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Big Picture Science: Doomsday Live's video poster

Big Picture Science will be hitting the stage to perform a live, doomsday-themed show, as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on October 13, 2012.

Big Picture Science will be hitting the stage to perform a live, doomsday-themed show, as part of the Bay Area Science Festival.

About this project

Big Picture Science is a weekly science radio show produced at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Each week, we take on big questions in science by interviewing leading researchers and weaving together their stories of discovery in a clever and off-kilter narrative style.

On Saturday, October 27, 2012, we'll be participating in the Bay Area Science Festival by taking our show to the stage for a live investigation of doomsday. End of the world predictions are as old as civilization, and while some have no basis in reality, others are actually scientifically credible. Some people believe that the world will end this December, and credit the ancient Mayan civilization for doing the math to reach that conclusion. But is there any truth to the claim? Others believe that aliens are among us, preparing for a hostile takeover of our planet. But some cosmic threats from space are plausible. Could a giant rock from space strike the earth, and, if big enough, sterilize the planet? We'll bring a variety of top scientists from a number of fields on stage to help separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to doomsday prediction.

The Bay Area Science Festival is a week-long extravaganza of free science events in San Francisco and nearby cities. Doomsday Live will take place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

Big Picture Science runs high on ideas, but a live show is a financial challenge, and that's where you come in. We'll need your support to help pay for the theater, staff, and equipment, as well as transportation for our guests. As thanks, we offer a variety of rewards, including the brand new Big Picture Science t-shirt with our logo on the left chest, and Paul Duffield's amazing depiction of the Big Picture Science staff as a space age radio production team. 

Of course, anyone can attend the show itself, since it's free! (Please register if you plan to attend)

If you can't attend the show, don't worry. We'll put together audio versions for our regular radio show and podcast which will be available before December 21st, because, well, you never know... 

The SETI Institute is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Your donation is tax deductible. 

You can hear Big Picture Science at, iTunes, a variety of mobile apps, such as Stitcher, or on a public radio station near you.


The booking of guests has commenced! Please welcome the following sooth- and/or nay- sayers who'll be joining us on stage on October 27th:

Andrew Fraknoi is the Chair of the Astronomy Program at Foothill College in Los Altos, California and Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute. In 2007, he was named Professor of the Year for the state of California and for several decades, he has been active in helping teachers and the public deal with such astronomical pseudo-sciences as astrology, UFO’s, faces on other worlds, and, now, the so-called “Doomsday 2012.” 

Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist working for the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. He investigates issues related to climate, carbon, and energy systems. His primary tools are climate and the carbon cycle models, although he does field work related to ocean acidification. 

Guy P. Harrison is an award-winning writer focused on promoting science and skepticism. His latest book, 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think are True, is a skeptical grand tour of extraordinary claims such as ESP, ghosts, gods, psychics, astrology, UFOs, doomsday prophecies, Roswell, faith healing, Bigfoot, homeopathic medicine, and many more.

**Now With Even More Guests!**

Luke Muehlhauser is Executive Director of the Singularity Institute. He has published dozens of articles on technological forecasting, intelligence explosion theory, and the cognitive science of rationality, including a Singularity FAQ and Facing The Singularity. In addition to running the Singularity Institute, he is currently developing several research papers, including a survey of proposals for dealing with superhuman AI, and a survey of recent progress in artificial intelligence.

Bradley Voytek, PhD is a NIH-funded neuroscience researcher making use of big data, brain-computer interfacing, and machine learning to figure out cognition. A post-doctoral fellow in the lab of UCSF neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, Brad is an avid science teacher and outreach advocate, and has spoken at events ranging from elementary schools to TEDxBerkeley, @GoogleTalks, and SciFoo. His research and science writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Wired, Forbes, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and Scientific American. He runs the blog Oscillatory Thoughts, tweets at @bradleyvoytek, and co-created with his wife Jessica Bolger Voytek.

Dr. Kirsten Gilardi is co-director of Gorilla Doctors at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center and works with the PREDICT wildlife disease surveillance project. PREDICT, a project of USAID's Emerging Pandemic Threats Program, is building a global early warning system to detect and reduce the impacts of emerging diseases that move between wildlife and people.


  • Yes, we will ship internationally. Rather than goof up our rewards system with extra costs for international shipping, we invite you to up your donation by $5 or $10 to help offset these costs. We value support from all over the globe, and will happily accept donations from anywhere except the Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica. Pretty sure they have it in for us.

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    Pledge $1 or more

    6 backers

    Gratuitous spam email from us, thanking you.

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    17 backers

    An email plus a Big Picture Science space-age adhesive decal. Also known as a sticker. Put it on your car, your notebook, or your forehead.

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    15 backers

    The email, sticker, and a signed photo of the radio show staff. Signatures guaranteed to be actual scrawl of the hominids pictured thereon.

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    20 backers

    All of the above, plus a Big Picture Science mug. Doubles as a pen holder!

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    5 backers

    All that and a Big Picture Science t-shirt. Our logo on the front, and stylized "space cadet" portrait of the staff on the back, illustrated by Paul Duffield.

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    4 backers

    The aforementioned items plus a signed copy of the latest literary labor by Big Picture Science host and SETI Institute Senior astronomer, Seth Shostak, in the form of a book called "Confessions of an Alien Hunter".

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    5 backers All gone!

    Wow! Okay, you asked for it. You get the spam, the sticker, the mug, the shirt, the book, plus lunch with Seth and Molly. That's right! Visit beautiful Mountain View (or within 5 miles) and meet the hosts for a chat over lunch at a place where you sit and order food.

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Funding period

- (30 days)