Blue Dot

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

Each week Blue Dot takes you to curiosities across our universe. Featuring interviews with leading scientists, authors, filmmakers and journalists from around the world, Blue Dot examines our home from a planetary perspective. Whether it’s a discussion about our life-giving oceans, the imperiled climate systems, the depths of space, or how a rock guitar works, Blue Dot is an adventure of discovery.

Hosted by Dave Schlom, and co-produced by North State Public Radio, Blue Dot digs deep into conversations about earth and space. For the past 12 years, Schlom has adorned the airwaves with his warm, relaxed style. His extensive scientific and journalistic background and his gift for engaging natural and thought-inducing conversations make Blue Dot a program you don’t want to miss.

Original Theme Music by Matt Shilts, Engineer and Producer Matt Fidler, Associate Producer Ellie Johnson.

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

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

Blue Dot 24: The Lassen Dark Sky Festival

Aug 4, 2016

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

Gross Science

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

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

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


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

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



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

Blue Dot 20: The Sierra Snowpack

Jul 7, 2016
Nicholas Turland, Creative Commons

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

Blue Dot 19: Juno And Jupiter

Jun 30, 2016

In Greco-Roman mythology, Juno was Jupiter's wife (and sister... hmm). Jupiter would shroud his behaviors in clouds, but Juno could part them and see what Jupiter was up to. Launched five years ago, NASA's Juno spacecraft will be lifting the veil on Jupiter when it enters Jovian orbit on the Fourth of July. 

The craft, the fastest thing ever built by humans, will gather data on the gas giant's magnetosphere, its gravity and its very composition. This data could help provide insight on many of the exoplanets we've so far discovered, as a great number of them appear compositionally similar to Jupiter. 

National Weather Service

Is it summer already? Just like we did in the spring, we talk with National Weather Service meteorologists Tom Dang and Bill Rasch. Tom and Bill talk about forecasting in the hot North State summer, where the hottest of the hot spots are, how we cool down, and what we may have to look forward to in terms in La Niña. 

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.