Science and Art, with Carolyn Porco – StarTalk All-Stars

“Coasting Above the Rings.” Courtesy of the Saturn Space Art Gallery. Credit: © 2014 Michael Carroll. Visit his website at:

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About This Episode

StarTalk All-Star Carolyn Porco is back in the hosting seat again, and this time, she’s brought her friend, musician and “Bad-ass Science Groupie” Sean Ono Lennon. Under the umbrella of answering fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about the intersection of art and science, Carolyn, Sean and co-host Chuck Nice discuss topics ranging from whether it’s okay to use technology to create art, to the human impact on Earth during the Anthropocene Age, to the lack of civility and empathy on social media sites like Twitter. Join us as we explore the relationship between math and the diatonic scale discovered by Pythagoras, as well as the correlation between piano keys and the number of days in each month of our calendar. Sean explains why he thinks of “melody as a kind of audio geometry” and quotes James Sylvester, the Oxford mathematician who tutored Florence Nightingale and said, “Music is the mathematics of sense, and mathematics is the music of reason.” You’ll also hear how Carolyn made sure that the Cassini Imaging Team, which she leads, treated their photos of Saturn, Jupiter, and Enceladus more like art than those taken by Voyager. Plus, you’ll learn about the role that professional “space artists” play in visualizing the worlds we can’t yet “see” and in bringing new levels of understanding to the ones we can.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Science and Art, with Carolyn Porco – StarTalk All-Stars.

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Episode Topics

  • You can see the stronger chords in Kirkwood gaps in the Main Belt. The most dramatic gap is at a 2 to 1 resonance at the outer edge of the belt. This corresponds to an octave.

    The Hilda Asteroids have a 3 to 2 resonance with Jupiter. This corresponds to a major fifth. The Plutinos have a similar resonance with Neptune.

    Also these chords can be seen in the gaps in Saturn’s rings. Those parts of Saturn’s rings with a strong resonance to a moon become destabilized.

  • Manni

    Carolyn Porco could be a tad bit humbler… but hey, I guess she does not need to! :p

  • Vlad Thret

    Great episode! I feel there was a missed chance to point the finger at #animalagriculture when the discussion turned to our Anthropocene era and how it relates to the current mass extinction event, climate change, etc. Carolyn even mentioned the plight of animals after the intermission, but nobody actually brought up the elephant in the room. Animal agriculture is not only an ecological nightmare, it’s a fundamental violation of rights. Non-human animals are NOT property for the exact same reasons that human animals are NOT property. So long as the public remains ignorant to the effects of animal agriculture, our anthropocentrism will continue to ruin the biodiversity of our only planet. As the son of advocates of non-violence, I expected Sean to mention something about how our treatment of animals is fundamentally linked to our treatment of each other. “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will always be battlefields.” -Tolstoy

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