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Ep. 376: The Miller-Urey Experiment

Evolution explains how life adapts and evolves over eons. But how did life originate? Chemists Miller and Urey put the raw chemicals of life into a solution, applied an electric charge, and created amino acids – the building blocks of life.

Ep. 375: The Search For Life in the Solar System

With the discovery of water ice in so many locations in the Solar System, scientists are hopeful in the search for life on other worlds. Guest Morgan Rehnberg returns to Astronomy Cast to explain the best places we should be looking for life.

Hegel on Physiognomy and Phrenology

For those of you who actually read Hegel’s Phenomenology in its entirety, it will not come as news that there is a chapter on physiognomy & phrenology, but if you are like me and never made it that far on your first try, discovering his unique approach to criticizing these pseudosciences for the first time … Continue reading Hegel on Physiognomy and Phrenology ?

Ep. 374: Stern-Gerlach Experiment

In the world of quantum mechanics, particles behave in discreet ways. One breakthrough experiment was the Stern-Gerlach Experiment, performed in 1922. They passed silver atoms through a magnetic field and watched how the spin of the atoms caused the particles to deflect in a very specific way.

Cognitive lives scientific

The BBC Radio 4 series The Life Scientific has recently profiled three, count’em, three, cognitive scientists. Because the BBC find the internet confusing I’m just going to link straight to the mp3s to save you scrabbling about on their site. The most recent profile you can grab as an mp3 was artificial intelligence and open […]

Ep. 373: Becquerel Experiment (Radiation)

Antoine Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity completely by accident when he exposed a chunk of uranium to a photographic plate. This opened up a whole new field of research to uncover the source of the mysterious energy.

Ep. 219: Planck Mission

Another mission named after a famous physicist. This time we're looking at the Planck mission, designed to study the Cosmic Microwave Backgorund Radiation over the entire sky. Like the previous WMAP mission, this will help astronomers understand the first moments after the Big Bang.

Ep. 218: Max Planck

It's time for another action-packed double episode, where we meet a man and his mission. This time around its German physicist Max Planck, considered to be the father of quantum theory - he was later granted a Nobel Prize for just that discovery. Let's take a trip back just over 100 years to learn about the man who changed our understanding of the very small.

Ep. 216: Archaeoastronomy

The Sun, Moon, stars and planets are visible to the unaided eye, and so they have been visible to astronomers since before recorded history. Some of the earliest records we do have tell us what the ancient astronomers thought about the heavens, and how they used the changing night sky in their daily lives.

Episode 213: Supermassive Black Holes

It's now believed that there's a supermassive black hole lurking at the heart of every galaxy in the Universe. These monstrous black holes can contain hundreds of millions of times the mass of our own Sun, with event horizons better than the Solar System. Show More Summary

Episode 212: GPS Navigation

Last week we talked about the old way navigators used to find their way around the planet; by looking at objects in the sky, and doing some tricky math. The new navigation system, of course, is the Global Positioning System, and it helps you find your spot on the planet with amazing accuracy. Let's see where the system came from, and how it works.

Episode 208: Spitzer Space Telescope

Last week we talked about Lyman Spitzer, and this week we’ll take a look at the orbiting observatory that bears his name: the Spitzer Space Telescope. Designed to see into the infrared spectrum, Spitzer has returned images of objects that were previously hidden to astronomers by thick shrouds of gas and dust.

Episode 205: Fusion

When the Universe formed after the Big Bang, all we had was hydrogen. But through the process of fusion, these hydrogen atoms were crushed into heavier and heavier elements. Fusion gives us warmth and light from the Sun, destruction with fusion bombs, and might be a source of inexpensive energy. We'll also look into the controversy of cold fusion.

Episode 204: Temperature

Now we're going to answer a question that a 4-year old might ask - what is temperature? Why are things hot and why are they cold? How hot or cold can they get? And how is this all important for astronomy?

Episode 202: The Planets at Gliese 581

With the discovery of a planet in the habitability zone of Gliese 581, the chances of finding life on other worlds is just getting better and better. Let’s take a look at the discoveries made at Gliese 581, provide some perspective on the real chances of life, and talk about what might come next.

Episode 201: Titan

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and the second largest moon in the Solar System. It’s unique in the Solar System as the only moon with an atmosphere. In fact, scientists think that Titan’s thick atmosphere – rich in hydrocarbons – is similar to the early Earth, and could give us clues about how life got started on our planet.

Episode 199: The Voyager Program

Launched in 1977, the twin Voyager spacecraft were sent to explore the outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Because of a unique alignment of the planets, Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to ever make a close approach to Uranus and Neptune. Let’s take a look back at this amazing program, and see where the spacecraft are today.

Ep. 197: Astronomy Cast Live from DragonCon 2010

In this special live DragonCon 2010 episode of Astronomy Cast we welcomed special guest Les Johnson, Deputy Manager for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office to talk about the state of human space exploration. And then we opened up the show to some amazing questions from the audience. Listen to the first live show ever done with both Fraser and Pamela in the same room.

Ep. 194: Dwarf Planets

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto out of the planet club. But they also started up a whole new dwarf planet club, with Pluto, Eris and the asteroid Ceres as charter members. Let’s find out what it takes to be a dwarf planet, and discuss the current membership.

Ep. 193: Astronomy with the Unaided Eye

We talk a lot about telescopes here on Astronomy Cast, but you really don't need any special equipment to appreciate what the night sky has to offer. Just head outside with some sky charts, maybe a planisphere, some friends and hot chocolate, and you're good to go. Let's talk about what kinds of things you can see with just your eyes.

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