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Live Sundays at 10 pm EST on Radio America  or check out local AM stations.  To ask questions, call 1-800-510-TALK during the broadcast. Re-broadcast on Mondays at 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Sirius satellite radio across the USA on Channel #144. 

this week

Will ET Send Snail Mail?

Monolith on the Moon
Monolith on the Moon?

Could the aliens be sending us messages in a bottle? While SETI researchers wield mammoth telescopes hoping to pick up a signal from some distant world, could it be that ET has long ago sent a message that's landed somewhere unnoticed in our solar system – maybe even buried on our planet?   Some researchers think that using “snail mail” may be an attractive way to send messages from one star to the next.   We'll talk about whether they're right.

Guests: Frank Drake, SETI pioneer and author of the famous equation that bears his name, and Christopher Rose, of Rutgers University, who wrote the recent cover article for Nature magazine on methods of interstellar communication.

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Skeptical Sunday. World Wide Hoax

Get rich quick e-mail
Doubtful E-mail

Research shows that Americans are turning ‘being fooled' into a national pastime, particularly on the Internet:   From offers of quick cash transfers from former African finance ministers to Web sites that resemble your bank… but aren't.   Is the virtual world a place where we can no longer think critically?

This week on Skeptical Sunday, the origins of a long-running Microsoft hoax… and Seth takes to the street with his homemade “aura meter.”   Will your personal energy budge its needles?

Guests: Jonathon Keats, artist and writer, whose article on the Microsoft hoax appeared in the July issue of Wired magazine.  Robert Todd Carroll is the Chairman of the Philosophy Department at Sacramento City College and the author of The Skeptic's Dictionary.

See Molly and Seth with the "aura meter".

Sep 12, 2004

The Ultimate Genetic Code Book

Life's Blueprint

Join us as we follow the journey of Craig Venter - a man who always feels a code coming on - in his pursuit to collect the DNA of everything on the planet.

Guests: Craig Venter, President of the Center for the Advancement of Genomics.  Dr. Venter played a leading role in sequencing and analyzing the human genome.  Also, James Shreeve, author of The Genome War, who recently joined Venter on a sailing trip around the world.  His article about this trip appears in the August issue of Wired magazine.

Aug 29, 2004

Aliens under Glass: New Sci-Fi Museum in Seattle

Seattle's Sci-Fi Museum
Sci-Fi Museum

You've seen them on the screen -- now see them up-close, behind plexiglass. They're all your favorite aliens -- Robbie the Robot, R2D2, and even the socially awkward Alien Queen -- stacked up and labeled for your viewing pleasure.   Join Seth and Molly as we tour Seattle's new Sci-Fi Museum, discuss the science of sci-fi aliens, and bump into Lawrence Krauss, Case Western Reserve physicist, along the way.  

Guest: Donna Shirley, Director of the Science Fiction Museum, and Lawrence Krauss, who is the author of The Physics of Star Trek.

Aug 22, 2004

Black Holes and Other Weeeirrd Physics

Leonardo DaVinci
Stellar Black Hole

World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking once said that black holes destroy everything that falls inside them.   Now he's backtracked a bit, and says that some things may escape a black hole after all.  So what's the real story on these mysterious collapsed objects?  Also, other exotic physics, from super strings to worm holes; an interview with Brian Greene, author of The Fabric of the Cosmos.  Our in-studio guest will be Alex Filippenko, astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley.


Aug 15, 2004

Will the Aliens Speak Math?

Leonardo DaVinci
Leonardo DaVinci
Credit:Bill Grover

How's your math? Well, you may want to brush up on it -- that is, if you hope to be conversant with ET.  Scientists say that any signal we receive from intelligent life is rather unlikely to be in English, but in the language of math.  Find out why algebra truly may be an alien concept -- just as you suspected in high school --  and what a message from another planet might be.  Also, how the language of math -- including Leonardo da Vinci's love of numbers -- has influenced great works of art.

Guests: Doug Vakoch, Director Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute.
Bulent Atalay, physicist-artist, and author of Math and the Mona Lisa

Aug 8, 2004

Little Orphan Earth? The Search for Terrestrial Planets

Someone else's Earth-like planet

In the last decade, astronomers have found more than 100 planets quietly orbiting other stars.   That's the good news.   The less-attractive news is that all of these planets are king-sized -- the mass of Saturn or more -- and are not the kind of planets that we believe could host life.   However, new experiments will soon be looking for terrestrial-size worlds.  Join us as we peer into nearby galactic neighborhoods in search of Earth's cousins.

Guests: Alan Penny, of the SETI Institute, and Dave Koch, NASA Ames Research Center.

Aug 1 , 2004

Skeptical Sunday.  Bigfoot: Big Hoax?

Podiatrist's nightmare


Roger Patterson

In 1967, a photographer snapped a picture of a human-ape creature walking through the woods just as it turned to the camera. The photo is not entirely flattering - and it's somewhat out of focus - but it launched a thousand Bigfoot hypotheses. Since then there have been numerous sightings of the hairy creature, as well as the display of the occasional Plaster of Paris footprint.    Now an investigative reporter says it's all a hoax - and he's uncovered the man who wore a homemade primate suit for the shot.   Join us as we discuss how tales of strange creatures gain credibility with the public. Bigfoot, Big Hoax, or This Suit Goes Too Fur.

Guest: Greg Long, the author of The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story.  A review of the book can be found in the July/August 2004 issue of Skeptical Inquirer.  Also, the Guy in the Suit.

July 25, 2004
I, Robot

Sonny and Will Smith

photo: Fox

During its first weekend in the theaters, millions of film fans spent two hours in the dark watching I, Robot, a movie set two dozen years in the future when androids are as common as phone poles.  Inspired by the stories of Isaac Asimov,         I, Robot is a peek at a future that, in reality, might not be very far away.  Join us as we talk to a robotic expert to find out when you can expect to have some mechanical help with household chores, and with Robyn Asimov about the nature of her Father's view of the future.  In addition, we'll be talking with artificial intelligence and nanotechnology expert, Ray Kurzweil, and award-winning science fiction writer, Robert J. Sawyer.

Read Seth's movie review


July 18, 2004
Star Trek Science

Saturn and rings

Spock and Kirk

photo: Paramount

Millions of fans have been tuning in Star Trek since Captain Kirk first ordered Scotty to beam him up in the mid-1960s.   The show has kindled excitement about space exploration, but it has also inspired interest in real science.   We'll find out how two enterprising teachers have turned an ordinary classroom into a Star Trek adventure that has kids moving at warp speed to get to their desks.   Also, we'll be talking to Andre Bormanis, the man who keeps the science in Star Trek on track.


July 11, 2004
The Lure of the Rings

Saturn and rings

Rings around a giant world.

photo: NASA

After a journey of seven years, the Cassini spacecraft is navigating its way around Saturn's neighborhood.  It's beaming back detailed photos ofRingie dingies this giant world's icy halo.  Find out why the rings could be the Rosetta Stone for understanding how our solar system was born.

Guests: Jeff Cuzzi, Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, and Josh Colwell of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado.  Both are members of the Cassini research team.


June 27, 2004
Skeptical Sunday: Lost in the Lost City of Atlantis

Location of Atlantis?

Is Atlantis hiding here?

This summer a team of archaeologists will launch a new hunt for the lost world of Atlantis.  Using a hi-tech submersible, they'll investigate an underwater island near the Strait of Gibraltar whose features resemble the description given by Plato of the legendary metropolis.  Is there any truth to the legend of Atlantis, or is this just a waterlogged fairy tale?  Join us on Skeptical Sunday as we dive into the latest ideas concerning the most famous vanished city of antiquity. Kevin Christopher

Guest: Kevin Christopher, CSICOP investigator.


June 20 , 2004

The Launch of SpaceShipOne

photo: Scaled Composites

Join us as we cover the launch preparations for the first privately funded rocket into space. Could this open up the final frontier to everyone? Molly Bentley reports live from the Mojave desert.

Guest: Jack Hagerty, mechanical engineer, aerospace expert, and author of The Spaceship Handbook.

Read Seth's essay

June 13 , 2004
The Universe Below
The vast majority of Earth's oceans remain unexplored -- in fact, we have better maps of Mars than we do of our own sea bed.  But that may soon change.  With the launch of new deep-diving vessels, and blueprints for building a vast network of permanent ocean bottom observatories, scientists will venture into the darkest pockets of our planet for the first time.  Find out what lies in wait for us beneath the sea -- including the life forms that could direct our search for life on oceans beyond Earth.

Deborah Kelley
, University of Washington, Seattle who just returned from a 17-day expedition to the hydrothermal vents at the Juan de Fuca Ridge.
Peter Girguis Associate Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

June 6 , 2004
Extraterrestrial History
Long before modern SETI experiments -- and even before the invention of the telescope -- people looked into the sky and reasoned that there must be life on planetary bodies beyond Earth.  In fact, ideas about extraterrestrial life go back at least as far as the ancient Greeks -- more than 2000 years ago.  Hear how our thinking about ET has evolved since antiquity, from the ideas about life on the moon, Mars and worlds beyond - to one theory about life on the Sun!

Guest: Peter Sobol, Science Historian

May 30, 2004
The Day After Tomorrow: Wrong Planet

Statue of Liberty gets a bath

Statue of Liberty

As the heavy-duty new Hollywood film, The Day After Tomorrow washes over Manhattan, not to mention theaters across the country, folks are lining up like bar magnets to see the first major disaster film based on runaway climate change.   But as any astronomer can tell you, if you want to foresee what global warming can really do, just check out our sister world, Venus. 

Also: sci-fi films will give you a few hours of popcorn-munching entertainment, but are they anything more than that?  Discover the philosophical wisdom of your favorite flicks - from Star Trek to the Matrix - from our guest, Mark Rowlands, the author of the Philosopher at the End of the Universe.

Read Seth's movie review

May 23, 2004

Skeptical Sunday:  The Shroud of Turin: Holy Relic or Wholly Hoax?

Shroud of Turin
The Shroud

Is it the authentic burial cloth of Jesus, or merely a carefully crafted hoax used to scam medieval pilgrims?  The Shroud of Turin has been the subject of speculation and considerable scientific inquiry, including carbon dating and DNA analysis.  But is there a shroud of doubt?  Join us as we talk with the experts about this controversial, tattered tunic.

Guests: Joe Nickell, CSICOP investigator and author of Inquest on the Shroud of Turin, and Steven Schafersman, science writer, consultant, and teacher.

Read the program essay

May 16, 2004

Why Sedna? The Celestial Name Game

Zeus on a good day

Astronomers have recently discovered a small world far beyond Pluto's distant orbit. In naming the planet Sedna, they've broken with the Roman pantheon: Jupiter, Saturn and similar denizens of the mythological skies. Not everyone is happy with this seemingly politically-correct nomenclature.

How Sedna got her moniker - and other contentious issues in the astronomy name game, including whether you can really name a star after your mother-in-law!

Guests: Charlotte Allen co-edits the InkWell blog for the Independent Women's Forum.  A recent essay of hers is entitled PC Planet.  Brian Marsden, Harvard-Smithsonian astronomer and solar system specialist, and Phil Plait, author

Read the program essay


May 9, 2004

Testing Einstein: Will the Theory of Relativity Pass?

Bill Grover

Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts strange things, including the dragging of space and time by a rotating planet like the Earth.  But do these predictions hold up?  Hard to tell, to verify some of Einstein's predictions has required measurements far too delicate for the lab.  But now a satellite just launched into Earth orbit -- Gravity Probe B -- will put Einstein's most subtle ideas to the test.  Will Al pass?  Or could he finally be proven ever-so-slightly wrong?

Guests: Michael Salamon, Gravity Probe B Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Barry Parker, science-writer and author of Einstein's Dream: The Search for a Unified Theory of the Universe, and the forthcoming, Einstein's Vision.

April 25, 2004
Skeptical Sunday: When You Wish Upon a Star... Nothing Happens!  The Truth About Astrology

LibraNearly everyone has read a horoscope to get insight into their personal lives, and many have consulted astrologers for readings.  But is there any reason to think that the positions of the stars and planets have any influence whatsoever on our fates?  Listen in as Seth has his personal star chart read by a professional astrologer.  It's Skeptical Sunday... but don't take our word for it.  Tune in!

Guest: Shawn Carlson, founder and Executive Director of the Society for Amateur Scientists, and author of a definitive study of astrology, and Peter Sobol, science historian.


April 18, 2004
The End of the Universe
Stellar black holeWhat is our long-term future?  Some say the universe will expand forever, slowly turning cold and lifeless as the stars and galaxies die.  Others say that dark energy will rip all existence apart in only a few tens of billions of years.  Join us as we peer deep into science's crystal ball to consider the ultimate fate of stars, planets, and life, and ask what it all means to humankind.

Guests: Robert Caldwell, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College, and Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College.  Author of The Prophet and the Astronomer: Apocalyptic Science and the End of the World.

April 11, 2004

Dark Energy and Superman: The Latest from the AAAS
supermanFrom dark energy to the exploration of oceans elsewhere in our solar system, join us as we report from the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Seattle, including how Superman's super powers can be a tool for teaching physics.  [Encore broadcast of February 15 show]

Guests: Christopher Stubbs, professor of physics and astronomy at Harvard University, on the weirdness of dark energy; Debbie Kelley, professor of oceanography and astrobiology at the University of Washington on undersea chimneys; Ralph Lorenz, of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory on the mission to Saturn's moon, Titan; and James Kakalios, professor of physics at the University of Minnesota talking about what comic book superheroes can tell us about alien construction. Also, Seth goes looking for dark energy at the local hydroponics shop.

April 4, 2004
Saving Hubble.
hubble space telescopeNASA's decision to stop servicing the world's most famous space-based telescope has ignited widespread protest. What began as a lonely plea from astronomers has now become a broad-based call to action. Is this famous eye in the sky going to be shut? We talk about what it would take to keep Hubble out of trouble.

Guests: Mario Livio, Senior Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, and John Grunsfeld, astronaut and Chief Scientist, NASA.

Mar 28, 2004
Dino Demise: What Really Did Them In?
The Dino's buy itScientists are pointing to new evidence that the rock that slammed into the Yucatan 65 million years ago didn't, as widely assumed, wipe out the world's supply of overly large lizards.  But their claim is controversial.  We talk with experts to hear the latest theories on dinosaur extinction.

Guests:  Don Lessem, dinosaur expert and author; also known as Dino Don, and Lowell Dingus, geological paleontologist.

David Morrison

Also, NASA's David Morrison (right) will describe what it would have been like to be in the Yucatan on that fateful day.

Mar 21, 2004
man with waves coming from headSkeptical Sunday: When Seeing is Disbelieving
Those who claim to have "remote viewing" capabilities say they can tune into distant events.  These gifted folk can see a man crossing the street in Botswana while sipping a latte in a Berkeley café.  If this is true, why bother with cable?  Find out why remote viewing is a long shot.  But don't take our word for it

Guests: James Underdown, Center for Inquiry  - West, and Ray Hyman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Oregon.  Both are members of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, CSICOP.

Mar 14, 2004

Hollywood Aliens: What's Right and What's Wrong

Jo Alien[UKNSC]

Hollywood loves movies about extraterrestrials, but most silver screen aliens -  from E.T. to Star Wars - are remarkably anthropomorphic. 

Scientists say the real aliens may be far stranger than we think.  Find out why intelligent life elsewhere in the universe won't resemble Tinseltown's take.

Phil PlaitGuest: Phil Plait, an astronomer and author of Bad Astronomy.  He also maintains a Web site of the same name,

Mar 7, 2004
Mars Pics: Curious Mix! Deciphering the rover photos


Is it a rock, or might it be a fossil? An expert weighs in on what pictures from the twin rovers tell us about the Red Planet. Also, why London bookies stopped taking bets on Martian life, and the man-on-the-street Rorschach test - what do you see in the photo?

David Grinspoon David Grinspoon

Guests: From Mars to Venus...astronomer and author of Venus Revealed, David Grinspoon, talks

on the theme of his lastest book, Lonely Planets: A Natural Philosophy of Alien Life. And John Grotzinger, a professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT and a member of NASA's science team for the Mars robotic investigations.

Feb 29, 2004
Live from Arecibo: Talk from the telescope
areciboJoin in the excitement of the search for extraterrestrial signals as SETI Astronomer Seth Shostak reports live from the world's largest radio telescope in Puerto Rico.  You'll be in direct touch with Project Phoenix, the most sensitive hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence ever undertaken.  Call in with your questions for Seth, and watch the experiment live on the SETI Institute's SETIcam.

Feb 22, 2004
Skeptical Sunday: The Darwin Conspiracy

Neanderthal skull (photo: BBC) (photo:BBC)

Imagine a group of evolutionists, sitting in a darkened room, busily plotting how to forge fossils and skew facts so that textbooks tilt in favor of Darwinian evolution. 

This conspiratorial scenario might sound far-fetched, but some anti-evolutionists are convinced it's real.  Join us with guest Eugenie Scott, a physical anthropologist, CSICOP Fellow, and Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, and find out the top myths that creationists use to confuse.  It's Skeptical Sunday, but don't take our word for it... tune in.

Feb 15, 2004
Live from the AAAS: The Latest Discoveries

AAAS logo From dark energy to the exploration of oceans elsewhere in our solar system, join us as we report live from the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Seattle.

Guests: Christopher Stubbs, professor of physics and astronomy at Harvard University, on the weirdness of dark energy; Debbie Kelley, professor of oceanography and astrobiology at the University of Washington on undersea chimneys; Ralph Lorenz, of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory on the mission to Saturn's moon, Titan; and James Kakalios, professor of physics at the University of Minnesota talking about what comic book superheroes can tell us about alien construction.  Also, Seth goes looking for dark energy at the local hydroponics shop.


Feb 8, 2004
Going to Extremes: Biology in Unlikely Places
Looking for microbes in Mutnovsky volcano, Kamchatka [photo: Susanne Trent]You think your life is tough?  Well, meet creatures that live in some of the worst neighborhoods on Earth extremophiles.   Whether it's in a churning deep sea vent, or at the bottom of an Antarctic lake, these creatures thrive where others wouldn't survive.   It's biology in extreme environments, and it could be a clue to the kind of life we might find on other worlds.

Jonathan TrentGuests:

Jonathan Trent, microbiologist and nanotechnologist, NASA Ames Research Center.

Photo above: Searching for microbes in the Mutnovsky volcano, Kamchatka (Siberia).  Photo: Susanne Trent.

Feb 1, 2004
New Views on Ooze: How Life Began

cellsLife has carpeted our planet for more than 3 billion years.  Some researchers think that the first biology was cooked up in the hot waters at the bottom of the ocean, but can we be sure?  And how did it happen?  Understanding how life got started on Earth is more than just a home-grown story. It could be an important indicator of the prevalence of life elsewhere in the universe.  Are We Alone? talks to experts who track down the first glimmerings of terrestrial biology.


Alonso Ricardo, graduate student at the University of Florida, Michael Yarus, Professor Molecular Biology, University of Colorado, Art Weber, SETI Institute.

Jan 25, 2004
It's the Red Rover All Over Again. Touchdown: Opportunity

Spirit and OpportunityWe go to Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the second Mars robot  bounces onto the Red Planet. Can the successful landing of Spirit be duplicated? Find out from Molly Bentley as she reports live from NASA's Mission Control at JPL during the exciting hours after touchdown. After all, Opportunity only comes to Mars once in a lifetime...

Also: Update on the Spirit rover.

Peter Theisinger (NASA)Guests:  Peter Theisinger, Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager, Wayne Lee, Chief Engineer for Entry, Descent and Landing, and Dave Brody, of

(Peter Theisinger

Photo: NASA)

Jan 18, 2004
President Bush: Fly Us to the Moon... and Mars
Our favorite satelliteThe President has given NASA new marching... er, blasting orders: return to the Moon, establish a permanent base, and then move on to the Red Planet.  Is this new roadmap for the space agency realistic, and what will be the scientific and societal benefits?  It's not the first time that a major new quest has been questioned.  In the 18th century, Captain Cook's exploration of the South Pacific was considered "crazy," says author Tony Horwitz. "Yet it changed our understanding of the world." 

Are We Alone? investigates the case for the new space initiative, and what the voyages of Captain Cook can tell us about the nature, and unexpected outcomes, of human exploration.

Guests:  Tony Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New Yorker and author of Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before.

Phil Christensen, Planetary Geologist, Arizona State University.


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