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The Scientific Odyssey

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An examination of scientific inquiry through a discussion of the history and philosophy of the scientific endeavor.

An examination of scientific inquiry through a discussion of the history and philosophy of the scientific endeavor.
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An examination of scientific inquiry through a discussion of the history and philosophy of the scientific endeavor.






Episode 3.43.4-Supplemental-George Ellery Hale, Triumph and Breakdown

In our third and final installment of the life of George Ellery Hale, we look at the establishment of the Mt. Wilson Observatory and his other endeavors. We also examine the psychological pressures that drove him and eventually lead to his mental breakdown.

Duration: 00:57:27

Episode 3.43.3: Supplemental-George Ellery Hale-The Making of a Reputation

In the decade between 1890 and 1900, George Hale went from being a promising graduate of MIT to the world famous director of the Yerkes Observatory. In this episode, we follow his life and work during this critical time.

Duration: 00:52:51

Episode 3.43.3: Supplemental-George Ellery Hale, Rise of a Visionary

This week we begin a biographical series on George Ellery hale by covering his life from his childhood in Chicago up through his graduation and marriage.

Duration: 00:52:42

Episode 3.43.1: Supplemental-Masters of Reflection

The shift from astronomy to astrophysics necessitated the development of new tools of observation at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. In this episode, we look at the rise of the reflecting telescopes and the men who use them including, James Keeler and George Ritchey, probably the greatest telescope designer in history.

Duration: 01:01:37

Episode 3.43: An Expanding Universe

In 1927 Fr. Georges Lemaire published a paper in a little known Belgian scientific journal that described an expanding universe. Two years later, Milton Human and Edwin Hubble presented evidence to support support this model. In this episode, we look at the development of the idea of a universe that was not static or steady.

Duration: 00:54:57

Episode 3.42: Relativity

On November 25th of 1915, Albert Einstein presented a paper on his General Theory of Relativity that by its end had conclusively shown that the Vulcan hypothesis was not necessary to explain the precession of the perihelion of the orbit of Mercury. It also completely reimagined the structure of space and time and remade the universe. In this episode of the podcast, we follow Einstein's journey of discovery from the work of James Clerk Maxwell to the eclipse observations of Arthur Stanley...

Duration: 01:01:55

Episode 3.41: Edwin Hubble and the Big Leap

In 1925, the astronomer Henry Norris Russell read a paper at the 33rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The paper, written by Edwin Hubbell, a staff astronomer at the Mt. Wilson observatory, detailed observations of Cepheid variable stars in the Andromeda Nebula. These observations and the analysis of them showed that the spiral was a million light years outside the Milky Way Galaxy, thus establishing it as an island universe once and for all. The Great Debate was settled and...

Duration: 00:47:15

Episode 3.40: The Great Debate

On April 26th of 1920, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis presented talks on the idea of island universes to the National Academy of Sciences. Held at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Great Debate, as it would come to be known, would showcase two differing views of the scale and structure of the universe.

Duration: 01:04:22

Episode 3.39: Harlow Shapley and Finding Our Place in the Galaxy

In 1914, Harlow Shapley moved to work at the Mt. Wilson Observatory. Over the course of five years, using the 60 inch reflector there, he observed the 75 visible globular clusters and developed a whole new model of the Milky Way Galaxy and our place in it.

Duration: 00:47:48

Episode 3.37.3: Supplemental-The Harvard Calculators, Cecilia Payne and the Stuff of Stars

In our final episode of this mini-series on the women who worked at the Harvard College Observatory, we dive into the life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin from her time at Cambridge University to her life in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Duration: 00:52:12

Episode 3.38: Digression-For All Men, For All Time

In this episode we take a look at the history of the development of the metric system out of the French Revolution.

Duration: 00:52:36

Episode 3.37.2: Supplemental-The Harvard Calculators, Part 2

Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt would form the core of the calculation staff at the Harvard College Observatory for nearly two decades. They oversaw the transition of the Observatory from the directorship of Edward Charles Pickering to Harlow Shapley and established the dominant classification systems and physical laws for stellar spectra and variable stars in the early 20th century that would lead to foundational discoveries in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.

Duration: 00:48:23

Episode 3.37.1: Supplemental: The Harvard Calculators, Part 1

In the first part of a multi episode series, we look at the lives of two very different women. Williamina Fleming and Antonia Maury both made significant contributions to the field of stellar spectroscopy by developing classification systems to better understand the light from stars but their different backgrounds and training meant that they understood the role of being a calculator very differently.

Duration: 00:52:46

Episode 3.37: Variable Stars and Leavitt's Law

This week we take an in-depth look at the work done at the Harvard College Observatory on cataloging and classifying variable stars under the direction of Charles Edward Pickering. We examine the contributions of Williamina Fleming, Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt that resulted in the the period luminosity relationship, also known as Leavitt's Law.

Duration: 00:49:09

The Scientific Odyssey Unscripted: Weather Forecasting and the JPSS Satellite System

This week we take a look at weather forecasting after the Navigator's trip to Boulder, CO for the NASA Social event for the launch of the JPSS-1 polar orbiting satellite. We discuss a brief history of weather forecasting, the roles of both geosynchronous and polar orbiting satellites in that endeavor and the JPSS program. Specific attention is given to the five instrument packages that will be places on the vehicle: CrIS, ATMS, VIIRS, OMPS and CERES.

Duration: 01:06:21

Episode 3.36: The H-R Diagram

In the years between 1905 and 1911, the astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung and Henry Russell Norris developed a way of representing the accumulating astronomical and astrophysical data on stars that revealed the presence of a relationship between a stars brightness and its temperature. This Hertzsprung-Russell or H-R Diagram would come to revolutionize our understanding of stellar evolution.

Duration: 00:53:40

Episode 3.35.1: Supplemental-The Doppler Effect

This week, with the help of steampunk attired lady and gentleman bugs, we take a look at the Doppler effect. We use water waves, sound and light to examine the consequences of what happens with the observer of a wave is moving with respect to the wave's source. We also look at the history of the idea from the work of Christian Doppler to the applications suggested by Ernst Mach.

Duration: 00:49:27

Episode 3.35: By The Letter

This week we look at the spectral classification work of Antonia Maury and Annie Jump Cannon at the Harvard College Observatory.

Duration: 00:59:04

Episode 3.34: The Harvard College Observatory

In this week's episode we look at the early work of the Harvard College Observatory under the direction of Edward Charles Pickering. We discuss his three big research initiatives: the visual photometric survey of stars, the All-Sky Survey and Catalogue and the Draper Memorial Catalogue that catalogued and classified the spectra of over 10,000 individual stars. Instrumental in this last effort was Williamina Fleming: Pickering's one time housekeeper turned lead calculator in the project.

Duration: 00:47:58

Episode 3.33: Seeing the Stars Anew

When Kirchhoff and Bunsen unlocked elemental spectra, they opened a new avenue of astrophysical investigation. This work work was originally done by the quartet of Lewis Rutherfurd, Astronomer Royal George Airy, Father Angelo Secchi and William Huggins. This work would lead to advances by Hermann Carl Vogel and Norman Lockyer who would be among those to propose an early model of stellar evolution.

Duration: 00:50:07

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