Big Picture Science – Science Fiction True

by Gary Niederhoff on December 21, 2014


Big Picture Science – Science Fiction True

Don’t believe everything you see on TV or the movies. Science fiction is just a guide to how our future might unfold. It can be misleading, as anyone who yearns for a flying car can tell you. And yet, sometimes fantasy becomes fact. Think of the prototype cellphones in Star Trek.

We take a look at science that seems inspired by filmic sci-fi, for example scientists manipulating memory as in Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And despite his famous film meltdown, Charleton Heston hasn’t stopped the Soylent company from producing what it calls the food of the future.

Plus, why eco-disaster films have the science wrong, but not in the way you might think. And, what if our brains are simply wired to accept film as fact?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Steve Ramirez / Implanting Memories
Part 2: Rob Rhinehart / Soylent
Part 3: Jason Mark / Movie Doom
Part 3: Jeffrey Zacks / Movie Minds

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Big Picture Science – Shocking Ideas

by Gary Niederhoff on December 15, 2014


Big Picture Science – Shocking Ideas

Electricity is so 19th century. Most of the uses for it were established by the 1920s. So there’s nothing innovative left to do, right? That’s not the opinion of the Nobel committee that awarded its 2014 physics prize to scientists who invented the blue LED.

Find out why this LED hue of blue was worthy of our most prestigious science prize … how some bacteria actually breathe rust … and a plan to cure disease by zapping our nervous system with electric pulses.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Siddha Pimputkar / Blue LEDs
Part 2: Jeff Gralnick / Microbe Power Plants
Part 3: Kevin Tracey / Electrical Cure

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Big Picture Science – Living Computers

December 8, 2014

Big Picture Science – Living Computers It’s the most dramatic technical development of recent times: Teams of people working for decades to produce a slow-motion revolution we call computing. As these devices become increasingly powerful, we recall that a pioneer from the nineteenth century – Ada Lovelace, a mathematician and Lord Byron’s daughter – said […]

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Big Picture Science – Surfeit of the Vitalest

November 16, 2014

Big Picture Science – Surfeit of the Vitalest In the century and a half since Charles Darwin wrote his seminal On the Origin of the Species, our understanding of evolution has changed quite a bit. For one, we have not only identified the inheritance molecule DNA, but have determined its sequence in many animals and […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Are You Sure You’re Sure?

November 10, 2014

Big Picture Science – Are You Sure You’re Sure? Nuclear fission powers the Sun, right? Or is it fusion? At any rate, helium is burned in the process, of that you’re certain. After all, you took astronomy in college. You know what you know. But you probably don’t know what you don’t know. Few of […]

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Big Picture Science – Sounds Abound

November 3, 2014

Big Picture Science – Sounds Abound The world is a noisy place. But now we have a better idea what the fuss is about. Not only can we record sound, but our computers allow us to analyze it. Bird sonograms reveal that our feathery friends give each other nicknames and share details about their emotional […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Friends Like These

October 26, 2014

Big Picture Science – Friends Like Theseclick to listen! We love our family and friends, but sometimes their ideas about how the world works seem a little wacky. We asked BiPiSci listeners to share examples of what they can’t believe their loved-ones believe, no matter how much they hear rational explanations to the contrary. Then […]

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Big Picture Science – Tale of the Distribution

October 20, 2014

Big Picture Science – Tale of the Distributionclick to listen! We all have at least some musical talent. But very few of us can play the piano like Vladimir Horowitz. His talent was rarefied, and at the tail end of the bell curve of musical ability – that tiny sliver of the distribution where you […]

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Big Picture Science – Who’s Controlling Whom?

October 13, 2014

Big Picture Science – Who’s Controlling Whom?click to listen! A single ant isn’t very brainy. But a group of ants can do remarkable things. Biological swarm behavior is one model for the next generation of tiny robots. Of course, biology can get hijacked: a fungus can seize control of an ant’s brain, for example. So […]

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Big Picture Science – What’s the Difference?

October 5, 2014

Big Picture Science – What’s the Difference?click to listen! We make split second decisions about others – someone is male or female, black or white, us or them. But sometimes the degrees of separation are incredibly few. A mere handful of genes determine skin color, for example. Find out why race is almost non-existent from […]

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