Cosmic Queries – Physics All Around Us

Credit: Offnfopt (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons).
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About This Episode

Physics is at work all around us, all the time, in every part of life, big or small. On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice answer fan-submitted questions about the physics of everyday life. 

Discover more about the periodic table of elements and why it’s not a perfect rectangle. This opens up a discussion on the asymmetry of nature in general. You’ll hear how asymmetry runs throughout the entire universe. We investigate the philosophical urge that humans have for nature to be symmetrical. Neil also shares Isaac Newton’s thoughts on the subject. You’ll learn more about Maxwell’s equations. We explore the relationships between chemistry, biology, and physics, and you’ll also learn more about Maxwell’s equations. 

We ponder what intelligent aliens might admire if they visited Earth. Would they admire anything? Chuck and Neil discuss the idea that if we took all the energy humans used to destroy one another and refocus it into advancing humanity forward, we would be much more advanced than we are now? Find out how close a black hole would have to be in order for our solar system to get sucked into it. 

Moving on, we address the question, “Which can yet you farther: a physics degree or a mathematics degree?” Neil shares his thoughts on both. You’ll hear why there haven’t been greater advancements in solar energy. We investigate the slow development of battery technology. You’ll also find out what causes thunder. And, you’ll get the breakdown on why you hear the thunder, but see the lightning. Lastly, we dive into turning something from a “hypothesis” into a “theory.” Neil tells us why once a theory is established it doesn’t necessarily change, but it can expand. All that, plus, he also tells us why you should use “hypothesis” rather than “theory” when describing thoughts in daily life.  

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries – Physics All Around Us.

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