Today, we gaze into the future of space and astronomy. What upcoming missions and events are we excited about?
It’s been a while since we checked to make sure the Universe was still expanding. Yeah, apparently, that’s still a thing. But in the last few years powerful new telescopes and expansive surveys have given us much more knowledge about what’s happening.
I’ve got some bad news for you: stars die. At some point in the next few billion years or so, our Sun is going to start heating up, using up all the fuel in its core, and then eventually die, becoming a white dwarf. It will then slowly cool down to the background temperature of the universe, becoming a black dwarf.
Recorded during the Astrotour to Costa Rica, Fraser talks to Dr. Paul Matt Sutter about the nature of dust and BICEP 2’s claim of discovering primordial gravitational waves.
The updates continue. Last week we talked about dark matter, and this week we continue with its partner dark energy. Of course, they’re not really partners, unless you consider mysteriousness to be an attribute. Dark energy, that force that’s accelerating the expansion of the Universe. What have we learned?
Last week, we gave you an update in particle physics. This week it’s time to see what’s new in the world of dark matter. Spoiler alert, we still have no idea what it is, but maybe a few more ideas for what it isn’t.
It’s time for a news update. This time from the field of particle physics. It turns out there have been all kinds of new and interesting particles discovered by the Large Hadron Collider and others. Let’s get an update from Pamela.
Electromagnetic radiation, also known as “light” is pretty handy for astronomers. They can use it to directly and indirectly observe stars, nebula, planets and more. But as you probably know, light can act like a wave, creating interference patterns to teach us even more about the Universe.
In the last few episodes, we’ve been talking about the standard model of physics, explaining what everything is made up of. But the reality is that we probably don’t know a fraction of how everything is put together. This week we’re going to talk about baryons, the particles made up of quarks. The most famous ones are the proton and the neutron, but that’s just the tip of the baryonic iceberg. And then we’re going to talk about where the standard model ends, and what’s next in particle physics.
All fundamental particles are either fermions or bosons. Last week we talked about quarks, which are fermions. This week we’ll talk about bosons, including the famous Higgs boson, recently confirmed by the Large Hadron Collider.
Physicists are getting a handle on the structure of the Universe, how everything is made of something else. Molecules are made of atoms, atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons, etc. Even smaller than that are the quarks and the leptons, which seem to be the basic building blocks of all matter.
Humans, cars and planets are made of molecules. And molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. What are they made of? This is the standard model of particle physics, which explains how everything is put together and the forces that mediate all those particles.
In some of the most extreme objects in the Universe, white dwarfs and neutron stars, matter gets strange, transforming into a material that physicists call “degenerate matter”. Let’s learn what it is, how it forms.
When he wasn’t puzzling the mystery of alien civilizations, Enrico Fermi was splitting atoms. He realized that when atoms were split, the neutrons released could go on and split other atoms, creating a chain reaction – and the most powerful weapons ever devised.
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.
We’ve talked about the biggest of the big, now let’s focus in on the smallest of the small. Let’s see what’s inside that basic building block of matter: the atom. You probably know the basics, but with ever more powerful particle accelerators, physicists are revealing particles within particles, announcing new discoveries all the time.
And now we reach the third part of our trilogy on the human exploration and colonization of Mars. Humans will inevitably tire of living underground, and will want to stretch their legs, and fill their lungs with fresh air. One day, we’ll contemplate the possibility of reshaping Mars to suit human life. Is it even possible? What technologies would be used, and what’s the best we can hope for?
Have you ever heard that photons behave like both a particle and a wave and wondered what that meant? It’s true. Sometimes light acts like a wave, and other times it behaves like a little particle. It’s both. This week we discuss the experiments that demonstrate this, explain how scientists figured it all out in the first place. What does wave/particle duality have to do with astronomy? Well, everything, since light is the only way astronomers can see out into the Universe.
Sometimes, we don’t get to decide what our show’s about. So many threads come together at the same time driving the decision for us. This is one of those situations. We’ve gotten so many questions from listeners in just the last week about antimatter that our show had just been chosen for it. You command, we obey. Let’s talk about antimatter.
We’ve been so crazy following our own whims through the universe that we’ve neglected your questions. That ends today. It’s time to dig deep into our overflowing email box to retrieve the puzzling questions our listeners have sent in.
We’re going to return back to a long series of episodes we like to call: Radiation that Will Turn You Into a Superhero. This time we’re going to look at cosmic rays, which everyone knows made the Fantastic Four. These high-energy particles are streaming from the Sun and even intergalactic space, and do a wonderful job of destroying our DNA, giving us radiation sickness, and maybe (hopefully!) turning us into superheroes.
When it was first developed, the standard model predicted a collection of particles, and thanks to more and more powerful colliders, physicsists have been able to find them all except one: the Higgs-Boson. It’s an important one because it should explain how objects have mass. The European Large Hadron Collider should have the power and sensitivity to find the Higgs-Boson.
Trillions of neutrinos are produced in our Sun through its nuclear reactions. These particles stream out at nearly the speed of light, and pass right through any matter they encounter. In fact, there are billions of them passing through your body right now. Learn how this elusive particle was first theorized and finally discovered.
We see the Universe in visible light with our photon detecting eyes. We can feel infrared heat with our photon detecting hands, and we get sunburns with our ultraviolet photon detecting skin (ouch). But there’s a whole spectrum of photons out there, from radio waves to gamma rays that astronomers use to understand the Universe. It’s time to see the whole picture.