Saturday, November 19, 2016

Dr. Mark Siddall, curator, the American Museum of Natural History

An entire day at the American Museum of Natural History in New York today with very good friend Dr. Mark Siddall. Mark is a curator, researcher, and Professor at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the AMNH. As an evolutionary biologist, his illustrious career has been devoted to uncovering biodiversity and evolutionary histories. He returned yesterday from 3 weeks doing field work and specimen collection in South America.

After spending the day behind the scenes at the Museum in the CT scanner, electron microscope, and genetic sequencing laboratories, and the collections storage facilities (the home of many type specimens collected over almost 150 years), we sat down in Mark's office to chat for a spell. Apologies for the audio quality and the abrupt ending, the recorder stopped about 2 minutes before we finished. The Natural History of Cuba exhibit we mentioned opens in late November, 2016.

Exhibitions Mark has curated at the Museum include The Power of Poison (, Picturing Science (, and Undersea Oasis. He is also co-curator of the Hall of Ocean Life ( His popular book (illustrated by his charming wife, good friend Megan Gavin) Poison: Sinister Species with Deadly Consequences, is available at Amazon (

More about Mark here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Archaeologist Dr. Brendan Foley: Antikythera shipwreck - Human skeletons found

A discussion with good friend and collaborator, Dr. Brendan Foley, archaeologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. We talk about one of the most interesting archaeology excavations ever, the Antikythera shipwreck. Brendan and team announced just this week, that ancient skeletons, over 2000 years old, have been located at the site deep underwater in the  Aegean Sea. This is a very rare find. We also discuss the use of reality capture technology to share the the artifacts and tell the story of the doomed Greek ship which sank over 2000 years ago.

I speak with Brendan via Skype. He lives in Sweden and I am in Monterey Bay, California participating in the Marine Technology Society / IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society Oceans '16 conference.

More from Woods Hole about the Brendan's work on the Antikythera shipwreck here:

More about the the Antikythera Shipwreck Exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum of Greece here:

For more about the Antikythera Mechanism, watch the PBS NOVA episode, "Ancient Computer" here:

More about the Marine Technology Society:

More about the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society:

Click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel:

Visit our website to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dr. Michael Waltemathe, co-editor of "Touching the Face of the Cosmos:On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion”

A chat with Dr. Michael Waltemathe, co-editor of the book "Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion.” Michael is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Education, in the Department of Protestant Theology at Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. He is the author of Computer Worlds and Religion, articles about science, religion, and outer space. Our discussion was recorded at the SETI Institute.

From Amazon: "Military advantage, scientific knowledge, and commerce have thus far been the main motives for human exploration of outer space. Touching the Face of the Cosmos explores what may be the best motive of all, largely untapped: the desire of every human being, essentially spiritual, to understand more about our place in the universe, how our lives on Earth are inextricably part of that bigger picture. Drawing on leading scientists, religious thinkers, and science fiction writers--including a new interview with John Glenn, and an essay by Director of the Vatican Observatory Guy Consolmagno, SJ--Paul Levinson and Michael Waltemathe have assembled a volume that puts space travel and religion on the map for anyone interested in outer space, theology, and philosophy."

You will find the book at Amazon here:

More about the SETI Institute here:

Jenn Gustetic, NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

A chat with friend Jenn Gustetic from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) headquarters. Jenn, who has an aerospace engineering degree and a master's in technology policy from MIT, is currently in NASA's Space Technology Directorate where she is focused on public sector innovation--connecting NASA with entrepreneurs as the Program Executive for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR/STTR). She was the first-ever Challenges and Prizes program executive at NASA before being detailed to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the White House where she served as Assistant Director for Open Innovation. 

More about OSTP:

More about

More about NASA:

More about XPRIZE:

Watch NASA JPL's 7 minutes of Terror here:

Jenn and Jonathan having some fun at NASA Ames:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Professor Francis Thackeray, Palaeoanthropologist, University of the Witwatersrand

A chat with friend Professor Francis Thackeray at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Francis, the former director of the Institute of Human Evolution at Wits, is currently the Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits. Here we talk about the researchers and significance of past and current palaeoanthropology work in the Gauteng province and surrounding areas, including The Cradle Of Humankind in South Africa.

More about Francis Thackeray here:

More about Professor Lee Berger here:

Experience a 360° view inside the Phillip Tobias vault at the University of the Witwatersrand Institute of Human Evolution here:

More about The Cradle Of Humankind here:

South African Shark Conservancy, Hermanus, Cape Whale Coast, South Africa

Founded in 2007 by friend Meaghan McCord, the South African Shark Conservancy has a research focus on the development of biological and ecological baselines, and long-term monitoring of species diversity, abundance and habitat use within Walker Bay and along the South African coast. The Shark Conservancy lab is located in Hermanus, South Africa, on Walker Bay, in the Western Cape. This is part of the Cape Whale Coast, which was designated a Hope Spot in 2014.

In this video, we hear from Colby Bignell, Lab Manager and Social Media Manager at the Shark Conservancy.

The 200 km-long Cape Whale Coast is unique in its combination of rich and abundant biodiversity, spectacular scenery and cultural heritage. Mountains run down to an intricate coastline of estuaries, beaches and bays. Offshore, two major ocean currents come together, as temperate south coast currents meet cold west coast upwellings. In addition to being the the great white shark capital of the world, the region is home to a number of iconic animals, including the Marine Big Five: African penguin, great white shark, Cape fur seal, whales (humpback, Southern right and Bryde's) and dolphins (common, bottlenose and humpback).

For more about the South African Shark Conservancy:

For more about Hope Spots:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Jim Delgado, Director of Maritime Heritage, NOAA office of National Marine Sanctuaries

A chat with friend Dr. James P. Delgado, marine archaeologist. Jim who serves as the Director of Maritime Heritage in the NOAA office of National Marine Sanctuaries, has led or participated in shipwreck expeditions around the world. His undersea explorations include RMS Titanic, the discoveries of Carpathia, the ship that rescued Titanic's survivors, and the notorious "ghost ship" Mary Celeste, as well as surveys of USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, the sunken fleet of atomic-bombed warships at Bikini Atoll, the polar exploration ship Maud, wrecked in the Arctic, the 1846 wreck of the United States naval brig Somers, whose tragic story inspired Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and Sub Marine Explorer, a civil war-era find and the world's oldest known deep-diving submarine.

* Apologies for the audio in a few places - radio interference*

More about Jim Delgado here:

More about Maritime Heritage here:

More about NOAA Oceans Explorer here:

More about Exploration Vessel Nautilus here:

Subscribe to Explorers Institute on YouTube here: