The Cosmic Controversy Podcast
Episode 49 — The Dangerous Downside of Airliner Automation

Episode 49 — The Dangerous Downside of Airliner Automation

May 7, 2021

Guest commercial pilot and author Jack Hersch talks about his 2020 book, “The Dangers of Automation in Airliners:  Accidents Waiting to Happen.”  It’s both a fascinating and harrowing read but prompts questions and nagging issues that the aviation industry needs to continue to address.

Episode 48 — Mapping Laniakea, Our Home Supercluster Of Galaxies

Episode 48 — Mapping Laniakea, Our Home Supercluster Of Galaxies

May 1, 2021

World-renowned, University of Hawaii cosmologist Brent Tully on 50 years of mapping the nearby universe which includes our own home supercluster ‘Laniakea.’  Tully candidly assesses the state of cosmography, the science of making 3-D maps of the nearby universe and speculates on when astronomers will finally map the cosmos in its entirety. 

Episode 47 — How Palomar Observatory Changed Almost Everything We Knew About Astronomy

Episode 47 — How Palomar Observatory Changed Almost Everything We Knew About Astronomy

April 24, 2021

Astronomer and author Linda Schweizer talks about her comprehensive new history of Palomar Observatory --- “Cosmic Odyssey:  How Intrepid Astronomers At Palomar Observatory Changed Our View of the Universe” from MIT Press.  We focus on Palomar’s early 20th century construction and history.  Schweizer is an expert on every aspect of the observatory; its history, and its many astronomical discoveries. 

Episode 46 – Harvard Geologist Andy Knoll Sums Up The Grand Sweep Of Earth’s History

Episode 46 – Harvard Geologist Andy Knoll Sums Up The Grand Sweep Of Earth’s History

April 16, 2021

Harvard University geologist Andrew H. Knoll takes on the grand sweep of Earth’s formation and evolution in his new book “A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters.  He succinctly describes Earth from its cosmological beginnings in a molecular cloud on through to the present day.  It’s a fine line between the vacuum of space and the planet on which we walk.

Episode 45 — The Incredible Story of Flying Tiger Flight 923’s North Atlantic Ditching

Episode 45 — The Incredible Story of Flying Tiger Flight 923’s North Atlantic Ditching

April 8, 2021

Author Eric Lindner talks about his forthcoming book, “Tiger in the Sea:  The Ditching of Flying Tiger 923 and the Desperate Struggle for Survival.”  The September 23, 1962 Flying Tiger Line passenger charter Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft en route from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey to Frankfurt, Germany lost three of its four engines to fire some 500 miles off the west coast of Ireland.  This largely forgotten episode in aviation history hastened the end of propeller-driven transport aircraft.

Episode 44 — ESA’s Upcoming Euclid Dark Energy Survey

Episode 44 — ESA’s Upcoming Euclid Dark Energy Survey

April 2, 2021

Fascinating new chat with Michael Seiffert, the NASA project scientist for the U.S. contribution to the European Space Agency’s Euclid spacecraft.  Due for launch in the second half of 2022, we discuss how this new space telescope will help astronomers finally understand the mystery of dark energy and maybe even dark matter. 

Episode 43 — What Future And Final Galaxy Surveys Will Teach Us About The Cosmos

Episode 43 — What Future And Final Galaxy Surveys Will Teach Us About The Cosmos

March 25, 2021

Jason Rhodes, a cosmologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and the JPL Roman Space Telescope Project Scientist, discusses a proposed galaxy survey to end all galaxy surveys.  One that would wring as much information out of our universe’s trillion or so galaxies across cosmic time as humanly possible.  Astronomers are still at least half a century off from this final galaxy census, but the hope is that it will give cosmologists most of the answers they need about the makeup and structure of the universe. 

Episode 42 — Neil DeGrasse Tyson Talks About His New Book “Cosmic Queries”

Episode 42 — Neil DeGrasse Tyson Talks About His New Book “Cosmic Queries”

March 18, 2021

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City, discusses everything from pond scum to space aliens in this off-the-wall and very engaging episode.  It’s vintage Tyson.  We also touch on his latest book written with George Mason University physicist James Trefil --- “Cosmic Queries:  StarTalk’s Guide To Who We Are, How We Got Here, And Where We’re Going.” 

Episode 41 — The History Of Space Exploration In 100 Objects

Episode 41 — The History Of Space Exploration In 100 Objects

March 12, 2021

Award-winning NASA astrophysicist and author Sten Odenwald discusses several of the 100 objects featured in his 2019 book:  “Space Exploration:  A History in 100 Objects.”  I pick a few of the lesser known and underappreciated objects, which run the gamut in their differing ages.  In this compelling episode, it’s amazing to hear and understand just how far humanity has come in its technological quest to understand the cosmos.

Episode 40 — Cosmic Cataclysms And The Evolution Of Intelligent Life On Earth

Episode 40 — Cosmic Cataclysms And The Evolution Of Intelligent Life On Earth

March 5, 2021

I welcome renowned evolutionary paleobiologist Bruce S. Lieberman, a professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, who is an expert on how cosmic cataclysms have impacted the evolution of life here on Earth.  Massive nearby supernovae, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) as well as asteroidal and cometary impactors have each played a role in our planet’s long tape of life.  And if we were able to rewind that tape and roll the die once more?  Would intelligent life have manifested itself here at all?  This lively episode delves into our long road from Trilobite to Human Intelligence.

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