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

Cosmic Curiosities, with Paul Mecurio

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

About This Episode

On this week’s episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Paul Mecurio sit down to answer a grab bag full of Cosmic Queries that span the cosmic spectrum. We start at the beginning – the Big Bang. Is “Big Bang” a misnomer for what actually happened? Neil and Paul try and figure out if there’s a better name. You’ll learn how the origins of the name “Big Bang” were birthed from the Steady-state model hypothesis. Discover more about the differences between a law, a hypothesis, and a theory. 

We ponder a thought experiment that explores the boundary conditions of the Earth and the Universe. We ask: if you travel close to the edge of the universe, will you see the other side? Find out the immense reach that astrophysical terminology has in popular marketing and everyday products. We discuss Star Trek and what things from the show could be true in real life.

You’ll hear why space tourism requires fundamentally new technology in order to make it accessible for everyday people. Neil tells us about his lottery idea that can send people into space for one dollar per person. You also find out the real costs for sending things into orbit. And, Nell explains why it’s almost certain that there will be fatalities when pushing a frontier forward, like the early days of the airplane industry. 

Dive into the delicious mysteries of dark matter: Is it a placeholder for our incomplete understanding of gravity? Does it work differently on galactic scales? Can we eventually use it to help us travel through space? Learn more about the science of something exploding in space. Get details on the tricky business of catching neutrinos. Lastly, you’ll discover why it’s hard to pinpoint the center of the universe. All that, plus, you’ll explore the obstacles in trying to communicate with extraterrestrial life. 

Thanks to this week’s Patrons for supporting us: Valentín Elizalde, Tyler Ford, Ted Shevlin.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

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