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Orbital Path

PRX

Astronomer Michelle Thaller takes a look at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about life here on Earth. From podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Astronomer Michelle Thaller takes a look at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about life here on Earth. From podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.
More Information

Location:

United States

Networks:

PRX

Description:

Astronomer Michelle Thaller takes a look at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about life here on Earth. From podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Twitter:

@mlthaller

Language:

English


Episodes

Fireside Physics: A Solstice on Saturn?

12/29/2017
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In this darkest season of the year, Dr. Michelle Thaller and NASA astronomer Andrew Booth curl up by the fire. Gazing into the embers, red wine in hand, they consider the meaning of the winter solstice — on other planets. Like Uranus, where parts of the planet go 42 earth years without seeing the sun. … Continue reading Fireside Physics: A Solstice on Saturn?

Duration: 00:16:59


From Another Star

12/15/2017
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NASA’S office of planetary defense isn’t worried about Klingons or Amoeboid Zingatularians. They worry about asteroids and comets. Like the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. It was about 20 yards across. An asteroid 150 yards in diameter could take out a city. An even bigger one — as the dinosaurs reading this will … Continue reading From Another Star

Duration: 00:16:14


Winter’s Night Sky

12/1/2017
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These days, astrophysicists like Dr. Michelle Thaller use instruments to probe the distant reaches of our galaxy, and far beyond. They use interferometry, the Hubble space telescope, and other technology impossible to imagine when the constellations of the winter sky were named. But, as the season changes and Orion returns to view, Michelle still finds … Continue reading Winter’s Night Sky

Duration: 00:11:59


Aliens Again!

11/17/2017
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We’ve got some awkward news to share, folks: The producer of Orbital Path is claiming he’s been abducted by space aliens. So this week, we’re dusting off the theremin and returning to one of our favorite early episodes — “Must Be Aliens.” Dr. Michelle Thaller talks with Phil Plait — AKA the “Bad Astronomer” — … Continue reading Aliens Again!

Duration: 00:16:36


Time and Space in the Kingdom of Bhutan

11/3/2017
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The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan avidly guards its traditional culture. Bhutan is a nation that — instead of looking to GDP or debt ratios — measures success by an index of “Gross National Happiness.” In this episode of Orbital Path, Dr. Michelle Thaller describes her recent adventures in Bhutan — including a climb to a … Continue reading Time and Space in the Kingdom of Bhutan

Duration: 00:09:34


The 11 Dimensions of Brian Greene

10/20/2017
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We live our lives in three dimensions. But we also walk those three dimensions along a fourth dimension: time. Our world makes sense thanks to mathematics. Math lets us count our livestock, it lets us navigate our journeys. Mathematics has also proved an uncanny, stunningly accurate guide to what Brian Greene calls “the dark corners … Continue reading The 11 Dimensions of Brian Greene

Duration: 00:29:21


Minisode 5: Scary Math

9/29/2017
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In a scary time, in a scary world, in a scary universe, NASA astronomer Andrew Booth says one of the things that frightens him most is math. Specifically, the power of mathematics to describe the universe. That’s because, beyond the comforting world of Newtonian physics, math gets mind-bendingly weird. So from the relative safety of … Continue reading Minisode 5: Scary Math

Duration: 00:11:41


Minisode 4: Hot Tub Physics!

9/1/2017
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After a full day in a clean suit, there’s nothing like … a dip in the hot tub. NASA astronomer Andrew Booth spends his days working with lasers, developing some of the word’s most advanced telescopes. When he gets home from work, he loves to pour a glass of wine and slip into the hot … Continue reading Minisode 4: Hot Tub Physics!

Duration: 00:11:26


Mini-sode 3: Dr. Thaller Helps You Prep for The Eclipse

7/20/2017
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The big one is coming! That is, the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21. Dr. Thaller shares her wisdom on how best to view the eclipse and its larger implications for science.

Duration: 00:11:15


Mini-sode 2: What up, Jupiter?

6/30/2017
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Recently, we’ve started to get the first images back from Juno, which is on a mission to Jupiter. Host Dr. Michelle Thaller walks us through the results so far and how you can participate in what Juno discovers next. Image of Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft.

Duration: 00:06:47


Episode 19: We Are Stardust

6/21/2017
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Dr. Michelle Thaller visits the NASA lab that discovered that meteorites contain some of the very same chemical elements that we contain. Then, Michelle talks to a Vatican planetary scientist about how science and religion can meet on the topic of life beyond Earth.

Duration: 00:14:01


Episode 18: Cassini Countdown

5/23/2017
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When the Cassini spacecraft blasted into space on October 15, 1997, even the most optimistic scientists would have had a hard time predicting the mission’s success. Dr. Michelle Thaller speaks with the Cassini mission’s Project Scientist Linda Spilker, as well as Julie Webster, a longtime Cassini engineer and a manager for spacecraft operations. One of … Continue reading Episode 18: Cassini Countdown

Duration: 00:22:30


Making (Gravitational) Waves

4/21/2017
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Nearly 100 years after Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves — huge undulations in the fabric of space-time itself — in 2015, detectors here on Earth finally picked up the signal of these massive disturbances. Dr. Michelle Thaller pulls apart the power and mystery of gravitational waves, and talks with Dr. Janna Levin, theoretical … Continue reading Making (Gravitational) Waves

Duration: 00:26:20


Mini-sode 1: NASA’s NICER Mission

4/3/2017
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Listeners, we’ve heard you! You requested more episodes, so we present the first of our mini episodes. They’ll arrive two weeks after each monthly regular episode, and include Michelle Thaller’s insight on the latest space news. Enjoy episode one: NASA’s NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer) mission will launch in May. Michelle explains the NICER … Continue reading Mini-sode 1: NASA’s NICER Mission

Duration: 00:06:28


Lessons in Landslides

3/20/2017
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Space science can help track what’s happening on Earth. In this podcast episode, Orbital Path talks landslides and the satellites that monitor them for the third anniversary of the deadliest landslide in US history. On March 22, 2014 a 650-foot hillside collapsed and covered the community of Oso, Washington. Forty-three people died. David Montgomery studied … Continue reading Lessons in Landslides

Duration: 00:22:09


Space Robots to Europa!

2/24/2017
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Galileo discovered Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, in 1610. In 1977, the Voyager spacecraft buzzed past and we realized it was covered in ice. It took a few more years to understand that it also likely had unfrozen liquid water oceans. In this episode, Kevin Hand, Deputy Project Scientist for the Europa mission at NASA’s Jet … Continue reading Space Robots to Europa!

Duration: 00:18:44


How the World Came Together to Avoid Ozone Disaster

1/23/2017
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In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey discovered something that shocked scientists around the world: the ozone layer had a hole in it. And the hole was growing very quickly. When they were presented with the problem, politicians and world leaders quickly came up with an international agreement to immediately reduce chlorofluorocarbons released into the atmosphere. … Continue reading How the World Came Together to Avoid Ozone Disaster

Duration: 00:18:02


Warning: Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body

12/16/2016
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Going to Mars is hot right now, just ask Matt Damon. But would you go if you knew your bones would turn into something called “pee brittle”? Former astronaut Michael Massimino reveals the uncomfortable side of liftoff. And Dr. Jennifer Fogarty from NASA’s Human Research Program elaborates on the physical challenges humans face with longterm … Continue reading Warning: Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body

Duration: 00:14:31


In Search of Planet 9

11/18/2016
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An Orbital Path episode all about…an orbital path! Planet 9’s, to be exact. The replacement for Pluto as our solar system’s ninth planet is out there somewhere, and astronomers can see the ripples it creates, especially at this time of year. In this Episode: On November 5, 2012, astronomer Scott Sheppard and his team discovered … Continue reading In Search of Planet 9

Duration: 00:16:23


Black Hole Breakthroughs

10/21/2016
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Scientific discovery can happen in two ways: “Eureka!” moments of sudden understanding, where researchers glean unexpected insight into new phenomena. Or, a slower, less glamorous hunt for truth that happens day-after-day, for years. But both methods can lead to new understandings that pushes the field forward for future breakthroughs. In this episode: the sudden realization … Continue reading Black Hole Breakthroughs

Duration: 00:13:48

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