Cosmic Queries: Defending our Planet, with Bill Nye

Aerial view of Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. The crater is the result of an impact of a 40- to 50-meter iron-nickel asteroid roughly 50,000 years ago. Caption and credit: NASA.

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About This Episode

The universe is a hostile place. What would we do if a planet-destroying asteroid or comet strike were imminent? Do we have plans in place? Bill Nye is back on StarTalk Radio alongside comic co-host Chuck Nice to answer these questions, and a lot more fan-submitted Cosmic Queries, concerning planetary defense. Learn about the policies and plans currently in place to handle an asteroid or comet event. Explore the possibility of using ground based lasers to hit asteroids millions of miles away. Discover how we might deflect an asteroid’s trajectory by using the gravity of another object, or by putting a reflecting shield on an asteroid in order for sunlight to change its movements. Find out why detecting asteroids in space is like finding charcoal bricks in the dark. You’ll also learn about using asteroids to destroy other asteroids. In the Lightning Round, Bill and Chuck answer questions about sonic technology, using solar sails to change an asteroid’s direction, and why sending Bruce Willis and a rag-tag group of drillers to blow up an asteroid, like in the film Armageddon, would probably just make things worse. Plus, you’ll hear Bill discuss the biggest threat to humanity – and it’s not an asteroid or a comet.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries: Defending our Planet, with Bill Nye.


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  • Maxime Lelievre

    1 -Like your show
    2- Before sending a starship should we not try to just :LOOK at it and using the quantum effect that occurs when you stare at somethings , like a Croud looking at a baseball game affect the path of the ball ….
    So 7 billions could change something consedering the people are understanding….
    The gravity wave could be enough to change is trajectory by lets says 1 mm …. that would transform MM >> KM

  • Huey Carroll

    My hypothesis is that the Caribbean Plate is an actual ancient impact site. I have data that supports my conclusion. “Silhouette of a Comet” teaser trailer on YouTube.

  • Juan

    Towards the end, you guys talked about working on translation to Spanish of the content. I’m fluently bilingual (Enlgish/Spanish) and can easily translate the content. Also have the time. Do you guys need any help?

    • Thanks for the offer, Juan. If and when we do tackle translations, we may be in touch.

  • Huey Carroll

    Is it possible to post a jpeg visualizing the data that I’ve found comparing the Caribbean Plate with NASA computer simulation of Shoemaker Levy 09 impacting into Jupiter? There is close to a 90% match of coastlines and land features between the simulation and Google Earth.

    • No, Huey. But you can past a link to it.

      • Huey Carroll

        I accept your challenge.

        The link will take you to the jpeg which includes a freeze frame of NASAs 1994 comet impact simulation into Jupiter compared to corresponding features found in the Caribbean Plate on Google Earth. This is just a portion that I’m sharing as part of my research into this event.

        Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I look forward to more discussion on this topic.


  • Diego A. M.

    Hi, where is Chuck Nice´s web site? I can of have interest in Square Space, but I would like to check his web site!! He is always mentioning it..:D Love your podcasts


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