Podcasts and Vodcasts by Topic

Thermodynamics & Heat

Physics and the Smell of Snow
January 27, 2016
Can we smell a snowstorm before it begins? On today's podcast, were joined by olfactory scientist Pamela Dalton, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, to explore the physics behind that crisp, snowy scent.

Lava in the Lab
December 30, 2015
Join Meg Rosenburg on a journey from the jagged, active slopes of Kilauea to the "artificial lava" lab at Syracuse University in this week's PhysicsCentral podcast!

Wine Physics
April 22, 2015
Join us on a three part tour of the physics behind wine making and tasting.

April 01, 2015
How entropy explains how perpetual motion machines are impossible, why buildings crumble and the ultimate dark fate of the universe.

April 01, 2015
How entropy explains how perpetual motion machines are impossible, why buildings crumble and the ultimate dark fate of the universe.

Manhattan Project Historical Park
March 18, 2015
History and physics enthusiasts can now rejoice as the U.S. government has commissioned the Manhattan Project National Historical Park located at three important sites critical to the World War II-era program.

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.

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

Manh(a)ttan: Bringing Nuclear Physics to Primetime
December 17, 2014
The new primetime TV show based on the Manhattan Project of WWII has drawn praise for its storytelling and scientific accuracy but also some critiques of its historical accuracy.

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.

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?

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?

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets
October 08, 2014
We sat down with science writer Simon Singh to discuss his latest book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, which reveals the many math-related Easter eggs hidden throughout the iconic show's 25-year history.

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.

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.

Voices of the Manhattan Project
July 16, 2014
Hundreds of thousands of people were connected to the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bombs. Now you can hear a few of their unique perspectives as they reflect on this hugely significant project.

Stuff Matters
June 25, 2014
The most seemingly mundane materials in our lives, like glass and plastics, actually contain some of the most fascinating physics and richest histories of all.

The World's First Nuclear-Powered Civilian Ship
May 28, 2014
In the 1950's, President Dwight Eisenhower strongly promoted the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. One manifestation of this push was the NS Savannah - the first civilian nuclear-powered ship launched in 1959.

Element 117 and the Island of Stability
May 07, 2014
Scientists have recently corroborated the existence of element 117 called Ununseptium. As scientists discover new elemenets like Ununseptium, they're also closing in on an "island" of stable, heavy elements.

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.

Volcanic Cooling
March 05, 2014
Despite their fiery nature, volcanic eruptions actually cool the Earth over time and may explain a recent deceleration in global warming trends.

Weather Physics 101
January 08, 2014
Predicting the U.S.'s recent, extreme cold snap helped millions prepare and reminds us of the closely intertwined history of both forecasting and physics.

Thorium Nuclear Power
October 30, 2013
Mike explores the pros and cons of a new kind of nuclear reactor: thorium molten salt reactors.

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.

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?

Dating Ancient Water
April 24, 2013
Zheng-Tian Lu and physicists at Argonne National Laboratory can determine the age of water samples from underground sources, pockets of ocean water and glaciers.

The Promise of Fusion
April 17, 2013
Physicists have promised to eventually harness the power of the sun for over fifty years, but are they any closer to their goal today?

The Scientist behind Breaking Bad
April 10, 2013
Donna Nelson is a professor of physics at the University of Oklahoma, and she's also a science adviser on the show Breaking Bad. Today we talk with Nelson about her work on the show.

Mosh Pit Physics
March 27, 2013
Two graduate students have applied their physics coursework to a surprising area: mosh pits at metal shows.

Hot Hot Hot
March 07, 2013
Firewalking, Death Valley hiking, and the hottest place on Earth - a physics lab on Long Island - as experienced by author and scientist Bill Streever.

John McNeile Hunter
February 27, 2013
As Black History Month comes to a close, Mike unravels the story of pioneering physicist and educator John McNeile Hunter.

The Good, the Bad, the Radiation
February 06, 2013
Authors of the new book "Radiation: What it is, what you need to know" discuss why radiation is not inherently good or bad. Like any technology, it all depends on how we use it.

Winter Physics Roundup
December 12, 2012
Snow is falling, northern lights are glowing, and physics is everywhere this season.

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.

The Physics of Cool
May 30, 2012
Refrigerators and air conditioners are so common these days that many people never stop to wonder: how do we make things cold? Today on the physics buzz podcast we'll talk about some of the clever ways that physics keeps us cool.

Physics of the Inversion
January 18, 2012
This time of year some areas of the world, including Salt Lake City Utah, experience an inversion, where cold air gets stuck on the ground underneath a layer of warm air. But doesn't cold air sink and warm air rise? Why is this the exception and not the rule?  Learn why the consequences could be dire if it was.

DDT: It's a bang...really
October 05, 2011
What turns a fast-moving fire into a super-sonic explosion that can punch through concrete? Physicists studying the deflagration to detonation transition, or DDT, think they may understand this dangerous phenomenon.

Maxwell's Demon is back
June 19, 2009
Researchers are tricking atoms and fooling entropy with lasers. Although their experiments don't actually violate the laws of thermodynamics, they have applications to quantum computing and gravity mapping.

New Years Physics Resolutions Part 2
January 23, 2009
In this podcast we describe some of the major experiments and concepts that physicists hope to resolve this year. This is part 2 of 3.

Amoeba Reasoning
September 18, 2008
Scientists discovered that some single celled organisms can learn to adapt to their environment. This is an astonishing discovery since single cell organisms don't have a brain. Previously, scientists thought that the learning process required many brain cells working together.

Podcast Archive

Thermodynamics & Heat

Geothermal Heat Pump
January 02, 2013
A more efficient geothermal pump taps the Earth's heat to lower utility bills by up to 80 percent

Inside a Net Zero House
November 29, 2012
Take a tour of a house designed to consume less energy than it generates on an annual basis.

Nanomaterials for Energy Efficiency
September 06, 2012
Ultra-thin 'two-dimensional' materials offer promising properties.

More Volcanoes = Less Storms
December 06, 2010
Atmospheric scientists are studying the connection between volcanic eruptions in the tropics and their effect on hurricane activity. Eruptions produce ash that blocks sunlight, which cools the Earth's surface and oceans. Since hurricanes need warm ocean waters to form, there is an observed decrease in the number of storms after these eruptions.

New Roofs Put Money In Your Pocket
September 27, 2010
As summer comes to a close and the final heat waves of the season begin, energy conservation continues to be at the forefront of many people’s minds. Mechanical engineers are designing a roof and attic insulation system that uses the properties of phase change and insulation to create a material that absorbs heat and infrared radiation during the day and then releases it into the atmosphere at night, helping keep the inside of your house cool. 

Smart Bridge Keeping Drivers Safe
November 06, 2009
Civil engineers installed approximately 400 sensors in a bridge to monitor how corrosion, temperature and traffic loans impact the structure.

Food Processing Cook Up Healthier Fried Foods With New Radiant Oven, No Deep Frying
October 16, 2009
Food processing engineers constructed an oven that uses radiant energy to fry food without oil.

Prosthetics that Grow
March 13, 2009
Doctors use electromagnetism to heat and melt plastic, which allows a spring to expand and lengthen a bone prosthesis.

Anti-Freeze for Your Plants
December 17, 2008
Botanists develop "antifreeze" spray for plants.

Predicting When Tornadoes Will Strike
November 10, 2008
Meteorologists examined relationship of El Nino and winter tornadoes in the U.S.

Fog-Free Glass
January 01, 2006
When moisture condenses on a cool surface, droplets can form that are the right size to scatter light, fogging up glass. A new polymer coating draws droplets into nanopores and transforms them into a transparent sheet, improving vision.

Firefighting with Fog
January 01, 2006
Firefighters usually don't aim hydrants at smoke, to avoid producing steam that can come back and burn them. But smoke sometimes contains dangerous, flammable gases. Some U.S. fire departments are now experimenting with brief bursts of water on the hot gasses, to cool them down and reduce the risk of explosion. Since it was adopted in Sweden, the technique has cut firefighter fatalities in half.

Frostless Heat Pump
February 01, 2005
A new invention, the "frostless" heat pump, produces warmer air than a conventional heat pump by raising the temperature on the device's outer coils. This prevents frost on the coils while heat is suctioned more efficiently into the home.

Underwater Weather Watchers
January 01, 2005
Researchers are now collecting valuable information about ocean weather from a fleet of cost-effective instruments called Argo floats. Using hydraulic fluid in internal and external sacs, each float sinks about a mile and a half underwater. Every ten days, the float rises to the surface and transmits information on the ocean temperature and salt content. Researchers hope Argo will improve the ability to forecast the paths of hurricanes and where they will make their landfall.