The Cosmic Controversy Podcast
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.

Episode 39 — What NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Teaching The Rest Of Us.

Episode 39 — What NASA’s Perseverance Rover Is Teaching The Rest Of Us.

February 26, 2021

NASA’s Rob Manning, JPL’s Chief Engineer, discusses management, logistics, innovation and the future of robotic Mars exploration in this unique episode.  With this week’s successful landing of the Perseverance rover on an ancient river delta, NASA ups its game at a time when the rest of the country badly needs some encouraging news.  Manning talks about how JPL keeps itself on track when finessing complicated billion-dollar initiatives. 

Episode 38 — The Trouble With Dark Energy

Episode 38 — The Trouble With Dark Energy

February 19, 2021

Nearly 25 years after its discovery, the mystery at the core of dark energy persists.  Astronomers are no closer to understanding what’s behind this cosmic repulsive force that counteracts gravity and causes the cosmos to expand at an accelerating rate than when it was first discovered in 1998.  Guest Alexei Filippenko is a member of the Nobel Prize-winning team that detected dark energy via supernovae surveys. He gives us the inside scoop on how dark energy was detected; what it means for our existence and the prospects for unmasking this bizarre force of nature that makes up some 70 percent of the observable universe.   

Episode 37 — Is Oumuamua, Our Solar System’s 1st Identified Interstellar Asteroid, Actually An Alien Probe?

Episode 37 — Is Oumuamua, Our Solar System’s 1st Identified Interstellar Asteroid, Actually An Alien Probe?

February 12, 2021

Did an alien lightsail traverse our solar system in 2017?  Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb thinks so.  In today’s episode, I welcome Loeb to discuss his bestselling book --- “Extraterrestrial:  The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth.”  We chat about why he thinks this object, Oumuamua, is likely to be artificial and why the scientific community at large remains so unreceptive to progressive scientific thinking when it comes to the subject of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Episode 36 — NASA Aims For The Geophysical Heart Of Mars

Episode 36 — NASA Aims For The Geophysical Heart Of Mars

February 5, 2021

I welcome Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator for NASA’s Mars InSight lander, which has been operating on the Martian surface for two years now.  Although it’s had some technical issues, it’s offered a sea change in how geophysicists are interpreting the dynamics and makeup of the Martian core.  In this episode, we talk about what we currently understand about Mars’ geophysical makeup and, among other things, whether it ever had plate tectonics which was so crucial for the evolution of sentient life here on Earth.

Episode 35 —America’s Heroic World War II Air Raid On Ploesti — The ‘Taproot’ Of Nazi Oil

Episode 35 —America’s Heroic World War II Air Raid On Ploesti — The ‘Taproot’ Of Nazi Oil

January 30, 2021

Few if any of you will have ever heard of Ploesti.  But it’s a Romanian city that was what Winston Churchill called the taproot of Nazi might due to its many oil high-quality oil refineries overtaken by Germany during World War II.  Because of its strategic importance, in 1943, the U.S Army Air Force at the time launched a daring, heroic, and ultimately very costly low-level bombing raid on these refineries.  Using some 160 B-24 Liberator medium-range bombers, the Americans were met with heavy anti-aircraft resistance.  Today’s guest Jay A. Stout, author of “Fortress Ploesti:  The Campaign to Destroy Hitler’s Oil Supply,” provides unique insight into this historic chapter of aviation history. 

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