ENCORE Shhh. Is someone coming? Okay, we’ll make this quick. There are a lot of scary things going on in the world. Naturally you’re fearful. But sometimes fear has a sister emotion: suspicion. A nagging worry about what’s really going on. You know, the stuff they aren’t telling you. Don’t share this, but we have evidence that both our fear response and our tendency to believe conspiracy theories are evolutionarily adaptive.
ENCORE What you can’t see may astound you. The largest unexplored region of Earth is the ocean. Beneath its churning surface, oceanographers have recently discovered the largest volcano in the world – perhaps in the solar system.
Find out what is known – and yet to be discovered – about the marine life of the abyss, and how a fish called the bristlemouth has grabbed the crown for “most numerous vertebrate on Earth” from the chicken.
Plus, the menace of America’s Cascadia fault, which has the potential to unleash a devastating magnitude 9 earthquake.
ENCORE “If it bleeds, it leads” is the tried and true tenet of news. Indeed, headlines are often no more than a long list of moral atrocities. Yet one man argues that we’re living in the most civilized era in history. And he credits this to scientific thought and reason.
Hang on! Our executive function isn’t enough to promote ethical behavior, says a psychologist. The real fuel behind our drive to be good? Anger, compassion, pride: your emotions!
This year’s election is divisive, but one subject enjoys some consensus: science and technology policies are important. So why aren’t the candidates discussing these issues? The answers might surprise you.
The organizer of Science Debate, who wants a live debate devoted to science and technology, describes one obstacle to meaningful discussion. He also shares how the candidates responded to probing questions about science.
ENCORE Are you skeptical? Sure, you raise an eyebrow when some Nigerian prince asks for your bank numbers, or when a breakfast cereal claims that it will turn your kid into a professional athlete overnight.
But what do you really know about the benefits of organic milk? Or the power of whitening ingredients in your toothpaste? How credible is what you read on Twitter?
Today, information overwhelms us, and the need to keep our skeptical wits about us has never been greater. We follow Seth around as he faces the daily onslaught of hype and hokum.
Everyone knows that a big rock did in the dinosaurs, but smaller asteroids are millions of times more common and can also make a violent impact. Yet unlike the bigger asteroids, we’re not tracking them. Find out what we’d need to keep an eye on the size of space rocks such as that which exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. And how an asteroid whizzed by Earth in late August 2016, only hours after it had been spotted.
When astronaut Gene Cernan stepped off the moon in 1972, he didn’t think he’d be the last human ever to touch its surface. But no one’s been back. Hear astronaut Cernan’s reaction to being the last man on the moon, the reasons why President Kennedy launched the Apollo program, and why Americans haven’t returned.
Now other countries – and companies – are vying for a bigger piece of the space pie. Find out who – or what – will be visiting and even profiting. Will the moon become an important place to make money?
El mundo está caliente y se pone más caliente aún. Pero las altas temperaturas no son el único impacto que nuestra especie está teniendo en la madre Tierra. La urbanización, deforestación y el depósito de millones de toneladas de plástico en los océanos… todas estas son las formas en las que los humanos están dejando su marca.
Así que, ¿seguimos viviendo en el Holoceno, la era geológica que comenzó apenas hace 11 000 años, al finalizar la última era glacial? Algunos dicen que ya estamos en la era del hombre, el Antropoceno.
We may be connected, but some say we’re not communicating. The consequences could be dire. A U.S. Army major says that social media are breaking up our “band of brothers,” and that soldiers who tweet rather than talk have less cohesion in combat.
The Paris climate talks are scheduled to go ahead despite the terrorist attacks, and attendees hope to sign an international agreement on climate change. A BBC reporter covering the meetings tells us what we can expect from the conference.
Also, it’s unclear whether Pope Francis himself will travel to the City of Light, but his encyclical may have already influenced the talks there. A historian considers whether the Church’s acceptance of climate change represents a departure from its historical positions on science. Galileo, anyone?
It’s the starkly beautiful setting for the new film “The Martian,” and – just in time – NASA has announced that the Red Planet is more than a little damp, with liquid water occasionally oozing over its surface. But Mars remains hostile terrain. Mark Watney, the astronaut portrayed by Matt Damon, struggles to survive there. If he has a hard time, what chance does anyone else have?
Ever gone bungee jumping on Venus? Of course not. No one has. However your great-great-great grandchildren might find themselves packing for the cloudy planet … or for another locale in our cosmic backyard. That’s what we picture as we accelerate our imagination to escape velocity and beyond – and tour vacation spots that are out of this world.
ENCORE You must not remember this. Indeed, it may be key to having a healthy brain. Our gray matter evolved to forget things; otherwise we’d have the images of every face we saw on the subway rattling around our head all day long. Yet we’re building computers with the capacity to remember everything. Everything! And we might one day hook these devices to our brains.
Pluto is ready for its close up – but the near encounter during this historic flyby will last less than three minutes. Be ready for the action with our special New Horizons episode!
Hear from researchers who are Pluto rock stars: the astronomer who discovered two of Pluto’s five moons, the planetary scientist who coined the term “dwarf planet,” and the man who claims to have “killed Pluto.”
ENCORE A computer virus that bombards you with pop-up ads is one thing. A computer virus that shuts down a city’s electric grid is another. Welcome to the new generation of cybercrime. Discover what it will take to protect our power, communication and transportation systems as scientists try to stay ahead of hackers in an ever-escalating game of cat and mouse.
ENCORE It's hard to imagine the twists and turns of evolution that gave rise to Homo Sapiens. After all, it required geologic time, and the existence of many long-gone species that were once close relatives. That may be one reason why – according to a recent poll – one-third of all Americans reject the theory of evolution. They prefer to believe that humans and other living organisms have existed in their current form since the beginning of time.
A century ago, Albert Einstein rewrote our understanding of physics with his Theory of General Relativity. Our intuitive ideas about space, time, mass, and gravity turned out to be wrong.
Find out how this masterwork changed our understanding of how the universe works and why you can thank Einstein whenever you turn on your GPS.
Also, high-profile experiments looking for gravitational waves and for black holes will put the theories of the German genius to the test – will they pass?
Earth may be the cradle of life, but our bodies are filled with materials cooked up billions of years ago in the scorching centers of stars. As Carl Sagan said, “We are all stardust.” We came from space, and some say it is to space we will return.
Discover an astronomer’s quest to track down remains of these ancient chemical kitchens. Plus, a scientist who says that it’s in our DNA to explore – and not just the nearby worlds of the solar system, but perhaps far beyond.
ENCORE Imagine a world without algebra. We can hear the sound of school children applauding. What practical use are parametric equations and polynomials, anyway? Even some scholars argue that algebra is the Latin of today, and should be dropped from the mandatory curriculum.
But why stop there? Maybe we should do away with math classes altogether.
There are few enduring truths, but one is that no one gets out of life alive. What’s less certain is what comes next. Does everything stop with death, or are we transported to another plane of existence? First-hand accounts of people who claim to have visited heaven are offered as proof of an afterlife. Now the author of one bestseller admits that his story was fabricated.