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:

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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. 

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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:

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Ocean Exploration Vessel Nautilus Tour

Exploration Vessel (EV) Nautilus, led by ocean explorer Dr. Robert Ballard, is equipped with some of the latest technological systems, helping to advance the frontiers of ocean exploration. This beautiful vessel supports science class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), high-resolution seafloor mapping, and real-time satellite communication systems to facilitate live streaming telepresence-enabled outreach and scientific collaboration to all who which to follow along and participate. We’ll take an interesting and fun tour of Nautilus with friend Samantha Wishnak, Science Communication Fellow at Nautilus Live and Digital Media Coordinator at the Ocean Exploration Trust with a cameo by Dr. Bob Ballard. Links to 360° views of the ship can be found below.

Nautilus is currently heading out to study the cultural heritage and natural wildlife in the Greater Farallons National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS). Recently expanded to protect 3,295 square miles, GFNMS contains over 400 shipwrecks and is largely unexplored in the deepest portions. Nautilus will survey the USS Independence, a World War II era naval ship and former aircraft carrier, once used in the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Independence was scuttled offshore of San Francisco in 1951, rediscovered as the deepest shipwreck in GFNMS, and acoustically mapped by NOAA in 2015 using autonomous underwater vehicles. NOAA Director of Maritime Heritage, James Delgado, who was part of the team that located the Independence in 2015, is onboard Nautilus to conduct the first visual survey of the ship since her sinking. Two other shipwrecks, the Ituna, which was an historic steam yacht from 1886, and the freighter Dorothy Windermote will also be explored. In addition to documenting and mapping these wrecks, the shipwrecks’ roles as artificial marine habitat for fish and invertebrates will be assessed.

Subscribe, follow, and like the Nautilus here:

More about Dr. Robert Ballard here:

More about Samantha Wishnak here:

Watch our chat with James Delgado here:

More about Dr. James Delgado here:

More about Samantha Wishnak here:

360° views of the EV Nautilus: Hercules and Argus ROVs:

Hercules ROV in the hanger:

The shop:

The lab:

Media production: 

Mission Control:

The ship's mess: 


The Bridge:


The bow:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Oceanographer extraordinaire, Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle

A brief Facebook Live chat with dear friend oceanographer extraordinaire, Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle. Sylvia is always on the go speaking for our ocean. Listen to her here, watch her many talks, read her many books, watch her film, Mission Blue on Netflix--get on board and help as she and her team Mission Blue work to create Hope Spots around the world.

NASA Deputy Chief Technologist, Jim Adams and the NASA Frontier Development Lab

NASA Deputy Chief Technologist, Jim Adams, NASA Chief Systems Engineer, Bruce Pittman, and NASA Program Executive for Planetary Defense, Victoria Friedensen, speaking about the NASA Frontier Development Lab Applied Research Accelerator, NASA Space Portal, and NASA Office of Planetary Defense.

The Flying Eye Hospital with Orbis CEO, Bob Ranck

A visit with the CEO of Orbis, Bob Ranck. We're discussing The Flying Eye Hospital during a visit to Moffett Field in Mountain View, California.

On the outside, this plane is like most other aircraft. Inside, it's like nothing you've ever seen.The MD-10 Flying Eye Hospital is equal parts teacher, envoy and advocate in the global effort to end avoidable blindness.

Check out these 360° photos from inside the aircraft.

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 cockpit -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 state of the art operating suite -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 exam and laser treatment room -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 classroom -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 -

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital MD-10 -

More about Orbis here:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Combining planetary science and machine learning to address the asteroid challenge

A brief discussion at NASA JPL with friends and fellow NASA Frontier Development Lab colleagues, Planetary Scientist, Erika Nesvold and Artificial Intelligence Scientist, Elmarie van Heerden about combining their two fields of study to address the asteroid challenge.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bill Diamond, CEO, The SETI Institute

A visit with friend Bill Diamond, CEO of the SETI Institute. I’ll bet you don’t know as much about the SETI Institute as you think. What does SETI mean?  "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence." But there is more to SETI than what you see in movies such as "Contact." 

There are 75 scientists (the number is growing) at SETI currently working on planetary science, biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, and more. Yes, they operate The Allen Telescope Array for doing radio astronomy research,  but they are also a world leader in astrobiology--one of the hottest fields of science today, and one of the most interesting to the general public. Scientists at the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute are seeking answers to questions that will help us understand our origins: How many planets exist that might support life? What is required for life to exist? How does life start? How does it evolve, and what fabulous creatures can evolution produce? How often do intelligent creatures appear in the giant tapestry of life?

I believe you will enjoy hearing from my friend Bill about the interesting and important work of the SETI Institute. Be certain to listen the entire episode, you'll hear about a new Girl Scout Badge. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

One giant leap for mankind! Dr. Andy Aldrin

One giant leap for mankind! 47 years ago today Apollo 11 was the first spaceflight that landed humans on the Moon. On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on another world. A couple of fun things to share today as we recognize this significant achievement.

As I was spending time with good friend Dr. Andy Aldrin (Buzz’s son) today, it seemed a good idea to capture a short video with him. Andy is a swell fellow. A space AND oceans guy. Andy is the Director of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology where he also serves as an Associate Professor. It's fun to hear him talk about his perspective as a young boy when his dad walked on the Moon. He’s up to some cool stuff. NOTE: I have no idea why I said July 12th when I meant to say July 20th. :)

All things science, technology, innovation and exploration. Let's Explore! 

The Explorers Institute is committed to inspiring everyone to discover their inner explorer. We believe in the power of science, technology, and innovation to change our world for the better through personal connection and meaningful storytelling.