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This week's show

Skeptic Check: Nibiru! (Again!)
Nov 13, 2017

Skeptic Check: Nibiru! (Again!) Doomsday redux.

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.  

Guests:

Descripción en español

DNA: Nature's Hard Drive
Nov 06, 2017
DNA: Nature's Hard Drive
What surprises are in storage?

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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. 

Venom Diagram
Oct 30, 2017
Venom Diagram
One animal’s poison is another’s cure.

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ENCORE  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. 

Sex Post Facto
Oct 23, 2017
Sex Post Facto
What’s next.

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ENCORE  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.

Too Big to Prove
Oct 16, 2017
Too Big To Prove
Gravitational waves, string theory, and modern physics

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Celebrations are in order for the physicists who won the 2017 Nobel Prize, for the detection of gravitational waves.