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Preview: Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast brings you a weekly fact-based journey through the cosmos.

Last Build Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2013 00:00:00 GMT

Copyright: Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay

Ep 487: Dark Matter: 2018 Edition

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep 486: Particle Physics Update

Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep 485: Docking, Refueling, and Transferring

Fri, 30 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

It’s one thing to get to space. But once you’ve made it there, what do you want to do? You’ll probably want to dock with another space ship, deliver cargo, refuel. Today we’ll talk about how all that happens.

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Ep 484: Transfer Orbits and Gravitational Assists

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

If you want to get around in the Solar System, you’ll want to take advantage of natural gravitational speed boosts and transfer orbits. Whether you’re heading to the outer Solar System or you want to visit the Sun itself, the planets themselves can help you in your journey.

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Ep 483: Stopping in Space

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

It’s one thing to get from Earth to space, but sometimes you want to do the opposite. You want to get into orbit or touch down gently on the surface of a planet and explore it. How do spacecraft stop? And what does that even mean when everything is orbiting?

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Ep 482: Alternative Ways to Space

Fri, 9 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Getting to space is all about rockets, but people are trying to figure out other methods that could carry payloads to orbit and beyond. Railguns, airplanes, tethers and more. Today we’ll talk about alternative methods of spaceflight.

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Ep 481: Rockets pt. 3 - Going Faster, Higher, Farther after Fairing Separation

Fri, 2 Mar 2018 00:00:00 GMT

We’ve seen rockets blast off from here on Earth. But that’s only half the story. Rockets have additional stages to push them into trajectories, like transfer orbits and various orbital manouvers. Let’s talk about what happens after the rocket is long gone, beyond our sight.

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Ep 480: Rockets pt. 2- Multi-stage Boosters

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The vast majority of rockets are multi-staged affairs. Why is this? What makes this kind of rocket so successful? Today we look at the ins and outs of multi-stage rockets.

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Ep. 479: Rockets pt. 1- What Does "Single Stage To Orbit" Really Mean?

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

To celebrate the launch of the Falcon Heavy, we figured it was time for an all new series, this time on the rockets that carry us to space. Today we're going to talk about why single stage to orbit rockets are so difficult to carry out.

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Ep. 478: Apollo 8 with Paul Hildebrandt

Fri, 9 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

On Christmas Day, 1968 Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the first human being to see the far side of the Moon. Their mission, of course, was Apollo 8, the first time human beings had ever left Earth orbit and seen the far side of the Moon. Today we talk all about Apollo 8, with special guest Paul Hildebrandt, director of a new documentary about the mission.

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Ep. 477: State of Exploration: Once and Future Moon

Fri, 2 Feb 2018 00:00:00 GMT

It's been decades since humans set foot on the Moon. Well, it's time to go back, in theory. Of course, we've heard this all before. What are the plans afoot to send humans back to the Moon this time. What hardware will we use, and what other strategies are in the works to make this happen?

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Ep. 476: The Overview Effect

Fri, 26 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

After they’ve been to space, many astronauts report that seeing the world from above has given them a totally new perspective on humanity and the state of our planet. It’s called the Overview Effect. Today we’ll talk about this, and what this perspective can teach us all.

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Updated audio - Ep. 475: Fast Radio Bursts

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

You know what's fun? Mysteries. Here's one: fast radio bursts. Astronomers have been detecting mysterious one-time signals from across the sky. What's causing them? Nobody knows for sure, but the search is on to get to the bottom of them.

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Ep. 475: Fast Radio Bursts

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

You know what's fun? Mysteries. Here's one: fast radio bursts. Astronomers have been detecting mysterious one-time signals from across the sky. What's causing them? Nobody knows for sure, but the search is on to get to the bottom of them.

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Ep. 474: Predictions for 2018

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Phew, 2018, time to press the reset button and enjoy a whole new year of space exploration and space science. What’s coming up this year? What should we expect to launch, and what will we see in the sky?

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Ep. 473: Remembering the Best Space Science of 2017

Fri, 5 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

2017 was a crazy year for, well, you know. But, it was a great year for space science, a kilonova, extrasolar planets, reusable rockets and more. Let’s look back at the year that was and remember our favorite space science.

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Ep. 472: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover - Part 4: Bioscience

Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

What happens when the future meets biology? Bioscience science fiction, of course. And that's our focus today as we continue our journey though science-based science fiction.

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Ep. 471: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover - Part 3: Human Computer Relations

Fri, 22 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

It's time to talk computers, and how we're going to be dealing with them in the future. In our next segment on modern sci-fi, we talk about the future of the human-computer interface.

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Ep. 470: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover - Part 2: 3D Printing

Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Our journey through interesting science fiction, this time we talk about speculative fiction dealing with materials science, nanotechnology and 3D printing. It’s a staple in Star Trek, but what other stories deal with it?

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Ep. 469: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover - Part 1 Space Exploration

Fri, 8 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We’ve always been fans of science fiction, but we really like our science. Today we’ll talk about some books we’ve been reading recently that do a good job of dealing with the science in science fiction.

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Ep. 468: Simulations for Science and Fun

Fri, 1 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Astronomers depend on simulations to study the Universe. From relatively straightforward orbital simulations to vast simulations that try to recreate the large scale structure of the Universe from the Big Bang. Today we're going to talk about some of those simulations, as well as tools you can use simulate the Universe.

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Ep. 467: Resonance

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Many of the moons and planets across the Universe are in resonance with each other and their star. What causes this resonance, and how can it help us understand the history of planetary formation and migration?

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Ep. 466: Origins of Zero (0)

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We depend on zero for our math to work right, but this number was actually invented in fairly recent times. Why do we need zero? Was it inevitable?

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Ep. 465: Exploiting Interfering Light

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 464: Why the Hype over an Exorock?

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Astronomers this week announced that they had discovered an asteroid or comet on a trajectory that brought it from outside the Solar System? Is this the first case of an object from deep space? And what can we learn from this discovery?

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Ep. 463: Pareidolia and the Moon

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The man in the moon, the pyramids on Mars. Every cloud, ever. Humans have a tendency to pattern match when they're looking around the Universe - it's called pareidolia. What causes this behaviour, and how can we use this to debunk some hilarious conspiracy theories?

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Ep. 462: Modeling the Weather

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Have you noticed that weather forecasting has gotten much better in the last few years? Thanks to weather satellites, weather stations, and better forecasting techniques. How do scientists predict the weather with any kind of accuracy days or even weeks in the future.

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Ep. 461: Measuring the Weather with Satellites

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT

What’s the weather doing? Is it going to rain today? How much? What about temperatures? We depend on modern weather forecasting, thanks, in part to the vast network of weather satellites. What instruments do they have, what orbits do they use.

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Ep. 460: Earth from Afar: Remote Sensing

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The space age has given us the ability to look at every corner of the globe in every wavelength. It’s revolutionized our ability to predict the weather, keep track of environmental damage, and watch the world change. Today we look at what missions and technologies give us the ability to watch our world from afar.

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Ep. 459: Arecibo Observatory

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 00:00:00 GMT

And now Cassini’s gone. Smashed up in the atmosphere of Saturn. But planetary scientists are going to be picking through all those pictures and data for decades. Let’s look back at some of the science gathered up by Cassini so far, and we can still learn from this epic journey.

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Ep. 458: The Science of Cassini

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

And now Cassini’s gone. Smashed up in the atmosphere of Saturn. But planetary scientists are going to be picking through all those pictures and data for decades. Let’s look back at some of the science gathered up by Cassini so far, and we can still learn from this epic journey.

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Ep. 457: Why Did Cassini Have To Die? In Memoriam

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

It's time to say goodbye to an old friend, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting within the Saturnian system since 2004. But why does a seemingly healthy spacecraft and mission need to come to an end? Today we look back at the mission, some of the amazing discoveries, and why its finale was necessary.

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Ep. 456: Pluto Revisited

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This week, we return to our starting point, where Astronomy Cast began: Pluto. 11 years on, we have a whole new appreciate for the dwarf planet Pluto. We’ve visited it, probed it and taken pictures. It’s time for an update.

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Ep. 455: Your Practical Guide to Colonizing the Milky Way!

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This episode was recorded live in St. Louis, MO at the Astronomy Cast Solar Eclipse Escape 2017. Listen as we discuss how humans might be able to colonize the Milky Way!

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Astronomy Cast Extra: Solar Eclipse 101

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This episode was recorded live in St. Louis, MO at the Astronomy Cast Solar Eclipse Escape 2017. We're going to give you a set of last minute tips and info to prepare for the Great American Eclipse!

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Ep. 454: Things We're Looking Forward To

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

As we wrap up season 10 of Astronomy Cast, we look forward to all the instruments, missions and science results on the distant horizon. Think astronomy is exciting already? Just you wait.

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Ep. 453: Favorite Things We've Done These 10 Years

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

10 years of Astronomy Cast... wow. It's been a long, fun journey. What are some of our favorite episodes and adventures over the decade we've been doing this show.

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Ep. 452: Summer Observing Challenges

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Summer is almost here, and for the northern hemisphere, that means warm nights for observing. But what to observe? We're here with a list of events and targets for you to enjoy over the summer. Get your calendars handy, and start organizing some events with your friends, and then get out there!

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Ep. 451: When Can I Buy My Ticket To Space?

Mon, 29 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Like most of us, you probably want to know what it would be like to travel to space. Maybe not to live, but just to visit. You want to be a space tourist. Good news, there are a bunch of companies working hard to give you the opportunity to fly to space. How long until you can buy a ticket?

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Ep. 450: Inflatable Habitats

Sun, 21 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

In order to live in space, we'll need to live in a habitat that simulates the temperature, pressure and atmosphere of Earth. And one of the most interesting ideas for how to do this will be with inflatable habitats. In fact, there are a few habitats in the works right now, including one attached to the International Space Station.

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Ep. 449: Robots in Space!

Mon, 08 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

When you think of a robot, you’re probably imagining some kind of human-shaped machine. And until now, the robotic spacecraft we’ve sent out into space to help us explore the Solar System look nothing like that. But that vision of robots is coming back, thanks to a few new robots in development by NASA and other groups.

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Ep. 448: Prepping for the Eclipse

Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 GMT

On Monday, August 21, 2017, there’s going to be a total eclipse of the Sun, visible to path that goes right through the middle of the United States. You should be making plans to see this, and we’re here to help you know where to go and what to do.

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Ep. 447: Animals in Space Pt. 3: Dogs, Monkeys and More

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

For the final episode in our 3-part episode about animals in space, we look at the largest animals to go to orbit. And I’ll just warn you now, this is going to be a really sad episode.

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Ep. 446: Animals in Space Pt. 2: Mice and Other Small Animals

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last week we talked about how the smallest creatures behave in space, but now we move up in size a little to small animals, like mice. What missions have they flown on, and how does microgravity affect their biology?

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

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We've talked about animals traveling 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.

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Ep. 444: Fractals

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

For this historic 444th episode of Astronomy Cast, we talk about fractals. Those amazing mathematical visualizations of recursive algorithms. What are they, how do you get them? Why are they important?

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Ep. 443: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 7: Tsunamis

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Surf’s up! Today we’re going to be talking about one of the most devastating natural disasters out there: tsunamis. We’re talking huge waves that wreck the seashore. But it turns out, there many ways you can get a tsunami, and one of those has to do with space.

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Ep. 442: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 6: Magnetic Pole Reversal

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 00:00:00 GMT

If we look back into the geologic record of the Earth, it appears that our planet’s magnetic field flips polarity every few hundred thousand years or so. Why does this happen? When’s it supposed to happen next? Is it dangerous?

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Ep. 441: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 5: Continental Drift

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Want to travel the world but you don’t have a lot of money? No problem, your continent is drifting across the surface of the Earth right now. In a few million years, you’ll reach your destination.

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Ep. 440: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 4: Supervolcanoes!

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

There are regular volcanoes, and then there are the supervolcanoes. Massive calderas of hot magma of incomprehensible size. Bad news, these things explode randomly and catastrophically. Worse news, there are a bunch around the Earth.

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Ep. 439: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 3: How Do We Terraform Earth?

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We always want to talk about how we can make Mars more Earth like, but the reality is that we’re making Earth more Venus-Like. We’re Venusforming Earth. What are the various factors we’re impacting on a global scale, and how can we fix them?

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Ep. 438: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 2: Geoengineering

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We know humans are having an impact on planet Earth, but what if we really put our backs into it, and intentionally tried to change the entire planet? Either to make it better, or to fix some terrible mistake we've made. The technique is called geoengineering. Could it work?

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Ep. 437: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 1: The Torino Scale

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

We love to destroy the universe, and also rebuild it. Today we begin a new series where we destroy and rebuild. Let's talk about some existential threats we face, and ways we could recover, starting with the sword of Damocles hanging over our head: killer asteroids!

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Ep. 436: Common Misconceptions in Probability

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Human beings are bad at many things, but we're particularly terrible at understanding probability in a rational way. We underestimate, overestimate and generally mess up probability. We'll try to fix it here, but we'll surely fail.

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Ep. 435: The Butterfly Effect

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Small changes can have a big impact. But can a butterfly’s wingbeat in the Amazon really impact the weather halfway across the world? And where do small changes have no impact?

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Ep. 434: Am I On An Alien World?

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Once again, science fiction television and movies has let you down. They try to recreate what it might be like on an alien world, but surprise surprise, they mostly get it wrong. That’s because a truly alien world would be different in so many ways, it would blow your mind. Today we’ll help you figure out if you’re on a movie set, or you’ve actually crashlanded on an alien planet.

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Ep. 433: Volcanoes on Mars

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Mars is a world of extremes. This unassuming red world is home to the largest and tallest volcanoes in the entire Solar System. In fact, it’s not even a close contest, with Olympus Mons rising 22 km above the surrounding plains, more than twice as tall as Mount Everest. How did Mars get such big volcanoes, and how active is the planet today?

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

Mon, 26 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 431: The Search for Life on Mars

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Enceladus and Europa are all the rage these days, but classic Mars is still a great place to search for life. In fact, ESA’s ExoMars is scanning the planet’s atmosphere for methane, evidence that there might be life there right now. Let’s talk about the search for life on the Red Planet.

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Ep. 430: Coming Home from Mars

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Landing on the surface of Mars is very difficult. In fact, it’s probably the toughest planet to land on in the whole Solar System. Today we’ll talk about what it’s going to take to get to and return from Mars!

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Ep. 429: Living on Mars

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT

When Elon Musk announced plans to send humans to Mars, he conveniently left out one important aspect. How are we supposed to survive on a place this hostile to life? Seriously, Mars sucks, and it's going to take some impressive techniques and technologies to make it on the Red Planet.

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Ep. 428: The Moons of Mars

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT

We begin a miniseries on Mars. How many episodes will we do? Who knows? But we start today with a discussion of the two Mars moons, Phobos and Deimos.

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Ep. 427: Click Bait vs Clear Science

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Did you hear that Dark Energy doesn't exist any more? Neither does Dark Matter? It turns out that NASA recalculated the Zodiac and now you're an Ophiuchan! Science is hard enough, but communicating that science out to the public when there are publications hungry for traffic is even harder! Here's how to parse the click-bait science titles.

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Ep. 426: Confirmation Bias

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

I hate to tell you this, but that meat computer in your skull is constantly betraying you. Don’t worry, we’ve all got the same, but fortunately, scientists have learned how this happens, and can help us make sure our science, and lives don’t suffer because of it.

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Ep. 425: Naming Spacecraft

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Have you ever noticed spacecraft missions have some pretty cool names? How does anyone decide what to call these things?

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Ep. 424: Lightning

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

It turns out that nature figured out how to use electricity long before humans did. Lightning storms are common across the Earth, and even the Solar System. What causes this electricity in the sky, and how can science use it?

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Ep. 423: Cyclones

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

As Hurricane Matthew reminded us, cyclonic storms are a force to be reckoned with. What causes these storms, and how can they form across the Solar System.

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Ep. 422: Geysers

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 00:00:00 GMT

So if you’ve been to Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen one of the most amazing features of the natural world – geysers. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about geysers on Earth, and where they might be in the solar system.

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Ep. 421: Space Games!

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

As you probably know, Fraser is an avid video gamer, especially if it has anything to do with space. Today we turn things around, as Fraser talks about the games he plays, and what he thinks you should be playing too.

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Ep. 420: FIRE!

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

One of the most dangerous things that can happen inside a spacecraft is fire. Seriously, it’s NASA’s worst nightmare, and for good reason. Fire acts differently in space, and astronauts are always on alert. Here’s why.

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Ep. 419: DragonCon 2016 Live - Rocket Girls

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 418: Error 418 – I’m a Teapot!

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT

One of the most familiar asterisms in the night sky is the Teapot, in Sagittarius. Today we’re going to talk about that and have a bonus conversation about Bertrand Russell’s Teapot Argument.

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Ep. 417: Error 417: Expectation Failed

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT

In all fields of science, sometimes more is learned when you fail at what you’re trying to do than when you succeed. So what new science discoveries have failed expectations given us in astronomy?

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Ep. 416: Fireballs from the Sky!

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Every now and then we look up and see bright fiery balls falling from the sky. Don’t panic, these are just bolides. Sometimes they leave trails, sometimes they explode, and sometimes they survive all the way to the ground.

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Ep. 415: Temperature of the Universe

Mon, 30 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT

The temperature of the Universe can vary a dramatic amount from the hot cores of stars to the vast cold emptiness of deep space. What’s the temperature of the Universe now, and what will it be in the future?

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Ep. 414: Navigating Far

Mon, 16 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT

In our last episode, we talked about what it’ll take to navigate across the Solar System. In this episode we scale things up and speculate how future civilizations will navigate to other stars and even other galaxies.

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Ep. 413: Navigating Near

Mon, 09 May 2016 00:00:00 GMT

It’s hard enough finding your way around planet Earth, but what do you do when you’re trying to find your way around the Solar System? Today we’ll talk about how spacecraft navigate from world to world.

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Ep. 412: The Color of the Universe

Mon, 25 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

What color is the Universe? Turns out this isn’t a simple question, and one that scientists have really been unable to answer, until now!

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Ep. 411: Science of Sunset Colors

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

We all enjoy beautiful, multicolored sunsets. But what causes the brilliant oranges, pinks and purples that we see, and why does it change from day to day and season to season?

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Ep. 410: Planet 9 Facts and Fiction

Mon, 11 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

The discovery of Planet 9 has caused a wonderful, confusing uproar and a flood of misinformation in the news and social media. We’ll sort out what we actually know, what things just aren’t true, and what things might be possible!

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Ep. 409: Spin in the Universe

Mon, 04 Apr 2016 00:00:00 GMT

The Solar System is a spinny place. Everything’s turning turning. But if you look closely, there are some pretty strange spins going on. Today we talk about how everything started turning, and the factors that still “impact” them today.

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Ep. 408: Universe Cannibalism

Mon, 28 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT

We’ve talked about stellar cannibalism and galactic cannibalism, but now it’s time to take this concept to its logical extreme – universe cannibalism. In the multiverse theory of physics we live in just one of a vast range of universes which might interact with each other. Let’s look for the evidence.

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Ep. 407: Galactic Cannibalism

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Remember when we told you that the Universe is a big place, and anything that can go wrong, inevitably does? Today we talk about what happens when galaxies come together. This is particularly pertinent because our Milky Way will collide with Andromeda in the future!

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Ep. 406: Stellar Cannibalism

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Most of the time stars hang around for billions of years. But the Universe is a big place, and anything that can go wrong, inevitably does. Today we talk about what happens when these stars come together. The outcome is violent, and fortunately for you, also interesting.

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Ep. 405: Method Not Found

Mon, 29 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Last week we talked about knowledge, what we do and don’t know. This week we talk about questions which are impossible to ask, where the answers don’t actually exist.

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Ep. 404: The Difference Between: Can’t Know, Don’t Know, and Just Awaiting Better Tech

Mon, 22 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

There the things we know, the things we don’t know, and the things we can’t know. How do we know which one is when when we’re deciding to fund research and direct our scientific inquiry.

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Ep. 403: Funding Big Science: from Alma to LIGO to TMT

Mon, 15 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

How much of a challenge is it to get funding for large projects like LIGO? Fraser and Pamela discuss the difficult issues finding “Big Money.”

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Ep. 402: Gravity Eyes: See The Invisible With The Force

Mon, 08 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

What kinds of things can we see using gravity, that we may not otherwise be able to see? Pamela will fill us in on the Great Attractor, etc!

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Ep. 401: Future Predictions

Mon, 01 Feb 2016 00:00:00 GMT

What do Pamela and Fraser think will happen or be discovered in 2016? What would they like to see in the near future?

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Ep. 400: The State of the Universe

Mon, 25 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT

It’s time for us to go back and catch up with all of the projects, news stories, weird star systems, and other topics that need updating!

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Ep. 399: Women in Science

Mon, 11 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Science is typically a male dominated profession, mostly dudes, not a lot of ladies. From researchers to professors, to law makers, woman have a tough time gaining traction in such a heavily gendered field. Today we’re going to talk about what it takes to make it as a woman in science, what additional hurdles you’ll have to navigate, and what resources are available if you’re being harassed or discriminated against.

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Ep. 398: Seeing Things: Emitting, Reflecting, Ionizing Light

Mon, 04 Jan 2016 00:00:00 GMT

Astronomers gather electromagnetic radiation with the telescopes: mostly visible light. But sometimes they've got to be clever about where they look for these elusive photons. Light can get emitted, absorbed, reflected, and each method tells astronomers a little more about what they're looking at.

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Ep. 397: A Universe From Nothing

Mon, 21 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

One of the biggest, most basic questions you can ask is: “why is there something and not nothing?” The reality is that we don’t know the answer, we might never know the answer. Today we’ll investigate this mystery, recently covered by the physicist Lawrence Krauss in his book of the same name.

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Ep. 396: Family Astronomy for the Holidays

Mon, 14 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Every year, it’s the same dilemma: what gift should you get for the super space nerd in the family? And if someone has a budding interest in space and astronomy, what can you do to feed their hunger for knowledge? Today we’ll talk telescopes, books and planispheres. Everything you need to avoid a holiday gift disaster.

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Ep. 395: Baryons and Beyond the Standard Model

Mon, 07 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 394: The Standard Model - Bosons

Sat, 05 Dec 2015 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 393: The Standard Model, Leptons and Quarks

Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 392: The Standard Model - Intro

Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

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.

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Ep. 391: Entrophy

Mon, 16 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

Have you ever been doing thermodynamics in a closed system and noticed that there’s a finite number of ways that things can be arranged, and they tend towards disorder? Of course you have, we all have. That’s entropy. And here in our Universe, entropy is on the rise. Let’s learn about entropy in its specific, thermodynamic ways, and then figure out what this means for the future of the Universe.

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Ep. 390: Occam’s Razor and the Problem with Probabilities

Mon, 09 Nov 2015 00:00:00 GMT

I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens. Actually, it’s almost certainly not aliens, or a wormhole, or a multiverse. When scientists discover something unusual, they make guesses about what’s happening. But Occam’s Razor encourages us to consider the probabilities of different events before making any concrete predictions.

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