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.

This week we look at the universe on the grandest scale with the James Webb Space Telescope, it’s scheduled for launch in 2018. We will talk about it with Bonnie Meinke from the Space Telescope Science Institute. Then we will hear from our social media correspondent, Kacey Gardner. She spoke with NASA’s Courtney O’Connor, she is responsible for the social media presence of the Juno spacecraft on Twitter.

The skies will darken, the birds will quiet and crickets will start the daytime. It all happens next August — it’s the Great American Eclipse, and this week on Blue Dot we have Dr. Tyler Nordgren to tell us all about it.

This week we talk with Kenneth Williford, the deputy project scientist for the Mars 2020 Rover. He's an expert on where biology, geology, and chemistry collide to inform the search for evidence of ancient microbial life in rocks. We also chat with graphic design artist Rachel Ignotofsky about her new book, Women in Science. This illustrated guide profiles 50 women in STEM fields, from ancient times until the present, who have shaped our world.

This week on Blue Dot we talk with award-winning NASA scientist, Fiona Harrison. She is an astrophysicist and chairperson at CalTech as well as Principal Investigator for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array — our premier orbiting X-Ray observatory better known as NuStar. We also take a sneak peak at next week's interview with Kenneth Williford - who shares an exciting story of a recent development in his lab at JPL. Finally, we cap it all off with some audio captured over the weekend by Nolan and Dave at last weekend's Dark Sky Festival in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

This week on Blue Dot, Sarah Bohannon interviews Emily Graslie - host of the YouTube science series The Brain Scoop, and Dave interviews Nicholas van der Elst about how gravity is unlocking the secrets of the San Andreas Fault.

This week on Blue Dot we introduce co-host/producer Nolan Ford, and talk about the dark night sky at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Every year in August, around the time of the Perseid Meteor Shower, the park hosts the Lassen Dark Sky Festival. This year’s event takes place Friday, August 12th through Sunday, August 14th. On today's show we speak with some of the festival's star participants, and learn why "half the park is after dark."

Gross Science

On today's Blue Dot (Matt's last one), Bill Patzert, NASA Oceanographer and climatologist gives us the scoop on the state of our warming oceans, and what it's doing to our climate. We're also rolling out two new recurring features.

The first is "Science on the Tube," wherein Dave and his correspondents speak with folks making science videos on the Internet. This week it's Anna Rothschild of the PBS Digital Studios show Gross Science.

You'll also hear the first installment of "Blue Dot Goes to the Cinema." When a movie comes out that piques the interest of science geeks everywhere, Dave will give his critique and rating — out of four Blue Dots.


This week, we look at the ice sheets of Antarctica. Like so much of the world's ice, a lot of it is melting away and shrinking. But there are certain places in Antarctica that the ice is actually increasing. How? Why? Better ask a scientist.  

Or how about three? Son Nghiem, Eric Larour and Ala Khazendar give us the scoop on how scientists gather this crucial data, and what it's telling them about our changing climate.



The Dawn spacecraft is pretty cool (we've thought so for a long time). Using its ion propulsion system, it's studied Vesta and now Ceres, the two largest objects in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. The craft and its Earthbound crew are this year's winners of the Collier Trophy, awarded for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America. 

Blue Dot 20: The Sierra Snowpack

Jul 7, 2016
Nicholas Turland, Creative Commons

This week on Blue Dot, we look at how we measure the amount of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.  We hear from Steve Margulis, a hydrology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Michael Durand, a professor at Ohio State University. They both help give us the numbers that tell how much water (we think) is in the Sierra Snowpack, how much meltwater we'll have to use as a state, and how long it will take the snowpack to recover from drought.