Dr. Norna Robertson shares a drink from her home country and talks about a specific part of LIGO. She explains that LIGO’s eighty-pound mirrors are suspended by four, incredibly thin, silica fibers that were developed just for this project.
Dr. Kanner explains how gravitational waves could teach us about the big bang, and how we might be on the cusp of discovering new phenomena that are so unusual, theorists haven’t even predicted their existence.
Dr. Kanner talks about gravitational waves, which were detected for the first time by LIGO last year. He explains how studying neutron stars with gravitational waves can tell us how everyday elements like gold came to be.
Dr Abby Fraeman returns to the show to talk about Opportunity, the rover that won’t quit. Along with its sister rover, Spirit, Opportunity has discovered Mars rocks that could have only formed in the presence of water.
Eric Rice talks about systems engineering and we drink what turns out to be the most disgusting beverage yet. He talks about what it is like to control a spacecraft, and explains why predicting what can go wrong with a spacecraft is a lot simpler than predicting what can go wrong at a wedding.
Dr Joe Masiero returns to the podcast to talk about asteroid families, which are groups of asteroids that astronomers think are fragments from ancient collisions. He describes how he identifies these families, and how this work can help us understand how the solar system used to be millions of years ago.
Dr Debbie Weiser explains the importance of building an early warning system in the US before a major earthquake hits. Even a few seconds warning is enough to stop elevators, pause surgery, and give peace of mind to everyday folks experiencing aftershocks. To support this program, contact the California Governor’s office or your congressional representatives.
Dr. Debbie Weiser talks about human-made earthquakes on my favorite planet, Earth. She explains how seismologists try to distinguish between natural earthquakes and those caused by human activity, and why the earliest seismometers in California were installed by astronomers.
Dr Jennifer Scully talks about the geology of Ceres and Vesta, two large asteroids in the main belt that have been visited by NASA’s DAWN mission. She’s talks about the experience of getting to know each and every crater, and why the first images from Ceres surprised some people.
Dr. Shantanu Naidu tells us about planetary radar. Using large telescopes in California and Puerto Rico, he bounces radio waves off of asteroids and “listens” for the return signal. With this technique, he’s discovered moons on several asteroids.
Dr. Sona Hosseini talks about spectroscopy, a technique that allows scientists to determine what celestial bodies are made of. She’s developing new spectrometer that will allow her to look at an entire planet, or comet, all at once.
Dr. Dave Reitze, the Executive Director of LIGO, talks about how each source of noise at LIGO must be meticulously accounted for— from wolves howling, to tidal flexing of the Earth’s surface, to the motion of the atoms in the observatory’s mirrors.
Dr. Dave Reitze, the Executive Director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) talks about the extraordinary detection of gravitational waves earlier this year, and the incredible engineering that made it possible.
Dr. Varoujan Gorjian thoroughly debunks a misconception he hates— the idea that black holes suck. Find out what would happen to the Earth if our Sun was suddenly replaced with a black hole of the same mass, and why is is so challenging to send a probe to Mercury.
Dr. Marja Seidel stops by the show to talk about galaxy evolution. She also talks about a unique outreach effort she co-founded, called Cielo y Tierra, that shares science with remote communities.
Dr. Andrew Benson talks about dark matter, the mysterious stuff that makes up most of the mass of the universe. Andrew explains how we can learn about dark matter, even though we don’t yet know what it is.
Dr. Kevin Schlaufman tells us about exoplanets that orbit around their stars in an unusual manner. He also explains what his research says about the Earth’s fate when our sun dies, billions of years from now.
Dr. Betts talks about LightSail, an exciting mission to test new technology from The Planetary Society. This is a special joint episode with The Orbital Mechanics podcast.
Dr. Cynthia Hunt talks about the Carnegie Observatories’ astronomical glass plate collection. The Carnegie collection includes historic plates that recorded the moments astronomers made groundbreaking discoveries.
Director Dr. John Mulchaey stops by the show to talk about the history and future of the Carnegie Observatories; the place “where the universe was discovered”. This episode is the first of a series on current research at Carnegie.
Dr. Matt Siegler talks about ice on the Moon, and what it can tell us about the Moon’s past. He also tells us about an experiment that uses astronaut-collected lunar soil.
Project Manager Suzy Dodd tells us about the continuing missions of the Voyager spacecraft. These spacecraft are still collecting unique and valuable data, and Suzy explains how engineers hack the spacecraft to extend their lifespan.
Master of Disaster Mika McKinnon talks about how she injected real science into the sci-fi series “Stargate”. We discuss how she balanced accuracy and entertainment, and how she influenced the way scientists were portrayed on that show.
Jan Chodas stops by the show to talk about her experience working on several pioneering NASA missions, including Galileo, Cassini, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, and Juno. Note: this was recorded before Juno successfully entered into the orbit of Jupiter.