January 23, 2017 8:54 pm

Tuesday, Carolyn Porco Explores the National Academy of Sciences with Marcia McNutt

Now, more than ever, seems like an appropriate time for our latest episode of StarTalk All-Stars as we explore the National Academy of Sciences and its vital role in our society.

All-Stars host and planetary scientist Carolyn Porco  welcomes her close friend Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences, to shed light on the inner workings of the NAS.

Together with co-host Maeve Higgins, Carolyn and Marcia discuss how the NAS does not fund or conduct science, but instead serves as advisors to the government whenever the government needs sound, unbiased, high quality advice for science-based decision making.

You’ll hear how the NAS helps to confront the Zika virus, as well as its efforts to understand what next-gen highway systems will look like due to the rise of self-driving vehicles, and the possible ethical and moral issues that may arise with advancements in genome editing.

Marcia takes us through her time as Director of U.S. Geological Survey when she dealt with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It turns out that her earlier experience as President/CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute helped when conceiving ideas to stop the spill, and that, as bad as the spill was, Deepwater Horizon was just one of many disasters she had to deal with during her time at the USGS.

US Coast Guard photo of the Deepwater Horizon burning in the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Deepwater Horizon on fire in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: US Coast Guard, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Marcia and Carolyn also talk about possible plans the NAS has if it’s ever called to action should Earth receive a message from an alien civilization. Find out why Maeve thinks the plan is similar to using Snapchat, and Marcia and Carolyn explain why we shouldn’t be worried about sending messages out into space.

Also up for discussion: Fracking. You’ll learn about the secondary effects of fracking, how the NAS tries to anticipate possible issues before scientific advancements are introduced to the common marketplace, and if scientists should run for public office.

In this episode, you will also hear about the scientific conversations the two friends have had while riding horseback on the beach, and why our panel members are a part of a superhuman race that inhabits the Earth – women.

Please join us tomorrow night for Inside The National Academy of Sciences, with Carolyn Porco, at 7pm EST on our website. And remember, as of our new season, StarTalk All-Stars has its own RSS feed, and its own channels on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. And if you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
– Ian Mullen