How did the first cells make the scene? Could there be critters on some newly discovered planets? And what happens if we ever encounter weird life? These may not be the sort of questions you hear being bandied about in your local coffee shop, but they were hot topics at the AbSciCon conference held recently in Santa Clara, California, and sponsored by the SETI Institute.
We all want to peek into the future and find out what fate has in store: Will I get that raise? Is love around the corner? What’s the winning combo in Las Vegas? Some people claim the ability to see events before they occur. Find out how accurate their prognostications are.
Plus, how the job market drove the granddaddy of “I told you so” – Nostradamus – into the business of soothsaying.
Maybe Dr. Doolittle was on to something; animals are smarter than we think. Birds, apes, and dolphins are all clever problem solvers with a rich vocabularly and - in some cases - self-awareness. Find out what you can learn from our furry, finned and feathered friends. Also, why you are so much an animal yourself, all the way down to the bare bones.
Plus, enter the locked vaults that hold extinct and newly-discovered animal species. And why B-movie critters steal the show.
A loud radio hiss is coming from the cosmos. Is it the swan song of the first giant stars of the universe?
Find out from stargazers attending the American Astronomical Society meeting in California... the brightest flash in the universe illuminates how a galaxy grows up... a planet hunter closes in on Earth-size prey.
Also, find out how to spy on the universe from the comfort of your living room. Plus, the four-century-old history of the telescope... and Galileo didn't invent it!
It's the kick off to the International Year of Astronomy - so scope it out!
We all know how sex begins: a dimly-lit room, a come-hither smile, and a surfeit of parasol-shaded cocktails. But long before all that, the gentle currents of the ancient sea floor set the mood. It was there, 570 million years ago, that two ropy sea creatures found each other and changed the course of evolution.
Hear how sex began and where it's headed: if you think your love life is mechanical now, just wait until you're cozying up to titanium skin and the latest emotion software.
There are two kinds of people: those who are unstylish, socially inept, yet academically gifted, and those who tease them. Being a nerd is rough; it's no fun to sit alone in the cafeteria or be forced to dine on beach sandwiches. But revenge is sweet: the world depends more than ever on the witty and gifted to keep it technologically and scientifically turning. So who gets the last laugh? Just ask Bill Gates. Then again, have attitudes towards eggheads really matured? Just ask Al Gore.
Leonardo da Vinci is considered a genius for combining art and science. But how usual is this for us mere mortals? Can science and art sucessfully inform each other?
We'll hear how the insights of French writer Marcel Proust anticipated modern neuroscience. Also, a debate over the evolutionary function of art. Does it have survival value? We meet a robot whose painting talents have garnered it a job in one of America's top museums. And, hear - or don't hear - why some of our relatives don't monkey around with music.
Half of all Americans believe in ghosts - despite any compelling evidence of their existence. Find out why we believe in what we can't see, and why loneliness may increase our chances of a poltergeist experience. Hear the tale of the Toys R Us ghost, and scope out the latest in haunted real estate.
Also, why our Hollywood skeptic is tired of wild ghost chases and Phil Plait speaks out on lapses in critical thinking. This week: vaccination and autism.
It's Skeptical Sunday... but don't take our word for it!
"Spore" is the ultimate game of life. Play it wisely and you can evolve from a single-celled organism, swimming in salt water, to an intelligent being rocketing through the galaxy. It's survival of the cleverest - are you game?
Join us as we attend the "Spore" launch party. Hear how the game's primary author, Will Wright (of "SimCity" fame) simulated the arc of evolution; whether complex life is inevitable; and how SETI scientists inspired one of the most anticipated video games in history.
From human settlers to alien visitors - when one society meets another, the results can be messy.
The Jamestown settlement may have kicked off the colonization of the New World. But, you'll hear how it also left an indelible mark on its ecosystem and the human landscape. Plus, why the Galapagos Islands haven't been the same since their most celebrated visitor set foot on their rocky shores more than a century ago.
Smoking is good for you! Doctors want you to light up! Discover how cigarette companies of the 1950s manipulated the media to peddle their tobacco - and why not much has changed since then. Also, what goes on in our brain when we buy; the results of a global neuroscience study.
Plus, our Hollywood Skeptic tests the purifying claims of Kinoki pads and Brains on Vacation debunks Carl Sagan ufology.
It's been 70 years since malevolent Martians landed in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Orson Welles described the dramatic events as they unfolded on CBS's Mercury Theater On The Air. Some listeners were so frightened, they became hysterical and fled their homes.
We revisit the famous radio adaptation of H.G. Well's novel and examine its cultural legacy. Also, what do modern invasion movies say about today's public fears?
Plus, the religious response to an alien invasion... how to protect Earth from Martian microbes... and, what Percival Lowell thought he saw on Mars.
Don't worry if you've lost your senses - we've found them. Find out why we've evolved taste, sight, hearing, touch, and smell the way we have, and why we don't sense our world through antennae or echolocation. Discover what part of the tongue recognizes anchovies and why cats can't taste candy. And, in need of some virtual surgery? Visit the robotics lab where computers are wired with the sense of touch.
When it comes to contacting ET, SETI scientists do the math. They've been filling in values for the Drake Equation ever since 1961. That's when Frank Drake proposed his simple formula for estimating the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy. It's one equation that everyone can understand.
We'll talk about the current best estimates for the terms in Drake's famous formulation - from the number of Earth-size planets to the life expectancy of advanced civilizations. Also, with all this number crunching, why haven't we yet heard from ET?
What happens when particles collide? The answer may tell us the dark secrets of the cosmos. At least, that's the hope for the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator. When it fires up this summer, colliding protons may produce the elusive Higgs Boson - the so-called God particle - and reveal the building blocks of the universe.
When we're in love, we do some crazy things. And that's OK. But when we merge lanes on the highway, sign up for a credit card, or just order a book, we're as irrational as a teenager who's got a crush.
Find out why we're mad in money matters, why we're suckers for designer aspirin, are willing to believe in the paranormal, and anything but logical in traffic. It's Skeptical Sunday, but be rational - don't take our word for it!
Finally, Bigfoot meets habeus corpus: three men claim they have the body of the elusive hirsute creature on ice, and throw a big press conference to prove it. Lots of journalists show up, as do the Bigfoot baggers. Days later the purported historic discovery turned out to be - gasp! - a hairy hoax. How did these men perpetuate the con - and why did the media, including Are We Alone?, bother to cover it?
Join us front row and center at this peculiar press event and for the post-mortem (sans body) of the latest chapter in the ongoing mythology that is Bigfoot.
Why wait until the robins are bobbin' to do a bit of spring cleaning? Join Seth and Molly as they dare to enter the cobweb-cluttered confines of Seth's attic and sort out trash from treasure in his dusty collection. Find out which of these odds and ends are salvageable and which should be deep-sixed in the dumpster. Don't forget to bring the Hefty bags and a dust mop!
The discovery of water on Mars has scientists asking whether they're could have once been life on the Red Planet. It's a big question - and it's prompted us to follow up with a few of our own, such as: what is our relationship to the cosmos? How do we find meaning in a universe that is destined to end?
Plus, in response to Seth's appearance on Larry King Live: have aliens visited Earth? Any questions?
If you missed Seth on Larry King Live, check out our blog and watch the videos. You can read Seth's article about the experience here.
Airplanes falling out of the sky! Lethal bird flu! Killer rocks from space! There's a lot that can do us in, and it would seem you have good reason to worry. Except that you're worried about the wrong things! Many of our fears are misplaced. It's more likely you'll die from food poisoning or falling out of bed than in an airplane crash. And, the odds that an asteroid impact will ruin your entire weekend? Oh, about a billion to one.