Last update: 2014-08-14

Episode 0.9: The Arts and Sciences

2014-08-14 Length: 43s

I’m always kvetching about what to talk about in my opening monologue. Today is no different. I have no illusions about whether or not I think my blog posts and monologues are any good. Yes, it’s hard to get going on it, but once the ball gets rolling it is remarkably rewarding.

The two most difficult hurdles are choosing a worthy topic about which to talk and allotting the time necessary to flesh it out.

The way I find my topics are to surf the internet. Mindless web-surfing. That’s where it’s at. I generally gravitate toward science blogs anyway, but my surfing can take me all over the place. I surf for an hour or two and then something catches my attention...or two or three somethings catch my eye. I read them and mull them over, mining them for ideas and inspiration.

And it occurred to me that there is science to this art, and art to science. I know. It sounds poetic and cute even, but there really is something to it.

There is a natural tendency today to separate arts and sciences into two discrete fields. This is probably a modern construct because I think the Greeks, the Romans and those artists and scientists of the Renaissance were more comfortable with the gray area.

In the late 90’s I made the jump from academic science to enology, the science of winemaking. Yes, that’s a real thing. A wine microbiologist as well. After all what is wine if not microbiology in bottle.

A good winemaker needs to understand the sciences of chemistry and microbiology as much as the stem cell researcher needs to draw on creativity and inspiration. The modern idea that writers, musicians, and artists are born with creativity and just do it makes as much sense as the idea that scientists don’t require creativity and moments of inspiration to achieve their goals.

They do.

It seems that education is too focused on doing something or making something, and there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But there used to be a thing called the Liberal Arts education and Liberal Arts Colleges. Yes, some are still out there, but they seem to be a dying institution.

A liberal arts education created citizens who were well versed in arts, sciences, and critical thinking...scholars. Even many high schools have gotten away from educating scholars and instead opt for specialty education in one area or high schools, arts high schools.

But that seems not to be education. It’s more like training. The arts and the sciences need not be separated because in essence they are not separate, but overlap greatly.

What was Leonardo da Vinci? An artist? A technician? A scientist? He was all of those and one of history’s most celebrated scholars.

We need more Leonardos and one way to accomplish that is to fold the arts and sciences back together, certainly through high school but also to elevate the Liberal Arts Colleges and Liberal Arts Degrees to the level of prestige they once had.

And after that you can go to law school, med school, or some other grad school. But until then become a critical thinker, embrace a broad scope of education, and of course the arts and sciences.

Let me finish with a quote by Richard Feynman, the great American theoretical physicist who gave us quantum of the great minds and great personalities of the 20th century. This came from an interview in 1981.

“I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty.

First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes.

The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color.

It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower.

It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.” 

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MUSIC BREAK - Struttin' My Stuff by Elvin Bishop

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Featured Creature: Steller's Sea Cow

Asshole of the Week: Richard Wiles

Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley.

Check it out at

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.8: The Blogginator

2014-07-25 Length: 47s

Since the classic science fiction film Metropolis, by Fritz Lang, was released in 1927 humankind has been bracing for its own obsolescence. It seems that in only a year or two the robots are going to take over, and so it has remained...always just a few years away.

Take a trip to almost any industrial plant (there’s a vacation for ya) and you’ll find robots doing anything from welding, and heavy lifting, to handling hazardous materials while human workers must remain safe in their hermetically sealed OSHA cocoons.

Will a robot one day do the Blue Streak Science Podcast? Perhaps one is doing it right now! Hmmm.

Maybe one day I’ll bark a voice command and the Blogginator and its companion bot the Podotron 1000 will instantly create incisive and witty blog posts and record wonderfully entertaining podcasts of sheer brilliance. However, there remains the possibility that once the Blogginator finds its journalist voice it won’t even need me to give it commands, or even friendly advice.

The Associated Press is planning to create thousands of automated business articles per year using robots. And the AP isn’t  even the first.  Forbes uses algorithms to research and generate short stories about companies whose stocks are riding high, and the Los Angeles Times currently uses robots to publish instant reports about local homicides and earthquakes.

Perhaps it won’t be long before Wordpress developers install the Blogginator as one of its core apps, giving us podcasters and bloggers the time and freedom to think of funny anecdotes and snarky remarks to insert into the text…if only the Blogginator will let me.

But until that day comes it’s all me, ladies and gentlemen.

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Featured Creature

Asshole of the Week Rupert Murdoch, Australian American media magnatePodsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley.

Check it out at

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.7: What Has Science Done for Us?

2014-07-13 Length: 44s

Modern science, brought to you by logic and reason, was born some time in the 16th or 17th centuries somewhere in Europe.

It’s been four or five-hundred years. So what has this science stuff done for us?

Oh, you say science has given us electricity, automobiles and refrigeration? Okay, science gave us that. That’s true.

Besides that what has science given us?

Antibiotics and vaccinations? Right, so we’ve nearly eliminated polio and have eliminated smallpox. We have decreased mortality rates from everything from an infected scratch on the finger to an appendecitis.

All right, I'll grant you that the vaccinations and antibiotics are two things that science has done for us. Oh, and electricity, railroads, automobiles and refrigeration.

Five things...what? Yes, six things science has done.

But apart from…

Anaesthesia? True enough, before anaesthesia we had to bite on a leather belt when going under the surgeon's knife. Of course, if you were getting a tooth pulled you couldn’t bite on a leather belt. You just had to think about the suffering of the martyrs.

Okay, besides...what? Yes, okay, cell phones, and airplanes.

What’s that? Quantum Theory. Obviously Quantum Theory. Quantum Theory goes without saying.

Clean water and sanitation? Yes, yes, yes, of course. Computers, the internet, and automobile air bags.

Got it. I’m writing these down.

Okay, aside from...

What? Religion and superstition? Okay, you bastard, you can get the hell out of here! Who’s in charge of the door? Who let a priest in here?

Where were we? Right. Apart from electricity, railroads, automobiles, refrigeration, antibiotics, vaccinations, anaesthesia, cell phones, airplanes, Quantum Theory, clean water, sanitation, computers, the internet, and automobile air bags, what has science ever done for us?

Brought peace?

Oh Peace. Shut up!

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Asshole of the Week

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Check it out at

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.6: The Cosmic Speed Limit

2014-07-04 Length: 45s

Slow down a minute there, speedy! The cosmic speed limit is in question again? What?

Remember when the world of physics was rocked by neutrinos clocked at faster than the speed of light...and then, oops….sorry, we goofed. Nevermind.

I’m here to deliver more shocking news. Light ain’t so fast after all...or so says astrophysicist James Franson

Can it possibly be? Einstein’s cosmic speed limit is more akin to an old lady in Miami Beach driving a Buick than any Italian guy driving a Lamborghini?

Say it ain’t so!

Think of all the thousands of calculations and equations based on 300,000 km/second. The pillars of science are crumbling right before our eyes.

Okay, okay, this is only one astrophysicist re-visiting some observations of photons and neutrinos that occurred nearly 30 years ago.

With a new lower speed did the universe just become much smaller? How about the acceleration of the expansion of the universe? What about dark matter? Think about the dark matter!

Every goddamn thing we know… what does it all mean now?

Is this the end of science? The end of the world?

Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!

The dead rising from the grave!

Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

Evil textbook publishers rejoicing...revving up the presses.

Breathe. Deep breaths.

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Asshole of the Week

Robert E. Murray, CEO of Murray Energy CorporationPodsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.5: War and Peace

2014-06-21 Length: 43s

Headless bodies dumped on the streets in Mexico; suicide bombers in Syria; a school shooting every week. These are just a few of the headlines in a world seemingly gone crazy with violence.

Wasn’t there a time in our distant past when we were not at war with one another? After all, aren’t wars really all about resources?

Imagine the world of the ancient past with just a few hundred thousand people spread across the continents. Plenty of water, land to till, and wild game and fish for the taking. No reason to fight. This must have been how it was, right?

Or were we just as brutal to one another in the early days of humankind? In the 17th century Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan that humans of the past, in a pure state of nature lived a life that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. The archeological evidence supports this assertion.

A survey of 350 early Neolithic skulls from Britain show that the likelihood of dying a violent death at the hands of a fellow human being was much higher then than it is today. Fully 4 to 5 per cent of the studied skulls show healed over depressed skull fractures, and unhealed skull fractures in about 2 per cent. Unhealed fractures. You know what that means. Homicide.

Today we have the 24 hour news cycle. It reports violence. That’s what they do. “If it bleeds, it leads”. However, it is important to keep things in perspective. The popular media largely ignore the fact that the world has become a much safer and more peaceful place in the last several decades. The best part; peace is trending upward.

I’m not going to minimize the horrors of attacks on civilians, or the violence of the recent wars in which our country has engaged. Those are all too real. But that does not change the measurable fact that worldwide the violence between nations and within nations has decreased steadily in the last few generations.

As wars between nations have declined, and proxy wars between superpowers virtually eliminated, the majority of  political violence today is limited to insurgencies by ethnic groups within nations; old scores being settled as the weight of despotism is lifted, and old colonial borders being redrawn to reflect the cultural and political realities on the ground.

Within the United States overall crime has been declining steadily for the past 30 years. From 1992 until 2010 the homicide rate has dropped by more than half. The rates of violent crimes in all categories have generally been going down from the highs in the 1970’s and 80’s.

So with wars and violent crime rates decreasing what are we all worried about? Perhaps it’s because what was once local violence is now national violence broadcast on cable and the internet. We just see more of it because everyone has a camera and it gets reported instantly to the world. It could also be that when we compare ourselves to other industrialized nations of the West the United States still is easily the most violent and dangerous place to be because of the virtually unregulated availability of firearms.

There’s also the tendency to inflate the smaller problems of today into larger ones as the truly gigantic problems of yesterday fade away. Many of us grew up worrying about nuclear war. As that threat diminished in the 1990’s we found new worries...everything from immigration to the dalliances of politicians.

We all want violence in the world to decrease, for crime to decrease. We should do everything we can to continue this downward trend. However, we mustn’t forget that we are now living in a time of unprecedented peace in the history of the world.

So go outside, and take a deep breath. Look at the blue sky and think of how fortunate that most of us are to be living in this truly rare slice of human history.

Then think about our fellow human beings for whom this good fortune is not a reality, and what we can do to change that.

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Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.4: Vaccines and Pseudoscience

2014-06-07 Length: 49s

Edward Jenner’s discovery in 1796 that cowpox immunity provided protection from smallpox would change the course of humanity. The vaccination, a triumph of the scientific method finally gave us a targeted weapon against a disease that had laid waste to countless millions over the centuries.

It would be nearly ninety years before the next vaccine was developed with Louis Pasteur’s rabies vaccine. The pace of discovery quickened and we began to win more battles against many of the diseases that had plagued humanity throughout history.

Vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, cholera, plague, typhoid, polio, hepatitis and many more were developed through 20th century. Vaccines are not magic, but they are science. As such they won’t provide 100 percent immunity to a disease, but most vaccines that we give to children are 90 to 99 percent effective, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This has stopped some diseases in their tracks, but will do so only as long as enough people in a population receive the immunization.

You see, there are people in our neighborhoods, in our towns and in our cities who cannot receive a vaccine. The very old, those undergoing chemotherapy, or newborn babies too young to receive a vaccine are counting on you to make sure that you and your family are immunized. This is herd immunity.

Depending on the disease herd immunity can require that from 75 to 95% of a population be immunized to protect our friends and neighbors who are vulnerable. Many parents today are choosing to opt out of this obligation by not immunizing their children. What’s worse is that they doing this for reasons that have been scientifically demonstrated to be false.

The key is to be a well-educated consumer of science; to understand the difference between independently peer-reviewed scientific research and articles that sound scientific, but don’t have the science behind them. Knowing the facts and understanding the science can greatly help with making the right decision to immunize your children.

Highly preventable diseases like measles, mumps and polio that were nearly eradicated just a few years ago are making a resurgence. They can lead to permanent disability or death, and certainly unnecessary suffering. Immunizations are a proven way to fight these awful diseases. And reactions to vaccines are uncommon and are very rarely serious.

What about the link between autism and the MMR vaccine? I’m glad you asked.

Because the MMR vaccine is first given at age 12 to 15 months, and the first signs of autism often appear between 15 to 18 months, concerns were raised about a possible connection between the vaccine and the development of autism. Studies conducted in the US and Europe have found no association between the MMR vaccine and autism.  None. Zero.

This whole mess got started in 1998 when Andrew Wakefield, a British former surgeon and medical researcher, published a paper in The Lancet about twelve autistic children. The authors claimed to have identified a new syndrome which they called autistic enterocolitis. The paper raised the possibility of a connection between a form of bowel disease, autism, and the MMR vaccine. Since the study was published, 10 of the 13 authors have retracted the findings. In 2010, The Lancet fully retracted the study from the journal, noting that parts of the manuscript had been falsified. Wakefield was barred from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom.

That is what the entirety of the MMR/autism connection was based on.

Epic fail.

Vaccinations have been a critically important factor in the development of the modern world. We enjoy longer and more productive lives today due in no small part to the role played by vaccines. Without vaccines we could still be vulnerable to pandemics of smallpox, whooping cough and polio.

Think about that for a moment. How many mothers throughout history had to watch their children suffer terribly and die right before their eyes, completely helpless to prevent it.

You and I live during a tiny fraction of human history when we readily have the tools and choices that mother never had. Do we have the knowledge and good sense to use them?

Let me know what you think. Do you agree with me? Or do you think I'm naive and just acting as a shill for pharmaceutical corporations? I want to know what you think.

Come to and comment on the show notes or leave a voice message on the SpeakPipe widget. Email me at, or phone me 415-857-1451.

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Shout Out

Lucifer's Young Ladies

Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at 

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.3: The Wrongness of Science

2014-05-23 Length: 41s

I am wrong. I made a mistake.

If you cannot say those short sentences, and say them comfortably and without reservation then science may not be for you.

Science is all about being comfortable with being wrong, about making mistakes and feeling pretty damn stupid about some of them. When you work on the frontier between knowledge and ignorance it is knowledge that will remain slippery and elusive.

By “making mistakes,” I’m specifically referring to ideas that go in unanticipated directions, or just fall flat. But these ideas come out of genuine attempts at trying something new, something inspired, as a way to improve our understanding about a particular avenue of research.

What does it take to be comfortable with being wrong...with being shown by someone else that your assumptions are wrong? That all your hard work was predicated on incorrect data? It takes self-confidence—feeling comfortable and secure about one’s current state of knowledge or one’s openness to new knowledge.

A research scientist, or at least a good one, must be confident enough to take risks. After all, it’s research...exploring the unknown.

Sure, scientists make predictions...and sometimes a lot hangs on whether or not their predictions pan out. But one should be passionate about the science, but dispassionate about the data.

Understand the difference?

The data will lead wherever the data take you, and if that proves your hypothesis wrong then that is valuable data itself.

The wrong answers will guide you toward the right ones.

Science is a truly beautiful thing. It is forever evolving toward a better approximation of reality, of truth, toward a deeper understanding of life and the universe.

Am I wrong? You tell me.

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Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

So long, until next time!

Episode 0.2: Evolution Noir

2014-05-16 Length: 46s

It’s a hot night in the high desert; the kind of heat that plays tricks with your mind. You’ve been on the road for hours. A distant glow of neon appears in the night. A lonely roadside hotel comes into view. The crunch of gravel and a cloud of dust announce your arrival.

You walk into the lobby and there it is. A body. The poor sap is lying in a pool of blood in front of the counter. You rush to his side and check his pulse. It's too late. Blood is splattered on the dusty walls. A stuffed jackalope on a shelf stares blankly down at the grisly scene. Bloody footprints lead away from the lobby.

You formulate a hypothesis that a murder has been committed here. But exactly how did the murder occur? Unless you’re a gumshoe detective, a private dick, this is the kind of scene that would be a complete mystery.

But you are a detective, and a damn good one. You pull out your .38 and check the lobby, behind the counter, in the office. The coast is clear. You call the county sheriff.

Now, let’s imagine for a moment that this death occurred in a country and a time where the state religion has declared that murder is impossible. It says so in its holy book.

While waiting for the sheriff to arrive you secure the crime scene and begin some investigating. After all, that’s what you do. You’re a private eye, and damn good one. Did I already say that?

From the freshness of the blood and the warmth of his skin you estimate that death occurred about half an hour ago, at about midnight. The wounds indicate that a knife was the weapon and there was a struggle. Defensive wounds on the victims hands attest to that. You write down your findings in your lab notebook, I mean, on a notepad.

Your hypotheses are coming together to form a cohesive theory. No, not the common use of the word theory; the one that means mere conjecture. You’ve formulated a Theory with a capital “T”, the scientific kind, the kind that means “a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena”.

A siren and screeching tires precede the arrival of the sheriff. He lumbers in, a mountain of a man in black slacks and a slept-in white shirt. Sweat beads from his forehead and upper lip. A stub of a cigar hangs from the corner of his mouth. “I’m Sheriff Creationist” he booms, “You must be Mike Scientist, the private detective”. I nod in the affirmative and hand him my notepad.

Sheriff Creationist looks over my notes, then the body and says, “Hmmm...knife wounds. Ah, but you haven’t explained why his shirt wasn’t tucked in”.

Before I could get a word out Creationist continues, “Since your so-called scientific theory is unable to explain all of the evidence, a murder did not occur here”.

This is exactly what scientists face when confronted with religious apologists. The Creationist pounces upon every gap in the fossil record, until that gap is filled, and then claims there are now two gaps, one on either side of the one that was filled! From chemistry to geology to biology, all have provided different and independent lines of evidence that point to evolution.

Back to Sheriff Creationist. He reports that he is unable to explain every tiny detail of the scene. There is also the fact that one of the victim’s shoes was untied. Since you cannot explain that Sheriff Creationist declares that he’s not buying into your murder theory.

Firstly, his operating manual, his holy book, states that murder is impossible. Even if the victim’s shoe was tied, and his shirt tucked in he’d find some tiny detail, some tiny gap in knowledge he could not explain, and thus, no murder occurred. The scene must conform to the dictates of the book. Even worse, if everything points to murder, and not a hair is out of place Inspector Creationist will fabricate “evidence” to fit in with what his manual states.

“What wounds? There is no evidence the victim was wounded.” They repeat that to themselves over and over. Soon enough it becomes their truth.

Inspector Creationist clears his throat and says, “I’m reporting this death as due to natural causes”.

"It's God’s will".

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Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

So long, until next time!


Episode 0.1: We’ve Come a Long Way?

2014-05-08 Length: 43s

In Today's Podcast...

We come into the world helpless and screaming, completely dependent on our parents for everything to sustain our frail bodies. There’s almost nothing we can do for ourselves except crap, cry, sleep and latch on to mom’s breast.

But soon enough we are able to lift our heads and take a look around. Our world expanded from what’s about 30 centimeters in front of our face to whatever is in the room and beyond.

Language and mobility come to us. We have questions as children, and sometimes we get answers. Sometimes we don’t. There are parents and communities who encourage our curious nature, while others suppress it.

Then we learn to run, and do we ever run! However, that’s about as fast as humans traveled for most of our history; as fast as our feet would take us.

Those big curious brains of ours surely asked this question thousands of years ago, "What if we could catch a horse or a camel?" Hunger was probably the motivator at first, but someone likely had the brilliant idea of riding one of these animals. It was undoubtedly a painful idea at first, but soon enough we had fast transportation.

That was good enough for 6,000 years or so.

In the last 120 years we have leapt forward. Think about it; automobiles, airplanes, space flight, transatlantic cables, electrification, satellites, computers and the internet.

We have looked deep into the cosmos back to within the tiniest fraction of a second after the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago. We have peeled back layer after layer to discover the secrets of the quantum world.

We’ve come a long way. We’ve grown up. No we haven’t!

We are still that little baby, but now our vision is getting clearer and our curiosity is just beginning to develop. There are just so many questions in the universe we don't even know yet how to ask.

Let us be the ones who encourage questions and to be satisfied with nothing short of answers based on science and reason.

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Robert Sungenis: producer of the documentary The Principle

Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

So long, until next time!


Blue Streak Science: Episode 20


In Today's Podcast...

Weekly Prattle

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team.  Creative Commons.

On Tuesday night I was surfing the NASA website and came across the picture of the eXtreme Deep Field taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. This image was released in 2012 and is comprised of 10 years worth of previous images and peers back 13.2 billion years ago. It is the deepest optical view into space.

That image of one tiny speck of the night sky shows more than 5,000 galaxies. The Milky Way is a pretty large galaxy with over 300 billion stars. So, let’s assume the average galaxy in the picture is about a fifth as large as our galaxy, giving each galaxy in the pic 60 billion stars. This is an exercise for the imagination so these approximations are good enough.

Let’s see, 5000 galaxies times 60 billion is well, were looking about about 300 trillion stars in this tiniest slice of the sky. Even this number is a tiny fraction of the estimated 70 sextillion stars in the universe.

We can be safe in saying there are a buttload of stars in this picture.

Now close your eyes. If you’re driving you can, of course, disregard this. If you’re in your office you can just continue to keep your eyes closed just as you were.

Imagine all the billions of worlds contained within this one picture. I’m not talking about the galaxies or even the stars. No, I’m talking about all the moons and planets in the picture. Look at the picture again if you’d like to reabsorb the image into your mind. Think about all the possible geologies, the mountains of unimaginable heights, the deepest valleys and cave systems, and rivers. Huge planet-wide storms, and oceans of water and hydrocarbons and anything liquid. There are millions of these in this one picture.

We are biological organisms and of course, we can’t help but imagine other life out there. In this tiny slice of darkness the eXtreme Deep Field contains life. There is life in that picture. Imagine what forms it will take. I think that the kind of life we see on earth, carbon-based, will be common.

Worlds of microbes will certainly be out there. There may be commonalities with life on earth since they could be occupying many of the same evolutionary niches we find here. But in some places the life will be utterly foreign.

My favorite thing is to think about all of the wonderful ecosystems out there that have complex life. With the number of stars in this one picture there are going to be many places just like the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon, The Okavango, the Belovezhskaya pushcha forest, the once-great Florida Everglades, the Arafura Swamp and the vast steppes of Asia. There are places like that in this picture and many of them will have life and ecosystems even more complex and diverse than anything earth has ever seen. The great majority of these Serengetis and Great North Woods will be undisturbed by intelligent life and civilizations.

That’s because the likelihood of an intelligent civilization at any one point in time in a planet’s history is actually quite remote. It certainly is remote in the history of earth. The earth is 4 and half billion years old and human civilizations have been around what, 10,000 years? That comes out to about 1/5000th of the history of the earth. That’s what I mean about civilization being remote in time.

But even as remote as it is with all the planets even in this one field there are likely to be many civilizations. What form they take is difficult to speculate, but they’re out there. And there are surely some individuals just like you and me who are imagining what is out there. And the answer is: we are out there. Oh, we’re out there, man.

One detailed photograph of the tiniest piece of the night. Mix that with science and the vision of your mind’s eye, and you have a beautiful journey across the universe.

Ripped From the Headlines

Always, ALWAYS make sure your belt matches your jackboots Senior citizens give Florida governor a-schoolin' on Obamacare

Blue Streak Science News

When is a river full of half a million dead carp a good thing? Answer: now Researchers announce they have grown fully functional human cartilage M87 galaxy pitches a globular cluster split-finger fastball Male black widow spiders prefer their female mates to be well-fed virgins

News of the Climate:

Fox News to science writer: You can talk about anything...except global warming Rare Supreme Court victory for clean air

MUSIC BREAK - Soothe Me by Shea Breaux Wells 

Shea Breaux Wells Facebook Page

This Week in Science History:

Watson and Crick announce that thing they did with that big molecule thing Vaccine against yellow fever Louis Pasteur publishes Germ Theory

Featured Creature

Axolotl. Credit: EikeR via Flickr









A$$hole of the Week

Jeffrey Goodwin

Podsafe music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

So long, until next time!


Blue Streak Science: Episode 19


In Today's Podcast...

Weekly Prattle

You want the cold hard facts?

Global warming is happening. It is real. It is happening now. The effects will cost our children incalculable amounts of their wealth and productivity. And we caused it.

What? You don’t believe it?

"But it was sooo cold this winter and it snowed sooo much!"  If you live in the United States and have no idea that there are other places and people in the world then that very well may be your reaction.

Well, guess what? The United States is not the only country in the world. In fact, the continental United States is less than 2% of the Earth’s surface. Global warming refers to the whole f*%#ing planet. The term "global warming" has a real meaning. It refers to the rise in the average GLOBAL temperature of Earth since the late 1800’s, including the oceans. It can be bitterly cold in one region and blistering hot in another.

What’s really important is the average global temperature and how it is changing over longer periods of time. Just because it was scorching hot in Australia in one summer doesn’t mean much when looking at the globe over long periods of time. At the same time, just because you had to shovel snow from your driveway in Ohio in April has just as little bearing on the reality of global warming.

What matters is the science behind it.

A study came out last year that looked at the nearly 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers on global warming, and found that 97 percent endorse both the reality of global warming and the fact that humans are causing it. This was not the only study to come up with a similar number, but the clever and robust methodology of this paper gives it some real statistical weight.

I know. I know. Just because there is an unprecedented 97% consensus does not mean they are correct, nor does it address the science. If I were to rely solely on the consensus then a climate denialist versed in basic logic may call me out on the logical fallacy of an appeal to authority.

Well, dear denialist, I have science on my side. And in every episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast I will present peer-reviewed scientific data in support of the model of anthropogenic global warming. And if you take issue with any of what I say regarding global warming then I cordially invite you to come to and call me out on it in a blog post.

Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?

Ripped From the Headlines:

Chelsea Clinton pregnant. Republicans claim it's a devious plot!

Sanctions will never work against Iran. W-w-w-what!?

Farmers discover new way to spread seed

Blue Streak Science News:

If you're an environmental activist make sure your life insurance is paid up

American exceptionalism in scientific ignorance

The origin of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Smithsonian Museum gets "The Nation's T. Rex". Young earth creationist gets upset.

A whale of a duck

News of the Climate:

Miami will learn if it will get flooded. We will learn if anyone gives a crap.

All four Republican candidates vying for North Carolina’s Senate seat are climate change denialists. Shocking! Just shocking!

MUSIC BREAK - Fin to the Face by Mark Brown

This Week in Science History:

Curies isolate radium

The first birthday of Earth Day

Top quark discovered

Featured Creature: Cone Snail


A$$#*|& of the Week: Science Dump

Music break brought to you by Mevio's Music Alley. Check it out at

All music in this podcast is podsafe

So long, until next time!



Blue Streak Science: Episode 18


In Today's Podcast...

Weekly Prattle

For as long as there have been people, there has been science. Science can be defined as the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. That is exactly what the first humans, even the first proto-humans were doing when they sharpened that first stick against a rock and felt how painful and dangerous the business end of that stick would be.

Observation: Pointy things hurt.

Experiment: Make my own pointy thing and throw it at a tree.

Result: Tree is impaled and damaged.

Now here’s where the tricky bit begins. As thinking apes our ancestors were able to imagine what would happen if they jabbed that stick into an antelope, or an attacking predator, instead of a tree. Humans aren’t the only ones who can shape tools, but we were the ones who used science to continually build upon and improve the technologies of the day.

Technology has been a powerful force in the rise of civilization, all the more so as its link with science has been forged. Science and technology—like language, customs, ethics, trade, and the arts—are fundamental parts of human culture. They both shape and reflect a culture’s values.

Science will continue to bring us great benefits: No longer are we living short, brutish lives only one failed crop or an epidemic away from starvation and death.

There will always be the ones who fear science, who deny its findings, see a worldwide conspiracy under every rock and even go so far as to reject the benefits of science. But where would we be if our ancestors listened to those who would rather bury themselves in the comfort of the status quo...afraid to take that risk, and walk upright across the savannah armed with the technology they created with the use of science.

Ripped From the Headlines

"Religious Freedom" law in Mississippi met with business backlash Pastafarians rejoice! Flying Spaghetti Monster recognized as official religion in Poland Canadian student wearing hijab gets unexpected reaction

Blue Streak Science News

Biology teachers in Oklahoma dumber than a box of hammers Four quarks are better than three, so says Z-particle A new moon named Peggy Skull of 325 million year old shark-like species slaps researchers in the jaw

News of the Climate:

Air pollution predicted to choke San Antonio: Thank you, Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas

MUSIC BREAK - That Voodoo Moon by The Gremmies

This Week in Science History:

Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the Earth Bionic eyes implanted for first time America welcomes giant pandas Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling

Featured Creature

Tarantula Hawk Wasp

Image credit: Sarah Zukoff courtesy of Flickr







A$$#*|& of the Week

Phyllis Schlafly

So long, until next time!

Blue Streak Science: Episode 17


In Today's Podcast...

Weekly Prattle

There was a time when the smallest thing a person could behold was a speck of dust and the largest, a mountain. The sun, moon and stars were effectively of unknown size and distance. The ocean, it's width and depth complete mysteries. So it remained for thousands of years.

That is, until the 16th century when the telescope and compound microscopes were invented. Suddenly humanity was not restricted to seeing what only our naked eyes could see. The planets became worlds unto themselves, the stars became suns, and that was just the beginning. Every drop of water was an ecosystem full of strange creatures living their lives in complete obscurity from humanity. Even our own bodies were suddenly subdivided into individual cells, each one a self-contained entity to make the whole person.

The universe became bigger, and the universe became smaller. It does so every time an intern or a lab tech looks in the scope and says, “Hey, what’s that? I’ve never seen that before.”

With the advent of scientific technologies we remain forever at the edge of a new breakthrough, a new discovery, a new game-changer. What we learn will answer the questions of the day, but will also reveal new worlds and new mysteries, and new possibilities.

We owe our knowledge to those who came before us, who first dared to expand their horizons into what was then the unknown. Their view of the world may indeed seem inchoate and primitive to us now, but it was they who took those first steps, and we who will take the next ones in our quest for understanding. That speck of dust may seem like a boulder now, and that mountain a molehill...but the horizon seems as far away as ever.

No time to rest, ladies and gentlemen.

The adventure continues.


Ripped From the Headlines

Baby charged with attempted murder...that's not a joke headline!


Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott cites work of  man who believes that women and minorities are intellectually inferior to white men...the irony


Blue Streak Science News

Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, forbidden love

Neurologists get in touch with touch

Researchers have discovered earliest known cardiovascular system in fossil

New way to harvest sunlight for power also produces the materials that make it possible

Deep saltwater ocean discovered on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Next, Wicked Tuna.


News of the Climate:

Right-wing Heartland Institute offers calming solution: think of yourself as a pea


MUSIC BREAK - Vincent Surprice by Ronnie and His Twanging Little Fellow (RHTLF)


This Week in Science History:

British Museum founded in 1753

In 1959, radar signal bounced off the Sun

Nature published the longest scientific name in history in 1981


Featured Creature

Leatherback Sea Turtle


A$$#*|& of the Week

Ben Stein


Final word and Closing Items

Shout out to John Drake of Johnny's Java. Two locations: Cotati and Santa Rosa, California. Try the Cool Johnny! It's cool, man!


So long, until next time!

Blue Streak Science: Episode 16


In Today’s Podcast…

Weekly Prattle

From countless Creation Myths, including some that are still believed even today, the universe existed simply as points of light affixed to a heavenly sphere. Some cultures believed that stars were holes in the sky through which gods could observe the earth, or even the gods themselves shining their glory across the firmament.

Before the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment the history of the universe had been static and eternal. Then along comes the 20th century when humanity finally begins to pull the veil back to reveal the real universe. It has proved to be far more wonderful, complex, strange…and infinitely more beautiful than could be imagined by ancient shepherds, priests and prophets.

Astronomers observed that the Milky Way is not alone. No, there are from 100 billion to 200 billion other island universes out there….galaxies. They observed that these galaxies are flying away from us, and each other. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity posits that spacetime itself is expanding—which means the universe had once been denser.

How much denser? All of everything we know, or may ever know was once condensed down to an unimaginably tiny point of possibly infinite density and heat. Some 13.8 billion years ago this point decompressed, giving rise to spacetime, and inflated into our universe.

How do we know this? Science. And it is science once again that has given us the most recent announcement…that astronomers have observed evidence of gravitational waves…ripples in spacetime, from the earliest moments of the universe. A snapshot of the beginning of time itself.

This detection of gravity waves strongly affirms the idea that our universe is one of many universes, each one a bubble in a supercosmic foam we call the multiverse. From the humble beginnings of twinkling candles illuminating the mythological firmament, to the still humble beginnings of modern physics and cosmology…we have come a long way.

But the journey has only just begun.

Ripped From the Headlines U.S. Senator Ted Cruz gets polled…ouch! No U.S. combat casualties in Afghanistan The flagrant hypocrisy of Hobby Lobby

Blue Streak Science News

Panel finds stem cell investigator, Haruko Obokata, to have committed research misconduct and data fabrication Moon formed 100 million years after start of solar system Throw champagn-yah in my face once, shame on you… Mystery solved. We know where zebras got their stripes! Hummingbirds evolution just humming along

News of the Climate: climate change is a threat to economic growth

MUSIC BREAK – Nitro Express by The Gremmies

This Week in Science History:

Fred Hoyle coins the term “Big Bang”. Sheldon rejoices…heh-heh First recorded passage of Halley’s Comet Pillsbury Dough-boy dies of yeast infection

Featured Creature

Pacific Banana Slug

Pacific Banana Slug













A$$#*|& of the Week

South Carolina State Senators Kevin Bryant, and Mike Fair

Final word and Closing Items

Pssst…wanna be a co-host of the Blue Streak Science podcast? Inquire within.

So long, until next time!

Blue Streak Science: Episode 15


In Today's Podcast...

Weekly Prattle

The desire for answers lies within each of us. Or more accurately, it is the discomfort of not knowing that leads us down many paths of beliefs and behaviors. And such is our discomfort at not knowing everything immediately that has given us the 24 hour news cycle, and smart phones on our nightstands to sneak in one more peek at our emails, our social media, news more peek before we drift off to sleep…only to reach for the smart phone once again the moment we awake.

When a major tragedy happens in the world this discomfort of not knowing everything about it can lead to obsessive media watching. Even worse, when no news on the event is forthcoming the desire to hear something, anything, can overcome our rationality, our acumen as critical media consumers as we seek answers, any answers.

When the news outlets have repeated ad nauseam every known detail about the tragedy in every permutation possible still they continue on. There is air time to be filled, lest the viewer drift off where they can scratch that itch some place else. Worldwide news air time is given to even the weakest suppositions in a desperate attempt to maintain or increase ratings. Conspiracy theories, cultural bigotry, meteors, terrorist amount of speculation is too outlandish, ugly, or improbable to breathlessly speak of while the public looks for answers. The uneasiness of not knowing is too great not to turn to a cable news network, even if it fills our brains with wild speculation instead of facts.

We must accept that when we don’t know, we just don’t know. Conjecture, religion, superstition and conspiracy theories may fill the void, but consider what you are being filled with.

Don’t get comfortable with not knowing. Scratch that itch, feed that jones, but feed it with rationality and science. The answers may be a long time coming. They may never come at all. But the comfort that science and reason provide the curious mind will always be more satisfying and fulfilling than the emptiness of ignorance.

Ripped From the Headlines State senator, advocate for gun control, gets busted for corruption and conspiracy to, guns Police in Hawaii want to keep law that allows them to have sex with prostitutes Company making homeopathic remedies recalls products after they were found to contain actual medicine

Blue Streak Science News

Scientists have determined that humans can smell a trillion different smells Clever goats Desktop torso complete with organs! (What's for lunch?) Jumbo shrimp of the Cambrian

News of the Climate:

Salamanders are getting smaller (but Leon is getting larger!) Antarctic glaciers are speeding up

MUSIC BREAK - The Blues at Clark and Addison by BMR4

This Week in Science History:

Fusion at room temperature was claimed Bacillus responsible for tuberculosis discovered Titan, Saturn's largest satellite is discovered

Featured Creature

A living bird with claws on its wings, the Hoatzin Hoatzin. Peru

A$$#*|& of the Week

Simon Cox, high school teacher from the Northern Territory in Australia

Final word and Closing Items

Shout out to Dusty Smith and the Cult of Dusty Channel on YouTube!

So long, until next time!

Blue Streak Science: Episode 14


In Today's Podcast...

Opening Essay

Humankind is at the dawn of a new age of exploration and discovery. The explorations of the past will seem quaint and downright provincial compared to what lies ahead of us.

You see, the experimentalists and engineers are finally catching up with the theoreticians of the 20th century. They have reached back to the beginning of space-time a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the start of the Big Bang, confirming, provisionally at least, Einstein's prediction of gravity waves from that very moment.

We have drilled so deeply into the inner quantum world that we have confirmed Peter Higgs' prediction of his positive parity, zero spin boson which bears his name and has massively strengthened the Standard Model of physics. Our telescopes and the incredibly innovative ways in which astronomers use them have already identified well over 1000 planets outside of our solar system. Very soon we will be discovering earth sized worlds in the habitable zones of these systems and we will analyze their atmospheres...for oxygen and life.

At every turn the universe, the multiverse even, is proving to be more incredible, complex and wonderful than our most imaginative minds could dream of. Yes, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Cheng He's monumental as they were to world history still only involved discovering new places on just one little planet. But today the universe itself, from the beginning of time to the end, is just now beginning to reveal its secrets...and its origins.

We are at the dawn of a new age of enlightenment. This week's announcement by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics that those incredibly elusive gravity waves Albert Einstein predicted have been discovered is a perfect case in point.

So, hop up that beam of light and tighten your seat belts because it's going to be a wild ride into the future!







 Ripped From the Headlines

They say the darndest things at Fox News! Grocery bills rise as drought grips western United States Air pollution chokes Paris

Blue Streak Science News

BICEP2 finds first direct evidence evidence of cosmic inflation


Magnetic behavior discovery could advance nuclear fusion Moss grows poorly on rolling stone, but does great frozen for 1,500 years Burmese pythons need no GPS to find their way home

News of the Climate:

Earth's tropical zones expanding since the late 1970's

MUSIC BREAK - Bad Jacket by The High Fidelics This Week in Science History:

First U.S. National Wildlife Refuge established Dr. Marie Stopes opened Britain's first birth control clinic Einstein's Theory of General Relativity was published

Featured Creature

A bird that uses echolocation, smell, tactile cues, and incredible night vision to get around.

A$$#*|& of the Week

Kevin Swanson, pastor and right-wing radio host

Final word and Closing Items

A shout out to the fine folks at Don't miss their great podcast called The Feed!

So long, until next time!

Blue Streak Science: Episode 13


In Today's Podcast...


Wednesday morning I decided to re-kindle my love for birding. So, what better place to do it than the location for Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds". Tuesday night I discovered that the local Audubon was having their bird walk on Thursday morning, not Wednesday like I had thought. Undaunted, I decided to go forward alone.

My first stop was the town of Bodega, California to take a pic of the schoolhouse from the film, which looks better today than it did on celluloid, though the absence of Suzanne Pleshette is obvious. Tippi Hedren was nowhere to be found either. I pressed on.

Flock of Brants. Bodega Harbor, California. 12 March, 2014.

The harbor was resplendent on this late winter day; warm, breezy, and spring flowers just beginning to show. Birds where everywhere. Met a pleasant and inquisitive couple from Oregon who were mostly looking for gray whales, but had questions about the local bird as well. A good enough list of birds, not a record day or even close, but very enjoyable. The bird of the day was a pretty good one: a Virginia Rail at the appropriately named Rail Pond. It was a pleasant day and a good start, or re-start to my birding


I talk about the months following Pam's cancer ordeal. This was a time of transition and hope for the both of us. We were left with a sense of guarded relief, but our outlook toward the future was bright. She had been through the ringer, but Pam was quickly getting back into shape. Her hair grew back beautifully. She looked as lovely as ever, and has every day ever since.

There is no doubt that both of us were changed by this experience, however. Pam had come to realize that there is no better time than the present to enjoy living. We bought a house in Santa Rosa, California, and got our first dog together...the great and wonderful Steve!

In the five years after the initial diagnosis I would still become anxious every time she would go in for tests, which were beginning to take on a more routine quality. Gone was my sense of dread. Instead it was replaced a fresh view of what the future could bring.

MUSIC BREAK - Boot Hill by Johnny Winter

Ripped From the Headlines

Rod bitten by deadly snake, grabs beer and hopes for the best Anti-ObamaCare attack ad claims woman pays more for health care...Oops! She pays less! Baptist church holds raffle to give away an AR-15 assault rifle

Blue Streak Science News

Evolution of the first animals may have oxygenated Earth's oceans New study reveals how much human food has contributed to the diets of Yosemite bears Astronomers have found a new superpowered small black hole in nearby galaxy E-cigarettes may be a new route to conventional smoking and nicotine addiction for teenagers Natural selection has altered the appearance of Europeans over the past 5,000 years

News of the Climate:

Warming temperatures are pushing two chickadee species — and their hybrids – northward New research reveals that three new chlorofluorocarbons and one new hydrochlorofluorocarbon have been released into the atmosphere

This Week in Science History:

Voyager 1 discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io The first U.S. cases of "Spanish Influenza" or H1N1 were reported at Fort Riley, Kansas English astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus

MUSIC BREAK - Our Love is Here to Stay by Stefanie J. Harger

Featured Creature

A spider that build a spider replica in its web! This is a cool little spider from Peru that may be a novel species. Here is a video of the spider and it’s moment of discovery

A$$*&^% of the Week

David, passenger on WestJet Airlines, seat 12E

So long, until next time!

Blue Streak Science: Episode 12


Give me a mile, and I’ll take an inch

Happy Labour Day! Happy Eight Hour Day! Happy Commonwealth Day!

Happy Mardi Gras!

MUSIC - Sad Ballad by Jungfrauenjoch

The Battle of and for Her Life

MUSIC - Back to the Bayou by Gregg Martinez

Hipster inebriants to whizz in pPod

No claims for huge haul of gold coins

Florida woman to be retried for defending against domestic abuser

ObamaCare boosts American economy in January, says WSJ

Pervert offers his Philly cheesesteak

Heritage Foundation economist laments discrimination against the wealthy

Blue Streak Science News

- U.S.-Russia tensions unlikely to impact NASA astronauts

- Ancient virus has "come back to life" after lying dormant for 30,000 years

- Chronic insomniacs’ brains show more plasticity

- Allergy prevalence is same across United States, except in young children

- New airship being developed to explore Venus

- Kepler telescope identifies 715 new exoplanets

- Department of Defense takes climate change serious, says report

MUSIC - Love Extravagantly by Rachel Pearl

This Week in Science History

- China crash lands on Moon

- Soviet Union's Venera 3 crash lands on Venus

- First use of Carbon-14 dating technique

You-Know-What of the Week

- Ted Nugent

Final Word and closing items

- Shout out to Brainstorm Podcast of Saskatchewan


Some of the music provided today comes from Mevio's Music Alley

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Blue Streak Science: Episode 11


 I'm a tub of goo; A tragedy, a thank you, and a life saved; news from the lunatic fringe; Texas politician calls for end to roadkill-eating ban; The Blue Streak Science News; This Week in Science History; Featured Creature: sabre-toothed frog; The You-Know-What of the Week: Virgina State Senator Steve Martin; All the best to Miles O'Brien; Music by Grace Kelly and Ben Allison courtesy of Music Alley.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 10


Film Review: RoboCop (2014). The psychology of dog names. The Florida File. Snake-handling pastor is snakebit; goes to Heaven. Quote of the week. The Glenn Beck file. Blue Streak Science News. This week in science history. The You-Know-What of the Week: Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada. Music by Whitney Ross-Barris and The Tiki Tones courtesy of Music Alley. 

Blue Streak Science: Episode 9


What's the deal with Valentine's Day? Happy Darwin Day! MUSIC - Thingamajig by The Vara-tones. U.K. weather: Nature shows no mercy to flooded Britain. Quote of the Week. Feds approve more fracking off California coast. Is Australia the world's worst environmental offender? How the Navy avoids noroviruis. Blue Streak Science News. MUSIC - Por Favor by After Son+. This Week in Science History. You-know-what of the Week. Sid Caesar, with love and laughter.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 8


Adventures in the podcast launch and iTunes. Why is the night sky black? Second thoughts about Ron Weasley. Quote of the week. Australian Prime Minister gets YouTube account suspended. Jade Rabbit in peril. Bathing cells in acid turns them into stem cells...and more!


Blue Streak Science: Episode 7


Forget the dinosaurs! A world with fusion. Hawking scraps the event horizon. Rivers of hydrogen observed flowing through space. Wild beavers return to Dear Old Blighty. This week in science history...and more.  

Blue Streak Science: Episode 6


A dog and a river. We're drying over here! Genomes of modern dogs and wolves provide new insights to domestication. 3,000 year old Nordic grog. Easing cannabis withdrawal. This week in science history...and more.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 5


Dinner in Mogadishu, Somalia. Perspectives in cancer and climate change. Real psychopaths don't giggle. Skinny slackers safer than fit obese. Deep canyon under the ice in Antarctica. This week in science history...and more.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 4


I have reservations...almost. The great Neil Rogers. Pregnenolone and cannabis. Mangroves creeping northward from Florida. Dog paddle, a trot or a run? This week in science history...and more.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 3


Closing the loop/an unfinished backpacking trip. One-third of Americans reject the science of biological evolution. Super callous fragile insect protects with halitosis, triple threat method sparks hope for fusion, rediscovered species. This week in science history...and more.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 2


A new puppy! Alan Turing receives a royal pardon. Blue Streak Science News. This week in science history...and more.

Blue Streak Science: Episode 1


Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Blue Streak Science Podcast. How I got my first job in science. Why did I decide to do a podcast? Blue Streak Science News. This week in science history...and more.

About this podcast:

Blue Streak Science

Science, opinion, history, music and entertainment...what more could you ask for? It's the Blue Streak Science Podcast!

Blue Streak Science