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Program Directory

Big Picture Science

Sol­id mate­ri­als get all the pro­duc­tion cred­it. Don’t get us wrong, we depend on their strength and firm­ness for bridges, bones, and ben­to box­es. But liq­uids do us a sol­id, too. Their free-flow­ing prop­er­ties dri­ve the Earth’s mag­net­ic field, inspire a new gen­er­a­tion of smart elec­tron­ics, and make biol­o­gy pos­si­ble. But the weird thing is, they elude clear def­i­n­i­tion. Is tar a liq­uid or a sol­id? What about peanut butter?

In this episode: A romp through a cas­cade of liq­uids with a mate­ri­als sci­en­tist who is both admir­ing and con­found­ed by their prop­er­ties; how Earth’s molten iron core is mak­ing the mag­net­ic north pole high-tail it to Siberia; blood as your body’s infor­ma­tion super­high­way; and how a spit­tle­bug can con­vert 200 times its body weight in urine into a cozy, bub­ble fortress.