Ep. 445: Animals in Space Pt. 1: Insects and Arachnids

We’ve talked about animals travelling to space in the past, but it’s time to take another look, with many other creatures making the trip to the void. Today we’re going to talk about the spineless insects and arthropods, and those tough-as-nails waterbears – tardigrades.

Ep. 432: Geoglogic Ages of Mars – From Wet and Wild to Desolate Desert

Today, Mars is a desolate wasteland, with dusty red rocks and sand stretching out to the horizon. But billions of years ago, it was a vastly different world. It was blue, with oceans, rivers, lakes, and maybe life? Let’s tell the story of geology on Mars, and we got from that world to the one we see today.

Ep. 419: DragonCon 2016 Live – Rocket Girls

Welcome back to our new season of Astronomy Cast! This episode is a special live show that took place at DragonCon 2016 in Atlanta, GA. Pamela hosted a panel of amazing scientists and engineers who all happen to be women, and they discussed the unsung women of NASA and the early Space Age and their roles as “human computers”, and the current climate at JPL for women scientists and engineers. The panelists were NASA JPL Senior Science Engineer Trina Ray, Marshall Space Flight Center’s head of Planetary Science Barbara Cohen, JPL engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory Kim Steadman and Science Systems Engineer for NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Sarah Milkovich. (Please excuse any audio issues, as this was recorded live by remote.)

Ep. 376: The Miller-Urey Experiment

Evolution explains how life adapts and evolves over eons. But how did life originate? Chemists Miller and Urey put the raw chemicals of life into a solution, applied an electric charge, and created amino acids – the building blocks of life.

Ep. 372: The Millikan Oil Drop

In 1909 Robert Millikan devised an ingenious experiment to figure out the charge of an electron using a drop of oil. Let’s talk about this Nobel Prize winning experiment.

Ep. 371: Eddington Eclipse Experiment

At the turn of the 20th Century, Einstein’s theory of relativity stunned the physics world, but the experimental evidence needed to be found. And so, in 1919, another respected astronomer, Arthur Eddington, observed the deflection of stars by the gravity of the Sun during a solar eclipse. Here’s the story of that famous experiment.

Ep. 370: The Kaufmann–Bucherer–Neumann Experiments

One of the most amazing implications of Einstein’s relativity is the fact that the inertial mass of an object depends on its velocity. That sounds like a difficult thing to test, but that’s exactly what happened through a series of experiments performed by Kaufmann, Bucherer, Neumann and others.

Ep. 369: The Fizeau Experiment

Light is tricky stuff, and it took scientists hundreds of years to puzzle out what this stuff is. But they poked and prodded at it with many clever experiments to try to measure its speed, motion and interaction with the rest of the Universe. For example, the Fizeau Experiment, which ran light through moving water to see if that caused a difference.

Ep. 357: Modern Women: Vera Rubin

It’s time for another series. This time we’ll be talking about famous female astronomers. Starting with: Vera Rubin, who first identified the fact that galaxies rotate too quickly to hold themselves together, anticipating the discovery of dark matter.

Ep. 297: Space Stations, Part 2 — Mir

Last week we introduced the history of space stations and focused on the US and Soviet stations that were launched. This week we look at one of the longest running missions ever launched: Mir. From its launch and construction to its fiery finale, Mir helped both the Russians and the Americans extend their understanding of what it actually takes to live in space.

Ep. 296: Space Stations, Part 1 — Salyut and Skylab

It’s one thing to fly into space, and another thing entirely to live in space. And to understand the stresses and strains this puts on a human body, you’re going to need a space station. In this three-part series, we explore the past, present and future of stations in space, starting with the American Skylab and Russian Salyut stations.

Ep. 243: Tunguska Event

On June 30th, 1908 “something” exploded over the Tunguska region of Siberia, flattening thousands of square kilometres of forest, and unleashing a force that rivalled the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. What was it? What could unleash that kind of destructive energy? And will it happen again?

Ep. 231: Galileo Galilei

It’s hard to imagine a more famous astronomer than Galileo Galilei. He’s widely recognized as the very first person to point a telescope at the skies and then study what he saw. Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and much more. But it was his controversial stance on the nature of the Solar System that brought him into conflict with the church.

Ep. 230: Christiaan Huygens

And now we finish our trilogy of Saturnian astronomers and missions with a look at the Dutch astronomer and mathematician, Christiaan Huygens. It was Huygens who discovered Titan, and figured out what Saturn’s rings really are, so it makes sense that a probe landing on the surface of Titan was named after him.

Ep. 228: Giovanni Cassini

Another two parter, coming at you. This week we talk about the Italian astronomer, Giovanni Domenico Cassini, best known for discovering Saturn’s moons and the biggest division in Saturn’s rings. Cassini made many other important discoveries in the Solar System, and in the fields of physics and astronomy.

Ep. 216: Archaeoastronomy

The Sun, Moon, stars and planets are visible to the unaided eye, and so they have been visible to astronomers since before recorded history. Some of the earliest records we do have tell us what the ancient astronomers thought about the heavens, and how they used the changing night sky in their daily lives.

Ep. 207: Lyman Spitzer

Time for another action-packed double episode of Astronomy Cast. This week we focus on the Lyman Spitzer, a theoretical physicist and astronomer who worked on star formation and plasma physics. Of course, this will lead us into next week’s episode where we talk about the mission that bears his name: the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Ep. 191: Chandrasekhar

The first half of the 20th Century was a productive time for astronomy, with theorists working out much of the science that we take for granted today. One of these astronomy stars was Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who determined the maximum mass of a white dwarf star.

Ep. 189: Johannes Kepler and His Laws of Planetary Motion

Nicolaus Copernicus changed our understanding of the Universe when he rearranged the Solar System to put the Sun at the center, with the Earth becoming just another of the planets orbiting it. But the movement of the planets didn’t really match the theory; not until Johannes Kepler came along with his ellipses, and everything finally worked.

Ep. 188: The Future of Astronomy

We spent 5 episodes telling the story of astronomy so far, how we got from the work of the Babylonians to the modern discoveries made in the last decade. But now we want to look forward, studying the current space missions and experiments to uncover the mysteries that astronomers hope to solve.

Ep. 186: History of Astronomy, Part 4: The Beginning of Modern Astronomy

With our proper place in the Universe worked out, and some powerful telescopes to probe the cosmos, astronomers started making some real progress. The next few hundred years was a time of constant refinement, with astronomers discovering new planets, new moons, and developing new theories in astronomy and physics.

Ep. 185: History of Astronomy, Part 3: The Renaissance

Now we reach time with names that many of you will be familiar: Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus. This is an age when the biggest names in astronomy used the best tools of their time to completely rearrange their understanding of the Universe, putting the Earth where it belonged – merely orbiting the Sun, and not the center of everything.

Ep. 184: History of Astronomy, Part 2:The Greeks

With the earliest astronomers out of the way, we now move to one of the most productive eras in astronomy; the ancient Greeks. Even though they didn’t have telescopes, the Greeks worked out the size and shape of the Earth, the distance to the Moon and Sun, and even had some accurate ideas about our place in the Universe.

Ep. 183: History of Astronomy, Part 1: The Ancient Astronomers

We know you love a good series. This time we’re going to walk you through the history of astronomy, starting with the ancient astronomers and leading right up to the most recent discoveries. Today we’re going to start at the beginning, with the astronomers who first tried to understand the true nature of the Earth, the planets and our place in the cosmos.

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