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.


274 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: It's In Material, Credit: It's In Material
Astronauts are made of the “right stuff,” but what about their spacesuits? Find out why suiting up on Mars will require more flexibility, and the...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, WCAI / WNAN Cape & Islands, Mass., Royalton Community Radio, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, KMRE-LP Bellingham, Wash. and more


  • Added: Mar 16, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
Caption: Skeptic Check: Pandemic Fear, Credit: Seth Shostak
Contagion aside, coronavirus is a powerful little virus. It has prompted a global experiment in behavior modification: elbow bumps instead of hand...

Bought by CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, Royalton Community Radio, KMRE-LP Bellingham, Wash., WRGY and more


  • Added: Mar 09, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 21
Caption: Climate Changed, Credit: Seth Shostak
Rising waters, more destructive wildfires, record-breaking heatwaves. Scientists have long predicted these events, but reporting on climate change ...

Bought by KZUM, CHSR-FM 97.9, KMRE-LP Bellingham, Wash., WRST-FM Oshkosh, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Feb 17, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: Frogs' Pants, Credit: Seth Shostak
An 18th century scientist fitted a pair of tailor-made briefs on a male frog to determine the animal’s contribution to reproduction. Find out what...

Bought by WMUU-LP, CHSR-FM 97.9, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, Royalton Community Radio, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Feb 10, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Perpetual Emotion Machine, Credit: Seth Shostak
Get ready for compassionate computers that share your pain, your joy. But wait, our own emotions can be conflicting and irrational. A suite of unc...

Bought by WMUU-LP, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, Royalton Community Radio, WRGY, WPCA-LP and more


  • Added: Jan 13, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Caption: Your Brains Reins, Credit: Seth Shostak
You are your brain, everyone agrees. But if your brain is damaged, are you still responsible for your actions? We hear of the first person to pl...

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


  • Added: Jan 06, 2020
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Skeptic Check: Heal Thyself, Credit: Seth Shostak
Do we need doctors? There are umpteen alternative sources of medical advice, including endless health tips from people without medical degrees. Wh...

Bought by WMUU-LP, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WPCA-LP, WHCP-LP Cambridge and more


  • Added: Dec 30, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Shell on Earth, Credit: Seth Shostak
Shells provide straightforward defense against predators. So then why did squid and octopuses evolve to lose their shells? Find out what these cep...

Bought by WMUU-LP, Royalton Community Radio, WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Dec 09, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Yule Like This, Credit: Seth Shostak
Fir tree needles embedded in carpet are a holiday headache. Why not opt for a genetically-modified, needle-retaining tree instead? Also, science ...

Bought by KIOS-FM Omaha Public Radio, WRKF, WDET Detroit Public Radio, KUHF, WCAI / WNAN Cape & Islands, Mass. and more


  • Added: Dec 02, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 20
Caption: Stopping Ebola, Credit: Seth Shostak
A new vaccine may help turn Ebola into a disease we can prevent, and a new drug may make it one we can cure. But the political crisis in the Democ...

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


  • Added: Nov 18, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Caption: Go With the Flow, Credit: Seth Shostak
Solid materials get all the credit. Don’t get us wrong, we depend on their firmness for bridges, bones, and bento boxes. But liquids do us a solid...

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


  • Added: Oct 14, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Caption: Battling Bacteria, Credit: Seth Shostak
More than 75 years ago, a bacteriologist cautioned that the misuse of antibiotics could breed drug-resistant bacteria. In this episode: the rise o...

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


  • Added: Oct 07, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
Caption: Keeping Humans in the Loop, Credit: Seth Shostak
As our world becomes more challenging, can we maintain control of our own future? Threats arise not just from climate change or inventions such as...

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


  • Added: Sep 23, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Rip Van Winkle Worm, Credit: Seth Shostak
Your shower pipes are alive. So are your sinks, books, and floorboards. New studies of our homes are revealing just what lives there, from bacter...

Bought by Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, Royalton Community Radio, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KBBI Alaska and more


  • Added: Sep 16, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11
Caption: Sci-Fi From the Future, Credit: Seth Shostak
Polls show that most Americans are uneasy about the unchecked growth of artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. We all hope to guide socie...

Bought by WMUU-LP, WRST-FM Oshkosh, WYSO, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Aug 05, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
Caption: DNA is Not Destiny, Credit: Seth Shostak
We used to think that the genes you inherited didn’t change. You were stuck – or blessed – with what you got. Now we know that’s not true. Epi...

Bought by WMUU-LP, 'The Sea', KUFM - Montana Public Radio, WGBH Radio Boston, Boise State Public Radio and more


  • Added: Jul 08, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 17
Caption: Nailing the Moon Landing
Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effortless, but the moon landing was neither easy nor inevitable. So on July 20, 1969, despite enormous diffi...

Bought by KUFM - Montana Public Radio, CHSR-FM 97.9, KCPW Salt Lake City, WCQS, WUFT and more


  • Added: Jul 01, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 19
Caption: It's Habitable Forming, Credit: Seth Shostak
Evidence suggests a subsurface lake on Mars, prompting scientists to use the “h” word. Could the Red Planet be habitable? While we wait – impati...

Bought by WMUU-LP, CHSR-FM 97.9, WMRA, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, Royalton Community Radio and more


  • Added: Jun 10, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Rethinking Chernobyl, Credit: Seth Shostak
The catastrophic explosion at Chernobyl triggered a full-scale destruction of the reactor in the worst nuclear reactor accident in history. But res...

Bought by WMUU-LP, CHSR-FM 97.9, New Hampshire Public Radio, WMRA, Interlochen Public Radio and more


  • Added: May 06, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 22
Caption: Identity Crisis, Credit: Seth Shostak
DNA is the gold standard of all identification methods. Except when it’s not. So, while we refine our ability to work with the double helix, scie...

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


  • Added: Apr 29, 2019
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 11