Episodes

May 23, 2010
Its neuro-engineered future.

ENCORE We should award frequent travel miles to your brain. After all, it’s evolved a long way from the days of guiding brachiation from tree-to-tree to become the three pounds of web-surfing, Sudoku-playing powerhouse it is today. But a suite of technologies may expand human brains further still.

From smart pills to nano-wires: discover the potential – and peril – of neuro-engineering to repair and enhance our cognitive function.

Also, how our brains got so big in the first place: a defense of the modern diet.


May 16, 2010
Fact or phony?

There are a lot of scientific claims out there – how do you separate the good from the bad and the outright fraudulent? Experts failed to do so for years in the case of a physicist whose published papers claimed the invention of a new bio-based transistor. Plus, other stories of deceit – such as the scientist who stooped to coloring mouse fur with markers.

Also, why climate science is solid, but its scientists need to be more open with the public.

And, from the undersea “bloop” to the Denver airport conspiracy theory. Why urban myths are so popular.


May 02, 2010
Machines in charge.

ENCORE Dr. Robot, I presume? Your appendix may be removed by motor-driven, scalpel-wielding mechanical hands one day. Robots are debuting in the medical field… as well as on battlefields. And they’re increasingly making important decisions – on their own. But can we teach robots right from wrong? Find out why the onslaught of silicon intelligence has prompted a new field of robo-ethics.

Plus, robo-geologists: NASA’s vision for autonomous robots in space.


Apr 25, 2010
How they’re changing.

ENCORE With more water than land on this planet, Earth is more aptly-named “Ocean” or “Water.” The oceans have been here for billions of years, and make all life possible. Yet, it’s taken less than a century for humans to deal some serious blows to the watery cradle of our existence. Discover how our oceans are changing and the worrisome increase in their acidity from the maker of the documentary film, A Sea Change


Apr 18, 2010
E.T.’s zone home.

We place sharks in aquariums and elephants in zoos – to observe and conserve. But what if aliens have done the same to us? We’ll hear from Stephen King on a doomed result of a domed experiment - hatched by off-Earth beings, and why captivity may actually save some species on this planet.

Plus, you’re entering the Habitable Zone: which is the best bet for life elsewhere in the Solar System - Europa, Enceladus or Mars?


Apr 11, 2010
Science potpourri.

It’s always a surprise to go digging in Seth’s crawl space – who knows what we’ll find! In this cramped never-never land, tucked between piles of spilled cat litter and old clarinet reeds, we stumble upon the language of whales … the future of technology … the secret to plant power … and the answer to whether photographic memory exists. Tune in, find out and, grab a broom, will you?


Apr 04, 2010
What are we hiding?

The Apollo moon landing is a hoax! 9-11 was an inside job! Our government keeps alien bodies racked and stacked in an underground bunker! And as for the evidence … well … put on your tin hats, folks, we’re going deep, deep, deep into conspiracy with journalist David Aaronovitch.

Also – the truth is out there, but it’s ignored. Jonah Lehrer on why scientists can overlook evidence.

Plus, money for meters and your spooks for free: ghost detectors hit the market.

And Hollywood Reality Check and Phil Plait on bogus bomb detectors.


Mar 28, 2010
What’s next in the search.

ENCORE Hello! Is anyone out there? As the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence marks its 50th anniversary, there’s been no contact as yet with alien beings. But SETI researchers maintain that we are not alone. Find out why in a SETI retrospective that looks at the past and future of the search.

We remember the first scientific SETI search… Carl Sagan... how the SETI Institute began… the WOW signal…and the 1993 NASA budget cuts.


Mar 28, 2010
The next show follows the previous show and precedes the show two weeks from now. Guests will include those people invited to participate in the program to discuss a subject in which they may have some expertise. There will also be a skit. Or not.

The next show follows the previous show and precedes the show two weeks from now. Guests will include those people invited to participate in the program to discuss a subject in which they may have some expertise. There will also be a skit. Or not.


Mar 07, 2010
The climate change controversy heats up.

Arctic ice is melting, atmospheric temperatures are climbing – yet climate change science is under attack. Detractors claim that researchers are manipulating data and hoodwinking the public. And the public is increasingly skeptical about the science.

Find out what’s behind the surge of climate change skepticism - and what global warming deniers learned from big tobacco about how to spin scientific evidence.

It’s Skeptic Check… but don’t take our word for it!


Feb 28, 2010
Schmooze with the ooze.

Hollywood horror flicks have captivated us with alien blobs, but the slime slithering on our own planet is as beguiling. From microscopic machines to life on ocean floors, new research reveals how essential slime is to life on Earth, and possibly other worlds.

Discover the new materials made from hagfish slime… the social life of a slime mold… and the threat posed by the gray goo of self-replicating nanobots.

Plus, it’s been 50 years since it first oozed across the screen: why there’s no escape from The Blob!


Feb 21, 2010
To moon or not to moon?

It’s goodnight moon from President Obama, as he calls for canceling the program that would return astronauts to the moon by 2020. We’ll hear from the private sector, which might win in this deal, and consider whether we should really replace human explorers with robots.

Plus, if we can’t fly you to the moon, would you settle for a few acres and a deed? Meet the man who claims to have property on the moon – but will it hold up in court?


Feb 07, 2010
Explore or exploit.

The extra-solar planet count is more than 400 and rising. Before long we may find an Earth-like planet around another star. If we do, and can visit, what next? Stake out our claim on an alien world or tread lightly and preserve it?

We’ll look at what our record on Earth says about our planet stewardship. Also, whether a massive technological fix can get us out of our climate mess. Plus, what we can learn about extreme climate from our neighbors in the solar system, Venus and Mars.


Jan 31, 2010
The chemistry of love.

Love makes us feel warm and mushy, but the sweet sting of Cupid's arrow makes a compelling chemistry lesson, too. Research into animal mating and human courtship provides clues to an eternal mystery: what's the purpose of love?

Learn lessons from the family values of field mice, and affectionate same-sex penguin pairs. Plus: Darwin's take on speed dating, and the science of smooching.


Jan 03, 2010
How to beat the clock.

ENCORE Ever since Einstein, we've known that time doesn't barrel willy-nilly into the future. Moving clocks tick at a different rates, and by riding a fast rocket, we can slow time to a crawl. Such tricks may give you a way to see the distant future, but can you go back in time?

Discover one man's quest to build a time machine. Also learn how to put the brakes on aging by getting near a black hole.

Plus, does your entire life really pass before your eyes if you jump off the Brooklyn Bridge? Our perception of time.


Dec 27, 2009
Keeping track of tick-tock.

ENCORE Time's a mystery, yet we've invented clever ways to capture it. From sundials to atomic clocks, trace the history of time-keeping. Also, discover the surprising accuracy of nature's dating schemes - from the decay of carbon to laying down tree rings.

Plus, why the "New York minute" stretches to hours in Rio de Janeiro: cultural differences in the perception of time.


Dec 20, 2009
A special broadcast.

A massive black hole lies at the center of our galaxy, a monster hunkered down in the Milky Way’s innermost sanctum. Here, the bizarre laws of General Relativity take over, as the physics we know break down. And our spaceship is headed straight for it.

Join us on a special dramatized 26,000 light-year adventure to the Galaxy’s hulking heart of darkness. We explore a cosmos held together by gravity – discover why it’s not really a force – and try to avoid getting too close to a black hole, the ultimate expression of gravity.


Dec 13, 2009
The International Year of Astronomy:A Man, A Planet…

While the Kepler spacecraft hunts for habitable planets beyond the solar system, we’ve let one of our own planets slip away! Find out why Pluto’s demotion to dwarf status created a public uproar as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reads us his hate mail. From third-graders!

Also, how we might find Earth-like planets… the possibility of life on Saturn’s moon Titan… and TED Prize winner Jill Tarter’s vision for finding E.T.

And, the man who made it all possible: 400 years of Galileo and the telescope. Part of our series for the International Year of Astronomy.


Dec 06, 2009
The emergence of intelligence.

Can animals think? Merely asking the question was once thought ridiculous. But studies that range from chimps to birds to sea creatures have prompted scientists to reassess the cognitive capabilities of our animal friends. These results challenge not only our idea of intelligence, but man’s unequivocal perch at the top.

Learn the secret communication between camouflaging cuttlefish… how the smarts of Alex the parrot turned “birdbrain” into a compliment… and why brawn sometimes trumps brains in evolution.


Nov 29, 2009
The anti-vax movement.

As the anti-vax campaign rages, parents are just saying “no” to vaccines. But now the incidence of childhood diseases such as whooping cough are on the rise.

A number of studies have refuted the link between vaccines, autism and other chronic conditions, yet the anti-vaccine movement continues. Find out why. Also, how the media have irresponsibility framed the debate.

Plus, we panic over plague, sweat about swine flu, but don’t think twice about jumping in a car and roaring down a crowded highway at 70 mph. Discover why most of our health worries are overblown.