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.


266 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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 WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP, KIYU-FM, KMRE-LP Bellingham, Wash., WERA-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 14, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 8
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 Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP, KIYU-FM, WERA-LP and more


  • Added: Jun 07, 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 Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WMUU-LP, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WRGY, WERA-LP and more


  • Added: May 31, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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 Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KBBI Alaska, WRGY, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: May 24, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 10
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 KICI Iowa City, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: May 17, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 12
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 Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WUFT, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: May 10, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15
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 WLPR , WRGY, Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: May 03, 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 Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, WMUU-LP, KBBI Alaska and more


  • Added: Apr 26, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
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 Cove Mountain Educational Broadcasting, WRGY, WHCP-LP Cambridge, KBBI Alaska, WMUU-LP and more


  • Added: Apr 19, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
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: 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: 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: In Living Color, Credit: Seth Shostak
The world is a colorful place, and human eyes have evolved to take it in – from vermillion red to bright tangerine to cobalt blue. But when we do, ...

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


  • Added: Mar 08, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 13
Caption: Eclectic Company, Credit: Seth Shostak
We present a grab bag of our favorite recent science stories – from how to stop aging to the mechanics of cooking pasta. Also, in accord with our ...

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


  • Added: Mar 01, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
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
Piece image
The first coal-fired stoves changed domestic life, and that changed society. We take you back to that that era, and to millennia prior when iron wa...

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


  • Added: Feb 01, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 14
Caption: Skeptic Check: Shared Reality, Credit: Seth Shostak
One of the many shocking aspects of the Capitol attack was that it revealed how thoroughly the nation had cleaved into alternate realities. How did...

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


  • Added: Jan 25, 2021
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 15