The Cosmic Controversy Podcast
Episode 9 — How ESA’s GAIA Satellite Is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of the Milky Way

Episode 9 — How ESA’s GAIA Satellite Is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of the Milky Way

July 31, 2020

Dutch astronomer Anthony Brown of Leiden University explains how the European Space Agency's GAIA satellite is revolutionizing what we know about the Milky Way.  This all-sky survey mission revisits each target 70 times over the course of the years-long mission to give astronomers a real 3-D map of a large swath of our galaxy.  Highlights include why are Milky Way is warped, the potential origins of our solar system's formation, and why Gaia is important to planet hunters.  The next big data drop is scheduled by year's end.   My apologies to those who listened to an earlier version of this; there was a technical glitch with music interference halfway through which has now been resolved.  Thanks for listening!

 
Episode 8 — How NASA’s $10 Billion Webb Telescope Will Help Us Figure Out Our Own Solar System

Episode 8 — How NASA’s $10 Billion Webb Telescope Will Help Us Figure Out Our Own Solar System

July 24, 2020

When first conceived, the 6.5 meter James Webb Space Telescope was all about galaxy surveys, the deep sky, and cosmology; it still is.  But it’s also about solar system science in surprising ways.  This infrared behemoth will virtually revolutionize the way we view asteroids, comets, and Kuiper Belt objects in the far reaches of our frozen outer solar system.  This episode’s guest --- Stefanie Milam ---  is the Webb telescope’s deputy project scientist for planetary science and gives us all the details on why the telescope is such a complicated piece of hardware and why it will also give us some of the best maps of Mars than anyone could hope. 

Episode 7 — After Pearl Harbor, Were the Japanese Planning to Strike the U.S. West Coast?

Episode 7 — After Pearl Harbor, Were the Japanese Planning to Strike the U.S. West Coast?

July 17, 2020

Guest Michel Paradis on his fascinating new book "Last Mission To Tokyo" and how the ingenuity and success of Doolittle's raid marked a crucial turning point in America's war in the Pacific.  Paradis argues that Jimmy Doolittle and his men's bombing raid on Tokyo in early 1942 marked a crucial turning point against Japan in the early days of America's involvement in World War II.  This horrific psychological blow on Japan caused their Imperial forces to reverse strategy and play defense, perhaps even saving the American West Coast from invasion.

Episode 6 — The Evolution of Intelligence on Earth and Beyond

Episode 6 — The Evolution of Intelligence on Earth and Beyond

July 10, 2020

We hear a lot of talk about the possibility of intelligent E.T.s, but in this episode, neuroscientist Lori Marino gives us the nuts and bolts of what intelligence really is; how it manifests itself on our own Earth; and why intelligent aliens won't necessarily need ginormous brains.

Episode 5 — The Trouble with Dark Matter

Episode 5 — The Trouble with Dark Matter

July 1, 2020

Episode 5 --- The Trouble with Dark Matter.  This important hour-long interview with astronomer and dark matter expert Stacy McGaugh, Chair of the Dept. of Astronomy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, covers the conundrums surrounding the mystery of dark matter in the cosmos.  It’s a candid account of dark matter’s history, the prospects for detecting its makeup, and, most crucially, its failings as a cosmological theory and hypothesis.  Problem is, we’re stuck with it.

Episode 4 — Is the Sun an Oddball Star?

Episode 4 — Is the Sun an Oddball Star?

June 26, 2020

Is the Sun an Oddball Star?  A fascinating conversation with Kepler and TESS astronomer Travis Metcalfe, of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., about how our Sun stacks up against other sunlike stars in the galaxy.  We cover the history of our solar system, where the Sun might have been born, and why the only intelligent life we know is around this lonely G-Dwarf star. 

Episode 3 —- Will We Get Back to the Moon By 2024?

Episode 3 —- Will We Get Back to the Moon By 2024?

June 19, 2020

Episode 3’s special guest is John Logsdon, the founder of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, author and celebrated space analyst.  We discuss everything from how the pandemic is impacting current space operations to NASA’s Artemis mission to the Moon, timelines for getting humans to Mars and beyond, as well how election-year politics will affect current and future space policy.

Episode 2 — The Mysteries of Our Planet Venus

Episode 2 — The Mysteries of Our Planet Venus

June 14, 2020

In this wide-ranging interview, planetary scientist Stephen Kane of the University of California, Riverside, delves into the mysteries of our neighbor planet Venus.  We discuss how Venus went wrong and why understanding its evolution is so important in characterizing extrasolar planetary systems like our own. 

Episode 1 — How to Find Microfossils on Mars

Episode 1 — How to Find Microfossils on Mars

June 8, 2020

A conversation with astrobiologist Lara Maldanis about how to identify very ancient microfossils here on Earth and the potential for detecting them on Mars.