The Cosmic Controversy Podcast
Brief Hiatus

Brief Hiatus

September 15, 2021

The Cosmic Controversy Podcast is taking a brief hiatus from its weekly schedule.  Please use this break in new episodes as an opportunity to listen to some of the 67 episodes that you may have missed.  All of the episodes are still available wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Thanks again for listening.

Episode 67 — Mysteries Of The Lunar Surface

Episode 67 — Mysteries Of The Lunar Surface

September 10, 2021

Guest Benjamin Greenhagen, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, outlines the lunar surface’s remaining mysteries --- everything from permanently shaded regions at the North and South poles to near and far side impact craters.  Greenhagen is the deputy principal investigator of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer instrument onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and is an expert on the geology of the Moon’s surface. 

Episode 66 — The Big Questions About The Cosmos And Our Existence

Episode 66 — The Big Questions About The Cosmos And Our Existence

September 3, 2021

Guest Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and director of the BEYOND Center at Arizona State University, gives an enlightening and fascinating interview on the true nature of the Cosmos and why there is something rather than nothing.  We also discuss his new book:  “What’s Eating the Universe? --- and Other Cosmic Questions.” 

Episode 65 — The Future Of Supersonic, Hypersonic and Suborbital Passenger Flight

Episode 65 — The Future Of Supersonic, Hypersonic and Suborbital Passenger Flight

August 28, 2021

Guest Christopher Combs, an assistant professor of aerodynamics at the University of Texas at San Antonio, discusses current prospects for supersonic. hypersonic and even suborbital spaceplane passenger flight.  Combs clearly communicates the technical aspects of flight faster than sound and the issues that are hindering our ability to hop from one corner the Earth to the other within 90 minutes or less.  

Episode 64 — The Long-Forgotten Tragedy Of The Arctic Airship Italia

Episode 64 — The Long-Forgotten Tragedy Of The Arctic Airship Italia

August 21, 2021

Acclaimed U.K. journalist Mark Piesing chats about his first book N-4 DOWN:  THE HUNT FOR THE ARCTIC AIRSHIP ITALIA (Harper-Collins) which tracks the long-forgotten history of how airship and early aviators tried to conquer the North Pole.  Umberto Nobile’s Italia airship crashed onto the Arctic ice in May 1928 and sparked an international search before Nobile and what was left of his crew were eventually saved by the then relatively novel technology of radio.

Episode 63 — Getting Real About the Social and Psychological Challenges of Long-Term Space Missions

Episode 63 — Getting Real About the Social and Psychological Challenges of Long-Term Space Missions

August 14, 2021

Guest Sheryl L. Bishop, a social psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston gets real about what we need to make happen if astronauts are going to be able to thrive off-world beyond low-Earth orbit.  Bishop chats candidly about her new book “Space Habitats and Habitability:  Designing for Isolated and Confined Environments on Earth and in Space,” co-authored with Sandra Hauplik-Meusburger. 

Episode 62 — The Link Between Ancient Astrochemistry And Life On Earth

Episode 62 — The Link Between Ancient Astrochemistry And Life On Earth

August 6, 2021

Guest Edwin (Ted) Bergin, professor of astronomy and Chair of the Dept. of Astronomy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, discusses whether our existence in this solar system is directly related to the initial chemical makeup of our star’s protosolar disk from which our planets formed. 

Episode 61 — Could A Snowball Earth Happen Again?

Episode 61 — Could A Snowball Earth Happen Again?

July 31, 2021

University of Chicago associate professor Dorian Abbot chats about his research on the controversial Snowball Earth Hypothesis.  That is, the idea that at least twice in Earth’s geological past, our planet was basically a glacial ball of ice and snow.  Abbot says it likely happened some 2 billion years ago and again some 600 to 800 million years ago.   There's evidence for at least four such snowball events that likely persisted for tens of millions of years.  

Episode 60 — Why Our Human Brain Is Undeniably Unique In The Cosmos

Episode 60 — Why Our Human Brain Is Undeniably Unique In The Cosmos

July 23, 2021

Our civilization and technology as we know it owes itself to a fluke of evolution that enabled the development of human intelligence.  It’s a marvelous and nuanced intelligence that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the cosmos.  That doesn’t mean that intelligent life isn’t out there.  But it’s likely not very similar to our own.  Guest Bret Stetka chats about his new book “A History of the Human Brain” from Workman Publishing and tackles some of humanity’s biggest questions. 

Episode 59 — Einstein’s Little-Appreciated Window Onto Far Flung Exoplanets

Episode 59 — Einstein’s Little-Appreciated Window Onto Far Flung Exoplanets

July 16, 2021

Darren DePoy, Professor of Astronomy and Associate Dean for Research at Texas A&M University in College Station, talks about using one of Einstein’s little-known and underappreciated method of microlensing to look for extrasolar planets around sunlike stars.  An expert on building telescope instrumentation, DePoy outlines the other methods of planet detection and a bit about the difficulties of funding huge astronomical projects such as the Giant Magellan Telescope.

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