October 12, 2013 11:25 am

Unraveling the Dark Mysteries of the Universe this Sunday

Black Hole X-ray data from NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR)

X-ray data from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). Magenta blobs to the left of the arrow show X-rays from massive black holes buried at the hearts of galaxies, to the left of galaxy IC751 at which the telescope originally intended to look. Image Credit: NASA/JPL.

Well, okay, not all of them. But on this episode of Cosmic Queries, Neil deGrasse Tyson, your own personal astrophysicist, does a great job of dishing out scientific facts you can use to amaze your friends, unless of course they listen to StarTalk Radio, too.

You’ll discover what’s smaller than the smallest thing we’ve ever measured. You’ll learn how to turn a brown dwarf into an active star, and how to turn a neutron star into a black hole. You’ll find out how long we have until our Milky Way galaxy crashes into the Andromeda galaxy, what dark flow is, and what the speed of gravity is.

And that’s not all. Here are a couple of my favorites from this episode that I plan on using to win drinks from my friends the next time we’re out in a bar. (Maybe I’ll have them buy me a Robot Cocktail!)

Everybody knows it’s dark in space, right? Not pitch black, of course, there are obviously stars, but still, they don’t call it “the blackness of space” for nothing. But in fact, space isn’t dark. As Neil puts it, “The universe is ablaze in microwave light.” Not to mention gamma waves, x-rays, radio waves and more, all outside the spectrum of visible light. So it’s not that space is dark… it’s that our eyes aren’t capable of seeing the light. (As uber-geek and comic co-host Leighann Lord is quick to point out, though, Geordi La Forge would have no problem seeing them all with his nifty visor.)

Here’s another one that’s sure to stump your friends. Bet them that the Moon doesn’t really orbit the Earth. Then, when they go for it, get them to double the bet by telling them that the Earth doesn’t really orbit the Sun, either. It’s a bet you’ll win every time. (I could tell you why, but why not let Neil blow your mind this Sunday instead?)

I know they say that knowledge is its own reward. So is listening to StarTalk Radio. But what’s the harm in dropping a little science on your friends now and again?

Listen to Cosmic Queries: Dark Mysteries of the Universe this Sunday, October 13th at 7:00pm ET on our website, iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons





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