Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Monster Mashup

by Gary Niederhoff on April 12, 2015


Big Picture Science – Monster Mashup

Monsters don’t exist. Except when they do. And extinction is forever, except when it isn’t. So, which animals are mythical and which are in hiding?

Bigfoot sightings are plentiful, but real evidence for the hirsute creature is a big zilch. Yet, the coelacanth, a predatory fish thought extinct, actually lives. Today, its genome is offering clues as to how and when our fishy ancestors first flopped onto land.

Meanwhile, the ivory-billed woodpecker assumes mythic status as it flutters between existence and extinction. And, from passenger pigeons to the wooly mammoth, hi-tech genetics may imitate Jurassic Park, and bring back vanished animals.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Donald Prothero / Famous Cryptids
Part 2: Chris Amemiya / Coelacanth Genealogy
Part 3: John Fitzpatrick / Ivory Billed Woodpecker
Part 4: Ben Novak / De-Extinction

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Big Picture Science – Raising the Minimum Age

by Gary Niederhoff on April 5, 2015


Big Picture Science – Raising the Minimum Age

We all try to fight it: the inexorable march of time. The fountain of youth doesn’t exist, and all those wrinkle creams can’t help. But modern science is giving us new weapons in the fight against aging. So how far are we willing to go?

Hear when aging begins, a summary of the latest biotech research, and how a lab full of youthful worms might help humans stay healthy.

Also, a geneticist who takes a radical approach: collect the DNA that codes for longevity and restructure our genome. He finds inspiration – and perhaps genes as well – in the bi-centenarian bowhead whale.

But what if age really is mind over matter? A psychologist’s extraordinary thought experiment with septuagenarian men turns back the clock 20 years. Will it work on diseases such as cancer as well?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Gordon Lithgow / Understanding Aging
Part 2: Gordon Lithgow’s Worm Lab
Part 3: George Church / Synthetic Biology
Part 4: Ellen Langer / Mind and Time

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Big Picture Science – Hidden History

March 28, 2015

Big Picture Science – Hidden History Archaeologists continue to hunt for the city of Atlantis, even though it may never have existed. But, what if it did? Its discovery would change ancient history. Sometimes when we dig around in the past, we can change our understanding of how we got to where we are. We […]

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Big Picture Science – Power to the People

March 23, 2015

Big Picture Science – Power to the People Let there be light! Well, it’s easy to do: just flip a switch. But it took more than the invention of the light bulb to make that possible. It required new technology for the distribution of electricity. And that came, not so much from Thomas Edison, but […]

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Big Picture Science – Microbes: Resistance is Futile

March 15, 2015

Big Picture Science – Microbes: Resistance is Futile You are what you eat. Whether you dine on kimchi, carnitas, or corn dogs determines which microbes live in your stomach. And gut microbes make up only part of your total microbiome. Find out how your microbes are the brains-without-brains that affect your health and even your […]

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Big Picture Science – Mars Struck

March 6, 2015

Big Picture Science – Mars-Struck You love to travel. But would you if doing so meant never coming home? The private company Mars One says it will land humans on the Red Planet by 2026, but is only offering passengers one-way tickets. Hundreds of thousands of people volunteered to go. Meet a young woman who […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: The Me in Measles

March 1, 2015

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: The Me in Measles Wondering whether to vaccinate your children? The decision can feel like a shot in the dark if you don’t know how to evaluate risk. Find out why all of us succumb to the reasoning pitfalls of cognitive and omission bias, whether we’re saying no to […]

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Big Picture Science – Surviving the Anthropocene

February 22, 2015

Big Picture Science – Surviving the Anthropocene The world is hot, and getting hotter. But higher temperatures aren’t the only impact our species is having on mother Earth. Urbanization, deforestation, and dumping millions of tons of plastic into the oceans … these are all ways in which humans are leaving their mark. So are we […]

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Big Picture Science – Sesquicentennial Science

February 15, 2015

Big Picture Science – Sesquicentennial Science Today, scientists are familiar to us, but they weren’t always. Even the word “scientist” is relatively modern, dating from the Victorian Era. And it is to that era we turn as we travel to the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its College of Science […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Your Inner Lab Coat

February 9, 2015

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Your Inner Lab Coat Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have a science degree, yet he thinks rationally – like a scientist. You can too! Learn the secrets of being irritatingly logical from the most famous sleuth on Baker Street. Plus, discover why animal trackers 100,000 years ago may have been the […]

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