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Ep. 330: Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke was one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. He defined the genre, and revolutionized our ideas about what it will take to become a true space faring civilization. In the first of our two part series on Arthur C. Clarke, we examine the man’s life and his books.

Metal Detecting with a Higher Purpose

BBC Crossing Continents episode on "the Diggers" who find unburied war dead in Russia. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/cc/cc_20140109-1115a.mp3 hat tip to Jacek Górecki

Ep. 329: Telescope Making, Part 3: Space Telescopes

As we’ve said before, all telescopes really want to be in space. In part 3 of our series on amateur telescope making, we bring you up to speed on the final frontier: amateurs building space telescopes. The hardware and software is available off the shelf, and launches have never been more affordable. The era of amateur space telescopes has arrived.

Podcast |In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg: Plato’s Symposium

@In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg IOT: Plato’s Symposium 02 Jan 14 Download: iot_20140102-1030a.mp3

Ep. 328: Telescope Making, Part 2: Serious Gear

Some astronomers are control freaks. It’s not enough to buy a telescope, they want to craft every part of the experience with their own hands. If you’re ready, and willing to get your hands dirty (and covered in glass dust), you can join thousands of amateur telescope makers and build your own telescope from scratch.

Ep. 325: Cold Fusion

The Universe is filled with hot fusion, in the cores of stars. And scientists have even been able to replicate this stellar process in expensive experiments. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you could produce energy from fusion withoutShow More Summary

Ep. 326: Atmospheric Dust

When you consider the hazards of spaceflight, it’s hard to get worked up about dust bunnies. And yet, atmospheric dust is going to be one of the biggest problems astronauts will face when they reach the surface of other worlds. Where does this dust come from, and what does it tell us about the history of other worlds, and what can we do to mitigate the health risks?

Ep. 327: Telescope Making, Part 1: Toys and Kits

Why pick up a low quality, wobbly telescope from the department store when you can craft your own - just like Galileo, and all the great astronomers from history. For a minor investment, you can build a worthy telescope out of spare parts and high quality kits.

Ep. 324: Sun Grazers

Comets can spend billions of years out in the Oort Cloud, and then a few brief moments of terror orbiting the Sun. These are the sun grazers. Some survive their journey, and flare up to become the brightest comets in history. Others won't survive their first, and only encounter with the Sun.

Ep. 323: Isotopes

The number of protons defines an element, but the number of neutrons can vary. We call these different flavors of an element isotopes, and use these isotopes to solve some challenging mysteries in physics and astronomy. Some isotopes occur naturally, and others need to be made in nuclear reactors and particle accelerators.

A quarter century of All in the Mind

A new series of BBC Radio 4?s All in the Mind has just kicked off and to celebrate 25 years of broadcasting they’ve just had three great episodes looking back on the last quarter century of psychology, neuroscience and mental health. Each make for a interesting discussion of how science and attitudes have changed. As […]

Ep. 322: SOHO

As we’ve mentioned before, the Sun is a terrifying ball of plasma. It’s a good thing we’re keeping an eye on it. And that eye is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. Operating for more than 18 years now, SOHO has been making detailed observations of the Sun’s activity though an almost entire solar cycle. Show More Summary

Ep. 321: Solar Flares

Sometimes the Sun is quiet, and other times the Sun gets downright unruly. During the peak of its 11-year cycle, the surface of the Sun is littered with darker sunspots. And its from these sunspots that the Sun generates massive solar flares, which can spew radiation and material in our direction. Show More Summary

Ep. 320: Layers of the Sun

Our Sun isn’t just a terrifying ball of white hot plasma, it’s actually a lot more complex. It’s got layers. And today, we’re going to peel back those layers and learn about the Sun – from the inside out.

Ep. 319: The Zodiac

Although the Zodiac is best known for astrology nonsense, it has a purpose in astronomy too. The constellations of the Zodiac define the plane of the ecliptic: the region where the Sun, Moon and planets appear to travel through the sky. What are the constellations of the Zodiac, and how do astronomers use them as waypoints?

Hear only complete surviving ancient song sung

Fragments of ancient music have been found going back as far as the eighteenth century B.C., the most ancient ones recorded on cuneiform tablets, but there is only one complete song from antiquity known to have survived: the Seikilos epitaph. It was discovered carved on a marble column-shaped stele in Tralleis, near Ephesus, Turkey, in [...]

Ep. 318: Escape Velocity

Sometimes you’ve just got to get away from it all. From your planet, your Solar System and your galaxy. If you’re looking to escape, you’ll need to know just what velocity it’ll take to break the surly bonds of gravity and punch the sky.

Ep. 317: Observatories

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to visit one of the big research observatories, like Keck, Gemini, or the European Southern Observatory? What’s it like to use gear that powerful? What’s the facility like? What precautions do you need to take when observing at such a high altitude?

Audio of Atiyah interview

A few weeks ago I posted an edited text of an interview I did with Michael Atiyah in Heidelberg. Here is the audio of our conversation in MP3 format [25 MB].   Photo by Bernhard Kreutzer

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