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This week's show

Too Big to Prove
Oct 16, 2017

Too Big To Prove Gravitational waves, string theory, and modern physics

Celebrations are in order for the physicists who won the 2017 Nobel Prize, for the detection of gravitational waves.  But the road to Stockholm was not easy.  Unfolding over a century, it went from doubtful theory to daring experiments and even disrepute.  100 years is a major lag between a theory and its confirmation, and new ideas in physics may take even longer to prove.

Why it may be your great, great grandchildren who witness the confirmation of string theory.  Plus, the exciting insights that gravitational waves provide into the phenomena of our universe, beginning with black holes.

And, physics has evolved - shouldn’t its rewards?  A case for why the Nobel committee should honor collaborative groups rather than individuals, and the scientific breakthroughs it’s missed. 

Guests: 

  • Janna Levin - Physicist and astronomer at Barnard College at Columbia University, and the author of the story of LIGO, “Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.”

  • Roland Pease - BBC reporter, producer, and host of “Science in Action.” 

  • David Gross - Theoretical physicist, string theorist, University of California, Santa Barbara, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, winner, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics. 

Descripción en español

On Defense
Oct 09, 2017
On Defense
Protection strategies.

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The military is a dangerous calling.  But technology can help out, so researchers are constantly trying to make soldiers safer.  Writer Mary Roach investigates how scientists studying so-called human factors are protecting troops from such aggressive foes as heat, noise, and fatigue.  She also learns how bad odors were once considered a secret weapon.

It's In Material
Oct 02, 2017
It's In Material
New constructs in construction stuff.

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Astronauts are made of the “right stuff,” but what about their spacesuits?   NASA’s pressurized and helmeted onesies are remarkable, but they need updating if we’re to boldly go into deep space.   Suiting up on Mars requires more manual flexibility, for example.  Find out what innovative materials might be used to reboot the suit.

Aliens - The Evidence
Sep 25, 2017
Skeptic Check: Aliens - The Evidence
Make your best case.

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ENCORE  Once again the aliens have landed … in theaters.  It’s no spoiler to say that the latest cinematic sci-fi, Arrival, involves extraterrestrials visiting Earth. 

Angles of a Hack
Sep 18, 2017
Angles of a Hack
Meet the modern hackers.

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Changed your computer password recently?  We all try to stay one step ahead of the hackers, but the fear factor is increasing.  The risks can range from stolen social security numbers to sabotaging a national power grid.