Science

Is Faster Than Light Travel Possible? The Science of SciFi with Dr. Erin Macdonald

Dr. Erin Macdonald - Astrophysicist

Is faster than light travel possible? Dr. Erin Macdonald joins us to discuss the current theories–and how they relate to science fiction. She is an astrophysicist, science fiction consultant, aerospace engineer, and host of the online series, “Dr. Erin Explains the Universe”. Her specialty is in general relativity, having worked previously searching for gravitational waves in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. She has since found her home in science fiction, consulting with writers, teaching STEM through popular culture, and fulfilling her life goal of becoming a warp drive expert.

For more information, visit https://www.erinpmacdonald.com/

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Ultima Thule Part 2 – BRIAN MAY, Queen Lead Guitarist & Astrophysicist

Brian May, PhD

Brian May is a founding member of Queen, a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer and performer, also a Doctor of Astrophysics, 3-D stereoscopic photographic authority and a passionate advocate and campaigner for animal rights.

It's been an exciting year for Brian and 2019 is going to get a great start. Brian is the executive music producer for the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie, which has been nominated for the Golden Globes. He also released his book MISSION MOON 3D, offering the first 3D images of the Apollo missions to the Moon. He's also getting ready to release his first new single as a solo artist in over two decades, titled “New Horizons,” inspired in part by Dr. Alan Stern, the principal investigator for the New Horizons spacecraft mission.

In our latest episode Brian discusses his passions in music, space & photography, and announces how he plans to kick off 2019 by giving “New Horizons” a world premiere directly from NASA Control center in Maryland at 12:02 a.m. EST on January 1st, 2019, as the spacecraft zooms past the Kuiper Belt's Ultima Thule, which is located a billion miles beyond Pluto.

For more information, visit BrianMay.com

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Ultima Thule Part 1 – Dr. Alan Stern, New Horizons Principle Investigator

Dr Alan Stern

Dr. Alan Stern is the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, leading NASA’s exploration of the Pluto system and the Kuiper Belt. Today he joins us to discuss New Horizon’s upcoming close approach to Ultima Thule this New Year’s Day. Ultima is an object in the Kuiper Belt about 4 billion miles away, the most distant object yet ever to be explored by a spacecraft. 

In this episode we also feature a sneak preview clip of “New Horizons”, a new song to be released on New Year's Day commemorating this mission by legendary Queen lead guitarist & astrophysicist Brian May. Brian will join us on our next episode Part 2.

For more information about the New Horizons mission, visit http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/

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Mars InSight, Mars 2020 Rover Landing Site & Opportunity Rover Update with Dr. James Rice

Dr Jim RiceDr. James Rice is the senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona. He is also the geology team leader on the Mars Exploration Rovers Project (which includes Spirit and Opportunity), as well as Co-Investigator on the Athena Science Instruments onboard these rovers. Dr. Rice is joining us today to discuss the recent landing of Mars Insight, provide an update on the status of the Opportunity Rover, and examine why the Jezero Crater was recently selected as the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover.

Related episode: Dust Storms on Mars, Opportunity Rover Status & the Future of Human Space Exploration

For more information on Mars exploration, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov

For more information on Dr. Rice, visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-james-rice-822a1764/

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The Planetary Society’s CASEY DREIER discusses National Geographic’s MARS Season 2, LightSail 2 & the U.S. Space Force

Casey Dreier, The Planetary SocietyCasey Dreier is the Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser at The Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space outreach organization. In this interview we discuss season 2 of National Geographic’s Mars TV series, as well as The Planetary Society’s Lightsail 2 project and the United States Space Force.

As Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser, Casey leads the strategic planning and implementation of The Planetary Society's policy and advocacy efforts. This includes working closely with other policy representatives in the space community, educating legislators and congressional staffers and organizing Planetary Society members to become active space advocates. He also educates the public about space policy and history through writing, his monthly Space Policy Edition podcast and unique online course offerings such as Space Advocacy 101.

In 2015, Dreier led The Planetary Society’s Humans Orbiting Mars initiative, which explored the potential for a step-wise, long-term mission to send humans to the surface of Mars. The report provided important information and analysis for NASA’s Mars planning and helped influence thinking for lunar and Mars exploration efforts.

Dreier is a trusted source for space policy analysis for journalists and has been featured as a source in many general interest publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Scientific American, Vox and The Verge, to name a few. He is committed to demystifying the politics and policy of space for all audiences and has been an invited speaker at conferences such as The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Week and Politicon.

He is also an instructor at Western Washington University, where he teaches the occasional class on space history and policy.

Casey is one of the “Big Thinkers” for National Geographic's Mars series, along with Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Weir, Robert Zubrin, and more. Season 2 premiered on November 12, 2018 and shows what life in a Mars colony will be like after human settlement.

For more information, visit:

MARS SEASON 2: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/tv/mars/
The Planetary Society: http://www.planetary.org

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Rainbows, Halos & other special things – John Ventre, Cincinnati Observatory

John VentreRainbows are gorgeous! But there are better times and places to look to increase your chances of seeing them. In this episode we go onsite at the historic Cincinnati Observatory with John Ventre, where he discusses the beauty & causes of phenomena such as rainbows, halos and sun dogs.

For more information, visit https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org

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FIRST MAN: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong – Official Biographer Dr. James R. Hansen

Dr. James Hansen
Dr. James R. Hansen is the writer of the book “First Man: The life of Neil A. Armstrong”. He was Neil Armstrong's one & only authorized biographer, obtaining 55 hours of audio recordings and 800 emails during his interviews with Neil (plus a few rounds of golf along the way). First Man has been adapted into a movie, with Dr. Hansen serving as a consultant, releasing October 2018 by Universal Pictures. The movie is directed by Academy Award winner Damien Chazelle and stars Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.

Dr. Hansen is the Professor Emeritus of History at Auburn University in Alabama. He’s an expert in aerospace history and the history of science and technology.

For more info about Dr. Hansen, visit http://www.auburn.edu/~hansejr/

For more info about the movie, visit https://www.firstman.com/

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Behind the Sun with Dr. Nicky Fox, Heliophysics Division Director at NASA HQ

Dr Nicky Fox

Dr. Nicky Fox is the Heliophysics Division Director at NASA Headquarters. She earned her PhD in Space Physics from the Imperial College of Science in London and has worked for both APL and NASA over her 20 year career. She’s worked  on such projects as the NASA Polar spacecraft and the International Solar Terrestrial Physics Mission. Most recently Dr. Fox is heavily involved with the Parker Solar Probe, which launched on August 12, 2018. In this episode she describes the goals of the probe, as well as her advice to parents for encouraging their children to pursue a career in the science field. We also feature video and hi-fidelity sound from 4 miles away from the launchpad as the Solar Probe lifted off on its way to study the Sun.

“Behind the Sun” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers used with permission from Warner Bros. Records.

For more information on the Parker Solar Probe visit http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu/

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ECOSTRESS – Monitoring Plants from Space – Dr. Joshua Fisher, JPL

Dr. Joshua Fisher

Dr. Joshua Fisher is the Science Lead for the ECOSTRESS Mission, a mission designed to study the Earth’s climate. Dr. Fisher is a Scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I was fortunate to first meet Dr. Fisher recently at Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of ECOSTRESS aboard the SpaceX CRS-15 resupply mission to the International Space Station. The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) will measure the temperature of plants and use that information to better understand how much water plants need and how they respond to stress.

For more information about ECOSTRESS, visit: https://www.ecostress.jpl.nasa.gov

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Dr. Eugene Parker – The Mysteries of the Sun & NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Dr. Eugene Parker is the solar astrophysicist who developed the theory of the supersonic solar wind and predicted the Parker spiral shape of the solar magnetic field in the mid-1950s. In this episode Dr. Parker joins us by phone to discuss his incredible theories about the Sun and NASA's Solar Parker Probe mission. Dr. Parker was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967 and has received numerous honors throughout his career.  Most recently he was awarded the Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research by the American Physical Society for his fundamental contributions to space physics, plasma physics, solar physics and astrophysics for more than 60 years. NASA recently renamed the Parker Solar Probe after him, the first time in history that a spacecraft was named after a living person.

For more information about the Parker Solar Probe, visit: https://www.Nasa.gov/solarprobe

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(Photo of Dr. Parker courtesy University of Chicago)