Cosmic Queries with Bill Nye and Astro Mike

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About This Episode

Neil’s off this episode, working on the new COSMOS series for FOX, but guest host Bill Nye the Science Guy, co-host Eugene Mirman and guest Astro Mike Massimino have a world of fun answering your questions. Bill explains how electromagnetism works, who Michael Faraday was, what NASA’s MAVEN mission will be searching for when it reaches Mars, and why you might not want to wear magnets on your wrists to improve your health. You’ll get updates on the state of 3-D printing, liquid metal batteries, carbon nanotubes and super conductivity. Find out how NASA shields astronauts from radiation, what would happen to a fish (real or Swedish) in a giant water bubble floating in space, and how spacecraft move through the void without anything to “push against.” Join the gang as they speculate on warp drives, light speed travel and teleportation. Plus, the Science Guy puts on his engineering hat to discuss the biggest challenge faced by mankind today: climate change.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries with Bill Nye and Astro Mike.

In This Episode

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Episode Topics

  • Marschal

    The Cosmos and Human Consciousness – where do they intersect?

    • Tim Curry

      In every way Marschal, in every way!!!

  • Should we consider that the Universe began from the big bang. Is it possible that 1 of 2 things. 1 it was a meeting of positive and negative energy which if they meet create a big bang. Also is it possible that if that occurred th at previous to the big bang that the Universe was sucked in by a super massive black hole and there existed previously a whole nother universe and we could also go this way?

  • Should we consider that the Universe began from the big bang. Is it possible that 1 of 2 things. 1 it was a meeting of positive and negative energy which if they meet create a big bang. Also is it possible that if that occurred th at previous to the big bang that the Universe was sucked in by a super massive black hole and there existed previously a whole nother universe and we could also go this way?

  • CosmicCora

    hell yeah Bill Nye! 🙂

  • Madd Dogg
  • Brandon Badou

    Another great episode!

  • Bill Nye would be great at reading bedtime stories.

  • James Reyes

    4 kelvin is like super canada!

  • Jerry Lu

    Someone buy Mike Massamino a copy of Portal, NOW!

    • GIMemo

      i can do that, what’s his steam account?

  • MagnetarA
    magnetar is a type of neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic
    field. The magnetic field decay powers the emission of high-energy
    electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays and gamma rays.

    • Sparks

      Wikipedia is everyone’s friend. Seriously though, first time I heard about a magnetar was on The Universe. I’m truly surprised by these guys’ reaction!

  • Necron99

    You-Mean German is the best comedian co-host, in my opinion. Mass is always wonderful. And of course, Mr Science Guy, a treasure.

  • Tim Curry

    I’m afraid Bill Nye just doesn’t hold a candle power to Neil!!!

    • Nikolay Ivanov

      Well he said Magnetars are musical instruments… I hope he was joking! But after he made that creationist look like a fool, i’ll give him a pass on that 😛

  • Uthor

    Last I heard Eugene, he was singing a song about farts on Bob’s Burgers. I love the weird mental disconnect.

  • James Thomas

    Great show, Who better to replace NDT then the great Mr Bowtie himself!

  • Andrew Comi

    Great episode, but one complaint….When are you guys going to get a Mobile version of the site? Trying to navigate the site on your phone and actually pick the episode you want is a torture that i wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy! I thought Squarespace was one of your biggest supporters? That’s embarassing….

    • jerry birmingham

      Haha, i thought the same thing! hopefully they change that in the future as most of us probably listen with our mobile devices.

    • Yat-Long Sam Poon

      You can always listen to us on Stitcher! -The Editor

  • Nikolay Ivanov

    How long before someone copyrights Magnetar for a brand of musical instruments?

  • Mara

    Yaaaaay Bill Nye!

  • Mel

    Why don’t you want air bubbles in your water bag?

    • I’m thinking it would add air pressure to your stomach because you’d be “drinking” it down with the water, and extra pressure in a super-closed environment like a space suit probably isn’t a great idea. Plus, it’d make you burp or would come out the other end and that can’t be the nicest thought while on a space walk. XD

  • Jamie Lessing

    Love this episode but it really shows off Neil’s ability to moderate the discussion instead of everyone throwing their ideas in random order.

  • Alosha

    Three people is to many for this show. They are all always talking over each other it was almost difficult to listen to and I was super excited for Bill Nye.

  • Louis Apple

    A fish would swim out of a bubble of water and smack against the hull of station/ship/equipment panel(most likely) and it would try to get back in the water. my question is would it learn how before it dies and should humans help fish learn this?

  • Oxalis

    Thanks for having Bill Nye on! I love him! Keep up the great work, guys!! <3

  • Pat M

    Hi Brad,

    You are very right that magnetars are neutron stars with high magnetic fields. “High” is, in fact, an understatement! Typical pulsars have magnetic fields of around 10^12 Gauss. The Earth’s magnetic field is ~0.5 Gauss. How big is 10^12 G? There’s a paper from the 1960’s that shows that a magnetic field of this size is enough to *rip off* charged that are otherwise bound to the star! By rip off I mean the electromagnetic force is a factor of 10^9 (1 billion!) higher than the gravitational force of a neutron star. Neutron stars are about as close as you come to being a black hole and not actually being a black hole. In short, typical pulsars have HUGE magnetic fields.

    Magnetars have magnetic fields another 1000x bigger than normal pulsars!

    Now, pulsars spin (the reasons for which would require a longer comment…). When magnetic fields change in time they emit light. When the pulsars emit light they lose energy, and when they lose energy they spin more slowly. If the magnetic field is stronger, the pulsar “spins down” faster. So, you can imagine, magnetars spin down very quickly. That’s part of the reason why we don’t see as many magnetars as we see pulsars!

    Their link to other types of radiation like Gamma Ray Bursts and the like are due to more complicated dynamics.


    PS Some may be used to “Tesla” as the unit for magnetic field. 1 Tesla = 10^4 Gauss.

  • steveberl

    I like Mike’s comment about pets in space. Fish in a tank would be fun, but dogs would be even cooler. Every other human exploration and migration has been accompanied by dogs. Why not outer space? How long before Rover gets to ride on ISS?

  • I understand these amazing radiotalk episodes are sponsored by advertisement that are dubbed along with the actual radio clip, but one might wonder how many science-loving listeners would really go all the way to browse such advertisements on their own since the purpose listeners log into startalk is not the ads in the first place but to hear the actual startalk show. So, um.. instead of cramming the actual audio clip of the episodes with undemanded advertisement, may be a more feasible idea would be to place these ads on the episode-specific webpage – including their weblinks – two advantages to this: the audio episodes are ad-free, and anyone interested to try any sponsored product can easily visit these websites without having to go all the way to google the products. We skeptics really don’t ship capitalism over curiosity, huh.

    • startalkradio

      Yes, but Rayhana, our paid sponsors are what keep the show in existence, and they are only interested in their ads appearing on the podcast, not a separate page.

      • Hello, thanks for the reply. I know these sponsors are important for running the podcasts and are in fact doing a great job
        supporting startalk radio. My comment was only a feedback that perhaps it might be more efficient for the sponsors to get more users if their ads appear on webpage like this rather and have weblinks to redirect them to their sponsors’ page as putting these ads on the podcast doesn’t take the customers anywhere. But yeah, I could try that hulu plus if i was in the US.

        Hey by the way, did you ever think how awesome it will be to add a discussion forum to this website that will bring together all the curious minds on this startalk platform all over the world?

        Best, Ray

        P.S. About my previous comment, it was only a feedback, I apologize in case it sounded rude. And the last line on capitalism was a joke. I study economics so I know it’s really a powerful discipline (awaiting a little evolution).

        • startalkradio

          No worries, Rayhana. BTW, we do get to have some pretty interesting discussions, here, in the comments, as well as on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed. A little less frequently on Google+, but sometimes they get pretty in depth there, too.

  • Don

    big ups to bill nye….beyond his amazing musical skills…his usage of riches as a lure for people to create technology ,and save the earth is a beautiful thing.

  • Darkhelmet

    Eugene is completely entertaining!

  • Lorenzo Castanon

    I did not know that my question was actually featured on this. Just knowing that Bill Nye and everyone else discussed it (even for a minute) makes me very happy. Too bad that Neil wasn’t there to answer my question though.

  • Saquist

    That was a rather chaotic show. 3 People is too much.

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  • msfrost

    “the biggest challenge faced by mankind today: climate change” A bigger challenge than that, is convincing the climate-deniers to take it as real.

  • Burzrujat

    Sorry guys this is an awful episode. Everyone talks over each other, and I can excuse the bad jokes… I even like some of them but you were quite unfair and rude to some of your fans that sent in questions.

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