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Big Picture Science
Friday at 8pm

Big Picture Science takes on big questions by interviewing leading researchers and weaving together their stories of discovery in a clever and off-kilter narrative style. Science radio doesn’t have to be dull. The only dry thing about our program is the humor.

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  • If you bake, you can appreciate math’s transformative properties. Admiring the stackable potato chip is to admire a hyperbolic sheet. Find out why there’s no need to fear math - you just need to think outside the cuboid. Also, how nature’s geometric shapes inspire the next generation of squishy robots and an argument for radically overhauling math class. The end point of these common factors is acute show that’s as fun as eating Pi. Guests: Eugenia Cheng – Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, tenured at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and author of “How to Bake Pi” Shankar Venkataramani – Professor of math at the University of Arizona Steven Strogatz – Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University and author of “Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe” Daniel Finkel – Mathematician and founder and director of operations at “Math for Love” Originally aired July 15, 2019 Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • Hosted by Ash Kelley and Alaina Urquhart from the hit show Morbid. When 90-year-old Laurence Pilgeram drops dead on the sidewalk outside his condo, you might think that’s the end of his story. But, really, it’s just the beginning. Because Laurence and others like him have signed up to be frozen and brought back to life in the future. And that belief will pull multiple generations of the Pilgeram family into a cryonics soap opera filled with dead pets, gold coins, grenades, fist fights, mysterious packages, family feuds, Hall of Fame baseball legends, and frozen heads — lots of frozen heads. From Wondery, comes a story about life, death, and what comes next. Follow Frozen Head on Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts. Binge early and ad-free by subscribing to Wondery+ in Apple Podcasts or the Wondery App. Listen to Frozen Head: Wondery.fm/FH_BPS Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • The newest Pentagon report on UAPs – or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon – reflects long standing public interest about what’s in our skies. Now, NASA is investigating for themselves. Should we assume that what we can’t identify is alien visitation? In our regular look at critical thinking, we look at the history of UFO sightings, visit Roswell on the 75th anniversary of the crash, and ask how our desire to believe influences our interpretation of evidence. Guests: Paul Hynek - Teacher at Pepperdine University and son of the late astronomer J. Allen Hynek Roger Launius - Former chief historian for NASA and former Chair of the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • A radical plan could solve a historic global health inequity. Countries in the global south who waited for more than a year for ample supplies of Covid vaccines have banded together to make mRNA vaccines locally. If successful, they could end a dangerous dependency on wealthy nations and help stop pandemics before they start. In a special episode, supported by the Pulitzer Center, journalist Amy Maxmen shares her reporting from southern Africa about the inspiring project led by the WHO that’s made fast progress. But it could fail, and a global imbalance will remain, if Big Pharma has its way. Find out what’s at stake. Guests: Amy Maxmen - Award-winning science journalist, Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the Nature article, "The Radical Plan for Vaccine Equity" Petro Terblanche - Managing Director, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines in Cape Town, South Africa Kondwani Charles Jambo - Senior Lecturer and immunologist at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Clinical Research Programme in Blantyre, Malawi Barney Graham - Former deputy director at the Vaccine Research Center at NIH and professor of medicine and microbiology immunology biochemistry at Morehouse School of Medicine Emile Hendricks - Research technologist at Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines in Cape Town, South Africa Achal Prabhala - Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, Coordinator at AccessIBSA, a medicines-access initiative in Bengaluru, India Patrick Tippoo - Head of Science and Innovation at Biovac in Cape Town, South Africa, founding member of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI) Harrison Chauluka - chief of the Mkunda village in Malawi Agnes Joni - farmer in Chiradzulu, Malawi Prophet Dauda - translator and writer in Blantyre, Malawi Originally aired November 21, 2022 Thanks to the Pulitzer Center for help supporting this episode of Big Picture Science Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • Catalytic converters are disappearing. If you’ve had yours stolen, you know that precious and rare earth metals are valuable. But these metals are in great demand for things other than converters, such as batteries for electric cars, wind farms and solar panels. We need rare earth metals to combat climate change, but where to get them? Could we find substitutes? One activity that could be in our future: Deep sea mining. But it’s controversial. Can one company’s plan to mitigate environmental harm help? Guests: Paul Dauenhauer - Professor of chemical engineering and material science at the University of Minnesota and a 2020 MacArthur Fellow Chris Leighton - Distinguished University Teaching Professor, Editor, Physical Review Materials, Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota Renee Grogan - Co-founder and Chief Sustainability Officer, Impossible Mining company Originally aired January 17, 2022 Featuring music by Dewey Dellay. Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • Climate change isn’t waiting for us to act. We’ve missed several deadlines to mitigate the dangers of this existential threat, which suggests we prefer to avert our gaze rather than deal with the problem. It’s similar to the way society reacts to an incoming comet in the movie “Don’t Look Up!” As a major Antarctic ice sheet shows signs of collapse, it’s no wonder we feel some “climate anxiety.” Can we leverage this emotion to spur action? That, and where hope lies, in this episode. Guests: Joellen Russell – Oceanographer and climate scientist at the University of Arizona Katie Mack – Professor of Theoretical Physics at North Carolina State University, and author of “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)” Jessica Tierney – Professor of Paleoclimatology at the University of Arizona Susan Clayton – Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies, College of Wooster Originally aired February 21, 2022 Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • Animals experience the world differently. There are insects that can see ultraviolet light, while some snakes can hunt in the dark thanks to their ability to sense infrared. Such differences are not restricted to vision: Elephants can hear subsonic sounds, birds navigate by magnetism, and your dog lives in a world marked by odors. In this episode, we speak to science journalist Ed Yong about how other creatures sense the world. Could we ever understand what it’s like to have the hearing of a bat or the sight of a hawk? Guest: Ed Yong – Science writer for The Atlantic whose coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic earned him a Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism. He is the author of, “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us.” Originally aired September 5, 2022 Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • The James Webb Space Telescope has turned its golden eye on the cosmos. The largest, most sensitive telescope put in space since the Hubble Space Telescope is already producing new photos of far-off galaxies and other cosmic phenomena. In this episode: astronomers share their reactions to these stunning images, the project scientist on JWST describes how infrared cameras capture phenomena that are invisible to shorter wavelengths, and a plan to investigate the very stardust that created everything, including you and me. Guests: Néstor Espinoza – Assistant astronomer, Space Telescope Science Institute, principal investigator for exoplanet atmospheric physics, James Webb Space Telescope Alyssa Pagan – Science Visuals Developer at the Space Telescope Science Institute John Mather – Nobel Prize-winning NASA astronomer and Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope Alex Filippenko – Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley Originally aired August 8, 2022 Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • 5G, the latest mobile network standard, is coming. As new cell towers sprout around the world, do we know enough to confidently claim that this new technology is safe? After all, older networking standards relied on microwaves, radiation which has wavelengths of inches to a foot or so. 5G operates at much higher frequencies, with millimeter wavelengths. Some are worried that being subjected to millimeter radiation could cause cancers. But what does science say? 5G: the promise and the perils. Guests: Jon Samet – Pulmonary physician, epidemiologist, and dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. Claire Parkinson – Scientist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Bob Berman – Astronomer, regular contributor to Astronomy Magazine, and author of “Zapped: From Infrared to X-Rays, the Curious History of Invisible Light” David Ropeik – Retired Harvard instructor and author of several books about the psychology of risk perception. Originally aired February 28, 2022 Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • A century ago, British archaeologist Howard Carter opened the only surviving intact tomb from ancient Egypt. Inside was the mummy of the boy king Tutankhamun, together with “wonderful things” including a solid gold mask. Treasure from King Tut’s crypt has been viewed both in person and virtually by many people since. We ask what about Egyptian civilization so captivates us, thousands of years later. Also, how new technology from modern physics allows researchers to “X-Ray” the pyramids to find hidden chambers. Guests: Emma Bentley – Postgraduate student in Archeology and Ancient Worlds at the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. Sarah Parcak – Archaeologist and Egyptologist, University of Alabama, and author of “Archaeology From Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past.” Richard Kouzes – Physicist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Salima Ikram – Professor of Egyptology at The American University in Cairo and head of the Animal Mummy Project at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Featuring music by Dewey Dellay and Jun Miyake Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • 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 to stave off serious threats to our future? There’s also another possible source of danger: our trendy digital aids. We seem all-too-willing to let algorithms classify and define our wants, our needs, and our behavior. Instead of using technology, are we being used by it – to inadvertently become social media’s product? And while we may be skittish about the increased data our technology collects, one sci-fi writer imagines a future in which information is a pervasive and freely available commodity. Guests: Martin Rees – Cosmologist, astrophysicist, and Great Britain’s Astronomer Royal. Author of On the Future: Prospects for Humanity. Douglas Rushkoff – Media theorist and professor of media theory and digital economics, City University of New York. Author of Team Human. Malka Older – Author and humanitarian worker, author of The Centenal Cycle. Originally aired February 11, 2019 Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
  • 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? Guests: Caleb Scharf – Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York Laurie Barge – Research scientist in astrobiology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Bruce Damer – Research scientist in biomolecular engineering, University of California, Jeremy England – Physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Originally aired May 13, 2019 Big Picture Science is part of the Airwave Media podcast network. Please contact sales@advertisecast.com to inquire about advertising on Big Picture Science. You can get early access to ad-free versions of every episode by joining us on Patreon. Thanks for your support! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices