August 22, 2019 9:00 pm

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Paul Mecurio Answer Your Cosmic Curiosities

Sometimes here on StarTalk, we get Cosmic Queries that transcend a single topic and must be put in a different pile. On this week’s episode, we dive into that pile of cosmic curiosities as Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Paul Mecurio answer fan-submitted questions from a grab bag of cosmic delight.

Simulated visualization of the Universe showing galaxies organized into the cosmic web credited to V.Springel, Max-Planck Institut für Astrophysik, Garching bei München.

A three-dimensional, simulated visualization of the Universe showing galaxies organized into the cosmic web. Credit: V.Springel, Max-Planck Institut für Astrophysik, Garching bei München.

We start where it all began – the Big Bang. Is the “Big Bang” a misnomer for what actually happened? Neil explains how the Steady-state model hypothesis birthed some nomenclature characteristics of the Big Bang. Then, we try and think of other names for the Big Bang. Personally, I would go with “The Snap” or “The Blink” or “The Thing That Happened.” (I know, that third one really nails it.)

We also dive into the relationship between astrophysical terms and popular marketing. Discover more about the differences between theories and laws. Neil presents a thought experiment to help us ponder the boundary conditions of the Earth and the Universe.

Investigate whether space tourism will require fundamental advancements in technology to make it affordable for everyday people. You’ll learn about Neil’s lottery idea to win a ticket into space. We also discuss the precise costs for getting things into orbit. Find out why Neil thinks it’s inevitable that people will die when you’re pushing a frontier.

Uncover more about dark matter: does it work differently on the galactic scale? Is it just a placeholder for our incomplete understanding of gravity? Once it’s fully discovered, will it help us travel through space? You’ll hear if anything that happens on Star Trek can be translated into real life. We discuss catching neutrinos. Get details on the difficulty of communicating with extraterrestrial life. All that, plus, we search for the center of the universe…if there even is one.

Please join us tomorrow night for Cosmic Curiosities, with Paul Mecurio at 7pm ET right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re a StarTalk+ Patron or an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
-Ian Mullen