Big Picture Science Show: “Winging It”

Big Picture Science Show: “Winging It”

Ask anyone what extraordinary powers they’d love to have, and you’re sure to hear “be able to fly.”  We’ve kind of scratched that itch with airplanes.  But have we gone as far as we can go, or are better flying machines in our future?  And whatever happened to our...
Big Picture Science Show: “Shell on Earth”

Big Picture Science Show: “Shell on Earth”

We all may retreat to our protective shells, but evolution has perfected the calcite variety to give some critters permanent defense against predators.  So why did squids and octopuses lose their shells?  Find out what these cephalopods gained by giving up the shell...
Big Picture Science Show: “Born Legacy”

Big Picture Science Show: “Born Legacy”

We know how the stars shine, but how do you make a star?  We take an all-night ride on a high-flying jet – an airborne NASA observatory called SOFIA – to watch astronomers investigate how a star is born. (Listen to the show in the player above, and read our reporter...
Big Picture Science Show: “What Have You Got To Move?”

Big Picture Science Show: “What Have You Got To Move?”

Whether they swim, slither, jump, or fly, animal locomotion is more than just an urge to roam: it’s necessary for survival.  Evolution has come up with ingenious schemes to get from here to there.  Hear how backbones evolved as a consequence of fish needing to wag...
Big Picture Science Show: “Cosmic Conundra”

Big Picture Science Show: “Cosmic Conundra”

Admit it – the universe is cool, but weird. Just when you think you’ve tallied up all the peculiar phenomena that the cosmos has to offer – it throws more at you. We examine some of the recent perplexing finds. Could massive asteroid impacts be as predictable as...
Big Picture Science Show: “Skeptic Check: Not So Sweet”

Big Picture Science Show: “Skeptic Check: Not So Sweet”

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease … maybe even Alzheimer’s.  Could these modern scourges have a common denominator?  Some people believe they do: sugar. But is this accusation warranted?  We talk with a journalist who has spent two decades reporting on nutrition...
Big Picture Science Show: “Thinking About Thinking”

Big Picture Science Show: “Thinking About Thinking”

Congratulations, you have a big brain.  Evolution was good to Homo sapiens.  But make some room on the dais.  Research shows that other animals, such as crows, may not look smart, but can solve complex problems. Meanwhile human engineers are busily developing...
Big Picture Science Show: “Going All to Species”

Big Picture Science Show: “Going All to Species”

Meet your new relatives.   The fossilized bones of Homo naledi are unique for their sheer number, but they may also be fill a special slot in our ancestry: the first of our genus Homo.   Sporting modern hands and feet but only a tiny brain, this creature may link us...
Big Picture Science Show: “Quantum: Why We Want ‘Em”

Big Picture Science Show: “Quantum: Why We Want ‘Em”

Einstein thought that quantum mechanics might be the end of physics, and most scientists felt sure it would never be useful.  Today, everything from cell phones to LED lighting is completely dependent on the weird behavior described by quantum mechanics. But the story...
Big Picture Science Show: “DIY Spaceflight”

Big Picture Science Show: “DIY Spaceflight”

For a half-century, space has been the playground of large, government agencies.  While everyone could dream of becoming an astronaut, few could actually do so. Things have changed.  We hear how a geeky son of immigrant parents incentivized the ground-breaking launch...