Blue Dot

Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.

Blue Dot, named after Carl Sagan's famous speech about our place in the universe, features interviews with guests from all over the regional, national and worldwide scientific communities. Host Dave Schlom leads discussions about the issues science is helping us address with experts who shed light on climate change, space exploration, astronomy, technology and much more. Dave asks us to remember: from deep space, we all live on a pale, blue dot. 

Plans are on the drawing table at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to explore the hottest scientific target in the solar system — Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Recent findings indicate that it has all the ingredients needed to support life — oceans of liquid water, heat coming from deep within the world and the basic organic chemistry of life. We talk to Andrew Shapiro about missions to explore Europa as well as other fascinating new technologies that are on the cutting edge of astronomy and space exploration. It's a look into the future, and promises to amaze and fascinate. Plus Dave and Nolan give their take on the new Netflix Series Bill Nye Saves The World and the National Geographic Channel's Genius — a fascinating look at the life of Albert Einstein starring Geoffrey Rush.

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The search for life beyond Earth is one of the driving forces behind NASA’s exploration of the solar system. Two moons of the outer solar system have been the targets of intense scrutiny as well as plans for future missions – Jupiter’s giant moon Europa and Saturn’s tiny satellite Enceladus both have subsurface oceans of liquid water. In 2005, the Cassini orbiter discovered geyser plumes erupting from Enceladus’ south polar region and recent Hubble Space Telescope observations have indicated that the same type of activity is occurring on Europa. The Cassini orbiter is entering the final months of its mission and just this past week, imaged yet another dramatic picture of the pale blue dot – Earth, set between Saturn’s rings. Joining us to talk about the exciting new discoveries and the end of the mission is Cassini Deputy Project Scientist Scott Edgington.

You know what ear worms are right? Those catchy tunes that get stuck in your head. Well the ones that get to me have not just a musical hook, they also have a scientific one. And I totally love to sing them in the shower. Join me. No not in the shower – but in my chat with the creator of Acapella Science on YouTube – Tim Blais.

Scientists are concerned and for good reason. Scientific evidence for things like climate change and vaccinations is increasingly being questioned and undermined. Governmental science agencies like the EPA are having their budgets cut and missions changed as Washington adapts to a new administration under Donald Trump. Scientists around the country and the world will be marching for the values of the scientific method – reasoning from evidence to uncover the truth.

How do we think? How do we solve problems and why do we sometimes struggle with finding answers to logical questions? It’s all about our brains, and neuroscience is one of the most daunting topics of any that I can think of. Thankfully, we have a guest who can help demystify how we interact with the world with our brains – she’s the creative force behind one of YouTube’s hottest science channels – Braincraft – meet one of my favorite Aussie science communicators – Vanessa Hill. 

Being an astronaut is synonymous in our culture with being a hero. And there are a few that are household names, like John Glenn or Neil Armstrong. But perhaps none of them had as much of an impact on our society and NASA itself as the first American woman in space - Sally Ride. After her 1983 flight on the space shuttle Challenger, she became one of the most famous people in the world, and yet, she was also an intensely private person, her sexual orientation only becoming widely known after her death in 2012. Former ABC News reporter Lynn Sherr covered the space program during the early space shuttle era and became good friends with Ride. Her biography, Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space is an in-depth look at the astronaut, scientist and human being.

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“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here…” Those words have become part of our pop cultural history. Just like, “Houston, Tranquility Base here…the Eagle has landed.” During the halcyon days of Project Apollo in the late 1960s and early 70s, Houston was a call sign that referred to the Mission Operations Control Room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We will talk to Houston ourselves, though not the one you might be thinking of…Rick Houston is the author of Go Flight! An inside look at the history and culture of the legendary space center. It’s all new and all blue with a little red and white thrown in for good measure.

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A red dwarf star with seven Earth sized planets? Sound like science fiction? No, it is the Trappist-1 system recently discovered – and it rocked the science world because these are rocky worlds – maybe like Earth! Find out what we know and how we know it on this week’s show.

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A dam holding back billions of gallons of water fails and hundreds of lives are lost in the deluge that follows in California. No, it is not a hypothetical "what if?" scenario for the Oroville Dam. It really happened, in Southern California in 1928. Find out the lessons learned and lingering questions about the deadliest man-made disaster of the 20th Century. We speak with the author of Floodpath, Jon Wilkman.

The Baker Street Babes

We return once again to the most famous fictional address in the world - 221B Baker Street. We walk up the seventeen steps and we visit the many iterations of a certain consulting detective and his boswell. It's the world of Sherlock Holmes with The Baker Street Babes. We continue our conversation with Ashley Polasek and Amy Thomas.

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