Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Is It True?

by Gary Niederhoff on September 14, 2014


Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Is It True?
click to listen!

We often hear fantastic scientific claims that would change everything if true. Such as the report that algae is growing on the outside of the International Space Station or that engineers have built a rocket that requires no propellant to accelerate. We examine news stories that seem too sensational to be valid, yet just might be – including whether a killer asteroid has Earth’s name on it.

Plus, a journalist investigates why people hold on to their beliefs even when the evidence is stacked hard against them – from skepticism about climate change to Holocaust denial. And, why professional skeptics are just as enamored with their beliefs as anyone else.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Lynn Rothschild / Space Plankton
Part 2: Will Storr / The Unpersuadables
Part 3: Steven Novella / Propellantless Drive
Part 4: David Morrison / Killer Space Rocks

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Big Picture Science – A Sudden Change in Planets

by Gary Niederhoff on September 7, 2014


Big Picture Science – A Sudden Change in Planets
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A planet is a planet is a planet. Unless it’s Pluto – then it’s a dwarf planet. But even then it’s a planet, according to experts. So what was behind the unpopular re-classification of Pluto by astronomers, and were they justified?

As the New Horizons spacecraft closes in on this small body, one planetary scientist says that this dwarf planet could be more typical of planets than Mars, Mercury, and Saturn. And that our solar system has not 8 or even 9 planets, but 900.

Also, meet a type of planet that’s surprisingly commonplace, although we don’t have one in our solar system: super Earths. Could they harbor life?

And the DAWN mission continues its visit to the two most massive residents of the asteroid belt: Vesta and Ceres. Discover what these proto-planets may reveal to us about the early solar system.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Alan Stern / New Horizons
Part 2: David Stevenson / Super Earths
Part 3: Marc Rayman / DAWN Mission
Part 4: Rebekah Dawson / Migrating Planets
Part 5: David Eicher / Planetary Designations

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Big Picture Science – Moving Right Along

August 18, 2014

Big Picture Science – Moving Right Alongclick to listen! You think your life is fast-paced, but have you ever seen a bacterium swim across your countertop? You’d be surprised how fast they can move. Find out why modeling the swirl of hurricanes takes a roomful of mathematicians and supercomputers, and how galaxies can move away […]

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Big Picture Science – Eye Spy

August 4, 2014

Big Picture Science – Eye Spyclick to listen! Who’s watching you? Could be anyone, really. Social media sites, webcams, CCTV cameras and smartphones have made keeping tabs on you as easy as tapping “refresh” on a tablet. And who knows what your cell phone records are telling the NSA? Surveillance technology has privacy on the […]

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Big Picture Science – Replace What Ails You

July 28, 2014

Big Picture Science – Replace What Ails Youclick to listen! Germs can make us sick, but we didn’t know about these puny pathogens prior to the end of the 19th century. Just the suggestion that a tiny bug could spread disease made eyes roll. Then came germ theory, sterilization, and antibiotics. It was a revolution […]

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Big Picture Science – Stellar Job

July 19, 2014

Big Picture Science – Stellar Jobclick to listen! The stars are out tonight. And they do more than just twinkle. These boiling balls of hot plasma can tell us something about other celestial phenomena. They betray the hiding places of black holes, for one. But they can also fool us. Find out why one of […]

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Face to Face

July 14, 2014

In our recent show Skeptic Check: About Face, we interviewed creative technologist Greg Borenstein, who uses FaceTracker software to find the “faces” we often see thanks to a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia. In the above image, you can see the “smiley face” in the key, overlaid with the vectored “face” detected by the software. In […]

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Big Picture Science – What Do You Make Of It?

June 23, 2014

Big Picture Science – What Do You Make Of It? You are surrounded by products. Most of them, factory-made. Yet there was a time when building things by hand was commonplace, and if something stopped working, well, you jumped into the garage and fixed it, rather than tossing it into the circular file. Participants at […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Check the Skeptics

June 16, 2014

Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Check the Skeptics One day, coffee is good for you; the next, it’s not. And it seems that everything you eat is linked to cancer, according to research. But scientific studies are not always accurate. Insufficient data, biased measurements, or a faulty analysis can trip them up. And that’s […]

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Big Picture Science – Apt To Adapt

June 8, 2014

Big Picture Science – Apt To Adapt If you move with the times, you might stick around long enough to pass on your genes. And that is adaptation and evolution, in a nutshell. But humans are changing their environment faster than their genes can keep pace. This has led to a slew of diseases – […]

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