Walkabout the Galaxy

Astronomy and cosmology challenge our perceptions of space and time, make us ponder our place in the universe, and give us wonders from the infinitesimal to the nearly-infinite. Then there's Walkabout the Galaxy, where we attack the question of which is a bigger relative bite: when the Sun in its red giant phase swallows the Earth, or when Jim Cooney in his fishing phase swallows a gnat. For that and the other truly important questions, you can count on the Astroquarks. Walkabout the Galaxy: for the truly important questions in life.

Direct download: Will_the_Sun_Burp_When_it_Eats_the_Earth_.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 12:42am EDT

We never get tired of Einstein being right, and once again his general theory of relativity is up to the challenge. The astroquarks take you on a tour to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way for another test of Einstein's theory of gravity, while closer to home the Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission has successfully grabbed some more asteroid rubble. Dr. Zoe Landsman, aka Beauty Astroquark, joins Josh and Jim on this walkabout with spaceships being propelled by sunlight, nerd news, and Apollo trivia.

Direct download: When_Light_Climbs_Out_of_a_Hole.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

A thousand bonus Trekkie points for getting the reference of the title of this episode, and another 1000 points for connecting it to our main science topic (spoiler alert): voids in space. Space is very empty, and some parts are emptier than others. Giant voids are helping us narrow down the rate of expansion of the universe. NPR's Brendan Byrne, space reporter for WMFE 90.7, joins us to give a peak behind the scenes of NASA's plans to send people to the Moon, plus some physics-y space trivia and much more.

Direct download: Where_Silence_Has_Lease.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:46pm EDT

Supermassive black holes lurk in nearly every galaxy, and stellar-mass black holes are making news with mergers that we see with our gravitational wave observatories. But what about the black hole middle class? And just how massive are these things anyway? Plus, Hollywood director and astroquark brother K.C. Colwell ("Deep Impact", "The Mummy", "The Wolverine", "The Walking Dead") joins the astroquarks to talk about science and special effects in movies. And we honor the 50th anniversary of the amazing achievement of Apollo 11 with bonus Apollo trivia. 

Direct download: Houston_the_Astroquarks_have_Landed.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:27am EDT

We're going back to Saturn! NASA has selected the Dragonfly mission to the planet-moon Titan to explore its atmosphere and carbon-rich chemistry with a dual quadcopter capable of flying several km at a time. Work continues on the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter's own Ocean World. The astroquarks catch you up on these new missions, plus some nerdy sci-fi trivia, Josh mangles French, and, as always, be sure to listen through to the end for a unique and surprising outro to the show. 

Direct download: Dragonfly_Me_to_the_Moon_of_Saturn.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 7:20pm EDT

There is no center of the universe, no top or bottom (except for our astroquarks!), but all sorts of things in the universe have a definite handedness, and this includes fundamental particles, whose left-ness or right-ness is captured in a quantum property called spin. Top astroquark Jim Cooney takes us for a spin around new results looking into why there is a preference for certain directions of spin. Closer to home we look into the spin of the early Sun and how it ties into the early evolution of life and rocks on the Moon! So take the universe for a spin with us, and get a tangential trivia and all your space news on Walkabout the Galaxy.

Direct download: Left_and_Right_in_the_Universe.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 7:18pm EDT

The universe began in a hot, dense state, as the song goes, and we can, oddly, see that heat from the thing that we are still in. The universe. Strange stuff. The radiation leftover form the big bang, known as the cosmic microwave background, or CMB, has cooled off, but analysis of measurements of this radiation by the Planck spacecraft point to some odd hot and cold halves of the universe. The astroquarks take a deep dive into the CMB, plus lots of new spaceflight news and of course your Walkabout trivia.

Direct download: The_Universe_is_Running_Hot_and_Cold.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 3:11pm EDT

The astroquarks take a stroll through the extrasolar planetary zoo where there are new members of the close-to-Earth-sized club and a peculiar Neptune-y thingy orbiting super close to its star. Meanwhile there are rapid developments in NASA's renewed focus on sending astronauts to the Moon, and we revisit the strange case of quarks, anti-quarks, and the existence of matter in the universe. Plus a very deep dive into Forbidden Planet-inspired trivia.

Direct download: Episode157_053119_Edit1.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:00pm EDT

NASA unveils a new accelerated timeline to get astronauts forward (not back, get it?) to the Moon in 2024 with the new Artemis program. The astroquarks bring you up to speed on the latest space exploration news, and are joined by author Dennis Taylor of the "Bobiverse" trilogy of science fiction novels ("We are Legion", "For We Are Many", and "All These Worlds"). This gets us into Von Neumann machines, the Fermi paradox and the Great Filter, and bonus Bob trivia.

Direct download: All_About_Bob.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 2:59pm EDT

The astroquarks discuss news about lunar quakes and Venus... volcanoes. But volcanoes doesn't rhyme with quakes, so I sacrificed alliteration for rhyming. Venus may be volcanically active, at least on relatively recent geological timescales. If only we could go back in time to see! Top quark Jim Cooney will bring us up to date on a new experiment that fiddles with the direction of time's arrow. All that, plus space news and bonus trivia on this episode of Walkabout.

Direct download: Moon_Quakes_and_Venus_Shakes.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

From a human-made crater (well, spacecraft-made) on an asteroid, to the Moon-forming impact, to an accelerating pace of black hole merger detections, the astroquarks survey the latest news in astronomical collisions. The asteroid Apophis has a close date with Earth in 2029, and what episode of Walkabout would be complete without some general relativistic frame dragging? Zoe Landsman joins us while Charm quark Addie Dove is off launching things into space! Plus space news and a historical/avengical trivia.

Direct download: Impacts_Large_and_Small_and_Very_Large.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 9:43pm EDT

Scientists have been chasing methane on Mars for years. It's a slippery little molecule that doesn't stick around very long and has several biological (as well as non-biological) sources. The armada of spacecraft at Mars have conflicting measurements of the presence or absence of methane in Mars' atmosphere. Fortunately the astroquarks are here to make sense (or fun) of it. Plus, we discuss a cool new way to figure out the rate of expansion of the universe, and bonus methane trivia!

Direct download: Is_Mars_Farting_or_Burping_.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 9:39pm EDT

We discuss the dramatic first view of a black hole in a special episode recorded in front of a live audience. In addition to the Event Horizon Telescope's image, bonus nerd trivia, and an abundance of space news, we review the latest in space impacts, including the dramatic fossil field in North Dakota revealing the death and mayhem just minutes after the catastrophic asteroid impact that wiped out nearly all life on Earth 65 million years ago.

Direct download: I_Can_See_Your_Black_Hole_From_Here.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 9:31am EDT

Just when you thought Dark Energy couldn't get any stranger, new measurements of the history of the expansion of the universe show an era well after the big bang and inflation but long, long ago when the rate of expansion was different than today. We are running out of dark names for the unknown. Closer to home the astroquarks discuss evidence for rain and water on Mars at a surprisingly recent (well, still a long time ago) epoch. All that plus space news and nerd trivia can be found on this episode of Walkabout the Galaxy.

Direct download: There_are_Dark_Forces_at_Work_in_the_Universe.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 11:22am EDT

We are joined by asteroid expert and "b" quark Dr. Zoe Landsman to discuss the remarkable discovery by the OSIRIS-REx mission that the asteroid it is orbiting, Bennu, is spitting pebbles and rocks out into space. The mechanism for this remains a topic of research. Also, another thing named after Enrico Fermi, another super moon with a silly name, and examining Apollo samples that have been sealed since they were recovered from the lunar surface. All in all, just another episode of Walkabout the Galaxy.

Direct download: Bennu_is_Puking_Asteroid_Pebbles.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 6:38pm EDT

Our guest, André Bormanis, has spent a considerable amount of time thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence, as well as warp travel, holodecks, artificial life forms, and more. Having spent more than a decade as an advisor and producer on the Star Trek franchise, André is now an executive producer and writer on "The Orville", Seth MacFarlane's trekkiest of shows. André joins the astroquarks for a discussion of Trek, humor, and the vexing Fermi paradox. Maybe we're just too early to the party. Check it out, and check out "The Orville", plus a special Trek trivia on this episode of Walkabout the Galaxy.

Direct download: Too_Early_to_the_Party.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:34pm EDT

Science Fiction great Joe Haldeman ("The Forever War", "Marsbound", "The Hemingway Hoax", "Worlds") joins the astroquarks for a wide-ranging discussion from microwave-plasma-grapes to cosmic rays, science in science fiction, and the latest space news including SpaceShipTwo returning to space and Hayabusa-2 touching an asteroid. 

Direct download: The_One_with_Joe_Haldeman.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 5:28pm EDT

Sometimes it seems like you can't count on anything, and now the Earth's north pole is on the move at a dramatically accelerated rate, more than 30 miles per year. Of course, that's not the rotation pole, but the magnetic pole, and it's not the north magnetic pole, it's the magnetic north pole. Confused? That's what the astroquarks are here for. Tune in for this, more interesting news about the complicated environments around the cool red stars that are home to so many exoplanets, space news, and trivia.

Direct download: Episode147_020819_Edit1.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 6:59pm EDT

The astroquarks welcome Professor Mohamed Noor from Duke University, author of "Live Long and Evolve" to talk about evolution of humans and aliens, interspecies sex, and what we can learn about the big questions of life, the universe and everything from Star Trek. As if that wasn't enough, there's new intriguing information about Dark Energy, plus Nobel Prize trivia and space news featuring our recent payload flights with Blue Origin's New Shepard. Tune in for all your space and alien news.

Direct download: To_Seek_Out_and_Explore.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:10pm EDT

Hold on to your solar system, the Milky Way may be in store for a galactic collision sooner than anticipated. And speaking of collisions, evidence from craters on the Moon as well as an apparent dearth of craters on the Earth (I just wanted to say dearth and Earth in the same sentence) suggest that the current rate of asteroid and comet impacts on the Earth is 2-3 times higher now than it was a few hundred million years ago. Zoe Landsman joins us for a traveling Addie to discuss all this, new research on the likelihood of life in the ocean of Europa, and Top quark trivia.

Direct download: Galaxy_Right_Ahead.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 10:57am EDT

2019 began with the successful flyby of Ultima Thule (2014 MU69 - more on the name in the show!) by the New Horizons spacecraft, but there's much more to talk about, including a discovery of more Fast Radio Bursters (mysterious sources of tremendous energy), and observations that show phase transitions in White Dwarf stars. Josh, Addie and Jim have got it all, plus space news and trivia, in this episode that kicks off the Year of the Astroquark. You heard it here first!

Direct download: The_Year_of_the_Astroquark.mp3
Category:Science -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

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