Big Picture Science

Series produced by Big Picture Science

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Big Picture Science is a weekly one-hour science magazine that connects ideas in surprising and humorous ways to illuminate the origins and evolution of life and technology on this planet… and beyond.

From free-thinking robots... to the recipe for dark matter... to the mix-and-match genes of synthetic biology, we have it all! One episode a month, Skeptic Check, is devoted to critical thinking.

Produced at the SETI Institute and hosted by Seth Shostak and Molly Bentley.

Big Picture Science can be found on iTunes and other podcast sites. Radio stations carrying the program are listed on our "listening" page at radio.seti.org

The program is freely available to radio stations for broadcast.

The show began with the title Are We Alone? in 2002.


278 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: DecodeHer, Credit: Seth Shostak
They were pioneers in their fields, yet their names are scarcely known – simply because they didn’t have a Y chromosome. We examine the accomplishm...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KBBI Alaska, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Mar 15, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
Caption: Neanderthal in the Family, Credit: Seth Shostak
Back off, you Neanderthal! It sounds as if you’ve just been dissed, but maybe you should take it as a compliment. Find out how our assessment of N...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Mar 22, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Skeptic Check: Useful Delusion, Credit: Seth Shostak
Can self-deception be useful? During the pandemic, it has been fashionable to say that we’re “following the science,” and that our behavior is dete...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, KBBI Alaska, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: Mar 29, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: Volcanic Mind Melt, Credit: Seth Shostak
The more than a thousand volcanoes that dapple Earth’s surface mark the edges of tectonic plates, spewing hot gas and ash, or boiling over with lav...

Bought by WCNY, CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WRGY and more


  • Added: Apr 05, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: Venom Diagram, Credit: Seth Shostak
Evolution has outfitted some animals with a highly effective mechanism for saying “back off!”. Venoms can ward off predators and disable prey, and...

Bought by WCNY, WUFT, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, KBBI Alaska, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: Apr 12, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 18
Caption: Waste Not, Credit: Seth Shostak
Why create more landfill? Resist the urge to toss those old sneakers or last year’s smart phone. Instead, let global junk entrepreneurs repurpose t...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KBBI Alaska and more


  • Added: Apr 19, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: Skeptic Check: Flat Earth, Credit: Seth Shostak
Flat Earthers believe that our planet resembles not a slightly squashed grapefruit but a thick pancake. We look at the difference between a truly ...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Apr 26, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: End of Eternity, Credit: Seth Shostak
Nothing lasts forever. Even the universe has several possible endings. Will there be a dramatic Big Rip or a Big Chill¬ – also known as the heat de...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, WLPR , WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: May 03, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: For the Birds, Credit: Seth Shostak
Birds have it going on. Many of these winged dinosaurs delight us with their song and brilliant plumage. Migratory birds travel thousands of miles ...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WUFT and more


  • Added: May 10, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
Caption: Skeptic Check: Rational Lampoon, Credit: Seth Shostak
Why a cognitive scientist says that the very idea of individual thinking is a myth: most of our thinking is done in groups. Also, you know much les...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, KICI Iowa City, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: May 17, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Feet Don't Fail Me, Credit: Seth Shostak
Standing on your own two feet isn’t easy. While many animals can momentarily balance on their hind legs, we’re the only critters, besides birds, fo...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KBBI Alaska, WRGY and more


  • Added: May 24, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Air Apparent, Credit: Seth Shostak
It’s easy to take air for granted, but – unlike food and water – you can’t live more than a few minutes without it. This invisible chemical cocktai...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WMUU-LP, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WRGY and more


  • Added: May 31, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: The Ears Have It, Credit: Seth Shostak
What’s the difference between a bird call and the sound of a pile driver? Not much, when you’re close to the loudest bird ever. Also, how everyda...

Bought by KUNM, CHSR-FM 97.9, WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: Jun 07, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: Flush with Excitement, Credit: Seth Shostak
The toilet: A ubiquitous appliance that dates to the time of Shakespeare. But billions of people around the world still lack modern sanitation infr...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 14, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: After the Plague, Credit: Seth Shostak
Everyone is familiar with the immediate consequences of a pandemic – sickness and death. But the long-term ramifications can be just as dramatic: a...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, WKMS, Interlochen Public Radio, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 21, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: Science Breaking Bad, Credit: Seth Shostak
The scientific method is tried and true. The fallible humans behind the research, however, not so much. Find out why the hyper-competitive pursuit...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WERA-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 28, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Pentagon UFO Report, Credit: Seth Shostak
When the government announced it would release a report about strange aerial phenomena, public excitement and media coverage took off like a Saturn...

Bought by Interlochen Public Radio, WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Jul 05, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Cicadas and Zombie Seeds, Credit: Seth Shostak
Rip van Winkle snoozed for 20 years, and Sleeping Beauty for 100. But seeds in an underground bottle have easily beaten both these records, germina...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Jul 12, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Caption: New Water Worlds, Credit: Seth Shostak
The water is coming. By century’s end, the oceans could be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet higher, threatening millions of people and low-lying property....

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, KAZU Seaside, Calif., Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Jul 19, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: A Twist of Slime, Credit: Seth Shostak
Your daily mucus output is most impressive. Teaspoons or measuring cups can’t capture its entire volume. Find out how much your body churns out and...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP, WRGY and more


  • Added: Jul 26, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11