Science is constantly reinventing itself, revising past theories and proposing new ideas that hopefully further our understanding of the world. Copernicus proposed the heliocentric solar system, Newton had gravity, and Einstein gave us relativity. But every once in a while, a theory gets proposed that’s downright nutty. Not only that, some of these theories can persist for decades or even centuries. As these ridiculous theories hang around, sometimes they find themselves intersecting with strange moments in history. Here, I present the crazy history you’ve never heard of behind 3 ridiculous geological theories. Continue reading
Climate scientist Ken Caldeira begins with a discussion of ocean acidification, a term he helped coin. He follows with the story of how his name became attached to geoengineering, from his own skeptical beginnings to publishing a paper that basically said, “well, it works in the models but don’t try this at home.” Along the way, Caldeira also shares some funny experiences addressing climate skeptics, including how geoengineering has even helped persuade a few.
If we’re looking for how life will respond to rapid environmental changes, we should probably look to bacteria adapted to live in extreme environments – what scientists call extremophiles. Astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch examines the Anthropocene with thought experiments of bacteria throughout the solar system, using scientific principles documented on Earth. He discusses known extremophiles, certain problems posed by asteroid impacts, and the importance of keeping an open mind when analyzing evolutionary trajectories on Earth.
It’s our 50th episode! To celebrate we sit down with four members of the Anthropocene Working Group: the scientists and experts who are deciding whether or not we formally adopt the Anthropocene into the geologic time table. We discuss what makes the Anthropocene boundary different from all of the other boundaries in geologic history, how they deal with the increased public attention to this particular boundary, and some cultural ripple effects of the Anthropocene dealing with the Law of the Sea. As we wrap up, the Generation Anthropocene producers take a minute to reflect on all of the rapid changes we’ve witnessed over the past 50 episodes.