Podcasts and Vodcasts by Topic

Space & the Universe

Drag Racing Cubesats with the NASA CubeQuest Challenge
December 23, 2016
In this edition of the PhysicsCentral podcast, we hear from a few teams who are still in the running for the CubeQuest Challenge: a contest for homegrown teams to build their own small satellites - cubesats - and compete against each other by demonstrating technological feats. Five million dollars in prize money will be divided among teams who can get into orbit around the moon, maintain a stable orbit for a long time, or make it almost all the way to Mars' orbit while still communicating with Earth.

Star-chaeology: The Next Stellar Generation
April 28, 2016
Join Dr. Anna Frebel and PhysicsCentral podcast host Meg Rosenburg in a search for the oldest stars in the universe!

The Truth About Gravitational Waves
February 22, 2016
Host Meg Rosenburg journeys to the Hanford observatory for an exclusive interview with one of the scientists behind LIGO's detection of gravitational waves!

A New Ninth Planet?
February 12, 2016
Is there a ninth planet in the solar system lurking somewhere in the inky depths of space? Learn about Vulcan, Planet X, and the history of planetary astronomy in this week's PhysicsCentral podcast!

What's in a (Martian) Name?
October 29, 2015
This week's PhysicsCentral podcast takes a deeper look at the more notable name-drops in the new film The Martian.

Scaling Down the Solar System
October 22, 2015
Meg interviews Wylie Overstreet, whose recent viral hit video "To Scale: The Solar System" gives us a glimpse of what the solar system would look like from the outside.

Meteorite Markings Offer Clues to their Past
October 08, 2015
A slice of meteorite has a lot to say about where it came from, if you know how to listen!

A Time Capsule of the Universe
September 16, 2015
The DASCH initiative, "Digital Access to a Sky-Century at Harvard", seeks to scan and upload tens of thousands of photographic plates, creating a comprehensive record of what the night sky has looked like over the past hundred years.

Science and Entertainment
June 24, 2015
From the physics behind Thor's Hammer to the beautiful black hole renderings of Interstellar, science has a lot to offer the film industry and vice versa. What does it take to pull off a successful collaboration?

May 06, 2015
New satellite tracks Earth's changing climate from variations in its gravity.

The Muon Camera
April 15, 2015
Learn how two undergraduate students made their own makeshift muon detector out of a digital camera.

Supernova Neutrinos
March 04, 2015
Using particle detectors across the world, physicists are tracking neutrinos emitted from supernovae to better track and understand exploding stars.

The Impending Intergalactic Cloud Collision
February 18, 2015
Outside our galaxy, there's a gigantic gas cloud drifting in our direction. It'll collide with the galaxy in about 30 million years, but astronomers aren't worried.

Quantum Mechanics in the Minecraft Universe
February 11, 2015
Introducing quantum weirdness to the world of Minecraft with the  qcraft mod.

Hunting for Dark Matter
February 04, 2015
Believe it or not, 85 percent of the matter in the universe is missing, unknown, invisible, and rather fittingly known as dark matter. Since the 1930s, the nature of dark matter has eluded our most sensitive telescopes and underground detectors, but as we hear in this week's podcast, that may all be about to change, thanks to some tantalizing data from telescopes in orbit.

Which Way to Mercury?
January 28, 2015
Although Mercury is much closer to Earth than even Mars, it's among the most difficult planets to study with space probes due in part to its proximity to the sun. A spacecraft launching next year will endure Mercury's extreme temperatures and gravitational complications to study this mysterious planet.

The Science of Shakespeare (Repost)
January 21, 2015
Shakespeare grew up during the scientific revolution, and it may have directly influenced his works. Some even argue that his plays served as allegories for scientific debates. (Originally published on April 23, 2014).

Paleomagnetism 101
January 14, 2015
What can Earth's magnetic field teach us about our planet's past?

Citizen Science: Answering the Call
December 10, 2014
When professional scientists have hit road blocks, they've recruited citizen volunteers to help unlock scientific mysteries ranging from the cosmos to the microscopic.

Understanding Our Solar System's Weather
December 03, 2014
On March 13, 1989, millions plunged into darkness after a hot ball of plasma knocked out power grids in North America. Nowadays, several physicists are closely investigating the potentially dangerous solar wind.

Listening for Black Holes & Neutron Stars
November 19, 2014
Scientists around the world are trying to catch some waves, some gravitational waves. Find out what these warps in space-time are, the ways to find them and how we could use them to "listen" to the movements of black holes and neutron stars.

Journey to the Center of the Earth
November 12, 2014
How do scientists study the Earth's core without directly accessing it? And how does the Earth's formation influence a potential flip in its magnetic field?

Isaac Asimov's Nightfall: Could It Happen?
November 05, 2014
Isaac Asimov dreamed of an almost night-less world with six suns around it in his short story titled Nightfall. So could such an exoplanet exist in the real world, and, if so, how would we ever find it?

October Physics News Roundup
October 29, 2014
China's rocket to the moon, particle discoveries at the LHC, the physics behind the feel of a city, and several more stories roundup this month in physics news.

The Infinite Universe
October 22, 2014
Is the universe infinite? Or is it confined to a finite amount of space? And how might the shape of the universe inform our answers to these deep questions?

Game of Thrones Weather (Repost)
October 15, 2014
Note: We Originally published this podcast on July 24, 2013.

In the fictional world of Westeros, the duration and severity of the seasons are entirely unpredictable. Is there a real planet that has a similar seasonal pattern?

September Physics News Roundup
October 01, 2014
The age of water on Earth, neutrinos in the heart of the sun, and spintronic flashlights round up this month in physics news.

The Venus Zone
September 17, 2014
Earth and Venus share a number of striking similarities, so why is one planet a bastion for life while the other is inhospitable. Are the planets' differences solely due to their relative distances to the sun? Planets found outside our solar system may provide new evidence to answer that question.

August Physics News Roundup
August 27, 2014
Speckled asteroids, spacecraft on comets, and an atomic clock on the International Space Station roundup this month in physics news.

How a Telephone Company Revolutionized Science Outreach
August 20, 2014
Before Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, there was Dr. Research and Mr. sun, characters from the hugely influential Bell Laboratory Science Series.

Hypervelocity Stars
August 13, 2014
Looking for a one-way trip out of our galaxy? Hitch a ride on a hypervelocity star if you're looking to escape our galaxy's gravity. Listen in this week to see how these super-speedy stars come to be.

Dark Stars and Cosmic Cocktails
July 02, 2014
Supermassive black holes and mysterious dark matter may share a common source: dark stars.

June News Roundup
June 18, 2014
An asteroid nicknamed "The Beast," Earth's most abundant material, bridgmanite, and the surprisingly strong sight of frogs' eyes roundup this month in physics news.

Trip to the Quark Zoo
June 11, 2014
With the advent of a recently discovered four-quark particle at the LHC, there may be a zoo of exotic new fundamental awaiting us in the near future.

Hungry Hungry Black Holes
May 14, 2014
For the first time, astronomers will soon see the black hole at the center of our galaxy devouring part of a gas cloud.

The Askaryan Radio Array
April 30, 2014
Buried in frozen Antarctic ice, there's a new kind of radio array larger than Manhattan searching for elusive neutrinos.

The Science of Shakespeare
April 23, 2014
Shakespeare grew up during the scientific revolution, and it may have directly influenced his works. Some even argue that his plays served as allegories for scientific debates.

Earth: The Lucky Planet?
April 10, 2014
Despite estimates that there are trillions of planets in the universe, one scientist argues that we are effectively alone.

Truth from the Skies
March 19, 2014
Learn how one non-profit uses satellite imagery to uncover potential environmental challenges and facilitate the general public direct participation in scientific research.

Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn
February 12, 2014
What is nothing? Science writer Amanda Gefter explores that question and more in her latest book: Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn.

Listening to the Stars
February 05, 2014
Astronomy data can be converted into beautiful images of galaxies, stars, and distant planets. But researchers can also turn that data into sound - allowing you to experience stars in a whole new way.

Chris Hadfield Interview
January 29, 2014
Astronaut and Youtube star Chris Hadfield shares his perspective on space, science, and sparking the public's imagination.

Women in Physics
January 22, 2014
How can a degree in physics benefit young women, and how can educators shrink the gender gap in physics? Some answers to these questions have emerged at a recent conference for women in physics.

The Mystery of Massive Star Formation
January 15, 2014
With the aid of enormous telescopes, scientists are beginning to unravel the nebulous births of stellar behemoths.

2013 Roundup
December 18, 2013
Mike and Calla wrap up the year with their favorite physics stories from 2013.

Apollo's Mystery Flashes
December 11, 2013
After seeing mysterious flashes of light in space, Apollo astronauts started one of NASA's strangest experiments.

No Sign of Primordial Black Holes
November 13, 2013
Black holes that formed in the first few minutes after the big bang could be responsible for dark matter, but new results suggest they must also be extremely small.

October 23, 2013
The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland found the Higgs Boson last year, a feat that led to a Nobel Prize earlier this month. But there's still one other collider left in the U.S.: Brookhaven Lab's RHIC.

Weightlessness in Movies
October 16, 2013
Alfonso Cuaron, the director of the new movie Gravity, had to re-create weightlessness for his sci-fi thriller. So how do filmmakers simulate weightlessness, and how close is their movie magic to reality?

Life on Mars?
October 09, 2013
The Curiosity Rover has found water on Mars, but no methane in the atmosphere. What does this mean for potential life on Mars?

Ig Nobels 2013
September 18, 2013
Water walking in reduced gravity, bovine behavior, and shrew swallowing are but a few of the quirky, funny research topics that won awards this year.

Greenland's Mega-Canyon
September 04, 2013
Scientists recently uncovered a hidden, 450-mile canyon under Greenland's ice sheet. Here's how physics helped the team discover this mammoth structure.

Cosmic Broadcasts
August 14, 2013
We send radio waves into the universe, but some planets also send radio waves toward Earth. Grab your speakers and listen to these creepy cosmic sounds.

Van Allen Belts
August 07, 2013
You may think space is empty, but just outside Earth's atmosphere lies an area teeming with activity.

Comic-Con 2013
July 31, 2013
Mike explores the connection between science and science fiction; he also interviews the stars of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Game of Thrones Weather
July 24, 2013
In the fictional world of Westeros, the duration and severity of the seasons are entirely unpredictable. Is there a real planet that has a similar seasonal pattern?

Red Rover
May 15, 2013
Calla talks with Roger Wiens about NASA's successful and not-so-successful missions, including the recent Curiosity rover.

<strong>Read more on this podcast's <a href="http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2013/05/podcast-red-rover.html">blog post</a></strong>

Astro Roundup 2012
January 09, 2013
Mike and Calla recap their favorite astronomy and astrophysics stories of 2012. Two space probes from the 1970's, massive galaxy clusters, the Mars Rover, and a mohawk make the cut.

Extreme Cosmos
December 05, 2012
Dr. Bryan Gaensler is the author of the book "Extreme Cosmos: A Guided Tour of the Fastest, Brightest, Hottest, Heaviest, Oldest and Most Amazing Aspects of Our Universe." Gaensler talks to us about the fastest object in the universe, and explains why astronomers don't always aim to break universal records in their research, even if the news headlines can seem a little over-eager to do just that.

Dance your PhD
October 31, 2012
Today on the physics buzz podcast we talk with Diana Davis, winner of the Dance Your PhD contest in the physics division. Check out Davis' winning entry on our blog, then listen to Davis address misconceptions about math research, and the shape of our universe.

Alpha Centauri Bb
October 24, 2012
Scientists have located an Earth-sized planet orbiting one of the closest stars to our solar system. While the planet is too hot to support life, there may be other planets in the same system where liquid water, and possibly life, exist.

The Electromagnetic Universe
October 04, 2012
What if we could see beyond visible light? How would we perceive the universe? Calla takes you on a tour of the electromagnetic universe.

Science Advisors
July 25, 2012
Even though Hollywood films aren't known for being completely scientifically accurate all of the time, the writers of some of the biggest films and TV shows have been relying on their science advisors to make the science in science fiction all the more believable.

Who is Enrico Fermi?
July 18, 2012
Physicist Enrico Fermi has his name attached to a number of monumental physics items, like Fermilab, fermions and fermium. Who was Fermi, what did he do to earn so much notoriety and the title of "universal physicist"? We'll try to find out in today's podcast.

How the Hippies Saved Physics
July 04, 2012
Dr. David Kaiser, author of the book "How the Hippies Saved Physics"
talks about how the culture of the 1970's influenced physics, and
brought the philosophical exploration of quantum mechanics back into
the mainstream.

Physics from Prometheus
June 29, 2012
The much-anticipated science fiction movie Prometheus recently opened in theaters. How much of the science presented in the movie was accurate, how much is still in our distant future, and how much was just plain wrong? We'll investigate a some of the science from the movie in this week's Physics Buzz podcast.

A Rocky Planet History
June 21, 2012
NASA's Kepler telescope reveals that planet formation might have begun earlier than previously believed.

Space Shuttle
May 16, 2012
On April 23, the Space Shuttle Discovery was brought to the Smithsonians Udvar Hazy Center, its final home after 27 years of service.

NASA's Super Black Material
May 09, 2012
Light noise can make it difficult for Astronomers to see the objects they want to study. To help this, engineers have created a material that absorbs 99.8% of incoming light.

Dark Photons
May 02, 2012
There is an enormous portion of our universe that we can't see. Some scientists wonder if this so-called dark sector is bigger than we once thought.  Are there any other dark forces out there?

The Milky Way's Black Hole
April 11, 2012
Scientists have strong evidence that there is a black hole at the
center of our galaxy. But to be totally sure, scientists need to image
the black hole. How soon can we hope to do this? That's today on the
physics buzz podcast.

The Year in Planets
February 01, 2012
2011 was a good year in the hunt for planets outside our solar system.
The record for smallest extrasolar planet was broken...twice!
Scientists found a diamond planet, a planet straight out of science
fiction and orphan planets with no solar system to call home. Today
we'll recap some of the highlights of the year.

What's in a year?
January 11, 2012
How do you define a year? One trip around the sun? There are actually different ways to define a year, and those definitions yield different values. Listen and learn why a year can be hard to pin down.

The Dark Twins
November 09, 2011
Dark matter and dark energy are both dark: literally, because they don't interact with light, and figuratively, because they remain mysterious. But we do know that dark matter and dark energy are two totally different things, despite the fact that they are often grouped together. Hear a little more about what makes these two things different, and the things they have in common.

Dust Trail to Alien Life
November 02, 2011
There's a storm of comets bombarding the inner part of the Eta
Corvi solar system. What's more? The exact same thing happened to Earth
not too long before life started here.

Accelerating Universe
October 19, 2011
In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three men, for their work in discovering that the universe is accelerating as it expands.  Join Calla Cofield as she sheds some light on this otherwise dark discovery.

Juno to Jupiter
August 19, 2011
The Juno spacecraft lifted off on August 5, 2011 and is now on a five
year journey to Jupiter, our solar system's largest planet. From orbit
around Jupiter, Juno will gather information that could tell us how
our solar system formed.

Summer of Science
August 10, 2011
Science writer Lizzie Wade and photographer Nick Russell drove 15,000 miles visiting physics labs across the country during their Summer of Science.

July 29, 2011
From a Richard Feynman comic book to cosmic dung, physics and Comic-Con intersect in some unusual places.

July 01, 2011
David Schlegel of Berkeley National Laboratories is leading a team that's making the biggest, most detailed three dimensional map of the known universe. BOSS and its successor BigBOSS will be able to peer back in time to when the universe was young, and dark energy was just starting to appear on the scene.

A Supernova Close to Home
June 15, 2011
Did a supernova recently go off close to our solar system? If it did, how would we know?

Big Bang Theory
June 08, 2011
Hear Bill Prady, writer and producer of 'The Big Bang Theory' speak on using the sitcom platform to get the public excited about science, and respond to criticisms of the popular television show.

Coolest Brown Dwarf
June 01, 2011
Scientists think they may have found the lowest temperature brown dwarf ever detected. What's so cool about that?

APS April Meeting
May 18, 2011
Calla and Mike team up to discuss the APS Physics Meeting.  Join Calla and Mike as they search for planets, discuss the Higgs Boson and how this research reflects on current science issues.

Solar Storms Part 2
April 13, 2011
What a solar storm looks like from Earth's perspective and what precautions we can take to prevent loss of satellites and power grids? Find out in part two of our podcast on solar weather.

For More Information:

Space Weather Alerts from NOAA:

Space Weather Event Categorization: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

NASA's STEREO solar observatory:

Solar Storms Pt. 1
April 06, 2011
Join Calla Cofield as she learns about solar weather and the impact it has on our lives.

The Sound of Stars
March 09, 2011
Mike Lucibella interviews William Chaplin, a researcher at the University of Birmingham who uses asteroseismology, the music of the stars, to study stars' resonance.

Finding Habitable Planets
February 23, 2011
NASA's Kepler mission, launched in March of 2009 to search for extrasolar planets, has found a system with five Earth‑like planets in the habitable zone, where liquid water may exist. Now, Kepler needs
your help in the hunt for other planets.

Black Hole Hunter
January 19, 2011
Join Andrea Ghez in her search for black holes and what kind of mysteries these invisible celestial beings.

Tycho Brahe
January 05, 2011
What killed Tycho Brahe, the Father of Modern Astronomy?  Calla Colfield explores the man and the mystery of his death.

How Fast Can Santa Travel?
December 15, 2010
How fast would Santa have to move to be able to deliver all those presents in one night?  He may not be traveling fast at all, but rather very slowly.

Neutron Star
November 17, 2010
Scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have measured the most massive neutron star ever recorded.

USA Celebrates Science
November 03, 2010
Mike Lucibella takes us on a journey through the inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall.

Colliding Planets part 2
October 13, 2010
Mike Lucibella interviews Mark Kuchner about the discovery of a dust cloud around a binary star system, possible evidence of colliding planets.

Colliding Planets part 1
October 06, 2010
In today's podcast, PhysicsBuzz talks to Marc Kuchner from NASA Goddard about planets orbiting around binary stars. Kuchner and his colleagues recently reported their findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which showed that planets around binary stars can have a rough life. They discovered a ring of diffuse dust and believe it may be all that's left of an unfortunate planet that was too close to its dying star.

When Black Holes Collide
February 26, 2010
We sat down with the physicist Joan Centrella to talk about how black holes collide.

Where the Sun Meets the River
November 27, 2008
Scientists have observed a correlation between solar activity and river flow.

Podcast Archive

Space & the Universe

Gaps in Physics Education
November 15, 2012
Why should high school physics education change? Because the most recent, exciting discoveries are left out.

X-Ray Laser Mimics the Sun
May 29, 2012
'Solid Plasma' Mimics Stellar Environment

May 21, 2012
Physicists study lunar glow to monitor Earth's climate change.

Mysteries in Space
March 19, 2012
Astrophysicists found the largest water mass in the universe contained in a quasar. A quasar is an extremely old, distant object in space that emits several thousand times more energy than our entire galaxy. Water in this quasar is in the form of vapor, but if condensed into liquid would fill Earth’s oceans more than 100 trillion times. Scientists also determined that it is the oldest body of water known today.

Deep Space Discoveries
February 13, 2012
Optical scientists designed a way to help small telescopes create sharper images. Because so many elements in the atmosphere, such as cloud cover, can interfere with your view of the night sky, scientists came up with a method that counters those effects. The method uses a system of lasers and cameras to indicate to a computer what shape the mirror should be to achieve a clearer view

Violet the Sattelite
January 30, 2012
Mechanical and aerospace engineers designed a satellite with some unique abilities. Because of its small size, the satellite is able to move more quickly than larger satellites, making it a leader in fast spacecraft. Speed also lends itself to rapid data collection, so the satellite can take pictures of the Earth or space much more efficiently. The satellite has all the necessary tools to navigate and will be launched in one to two years.

Mission to Jupiter
January 09, 2012
Astrophysicists Send Spacecraft to Jupiter, Study Planet’s Mysteries

3D Sun in STEREO
July 25, 2011
Astrophysicists reveal 3-D images of the sun for the first time.

Proving Life on Other Planets
June 06, 2011
Astronomers are using a special spacecraft equipped with a unique telescope to identify planets outside our solar system.

Secrets on Saturn
April 18, 2011
Planetary scientists learned more than has ever been known about Saturn by evaluating one-of-a-kind images and video collected by a spacecraft that has been orbiting the planet for the past five years. Because Saturn's north pole has been in winter for nearly 15 years, it has remained dark and unobservable to scientists. A special camera on the spacecraft can see through the dark, revealing clouds and a large cyclone storm. This tells researchers that Saturn is a much more active planet than previously thought.

Veggies In Space
February 28, 2011
Agricultural engineers and plant scientists developed a greenhouse prototype intended for growing vegetables in space. A computerized system uses special lamps instead of sunlight as well as mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. Researchers anticipate that this collapsible model could travel on a spacecraft and sent to grow food before the astronauts arrived.

Tracking Asteroids Before They Kill Us
June 18, 2010
Astronomers are tracking debris from outer space that could pose a potential threat to Earth. With 100 tons of material hitting the Earth daily, they are devising ways to destroy the most threatening objects.

Life On Mars
April 12, 2010
Atmospheric scientists and physicists discover lightning on mars using a unique detector

Finding Victims After a Disaster
December 10, 2008
Scientists and engineers developed an aerial imaging system to identify the locations of persons in need after disasters.

Jupiter's Little Red Spot
December 08, 2008
Planetary scientists detected strong winds in anticyclone on Jupiter.

Preparing for a Walk on the Moon
November 05, 2008
Astronomers discovered that the Earth's magnetotail charges the surface of the moon.

Tracking Pollution From Space
October 27, 2008
Mechanical and aerospace engineers use satellites to track ozone levels.

NASA Saving Lives
September 12, 2008
Earth Scientists and Meteorologists Create Historically-Based, Realistic Weather Animations

Kids Discovering New Asteroids
March 01, 2008
Astronomy students looking for supernovae examined photographs and found asteroids. They used both unaided eyes and computer analysis to identify the asteroids. The images were composited from three separate images, one each of green, red, and blue. When combined into one image, asteroids stand out because they move against the background.

Einstein Rings
April 01, 2006
Images from the Hubble telescope reveal eight new Einstein rings, joining only three others previously known. Einstein rings are pairs of galaxies, with a foreground galaxy bending the light of a background galaxy into a ring by gravitational effects. The ring helps astronomers precisely estimate the mass of the foreground galaxy.

Sun Darkens Electronics
March 01, 2006
Solar activity can wreak havoc in communications systems -- particularly during coronal mass ejections, when plumes of electrically charged particles hit earth's atmosphere. Scientists can now track the plumes down to the single affected cities, helping to predict disruptions.

The Mystery of Black Holes
December 01, 2005
A satellite called Swift is revealing that black holes have a messier birth than previously thought. Instead of being created in one instant, astrophysicists now believe after a star dies and collapses -- ultimately forming a black hole -- it continues to cause havoc. The baby black hole devours material while at the same time spewing it back out, a process that is revealed in multiple outbursts of gamma rays.

Flying and Radiation Risk
September 01, 2005
At the high altitudes and latitudes commercial airlines fly, crews are subjected to higher-than-normal radiation levels from the sun and cosmic rays. Physicist Robert Barish believes airline crew members are exposing themselves to more radiation than almost any other occupation and is calling for the airline industry to better educate workers about radiation.

Einstein At Home
February 01, 2005
In a new project called "Einstein@Home," members of the general public can use their computers' downtime to analyze data that physicists are collecting from space. The data searches for gravitational waves, ripples of gravity predicted by Einstein but never directly observed.

Samples From The Sun
January 01, 2004
A new NASA program called the Genesis Mission is launching a spacecraft to collect particles from the sun's solar wind to obtain information on the origin of earth and other bodies in the solar system.