Big Picture Science

Series produced by Big Picture Science

Series image

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.


295 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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 WMUU-LP, KUNM, CHSR-FM 97.9, WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting and more


  • Added: Jun 07, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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: 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: 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: 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 WMUU-LP, CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: Apr 19, 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: 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: 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: 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: Creature Discomforts, Credit: Creature Discomforts
We love them, fear them, use them – and sometimes eat them, too. But how well do we really know animals? Our impressions are often simplistic. T...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, KBBI Alaska, WXXI Rochester, WRGY and more


  • Added: Feb 22, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
Caption: Granting Immunity, Credit: Seth Shostak
“Diversity or die” could be your new health mantra. Don’t boost your immune system, cultivate it! Like a garden, your body’s defenses benefit from ...

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


  • Added: Feb 15, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
Caption: Supercomputer Showdown, Credit: Seth Shostak
Do you have a hard-to-answer question? The Summit, Sierra, Trinity, Frontier, and Aurora supercomputers are built to tackle it. Summit tops the pet...

Bought by WCNY, KMUN, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jan 18, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: Betting on Pseudoscience, Credit: Seth Shostak
Psychics may not be able to predict the future or sense your thoughts. Nonetheless, they rake in big bucks. But the harm from pseudoscience can go ...

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


  • Added: Jan 11, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: Headed For Trouble, Credit: Seth Shostak
The stone heads on Easter Island are an enduring mystery: why were they built and why were they abandoned and destroyed? Old ideas are yielding to ...

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


  • Added: Jan 04, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
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The reign of Le Grand K has come to an end. After 130 years, this hunk of French metal sitting in a vault will no longer define the kilogram. The n...

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


  • Added: Dec 28, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Handling the Holidays, Credit: Seth Shostak
The stress of the holidays can make you want to hide under the covers with a warm cup of cocoa. From gift buying to family gatherings, the holiday...

Bought by KZUM, WUFT, CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY and more


  • Added: Dec 21, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Piece image
Upcoming asteroid missions will bring back samples from Bennu, and get up-close and personal with seven other small bodies to tell us how the solar...

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


  • Added: Dec 14, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: Sex Post Facto, Credit: Seth Shostak
Birds do it, bees do it, but humans may not do it for much longer – at least not for having kids. Instead, babies will be made in the lab, with ge...

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


  • Added: Nov 16, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16
Caption: Time Travel Agents, Credit: Seth Shostak
Hey, let’s meet last week for coffee. Okay, we can’t meet in the past… yet. But is it only a matter of time before we time travel? Physicists have ...

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


  • Added: Nov 09, 2020
  • Length: 54:03
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: The Other Living World, Credit: Seth Shostak
Reason for hope is just one thing that ecologist Carl Safina can offer. He understands why many of us turn to nature to find solace during this str...

Bought by WMUU-LP, CHSR-FM 97.9, KAZU Seaside, Calif., KMUN, WUFT and more


  • Added: Nov 02, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 16