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Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak is an American astronomer, currently Senior Astronomer for the SETI Institute and former Director of Center for SETI Research when it was a separate department. Shostak is an active participant in the Institute's observation programs and has been hosting SETI's weekly radio show Big Picture Science.
Recent episodes featuring Seth Shostak
Math's Paths
Episode of
Big Picture Science
If you bake, you can appreciate math’s transformative properties.  Admiring the stackable potato chip is to admire a hyperbolic sheet.  Find out why there’s no need to fear math - you just need to think outside the cuboid.  Also, how nature’s geometric shapes inspire the next generation of squishy robots and an argument for radically overhauling math class.  The end point of these common factors is acute show that’s as fun as eating Pi. Guests: Eugenia Cheng – Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, tenured at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield, and author of “How to Bake Pi” Shankar Venkataramani – Professor of math at the University of Arizona Steven Strogatz – Professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University and author of “Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe” Daniel Finkel – Mathematician and founder and director of operations at “Math for Love”
Nailing the Moon Landing
Episode of
Big Picture Science
Neil, Buzz, and Michael made it look effortless, but the moon landing was neither easy nor inevitable.  Soon after President Kennedy publicly stated the goal of sending Americans to the moon, NASA confessed that the chances of success were only about 50/50.   But on July 20, 1969, despite enormous difficulties, astronauts stepped onto the lunar regolith. In this special anniversary episode, we go behind the iconic phrases and familiar photos to consider the errors, mishaps, and the Plan B contingencies that dogged the project, as well as hear of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who made Apollo 11 possible.    Guests: Charles Fishman -  author of “One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon” Matt Hayes -  President and CEO of the Museum of Flight, Seattle Geoff Nunn – Adjunct curator for Space History at the Museum of Flight. David Whitehouse –  Journalist, broadcaster, and author of “Apollo 11: The Inside Story” Dee O’Hara – NASA’s first aerospace nurse and flight nurse for the Apollo mission James Allen Joki – EMU Flight Controller, Apollo Mission Control, Houston. Ted Huetter – Museum of Flight public relations manager.
Animals Like Us
Episode of
Big Picture Science
Laughing rats, sorrowful elephants, joyful chimpanzees.  The more carefully we observe, and the more we learn about animals, the closer their emotional lives appear to resemble our own.  Most would agree that we should minimize the physical suffering of animals, but should we give equal consideration to their emotional stress?  Bioethicist Peter Singer weighs in. Meanwhile, captivity that may be ethical: How human-elephant teamwork in Asia may help protect an endangered species. Guests: Frans de Waal - Primatologist and biologist at Emory University; author of “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.”  Watch the video of Mama and Jan Van Hooff. Peter Singer – Philosopher, professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Jacob Shell - Professor of geography at Temple University, and author of “Giants of the Monsoon Forest: Living and Working with Elephants.” Kevin Schneider - Executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project
Skeptic Check: Worrier Mentality
Episode of
Big Picture Science
Poisonous snakes, lightning strikes, a rogue rock from space.  There are plenty of scary things to fret about, but are we burning adrenaline on the right ones?  Stepping into the bathtub is more dangerous than flying from a statistical point of view, but no one signs up for “fear of showering” classes.  Find out why we get tripped up by statistics, worry about the wrong things, and how the “intelligence trap” not only leads smart people to make dumb mistakes, but actually causes them to make more. Guests: Eric Chudler – Research association professor, department of bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle and co-author of “Worried: Science Investigates Some of Life’s Common Concerns” Lise Johnson – Director of the Basic Science Curriculum, Rocky Vista University, and co-author of “Worried: Science Investigates Some of Life’s Common Concerns” Willie Turner – Vice President of Operations at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA Charles Wheelan – Senior Lecturer and Policy Fellow, Dartmouth College, and author of “Naked Statistics” David Robson – Commissioning Editor for the BBC and author of “The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes”
Is Life Inevitable?
Episode of
Big Picture Science
A new theory about life’s origins updates Darwin’s warm little pond.  Scientists say they’ve created the building blocks of biology in steaming hot springs. Meanwhile, we visit a NASA lab where scientists simulate deep-sea vent chemistry to produce the type of environment that might spawn life.  Which site is best suited for producing biology from chemistry? Find out how the conditions of the early Earth were different from today, how meteors seeded Earth with organics, and a provocative idea that life arose as an inevitable consequence of matter shape-shifting to dissipate heat. Could physics be the driving force behind life’s emergence?   Guests: Caleb Scharf – Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York Laurie Barge – Research scientist in astrobiology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Bruce Damer – Research scientist in biomolecular engineering, University of California,  Jeremy England – Physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  
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Stats
Birthdate
Jul 20th, 1943
Location
Mountain View, CA, USA
Episode Count
340
Podcast Count
13
Total Airtime
1 week, 5 days