Blue Dot

Fridays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 3 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. 

Blue Dot 05: Physics Girl

Mar 3, 2016
UC San Diego

MIT grad, former astronomy researcher and Hawaii native Dianna Cowern also carries another mantle: Physics Girl. Her YouTube channel answers science questions in a fun, engaging way, and she's recently began creating content for PBS Digital Studios. 

We talk with Dianna about fighting through school struggles, being part of the YouTube renaissance, and what it's like to have "Girl" in your title. 

Blue Dot 04: El Niño 2016

Feb 25, 2016

  What exactly is El Niño and what does it have to do with the warming planet? How can the Jason satellites help us understand all that? What is Josh Willis's favorite movie? For all that and much more, we talked with Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 


Scientists have detected what may be remembered as the biggest discovery in our lifetimes: gravitational waves. The minute but unequivocal readings are further confirmation of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, and serve to deepen our scientific knowledge of the way the universe ticks. 

Blue Dot 02: Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer

Feb 11, 2016
Bad Astronomy


Phil Plait pens Bad Astronomy for Slate and is an all-around science guy. He hosted the astronomy season of Crash Course on YouTube and regularly takes on pseudo-science.  


Amy Mainzer knows a lot about infrared. She was deputy project scientist for the Wide-filed Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which used infrared to study the entire sky. She's now principle investigator on NEOWISE, a project that uses WISE images to study asteroids and comets. Amy Mainzer joined us for the inaugural episode of “Blue Dot.”


This transcript has been lightly edited

Climate change is one of the most daunting problems facing our global civilization. And while world leaders struggle to find solutions, scientists continue to compile the compelling evidence of a planet being warmed by human activity. Climate scientists are people too, and they have to talk to their friends and family members who may still be skeptical or ambivalent about what can seem like an overwhelming issue.

Macmillan Publishers

Bill Nye has been communicating science for decades. His hit show "Bill Nye the Science Guy" educated millenials (and their parents) in the '90s, and since then he's been spreading the good word: science rules. His new book is "Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World," and it aims to do just that: encourage people to address the changing climate. 


In our warming world, Greenland's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. Recently, NASA scientists announced that one of the continent's major northern glaciers, Zachariae Isstrom, is entering an accelerated rate of retreat after millennia of glacial stability. It's a big glacier, and a big deal since it contains 5 percent of Greenland's ice sheets. 

Josh Willis is principal investigator of NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland program. He explained what "OMG" means to him.


NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 recently completed its first year of operation monitoring carbon dioxide being emitted and absorbed around the planet. It's the first time scientists have been able to accurately assess global carbon levels from space.

Annmarie Eldering is deputy project scientist for OCO-2. She spoke with Dave Schlom about the new data, but started with what exactly it is.

We all hear about the weather — "Did you hear that it's going to rain?" — but someone at some point had to actually figure out what the weather looks like. Michelle Mead, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, and she's one of the folks who does the legwork to let us know that yes, it's going to rain.