Monday, December 9, 2013 - Amanda Lea explains mate choice in Tungara frogs.


University of Texas at Austin Graduate Student Amanda Lea explains all about female mate choice in Tungara frogs.  Frogs convey information about themselves to their potential mates by their characteristic calls. Working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Amanda has done work in forests of Panama and in phonotaxis chambers.  We can now directly learn the preferences of frogs by playing back recorded sounds and watching their movements.  Amanda entertains us by replicating the characteristic "Tuunn-gara" calls.  The decoy effect is all around us!


Monday, December 2, 2013 - No evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations in infrared astronomy survey


A serious scientific constraint on extraterrestrial civilizations.  Regular cohost DJ Gigayear (aka gully) reports on current research showing no evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations.  Over 1 million galaxies were surveyed with the Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), an infrared space telescope.  None of these galaxies show infrared radiation levels consistent with more than 15% of their stars being surrounded by solar panels- so called "Dyson Spheres".  The cohosts discuss the meaning of this result, and why we might expect to see Dyson spheres in the first place.  The story was inspired by ongoing research supported by the Templeton Foundation, and performed by Professor Jason Wright and collaborators at Penn State University's Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds.