Blue Dot

Fridays at 10 a.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. 

In this episode we revisit two authors we interviewed in 2017. Jeff Goodell is the author of The Water Will Come, a sobering look at what lies ahead as the world's oceans expand and rise due to climate change. A contributing editor to Rolling Stone, the New York based writer was inspired to write the book in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast with flooding in 2012, previewing what is certainly going to be a major and ongoing slow motion disaster in the near future. Goodell visits Miami Beach where the effects of sea level rise are already becoming a problem. Perhaps the most alarming chapter is about the U.S. Naval base at Norfolk one of the nation's most important defense installations that is likely to be abandoned in the next couple of decades. On a personal note, Dave also learned to his amazement that Goodell's mother is close friends with his neighbor, proving the adage that it is indeed, a small world, and one destined for major coastal changes no matter what actions we take to combat global warming in the near future.

In the second half of the show, Dave revisits his interview with Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On The Road to America's Next Devastating Earthquake. Her book opens with a look at the tragic events following the Hebgen Lake earthquake of 1959 and takes readers on a a story that is part science and part travelogue as she journey's around the country investigating what scientists know, and more alarmingly don't know, about the ground beneath our feet. Miles travels into the bowels of the Earth in deep mines and the Hoover Dam in her search to understand how a devastating earthquake could have cataclysmic effects on the economy and infrastructure of the U.S. And not just in the seismically active west, but also on the east coast and midwest.

 

Sea level rise and eclipse phenomena highlight this episode. First Dave talks to NASA Oceanographer Josh Willis about two new studies. The first reports that sea level rise isn't increasing at a linear rate -- it is accelerating. The second study demonstrates how much our understanding of ice melt from Antarctica's glaciers has advanced in just the past few years. Then we revisit The Great American Eclipse of 2017 with Dr. Gordon Telepun. A plastic surgeon from Alabama, Telepun created the smart phone app Solar Eclipse Timer. His YouTube channel by the same name (as the app) features detailed explanations of the varied and amazing phenomena associated with total solar eclipses.

 

In this week's episode Dave is joined by Nolan Ford for an in depth conversation with Jad Abumrad, host of WNYC's Radiolab which is one of public radio's most popular and innovative programs. Jad was fascinated with recording sounds from an early age and after pursuing a college education that concentrated both on writing and musical composition, he kind of stumbled into a career in radio reporting which led, eventually, to the fascinating storytelling soundscapes that make up Radiolab with his longtime cohost Robert Krulwich. Jad will be visiting Chico for a stage presentation on Innovation at Laxson Auditorium on March 3. Also in this episode, Dave talks to Christopher Potter about his new book The Earth Gazers. The book is an extensive history of the space program from its earliest beginnings in Russia with Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and America with Robert Goddard. Along the way he weaves Charles Lindbergh's little known influences on the nascent rocketry program in the U.S. and the complex story of German rocket scientist Werner von Braun who designed the giant rockets that hurtled American astronauts to the Moon during the Apollo Program. But a funny thing happened while trying to leave our planet, we discovered what it looked like to actually see our world from beyond. Dave and Christopher discuss how that has changed our world view, literally and figuratively!

In this episode we bid a temporary aloha to our longtime friend and surfer buddy, William Patzert. Dave is joined by former producer (and the composer/performer of Blue Dot's theme music) Matt Shilts to interview Bill, who just retired after 35 years from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The guru of California climate forecasters, Bill Patzert has been the go to guy for news media outlets across the country from Southern California TV stations to StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson. But his favorite place to hang out and talk about his work is right here on Blue Dot. It might not be a coincidence that Matt Shilts' last time being on the show featured an interview with Bill. We are also joined by two of Bill's friends -- his NASA/JPL Oceanographer colleague Josh Willis and the Director of the Aquarium of the Pacific, Jerry Schubel.

On this episode of Blue Dot, Dave talks to fellow science communications host Ira Flatow who joined us from his home in Connecticut. The award winning host of Public Radio International's Science Friday tells us about being on the NPR staff in the early days as a science correspondent, the PBS television series he hosted for kids, Newton's Apple, his love of science and gadgets plus some tips for would be guests on the show. Ira also tells us about what it was like to play himself on the hit CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Dave is also joined by United States Geological Survey research scientist Francis Rengers about the recent, tragic debris flows in Montecito, California that took 20 lives. Rengers specializes in studying the impacts of wildfires and how they can lead to catastrophic erosion like what was seen following the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County.

In this episode of Blue Dot, Dave is joined by Kate Fullam to interview Ann Druyan. Ann was the Creative Director of the Voyager Interstellar Message Project. She co-wrote ‘COSMOS: A Personal Voyage’ with her late husband Carl Sagan. She was awarded the Emmy and Peabody awards for ‘COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey. In this wide ranging discussion we'll hear about Ann's relationship with her late husband the creation of the reboot of Cosmos on Fox Television and the release of the catalog of books by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan on Audible last year. A second season, Cosmos: Possible Worlds is in production with Druyan and the rest of the Cosmos team and will be on Fox in 2019. The second half of the show features a report from Sheryl Hosler, The Roving Naturalist from YouTube. Sheryl will tell us about the strange an interesting lives of parasitic sea lice.

On this episode of Blue Dot, we talk to the creators of "I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere" and "Trifles." Scott Monty and Burt Wolder are not only highly successful businessmen (Monty was the head of social media for Ford Motor Company from 2008-2014), they are also two of the world's most respected Sherlockians --  experts on the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Great Detective and his chronicler, Dr. John H. Watson. The Holmes character was patterned after Professor Joseph Bell, Doyle's teacher and mentor from medical school in Edinborough, Scotland and is considered the progenitor of forensic science. Many a scientific mind was inspired by the original 60 stories that Doyle penned (aka "The Canon") and the immense number of portrayals of Holmes and Watson on stage, screen (film and television), radio and pastiche fiction makes Sherlock Holmes an enduringly fascinating part of our popular culture. Our guides to all things Sherlockian, Scott and Burt, will take us back to the world of Victorian London and the fog shrouded apartments of Holmes at 221B Baker Street, "where it is always 1895." The game is afoot!

Climate Change. It generates controversy as well as extreme weather. In this episode we talk to Josh Willis and John Morales, two atmospheric experts on the frontlines of communicating climate science. Willis won a Presidential Early Career award from Barack Obama in 2009. A frequent contributor to Blue Dot, Josh's expertise is studying the interactions between warming oceans and melting ice. John Morales isn't just your average TV meteorologist. He is one of the few elected to be a Fellow with the American Meteorological Society and had a Ph.D. in meteorology, specializing in tropical storms. That comes in handy as the Chief Meteorologist for NBC TV's Miami affiliate. Find out what it was like to literally be responsible for people's lives during Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.

For the debut episode of our new hour-long Blue Dot format, Dave talks to David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, the filmmakers behind Bill Nye: Science Guy. The film ambitiously follows Nye over the course of a year as he debates creationist Ken Ham and takes on climate change denier Joe Bastardi. The film takes us on a journey from the persona that was created on the iconic Bill Nye The Science Guy television series to the man behind the bowtie. Find out what it was like to be in the whirlwind that is the life of one of America's most popular science communicators. 

Eli Ennis is a leader and grandson of a chief of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nations tribe of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. His work as an educator and activist is featured in Gleb Raygorodetsky's book The Archipelago of Hope, which was featured on a previous episode. We dive deeper into how Ennis is leading a cooperative effort of land stewardship based both on science and traditional tribal practices.

The west coast of Canada is a rich maritime rainforest and fishery that is home to eagles, osprey, whales and salmon. And it is also very sensitive to climate change, which is altering the natural patterns that have existed along with humans, for thousands of years. It's a fascinating, hopeful and challenging discussion of balancing the needs of humans and nature. 

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