjoy your podcast, as a humanities graduate interested in science, but I’ve found it difficult sometimes to recommend it to others like me, who I think might be interested, but I then have to convince them it’s not just about aliens.

avatar Molly Bentley June 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

Hi William,
Yes, you may soon recommend the show to others without
unduly explanation. The name of the program changes
to Big Picture Science in mid-July. The content is the same –
we’ll continue to look at the big-picture questions in science!


avatar Keith Rozendal June 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for thinking of us, William and Kathy O. I hope others follow your examples and spread the word about the show!

avatar Tom Klose June 29, 2011 at 6:18 am

Hi all, I was checking to see if the new podcast name was listed today. I found what looks like another big picture science.
I don’t think this is AWA

Is this name already taken?

avatar Gary Niederhoff July 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

Ha! No, that’s not us. Our url won’t change. It will still be Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

avatar Davidlpf July 12, 2011 at 7:29 am

No matter what you call the it. If I ran into Seth I am still going to ask, “Are we Alone?”.

avatar Confuzled July 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I find myself, choosing not to download your show whenever it comes up on my list of shows to download each morning.

To be honest, I had to sit back and ask myself “Why am I doing this?”. You know, how sometimes do something, and don’t realise you’re actually doing it? That’s what I caught myself doing with, “The Big Picture”. After all, it’s no doubt the same great show. But why am I doing this? I can only think that it’s because the name just doesn’t jump out at me any more. I don’t get excited about seeing the name “The Big Picture”. To me, it’s not inviting. It sounds boring and even, dare I say it, condescending. I’m not excited.

Whereas “Are We Alone”, even though your show, so nicely, covers so many topics, all I see is ALIENS!….Yay!

So I download it.

Yes, I know I’m being prissy, and I shouldn’t be such a big girl about it, but it’s true. I can only assume that the name was changed to try and reach a wider audience. But, I AM missing the “old” podcast, even though it’s the same, and I’m just not listening to it any more, and even though I now realise what it is that I’m doing, I STILL find myself hesitant to choose it. How strange, such a simple and minor change can do this to me.

I wonder if any of the pre-The Big Picture listeners have found themselves doing this too?

Anyway. I love the show. I’d like to keep listening. I’ll try to force myself to download it. Maybe then, I’ll just forget about the old name, and get over that hurdle through forced habit.


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