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Big Picture Science

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Big Picture Science

Big Picture Science

SETI Institute

204
Followers
1.5K
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0
Raised
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About Us

Big Picture Science: A smart and humorous take on emerging trends in science and technology. Tune in and make contact with science. We broadcast and podcast every week. bigpicturescience.org

Latest Episodes

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? 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

51 MIN1 weeks ago
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Is Life Inevitable?

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 than we thought and that a number of factors – from paranoia to poor engineering – made the mishap inevitable. Others claim a much larger death toll from extended exposure to low levels of radiation. But with nuclear energy being a possibly essential component of dealing with rising carbon dioxide emissions, how do we evaluate risk under the long shadow of Chernobyl? Guests: Adam Higginbotham–Author of “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster” Kate Brown– Historian of Environmental and Nuclear History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide for the Future...

51 MIN2 weeks ago
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Rethinking Chernobyl

Identity Crisis

(repeat) 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 than anything specific. And decoding a genome is still relatively expensive and time-consuming. So, while we refine our ability to work with DNA, the search is on for a quick and easy biomarker test to tell us who we are. In this hour: the story of chimeras – people who have two sets of DNA; a reporter whose ancestry tests revealed she is related to Napoleon and Marie Antoinette; and the eyes have it in Somaliland, the first nation to use iris scans in an election. Find out why your irises may be what ultimately distinguishes you from the crowd.

51 MIN3 weeks ago
Comments
Identity Crisis

Latest Episodes

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? 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

51 MIN1 weeks ago
Comments
Is Life Inevitable?

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 than we thought and that a number of factors – from paranoia to poor engineering – made the mishap inevitable. Others claim a much larger death toll from extended exposure to low levels of radiation. But with nuclear energy being a possibly essential component of dealing with rising carbon dioxide emissions, how do we evaluate risk under the long shadow of Chernobyl? Guests: Adam Higginbotham–Author of “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster” Kate Brown– Historian of Environmental and Nuclear History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide for the Future...

51 MIN2 weeks ago
Comments
Rethinking Chernobyl

Identity Crisis

(repeat) 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 than anything specific. And decoding a genome is still relatively expensive and time-consuming. So, while we refine our ability to work with DNA, the search is on for a quick and easy biomarker test to tell us who we are. In this hour: the story of chimeras – people who have two sets of DNA; a reporter whose ancestry tests revealed she is related to Napoleon and Marie Antoinette; and the eyes have it in Somaliland, the first nation to use iris scans in an election. Find out why your irises may be what ultimately distinguishes you from the crowd.

51 MIN3 weeks ago
Comments
Identity Crisis
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