Episodes

Sep 02, 2007
Sorting out sound medical science from snake oil.

Here's an important health tip: cell phones fry your brain. Oh, wait. Cell phones are safe. But red wine is bad for you. Except in moderation, in which case it's good. Also, magnets cure arthritis, coffee causes heart attacks, and rhino horn is an aphrodisiac (but only for rhinos).

Sorting through the medical zeitgeist is enough to have you reaching for the aspirin, which, last we heard, is still used to treat headaches.


Aug 26, 2007
Meteors, amateur telescopes, rings and things: a potpourri of the latest science.

It's always a surprise to go digging in Seth's basement - who knows what we'll find! In this forage, tucked between boxes of old radio tubes and an electric banana, we stumble upon a rare view of Uranus's rings... a preview of the Aurigid meteor shower... claims that we're living in a computer simulation... and a ticket stub to the movie "Invasion."

Also, who's that in the back yard with a funny looking instrument? Science writer Timothy Ferris comes in from the dark.


Jul 29, 2007
A look at what’s lined up for launch at NASA.

It's a traffic jam in northern Florida these days - as a bevy of NASA spacecraft queue up for launch. We'll get the lowdown of what's going up; from missions to land near the poles of Mars and dig into its cold, crusty surface... to an investigation of the origins of the solar system by paying a house call on a couple of asteroids... and the first teacher to blast into space since Space Shuttle Challenger's fateful flight.


Jul 15, 2007
Weighing the evidence of a controversial archeological find.

This tomb near Jerusalem was discovered 20 years ago, but now a controversial film reasserts the claim that it contains the remains of Jesus and his family. We hear from the director of The Lost Tomb of Jesus who presents both statistical and DNA evidence, as well as from a biblical scholar.

Also, so your grilled cheese sandwich looks like Elvis, does that mean that messages are encoded in your lunch, or could this simply be a consequence of our hard-wired ability, as a social species, to be adept at facial recognition?


Jun 10, 2007
Can they co-exist?

In the – often contentious – debate between religion and science these days, we step back from the boxing ring long enough to see how Stephen J Gould’s two magistrates might inform each other.  

A physicist makes the scientific case for no God… a NASA scientist says gazing at Saturn’s rings is a religious experience… Adam meets Dino in Kentucky’s new Creation Museum… and anthropologist Lewis Wolpert explains why the emergence of religion is inevitable.

Guests:


May 06, 2007
Discovery of the Goldilocks planet.
Apr 11, 2007
60 years later - what really happened?

In 1947, aliens intent on visiting our planet are said to have crashed into the New Mexico desert near Roswell. According to several witnesses, the U.S. military not only recovered the saucer debris (together with some dead, extraterrestrial passengers), but secreted away the evidence. There are also claims that the crumpled alien technology was reverse-engineered, providing us with hi-tech products we otherwise wouldn’t have.


Apr 11, 2007
More from Roswell.

In 1947, aliens intent on visiting our planet are said to have crashed into the New Mexico desert near Roswell. According to several witnesses, the U.S. military not only recovered the saucer debris (together with some dead, extraterrestrial passengers), but secreted away the evidence. There are also claims that the crumpled alien technology was reverse-engineered, providing us with hi-tech products we otherwise wouldn’t have.


Mar 28, 2007
The Allen Telescope Array takes shape.

Although SETI experiments have not yet picked up a signal from another world, there’s plenty of optimism among the scientists looking for ET’s pings. That’s because new telescopes, both radio and optical, will soon greatly speed up our cosmic reconnaissance. As example, the Allen Telescope Array, scheduled to begin observing this summer, will eventually accelerate the search by hundreds of times.


Mar 21, 2007
The search for the beginnings of life.

The origin of life on Earth is a mystery—there are no fossils of the earliest life forms.

But, fast-forward a few hundred million years, and—voila—we see traces of life, from microbes to—zip ahead another billion years—creatures with six legs, a tail and a thorax. But how did these early life forms develop?


Mar 14, 2007
Considering consciousness.

You think, therefore… what? We can’t be sure of much when it comes to consciousness. Not only do scientists not agree on what consciousness is – they don’t agree on whether they ever will be able to agree! What if you’re not you, but a self-aware supercomputer? Could you tell the difference? Is consciousness an emergent phase transition? What does that even mean? Grab the aspirin and help us explore these questions, together with a little help from A.I. expert Marvin Minsky.


Feb 13, 2007
Superstition under scrutiny.

Resume in hand, new suit pressed and buttoned – you’re all set for that job interview.  But before sitting down, you rub your lucky quarter – just to be sure.   People often fall back on superstitious habit when the pressure’s on.  But can we really nudge fate by wearing our favorite shirts and avoiding ebony cats? 

Also, speaking of high stakes – how to ward off vampires and why Vlad the Impaler was not the inspiration for the original Type O gourmet.  Also: how carnival freaks stay in show business…Brains on Vacation… and a reality check from Hollywood. 


Feb 06, 2007
Cosmological physics.

Modern physics isn’t for the faint of heart.  From explorations of the mysterious dark matter that holds the galaxies together, the bizarre dark energy pulling the universe apart, and the attempts by scientists to recreate the Big Bang in a laboratory, contemporary physics is nothing if not extreme.


Jan 30, 2007
Are we too dependent on technology?

Are science and technology leading us to Elysian Fields of prosperity, happiness, and unblemished health?  Or have two centuries of industrialization and materialism accomplished just the opposite; ripped us from the nurturing bosom of our pastoral past?  Is our future bright, or will environmental degradation, genetic engineering, or nanotechnology cause mass disruption and destruction.

Join us for a lively discussion with experts who will consider whether the world is heading to Nirvana, or to a place that’s overheated and sulfurous. 


Jan 23, 2007
What might be coming.

The iconic Doomsday clock has been moved two minutes closer to midnight, symbolizing the growing international threat of nuclear disaster. Find out what led the directors at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to inch the hand closer to this ominous hour, and why – for the first time - they’ve included climate change in their forecast of imminent threats to humanity.


Jan 16, 2007
Engineering feats of the future.

Without doubt, the five thousand-year old Egyptian pyramids are major feats of engineering.  But pointy piles of rock are one thing; quite another is the engineering effort required to combat global warming.  As Earth’s atmosphere continues to be filled with greenhouse emissions, some see geoengineering as the only path to a cooler planet.  But are lofting sulphur into the air or launching a giant sunshade into orbit wise moves, or even ethical ones? 


Dec 19, 2006
Scientific mysteries.

What is that strange light zipping across the sky at a speed that, well, no aircraft could match?  Today, despite major achievements in our scientific understanding of the cosmos, there are still plenty of mysteries that perplex the public.  Did aliens really make a navigation error over Roswell, New Mexico and plow into the desert?  Are other extraterrestrials routinely abducting folks for unsavory experiments?  Some people believe that aliens are not only cruising the skies, but nefarious federal operatives have the dead ones stacked up at top-secret Area 51.


Dec 12, 2006
Our primate genetic heritage.

 Okay, so we’re not as hirsute and we don’t routinely brachiate through trees, but in what other ways are we different from chimpanzees?  With a map of the chimp genome in hand, scientists are closer to answering that question.  Join us for a trip to the primate house as we explore in what way the last 2% of DNA separates us from our swinging cousins. Primatologist Frans de Waal reminds us that we’re just as closely related to bonobos, the left-bank primates.  And, lest you forget your marine heritage, discover which genes you share with… sea urchins.

Guests: