Illustration from the cover of 30-Second Universe: 50 most significant ideas, theories, principles and events that sum up... everything, by Charles Liu, Karen Masters, and Sevil Salur.
Illustration from the cover of 30-Second Universe: 50 most significant ideas, theories, principles and events that sum up... everything, by Charles Liu, Karen Masters, and Sevil Salur.

Cosmic Queries – The 30-Second Universe

From the cover of 30-Second Universe: 50 most significant ideas, theories, principles and events that sum up... everything, by Charles Liu, Karen Masters, and Sevil Salur.
  • Free Audio
  • Ad-Free Audio
  • Ad-Free Video
  • Legacy Audio
  • Legacy Video
Illustration from the cover of 30-Second Universe: 50 most significant ideas, theories, principles and events that sum up... everything, by Charles Liu, Karen Masters, and Sevil Salur.

About This Episode

How does gravity work? What would you ask a super computer? Are there undiscovered laws of physics? Can you answer these questions in 30 seconds or less? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-host Chuck Nice, and astrophysicist and StarTalk geek-in-chief Charles Liu, PhD are answering fan-submitted Cosmic Queries as fast as they can in celebration of Charles’ new book 30-Second Universe: 50 most significant ideas, theories, principles and events that sum up… everything.

To start, we explore the shape of planets. Why are all planets shaped liked spheres? You’ll learn about “hydrostatic equilibrium” and its importance in shaping planets. We discuss Ceres – the solar system’s largest asteroid (and now classified as a dwarf planet). Discover the vast range of textures we find on Earth’s surface. Does this sound a little longer than 30 seconds? You’d be correct. 

We speed things up with our next question – what is the best haircut for zero-G? Chuck tells us about the show The Expanse and how it accurately depicts the forces of gravity. Neil reminisces on the film Gravity and how Sandra Bullock’s bangs didn’t follow the actual laws of gravity. Find out what Neil and Charles would ask Deep Thought, the supercomputer from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We explore the work of Isaac Asimov and his genre-defining short story “The Last Question.” We also explore Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and if artificial intelligence will solve the growing population problem. 

Charles tells us how he first fell in love with comic books. He also tells us what superpower he would want if he could choose for himself. We investigate the expansion of the universe. We ponder if there are undiscovered laws of physics. Lastly, you’ll hear about spacetime, the shape of galaxies, and the orbit of the Sun. All that, plus, Neil and Charles come up with the single most mind-blowing fact they can share about the universe in under 30 seconds.

Thanks to this week’s Patrons for supporting us: Jim Brown, Christopher MacCay, Carlene Goodbody, Ernesto Chavez, Doug Sherman.

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

In This Episode

Episode Topics

Get the most out of StarTalk!

Ad-Free Audio Downloads
Ad-Free Video Episodes
Stickers & Mugs
Live Streams with Neil
Priority Cosmic Queries
Early-Access Videos
Learn the Meaning of Life
...and much more

You Can Also Listen On

Music in This Episode