TESS Finds a Planet in the Habitable Zone
Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak discusses a new discovery by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
Are We About to Find Life on Mars?
Over the past six months, numerous articles have reported weird anomalies in the atmosphere of Mars, from an outburst of methane in June 2019 to patterns in oxygen concentrations that cannot be explained by any known atmospheric or surface processes on the Red Planet. Perhaps more intriguing is the Viking Lander (Viking LR) experiment. In 1976, each of the two Viking landers performed experiments on Martian soil samples. The samples tested positive for metabolism, and researchers recently claimed that like on Earth, this is a sign for the presence of a Martian life. Finally, an Ohio scientist claims to have found photographic proof of "insect and reptile-like" life on Mars. This controversial result has been discussed at length in the media, even though most scientists rejected it. What does this mean? Are we on the verge of announcing the most profound story since humans first wondered about the existence of life elsewhere? Or are these coincidences that can be explained by geological processes, failed experiments or pareidolia? We invited two SETI Institute scientists who are experts on Mars to discuss these exciting and out of this world results. Biologist Kathryn Bywaters who has studied life in some of the most extreme environments on Earth and planetary scientist Pascal Lee who focuses on water on Mars and human exploration of the Red Planet. Both scientists will tell us if indeed we are about to discover life on Mars and the consequences of this significant discovery.
Another Visitor from Interstellar Space
SETI Institute's Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak talks about Comet 2I/Borisov.
Hygiea: Asteroid or Dwarf Planet?
Director Simon Steel spoke with SETI Institute senior scientist Franck Marchis about the asteroid Hygiea and the discovery that it may be classified as a dwarf planet. Published as a Facebook Live on December 19, 2019.
The Moons of Neptune
The latest information about the moons of Neptune with Senior Scientist Mark Showalter and Astronomer Seth Shostak. Recorded Live on December 12, 2019.
Science and Art at the SETI Institute
Technosignatures vs. Biosignatures: Which Will Succeed First?
Thirty-five years ago, a group of entrepreneurs and scientists founded the SETI Institute – the first scientific institute dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe. We’re excited to commemorate this anniversary. We invited SETI Institute co-founder Jill Tarter and 2018 Drake Award Recipient Vikki Meadows to discuss the challenges and possible future strategies for the detection of life. Initiated by Jill Tarter in 1990s, Project Phoenix marked the first systematic search for technosignatures. Today, the Allen Telescope Array and Laser SETI are driving our technosignature search. The discovery that exoplanets are common has radically changed our view of the universe. The likelihood that there are habitable worlds elsewhere in the universe seems more plausible than ever before. Astronomers, including Vikki Meadows, are developing new instruments to help search for life on other planets. By analyzing data from exoplanets and identifying biosignatures, we will be able to search for habitable planets and the presence of life. Which approach will discover the first evidence of extraterrestrial life? Will technosignatures or biosignatures confirm our hypothesis that life exists outside our watery, shimmering planet and that, indeed, we are not alone? Molly Bentley, the co-host and producer of the radio program and podcast, Big Picture Science, will be the moderator.
Do Black Holes Affect You?
SETI Institute's Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak explains why black holes don't just suck.
Why is that star going so fast?
Astronauts on the Moon and Mars: Getting Ready with Dr. Pascal Lee
Teachers in the Stratosphere Part 2
Is the Cosmos Massively Entwined?
Senior Scientist Seth Shostak talks about the strange behavior of certain galaxies. Are they somehow connected to one another?
Global Warming Demystified
Jeff Bennett discusses global warming - addressing the science, the consequences, and the solutions with the SETI Institute's Simon Steel. Is human-induced global warming real or a hoax?
Bill Diamond Interviews Science Advisory Board Chair Lucianne Walkowicz.
Lucianne Walkowicz is an astronomer who studies stellar magnetic activity and how stars influence a planet's suitability as a host for alien life. She is also an artist and works in a variety of media, from oil paint to sound.
Martian First Contact
With all the spacecraft we are sending to Mars, we might actually run into some Martians. Are we prepared for such an encounter?
Intelligence: Mundane or a Miracle
How do you define intelligence? Intelligence is a fuzzy concept defined by scientists as “a level of cognitive complexity.” For centuries, humanity thought that we were the most advanced, and hence, a unique expression of intelligence on Earth. We believed a series of improbable events that cannot be repeated elsewhere triggered our human intelligence, making us the only intelligent species in the Universe. Modern studies based on scientific data have shown that other types of intelligence exist in our biosphere. An intelligent organism can be a single cell that reacts to its environment. More complex brains allow species like chimpanzees or dolphins to possess sophisticated cognitive capacities and use tools, do math, and comprehend symbolic communication. Even bees can count and learn from others. So, if we are not alone in sharing the trait of intelligence, why are we not studying this wide range of intelligence in SETI and astrobiology? We invited two scientists to discuss the concept of intelligence and whether or not intelligence is a natural property of biological organisms. Lori Marino is a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and intelligence. She believes that the biological origin and evolution of intelligence should be integral to astrobiology. Laurance Doyle is a principal investigator with the SETI Institute who has developed an information theory for animal communications. Doyle will bring his mathematical thoughts on communication and intelligence and how we can measure the complexity of communication for a species and maybe, one day, an extraterrestrial message.
Nobel Effort - Big Picture Science
For two Swiss astronomers, it’s “Stockholm, here we come.” Their first-ever discovery of a planet orbiting another star has been awarded the most prestigious prize in science. Find out how their exoplanet discovery led to 4,000 more and how that changes the odds of finding life beyond Earth. Also, the Nobel committee is not alone in finding distant worlds inspirational: a musician is translating their orbital signatures into sound. Listen to the show at https://bigpicturescience.org
What is Intelligence?
Seth Shostak talks with Laurance Doyle and Lori Marino about the nature of intelligence.
Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places
The SETI Institute's Nathalie Cabrol walks you through what it's like to prepare for a month-long field expedition to the mountains of Chile.
Battling Bacteria, Stopping the Superbugs - Big Picture Science
We can’t say we weren’t warned. More than 75 years ago, bacteriologist Rene Dubos cautioned that misuse of antibiotics could breed drug-resistant bacteria – and he has been proved prescient. In this episode: the rise of superbugs, why we ignored the warnings about them, how some are enlisting an old therapy to fight back, and whether we’ll heed history’s lessons in the face of a future pandemic. Plus, a weird unforeseen effect of antibiotics being investigated at the Body Farm.
Nobel Prize: Blessing or Curse?
Scientists can spend their entire career on a single idea or elaborate experiment and never find anything new. But if they make a significant breakthrough and discover what they have been looking for, they can win the ultimate prize: the Nobel Prize. Is the Nobel Prize, and any other high-profile recognition, a valid indicator of being an excellent scientist? In their ambition to pursue the Nobel gold, are scientists deceived by galactic mirages? Does the Nobel Prize hamper scientific progress by encouraging speed and competition while punishing inclusivity, collaboration, and innovation? To discuss these provocative ideas, we invited two astronomers whose life and career have been closely connected with the Nobel Prize. Brian Keating, Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, was a member of the BICEP2, a cosmology telescope that was thought to have witnessed the Big Bang in 2014. In his book, “Losing the Nobel Prize,” Brian tells the inside story of the BICEP2's detection and the ensuing scientific drama. Alex Filippenko, Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, was the only person to have been a member of both teams that revealed the accelerating expansion of the Universe. This groundbreaking discovery led to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for the teams’ leaders.
Headed For Trouble: The Fate of Civilizations - Big Picture Science
The stone heads on Easter Island are an enduring mystery: why were they built and why were they abandoned and destroyed? The old ideas about cultural collapse are yielding to new ones based on careful investigation on the ground - but also from above. What surprising explanations have we found and are we off base to think that ancient societies such as the Easter Islanders or the classical Egyptians were, in the end, failures? Can what we learn from these histories help predict which societies will survive? Listen to this week's show at: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/headed-for-trouble Learn about big picture science at: https://bigpicturescience.org
Would You Like to Name an Asteroid, Comet, or Star?
Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak explains how to get your name associated with an astronomical object such as asteroids, comets, and stars.
Visitor from Interstellar Space
Planetary Astronomer Michael Busch and Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak discuss a recent visit from Comet Borisov, C/2019 Q4.
Navy UFO Videos
The navy recently confirmed that videos of purported UFOs are real. But what do those videos actually show us? Are there really alien spacecraft in these videos?
Planetary Protection and the Origins of Life
A discussion with Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak and Senior Researcher David Summers.
For Good Measure, the New Kilogram - Big Picture Science
The reign of Le Grand K has come to an end. After 130 years, this hunk of metal sitting in a Parisian vault will no longer define the kilogram. The new kilogram mass will be defined by Planck’s constant, joining three other units for redefinition by fundamental constants. But as we measure with increasing precision – from cesium atomic clocks to gravitational wave detectors able to measure spacetime distortions to 1/1000th the width of a proton – is something fundamental lost along the way? Meanwhile, the BiPiSci team accepts the banana-measurement challenge. Tune in at https://bigpicturescience.org
What are Fast Radio Bursts?
Last month, a consortium of five dozen astronomers reported the discovery of eight new bursts that may lead to an answer. The objects were found with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME. This unusual-looking radio telescope, about the size of a football field, consists of four metal mesh cylinders — like skateboard half-pipes — that collect and focus incoming radio waves. CHIME is in a sparsely populated, mountainous region of British Columbia about 30 miles north of the U.S. border. Read the entire story at: https://www.seti.org/fast-radio-bursts-space-have-baffled-scientists-years-explanation-may-come-soon SETI Institute: https://seti.org
Find Big Picture Science Podcast, hosted by Seth Shostak, on iTunes and at https://bigpicturescience.org
Exploring Pajonales, Chile with Dr. Nathalie Cabrol 2018
This project is part of the Astrobiology Research Division of the SETI Institute. It is connected to the mission of the SETI Institute in that it provides us with answers or at least ways to find answers to are we alone in the solar system. Basically, what we are doing is to try to understand how to detect life that is not visible, or traces of past life that might be hiding somewhere.
Skeptic Check: Data Bias - Big Picture Science
Produced at the SETI Institute.
Big Picture Science engages the public with modern science research through smart and humorous storytelling. This week's episode is Skeptic Check: Data Bias
Sexist snow plowing? Data that guide everything from snow removal schedules to heart research often fail to consider gender. In these cases, “reference man” stands in for “average human.” Human bias also infects artificial intelligence, with speech recognition triggered only by male voices and facial recognition that can’t see black faces. We question the assumptions baked into these numbers and algorithms. Listen to the episode at https://bigpicturescience.org
How Does Life Flourish in Extreme Environments? - InVADER Mission
Senior Director of STEM Simon Steel chats with Research Scientist Pablo Sobron about his new project InVADER. An autonomous robot designed to explore hydrothermal vents off the coast of San Diego. Learn more about InVADER Mission at https://invader-mission.org
How Do We Reach Hydrothermal Vents? - InVADER Mission
InVADER Mission - Anuschech Nawaz, University of Washington Learn more about InVADER Mission at: https://invader-mission.org
Using Autonomous Robots to Investigate Hydrothermal Vents - InVADER Mission
InVADER Mission - Renaud Detry, NASA JPL Learn more about InVADER mission at https://invader-mission.org
Measuring the Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Vents - InVADER Mission
InVADER Mission - Roy Price, SUNY Stony Brook University Learn more about InVADER Mission at: https://invader-mission.org
Examining the Chemistry of Hydrothermal Vents - InVADER Mission
InVADER Mission - Anupam Misra, University of Hawaii InVADER will study underwater hydrothermal systems at Axial Seamount, the largest and most active volcano on western boundary of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Oregon. The vents at the Axial Seamount generate chemical energy which can sustain life, and are high-fidelity analogues to putative vent systems on Ocean Worlds. Learn more about InVADER Mission at: https://invader-mission.org
Can Life Exist on Other Worlds? - InVADER Mission
And can they come from underwater vents?
InVADER Mission with Laurie Barge, JPL InVADER will study underwater hydrothermal systems at Axial Seamount, the largest and most active volcano on western boundary of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Oregon. The vents at the Axial Seamount generate chemical energy which can sustain life, and are high-fidelity analogues to putative vent systems on Ocean Worlds. Learn more about InVADER at https://invader-mission.org
Building the payload that will go on InVADER - InVADER Mission
InVADER Mission - Tayro Acosta-Maeda, University of Hawaii InVADER will study underwater hydrothermal systems at Axial Seamount, the largest and most active volcano on western boundary of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Oregon. The vents at the Axial Seamount generate chemical energy which can sustain life, and are high-fidelity analogues to putative vent systems on Ocean Worlds. Learn more about InVADER mission at: https://invader-mission.org
Looking for Life at the Bottom of the Ocean - InVADER Mission
InVADER Mission - Pablo Sobron, SETI Institute InVADER will study underwater hydrothermal systems at Axial Seamount, the largest and most active volcano on western boundary of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate off the coast of Oregon. The vents at the Axial Seamount generate chemical energy which can sustain life, and are high-fidelity analogues to putative vent systems on Ocean Worlds. Learn more about InVADER Mission at: https://invader-mission.org
Asteroid 2006 QV89 Will Not Hit Earth This Year
SETI Institute researchers Michael Busch and Franck Marchis talk about asteroids that come very close to the Earth.
Are there aliens at Area 51?
In our previous video about storming Area 51( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBsnfFL1JM8&feature=youtu.be ), we gave you 5 reasons not to camp out at the military installation this coming September, but some of you still wondered why we think there are no aliens there. SETI Institute Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak presents his case for why haven't visited us. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.
TESS Spacecraft - 1 year after the beginning of Science Operation
Live from the SETI Institute - A discussion between NASA researcher Jon Jenkins & SETI Institute Astronomer Franck Marchis about TESS spacecraft and its recent discoveries.
Granting Immunity: Microbes, fungi, and T-cells - Big Picture Science
Listen to this week's episode at http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/granting-immunity “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 species diversity. Find out why multiple strains of microbes, engaged in a delicate ballet with your T-cells, join internal fungi in combatting disease. Plus, global ecosystems also depend on the diversity of its tiniest members; so what happens when the world’s insects bug out?
Frontier Development Lab Astronaut Health Team
Back to the Moon (Lecture 2): For Science and Exploration
The 2nd talk in our returning to the moon series.
If you'd like to see the first lecture, it's here: https://youtu.be/0IrRHDqvmxk NASA has an ambitious plan to return astronauts to the Moon. The return includes commercial and international partners with the goal of promoting a faster and more extensive exploration of the Moon as well as destinations beyond. In a fashion similar to what has been done in commercializing low-Earth orbit, NASA proposes to lead these partnerships. The plan this time is to establish a space outpost, to learn how to live in deep space, and to explore the Moon from above. Meanwhile, as assembly of this orbital outpost takes place, astronauts would land at the lunar south pole by 2024. What are the goals of this new project? Is the lunar south pole the best place to go? What science will we be able to conduct from the surface of the moon and from lunar orbit? The new plan has received both praise and criticism. Supporters praise it as valuable, as they view it as the first true step for humans to permanently settle another world and prepare for the exploration of Mars and beyond. Opponents criticize it as too rushed, too costly, or too ill-defined.
Sci-Fi From the Future - Big Picture Science
Are you ready to defer all your personal decision-making to machines? Polls show that most Americans are uneasy about the unchecked growth of artificial intelligence. The possible misuse of genetic engineering also makes us anxious. We all have a stake in the responsible development of science and technology, but fortunately, science fiction films can help. Sci-Fi Science episode: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/sci-fi-future
Bigpicturescience podcast: https://bigpicturescience.org
SETI Institute: https://seti.org
5 reasons not to storm Area 51
This September, thousands of people plan to storm the gates of Area 51. Should you join them? Here's what you need to know before signing up.
Is the Earth Flat? - Big Picture Science
Why do some people think the Earth is flat? It's not as easy to understand as you might think. If you're interested in the topic, check out
Big Picture Science radio podcast: http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes/skeptic-check-flat-earth
Why are you social? - Big Picture Science
Crowded subway driving you crazy? Sick of the marathon-length grocery store line? Wish you had a hovercraft to float over traffic? If you are itching to hightail it to an isolated cabin in the woods, remember, we evolved to be together. Humans are not only social, we’re driven to care for one another, even those outside our immediate family. We look at some of the reasons why this is so – from the increase in valuable communication within social groups to the power of the hormone oxytocin. Plus, how our willingness to tolerate anonymity, a condition which allows societies to grow, has a parallel in ant supercolonies. Guests: Adam Rutherford – Geneticist and author of “Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature – a New Evolutionary History” Patricia Churchland – Neurophilosopher, professor of philosophy emerita at the University of California San Diego, and author most recently of “Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition” Mark Moffett – Tropical biologist, Smithsonian Institution researcher, and author of “The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive and Fall” Big Picture Science Episode at https://bit.ly/2McfXCO
New Girl Scout Space Science Badges are here!
Simon Steel talks to Director of Education Pamela Harman about the Institute's involvement in the release of the girl scouts new science badges.
Back to the Moon (Lecture 1): This Time to Stay?
The first of two lectures we have about returning to the moon.
If you'd like to see the second one, it's here: https://youtu.be/uBwYu-eIiRY NASA is going back to the Moon, this time with commercial and international partners that will help us explore faster and explore more. After successful efforts to commercialize low-Earth orbit, there’s a renewed commitment to this new effort, which calls for the partnership to launch and operate a new space station, the Gateway. The Gateway will first explore the Moon from above and put men and women on the surface by 2024. To celebrate this endeavor and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk, the SETI Institute has organized two summer talks about this ambitious program, officially known as Artemis. The first will take place on June 26. Greg Schmidt, Director of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), and Michael Sims, CEO, and founder of Ceres Robotics will present this first talk. Greg leads NASA’s lunar exploration research program and will give us an update on Artemis. Michael, an expert on AI and robotic exploration, will describe the activities of Ceres Robotics in the exploration of the Moon and the understanding of its geology and surface properties. After a short presentation, both speakers will participate in a discussion about the past, present, and future of lunar exploration moderated by David Morrison, Senior Scientist at SSERVI and former director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute. Join us to find out how, after 50 years, we are going to go back to the moon.