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25 November 2022
Think about what types of things burn: wood, grasses, fossil fuels… mostly things that were formed by life. Fire also requires oxygen, which is largely produced by life. Did Earth have fire before life evolved? Could any other planets have fire? If there were an exoplanet with fires burning, would we have any way to detect that?
11 November 2022
At the end of the decade, NASA’s Artemis missions will return to the moon—traveling through deep space to get there. A lot of things make deep space travel complicated, but one you might not have considered is the risk of fire on the space craft. And how to put fires out if they do start?
9 September 2022
Science is all about experimentation, discover, and sharing those results. But what happens behind the scenes? What stories do scientists have to tell that don’t make it in the manuscript or the classroom lecture?
15 July 2022
The International Space Station feels like a permanent fixture. It’s been up there since 2000! But earlier this year, NASA announced it is bringing the ISS back to earth in the 2030s as it plans for new space stations.
1 July 2022
Dani DellaGiustina is one of the youngest leaders of a NASA mission, and she was in charge of image processing for OSIRIS-REx before she even got her PhD. OSIRIS-REx is a spacecraft sent to study asteroid Bennu and scheduled to return a sample to Earth in 2023.
10 June 2022
When you hear the word “extinction,” chances are you probably think of the extinction of the dinosaurs and a big rock. But did you know that there were other factors at play that lead to that extinction including volcanos and sea-level rise?
19 August 2019
In 1972, in the waning years of the Vietnam War, U.S. military pilots flying south of Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam saw something unexpected. Without explanation, and without warning, over two dozen sea mines suddenly exploded. While the phenomenon was never officially explained, it piqued the interest of space scientist Delores Knipp.
31 May 2019
Few natural phenomena are more difficult to study than tornadoes. They’re short-lived, their locations are notoriously hard to predict, and getting close enough to observe them is both challenging and extremely dangerous.
20 May 2019
In 1911, two competing groups of explorers attempted to be the first to reach the South Pole. In this episode, atmospheric scientist Ryan Fogt recounts the journeys of Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen and discusses how extraordinary weather that year affected the two polar parties in vastly different ways.
15 January 2019
In the mid-1980s, scientists uncovered a troubling phenomenon: The ozone layer, which protects all living things on Earth from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation, was rapidly thinning over Antarctica.
6 August 2018
This is an interesting book – simultaneously about Enlightenment science, energy flows driving human history, and the boundary-less conception of politics, religion, and science that was embraced by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and the book’s principal protagonist, Joseph Priestley (and to a lesser, or at least less-well-documented, degree by John Adams). The discussion begins in the coffeehouses of 1760’s London, where conversation roamed freely and exuberantly between intellectuals and amateur …
15 August 2016
The isle of Jura in Scotland is where George Orwell wrote 1984. It’s just across a narrow channel from the eastern side of Islay, where I spent four lovely days geologizing this summer. Looking across the gap, you can see a cluster of prominent mountains on Jura. These are the “Paps” of Jura, and they are held up by quartzite. I took these photos when driving home after an afternoon …