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 17: Cascadia Rising

Jun 16, 2016

Another Big One is coming. This one won't be in Southern California though — it's in the Pacific Northwest. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is off the Pacific coast, and pressure has been building for a very long time. When the fault slips and the megathrust earthquake happens, it will create a massive tsunami and many powerful aftershocks. 

We'll hear again from Ken Hudnut from the US Geological Survey, this time about what will happen with this quake hits. We also speak with Kristin Ludwig, a staff scientist at the USGS, about the Cascadia Rising interagency exercises that just happened to test the preparedness of reactive agencies. 

Sean Carroll is an educator, scientist and writer. His previous books include "The Particle at the End of the Universe" and "From Eternity to Here," and his latest is "The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself." He teaches in the physics department at the California Institute of Technology. 

"The Big Picture" touches on the vastness — and smallness — of the universe, and how humanity can find meaning and goodness in an incomprehensibly vast cosmos.  

Blue Dot 15: The San Andreas Fault

Jun 2, 2016
Michael R. Perry / Creative Commons

The San Andreas Fault system, and the looming threat of “The Big One,” has captivated people since its discovery in 1895. It’s inspired a big-budget disaster movie, but the disaster — an inevitable large-scale earthquake — will be bigger-budget than anything Hollywood can dream up. On this episode of Blue Dot, we hear from three experts on San Andreas who will weigh in on what will happen when the Big One comes, how the fault system works, and what we can do to minimize the impacts. 

Haley Bercot / National Park Service

Scott Gediman is a ranger and spokesman for Yosemite National Park. We got the chance to speak with him during our spring membership drive, and it was so good we recut it for a proper airing! We also close the episode with a conversation with Azeen Ghorayshi, a science writer who is now working for the news arm of Internet Media behemoth BuzzFeed. She tells us about the power of science journalism and why she turned away from working in a laboratory. 

Blue Dot 13: Astronaut Abby

Apr 28, 2016
Abigail Harrison

Abigail Harrison has always wanted to be an astronaut, and hopes to be the first person on Mars. The 18-year-old is a freshman at Wellesley College, and she shares her optimism and audacity through her nonprofit The Mars Generation. Whether or non she wears a NASA uniform one day, she is an inspiration to us all to work hard and dream big.

Tyler Nordgren is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Redlands, but he's also an artist. He's perhaps best known for his work on a series of WPA poster-influenced public service science pieces. He was also part of the team who designed the MarsDials, which were used on Mars to calibrate the cameras mounted on the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers.

Dr. Nordgren is a staunch advocate of the dark night sky, and he explains why we should consider it an endangered resource. He also, like our host Dave Schlom, loves the National Parks.  

Blue Dot 11: 100 Years Of National Parks

Apr 14, 2016
Jonathan Miske / Creative Commons

This years marks the centennial of the National Park Service. This week on Blue Dot, we speak with some of the kind folks who work to keep some of our nearby national parks pristine and available to the public. Karen Haner is Chief of Interpretation and Education at Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Craig Ackerman is superintendent at Crater Lake National Park

Blue Dot 10: How's The Weather?

Apr 7, 2016

The weather: it's the ultimate ice-breaker. That's probably because it impacts us all, all the time. But what about the people who have to not only divine what's going to happen in our atmosphere (a pretty chaotic place, it turns out), but who have to then disseminate that to us everyday folk? And what if they're wrong? To to get a human perspective on this, we spoke with National Weather Service meteorologists Tom Dang and Bill Rasch, based out of Sacramento. We also spent some time with friend of Blue Dot Rob Elvington, a meteorologist from KRCR-TV in Redding.    

Nathan Stauffer

This week on Blue Dot, we celebrate the upcoming Major League Baseball season by speaking with a few true experts on the science of the game. First, Alan Nathan tells us about the physics of baseball — like why do certain pitches break, what happens when the bat hits the ball, and why hits down the foul line always arc toward foul territory. Then it's Lee Jones, the longtime KNBR engineer who brings us San Francisco Giants baseball on the radio. He'll tell us about what goes into creating that audio image, as well as which Giants rival has the best stadium with regard to capturing sound.

Blue Dot 08: Return To The Moon

Mar 24, 2016

This week on Blue Dot, we talk to Dr. Jennifer Heldmann about the surface, water, and rocket fuel on the moon, and how it might become a staging area to send humans to Mars. We hear from Dr. Pamela Clark about the versatile tiny satellites we’re sending to space — in particular, the ones that will go study the moon.

We also talk with Frank Sinatra biographer James Kaplan about a song that has a very Lunar history.