This week's show

Too Big to Prove
Aug 20, 2018

Too Big To Prove
Gravitational waves, string theory, and modern physics

(Repeat) Celebrations are in order for the physicists who won the 2017 Nobel Prize, for the detection of gravitational waves.  But the road to Stockholm was not easy.  Unfolding over a century, it went from doubtful theory to daring experiments and even disrepute.  100 years is a major lag between a theory and its confirmation, and new ideas in physics may take even longer to prove.

Why it may be your great, great grandchildren who witness the confirmation of string theory.  Plus, the exciting insights that gravitational waves provide into the phenomena of our universe, beginning with black holes.

And, physics has evolved - shouldn’t its rewards?  A case for why the Nobel committee should honor collaborative groups rather than individuals, and the scientific breakthroughs it’s missed. 

Guests: 

  • Janna Levin - Physicist and astronomer at Barnard College at Columbia University, and the author of the story of LIGO, “Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.”

  • Roland Pease - BBC reporter, producer, and host of “Science in Action.” 

  • David Gross - Theoretical physicist, string theorist, University of California, Santa Barbara, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, winner, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics. 

Descripción en español

​Originally aired October 16, 2017

It's Habitable Forming
Aug 13, 2018
It's Habitable Forming
Possible gamechanger: a subsurface lake on Mars.

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There’s evidence for a subsurface lake on Mars, and scientists are excitedly using the “h” word.  Could the Red Planet be habitable, not billions of years ago, but today?  While we wait – impatiently – for a confirmation of this result, we review the recipe for habitable alien worlds.

Skeptic Check: Brain Gain
Aug 06, 2018
Skeptic Check: Brain Gain
Separating pseudo from science in cognitive enhancement.

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Looking to boost your brainpower?

It's In Material
Jul 30, 2018
It's In Material
New constructs in construction stuff.

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(Repeat) Astronauts are made of the “right stuff,” but what about their spacesuits?   NASA’s pressurized and helmeted onesies are remarkable, but they need updating if we’re to boldly go into deep space.   Suiting up on Mars requires more manual flexibility, for example.  Find out what innovative materials might be used to reboot the suit.

Identity Crisis
Jul 23, 2018
Identity Crisis
The search for the ultimate biomarker.

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DNA is the gold standard of identification.