Tag Archives: science

Remembering Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking smilesStephen Hawking, who passed away last night at the age of 76, had a long connection with public television – as you might expect for someone who promoted curiosity and big questions about the universe.

As Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted in tribute,  “His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure.”

The PBS documentary Hawking, released in 2014, is only one of the many videos available online. Watch the trailer.

Read on for more about Hawking’s life and work.

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The Science Behind 100 Years of Wisconsin Broadcasting

Four days. 285+ events. Endless fun. The Wisconsin Science Festival takes place Nov. 2-5, and Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio are once again looking forward to being a part of the event!

The Wisconsin Science Festival is a statewide celebration for all ages, with engaging events such as hands-on science exhibitions, demonstrations, performances, tours, pub nights and workshops.

This year, we’re celebrating 100 Years of Wisconsin Broadcast at the Wisconsin Science Festival— and you’re invited to join us for a scientific trip down memory lane! Read on to get details on WPT and WPR’s Wisconsin Science Festival events in Madison, taking place on Friday, Nov. 3. Plus, explore this year’s festival lineup and go behind the scenes to learn how event leaders are prepping for the four-day festival.

Continue reading The Science Behind 100 Years of Wisconsin Broadcasting

So Much More Than “The Girl From The Wonder Years”

“I discovered that I could be smart and capable and valuable for something that had nothing to do with Hollywood. This is me. And it felt great.”

In this powerful and inspirational video, Wonder Years actress Danica McKellar shares how her discovery of mathematics  in college helped her discover she is so much more than a former child star. Knowledge truly is power!

Watch more of Nova’s Secret Life of Scientists series online here.

Pick Your Poison: "Sugar vs. Fat" Pits Bacon Against Bread

Twin doctors Chris and Xand Van Tulleken go on special diets in "Sugar vs. Fat," premiering 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 6 on Wisconsin Public Television.
Twin doctors Chris and Xand Van Tulleken go on special diets in “Sugar vs. Fat,” premiering 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 6 on Wisconsin Public Television.

As a kid, I always wondered what it would be like to have an identical twin. Would we switch places to trick our friends? Would we become famous actresses, maybe even starring in Full House? One scenario I never considered, however, is what twin doctors (twin doctors … what are the odds?) Xand and Chris Van Tulleken decided to do with their genetic similarities.

In the twins’ documentary Sugar vs. Fat, premiering 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 6 on Wisconsin Public Television, the pair go on separate diets for four weeks, with Xand only eating foods with a high sugar content like breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, sweets and fizzy drinks, and Chris only eating high-fat foods, consuming as much butter, cheese, meat, burgers, cream and mayonnaise as he desires.

Throughout their dietary duel, they test how their minds and bodies cope with high-sugar and high-fat meals. By the end of their experiment, the twins are less healthy than when they began, but their health suffers in very different ways. The end result proves that while both sugar and fat are damaging, the combination of the two could be the most threatening of all.

While the fact that sugar and fat aren’t particularly good for us might be unsurprising, the documentary offers a unique look at how certain food groups affect our bodies. The twins are extremely entertaining throughout, offering a much-needed dose of humor to lighten up the otherwise serious topic.

And for the record, if I had the opportunity to eat one of these dietary menaces in excess without the harmful consequences, I’d be team sugar all the way.

Find Subatomic Particles in Your Home

If you’re feeling a tad ambitious and want to explore some quantum physics, here’s a nifty little project for you. According to PBS NOVA, “Right now, the smallest particles in the universe are shooting, not only in front of you, but also through you.” And, believe it or not, you can get a glimpse of these sub atomic particles in your own home. No fancy lab equipment required.

Here’s what you need:
– a jar
– rubbing alcohol
– a sponge
– a flashlight
– dry ice (just do a Google search)

And finally, you need some curious participants. Kids would love this little experiment, but they’re totally optional in my opinion. Explorers of any age will find the fun in this DIY subatomic particle detector. Check out the video from NOVA.

Best-Selling Author Steven Johnson Talks About How We Got to Now

On his new series, How We Got to Now – premiering with its first two episodes tonight at 8 and 9 on WPT – best-selling author Steven Johnson explores the impact of innovation on our modern existence by following the fascinating – and often surprising – paths of scientific discovery that shaped who we are today.

I could try to explain how Johnson traveled around the world – and back in time! – to find out how even the seemingly most simple endeavors changed the entire path of history, but it is much better to go right to the source.

We had the chance to do just that in September when Johnson visited Madison to speak to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. He sat down with us for an exclusive interview at the Monona Terrace and talked about his new book and PBS series, both which reveal the story behind the remarkable ideas that made modern life possible. Watch the conversation now.

QUEST: Science and Sustainability from Wisconsin to the World

We are proud to be part of the QUEST public media project, because it gives us an opportunity to continue to go out and find stories of science and sustainability to share with our viewers. And, as a national project, those stories of good work being done in and around our state get shared with viewers across the country.

This Thursday night at 7, three all-new episodes of the series premiere on Wisconsin Public Television and they feature innovations and good work from Wisconsin in the preservation of forests and heirloom fruits and vegetables.

The first new episode of QUEST, “Keeping it Cool: Otters, Cars and Old Forests,” airs at 7 p.m. and features an in-depth look at an initiative aimed at exploring ways of building resilient forests in Wisconsin by looking to the forest-management processes followed by the state’s Menominee tribe. University of Wisconsin-Madison forestry professor David Mladenoff and his team’s research is featured in the segment produced by WPT’s Andy Soth.

Two additional QUEST episodes, featuring reports on bicycle technology, new energy possibilities and the future of bees broadcast at 7:30 and 8 p.m. The third episode at 8, “Wolves, Seeds and Bees” features another WPT report from La Crosse, where the La Crosse Public Library and librarians Cindy Mischnick and Kelly Becker have started a new program to save and share heirloom vegetable seeds in their community in an effort to help preserve genetic diversity in our food crops.

Watch both segments below and tune in to explore these topics and more from our QUEST partners across the country. Visit QUESTScience.org to find web exclusive reports and more.

Our friends at Wisconsin Public Radio are also part of the project and are airing a series of Wisconsin-based sustainability reports during Morning Edition and Central Time throughout the week. The Larry Meiller Show has also featured special talk-topics this week, including a discussion on the importance of electronics recycling. Listen to that report online now to learn why those outdated gadgets cluttering up your house should be recycled and where.

Explore Science and Sustainability With QUEST

For the past year, Wisconsin Public Television has been a proud part of a broad new coalition of public broadcasters from across the country who are creating a wide-range of journalism around the topics of science and sustainability in our communities.

That work, as part of the QUEST project, has resulted in dozens of reports online, and tonight on television in three all-new specials featuring segments that explore farming, sustainable energy projects, water conservation and more! Tune in at 7:30 on WPT to see all three programs.

In Wisconsin, we have featured a large number of online-exclusive reports that you can explore at QuestScience.org. On TV, you will be able to watch producer Andy Soth’s report on an innovative urban farming project in the city of Milwaukee. From the report, “Through Growing Power, his urban farm in Wisconsin’s largest city, the zealous Will Allen spreads a gospel of urban renewal through growing and selling fresh, healthy food in a neighborhood where nutritious options are limited. Foodies and wannabe city farmers make pilgrimages year-round to learn about his successful methods.”

You can watch this great report online now, below, or in the first half-hour of tonight’s television broadcasts!

A Shakhashiri Christmas

Watch The Best of Once Upon A Christmas Cheery in the Lab of Shakhashiri at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It’s a shame there won’t be any new experiments this year, but what a great opportunity to relive some of the best moments from past years. It’s so rare to find someone making learning genuinely fun. Sure there are some great lesson plans here and there that can really hold your attention, but lessons that are both educational and exciting are few and far between.

Enjoy a small taste of the things to come and Happy Holidays!

Where no man had gone before

Watch The Space Age: NASA’s Story at 8 p.m. Tuesdays in May on Wisconsin Public Television.

Described as the final frontier, space exploration has fascinated humans for centuries. It was the focus of science fiction until technology advanced and the space race heated up as countries around the world tried to achieve a number of firsts beyond the bounds of Earth. In the United States, those efforts have been led since 1958 by NASA.

The organization has taken men to the moon, sent observing crafts to the far reaches of the solar system and has uncovered countless new technologies along the way. For myself, the shuttle program has been the physical manifestation of space exploration for most of my life. So, as that program reaches its final stages, this in-depth program about NASA’s history comes at a bittersweet moment. But, even though the shuttle program is set to come to an end soon, our adventurers’ spirit and explorers’ instincts will not. I hope this transition marks the beginning of a new generation of exploration.

While the final mission of the Shuttle Endeavor has been delayed, take a look at the shuttle’s mission overview in this interactive feature.