Starts With A Bang podcast

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Podcast by Ethan Siegel
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-06-14 07:43
last episode published
2019-06-14 05:00
publication frequency
30.05 days
Ethan Siegel author  
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Science & Medicine



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Starts With A Bang #45 - Beyond Earth 2.0

With all the planets out there in the galaxy and Universe, it's only a matter of time and data until we find another one with life on it. (Probably.) But while most of the searches have focused on finding the next Earth, sometimes called Earth 2.0, tha...
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Starts With A Bang #44 - The Expanding Universe

One of the biggest conundrums in the Universe surrounds the question of how quickly the Universe is expanding. Questions like what is the Universe made of, how old is it, what is it's ultimate fate, etc., absolutely depend on this. For generations, we ...
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Starts With A Bang #43 - Gravitational Microlensing

When we think about finding planets in the Universe, we typically look for ways to detect them as they orbit their parents stars, either affecting their star's position or velocity, or blocking or reflecting a certain portion of their light. But what ...
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Starts With A Bang #42 - Black Holes And Gravitation

So, you want to know about black holes, including how we're seeing them, what happens when you fall into them, what our future plans for direct and indirect detection are, and how scientists are answering some of the biggest questions about them today?...
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Starts With A Bang #41 - Before The First Stars

After the Big Bang, it took only a few hundred thousand years for the Universe to form neutral atoms. But it took tens or even hundreds of millions of years for the first stars to turn on, and a whopping 550 million years for those neutral atoms to all...
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Starts With A Bang #40 - Pristine Matter and Future Space Telescopes

One of the great goals in our study of the Universe is to see past the currently-known frontiers. That means going farther, to greater and greater distances. It means going fainter, to smaller and less-easy-to-see objects. It means going to earlier tim...
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Starts With A Bang #39 - The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Is there intelligent life out there in the Universe beyond planet Earth? If so, are they technologically advances, can they hear us, and are they broadcasting in ways that we could possibly detect them? In the absence of their arrival on Earth, you mi...
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Starts With A Bang #38 - Interstellar Interloper `Oumuamua

In 2017, the incredible happened: for the first time in history, we were able to identify an object passing through our Solar System that originated from outside of it! Interstellar interloper 'Oumuamua was originally designated as a comet, then as an ...
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Starts With A Bang #37: The Outer Solar System

Our Solar System formed some 4.6 billion years ago from a molecular cloud that collapsed. Our proto-Sun formed along with a protoplanetary disk that eventually evolved into the Solar System we have today, complete with the inner, rocky planets, an aste...
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Starts With A Bang #36: The Future Of Gravitational Wave Astronomy

I'm so pleased to welcome Dr. Erin MacDonald to the Starts With A Bang podcast, as we discuss the future of Gravitational Wave astronomy. From pulsars to merging black holes, to kilonovae to hopes of observing gravitational wave signatures from the ear...
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Starts With A Bang #35 - Do We Live In A Multiverse

There's been a lot of speculative ideas put forth about the Multiverse, and I dare say that a great many of them are nothing more than wishful thinking. But that doesn't mean the Multiverse itself is ill-motivated at all. Rather, if you take two of our...
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Starts With A Bang #34 - There Is No Big Bang Singularity

The Universe, today, is expanding and cooling, as the volume of the Universe increases while the number of particles within it remains constant. If you extrapolate forwards in time, the Universe gets sparser, less dense, and closer to being completely ...
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Starts With A Bang #33 - The Limits Of Space

Have you ever wondered what's out there in the Universe, on the largest scales, beyond what we can even observe? Or what lies down below the tiniest distance scales we've ever probed? Is there a smallest fundamental length scale in the Universe, like t...
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Starts With A Bang 032 - Humanity's 3 Hopes For Alien Life

There are three very different ways humanity is searching for alien life beyond Earth. We can directly search the various planets and moons in our Solar System for past or present biological signatures simply by sending decontaminated probes, and looki...
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Starts With A Bang #31 - The Most Important Equation In The Universe

There are some incredibly big questions that humanity has been asking about the Universe since we first began looking upwards: what is the Universe like, how did it get to be this way, where did it all come from, and what is its eventual fate? There we...
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Starts With A Bang #30: Hawking's Greatest Discovery

In memory of Stephen Hawking's life, I've decided to share the physics behind his greatest discovery: Hawking radiation. For a long time, in the context of relativity, we thought that black holes were static, unchanging objects defined only by their ma...
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Starts With A Bang #29 - What's At The Center Of A Black Hole

When you fall inside the event horizon of a black hole, there's no escaping, no matter what you do or how you accelerate. Even if you travel at the Universe's speed limit, the speed of light, there's simply no way to get any closer to the exit. Instead...
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Starts With A Bang #028 - In God's Image

A simple, innocent question that I received had me thinking for days about how to answer it. The question? "If humans were made in God's image, whose image were aliens made in?" There's so much to say from a science perspective about how humans were ...
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Starts With A Bang #27: The Biggest Question

Ever wonder about the biggest questions that there are? You know the ones I mean: about what is the Universe, where does it come from, and what is its fate? For millennia, these were questions for poets, philosophers, and theologians. Yet, despite all ...
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Starts With A Bang #26: Traveling Backwards In Time

Ever dream of traveling back in time? According to all the laws of special relativity, all you can do is travel forwards through time, controlling your rate by controlling your motion through space. But in General Relativity, the curvature of spacetime...
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Starts With A Bang #25 - Why Do We Need Quantum Gravity?

Our current best theories describing the Universe, general relativity for gravity, quantum field theory for electromagnetism and the nuclear forces, do a fantastic job independently and together. But there are fundamental questions that go unanswered i...
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Starts With A Bang #24: The James Webb Space Telescope

Right around one year from today, the James Webb Space Telescope will launch to a position 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth, deploying into a quasi-stable orbit around the L2 Lagrange point. Its magnificent, 5-layer sunshield will unfold, allowin...
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Starts With A Bang #23 - Experiencing A Total Solar Eclipse For The First Time

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse occurred over the continental United States for the first time in nearly 39 years, when half the current US population wasn't even born. For many of us, it was our first opportunity to ever experience a sight l...
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Starts With A Bang #22 - The Science Of Solar Eclipses

On August 21, 2017, a coast-to-coast total eclipse across the United States will occur, the first one in 99 years. As the Moon's shadow hits the Earth and speeds across it, there's so much to see and enjoy, but only if you're prepared. What should you ...
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Starts With A Bang #21: The Quantum Rule That Makes Existence Possible

At a fundamental level, everything we know of in this Universe is made of the same few fundamental particles: quarks, gluons, electrons and photons, which combine to give us atoms, which in turn make up all the molecules, cells, organs and living creat...
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Starts With A Bang #20: Fate Of The Universe

Have you ever wondered how the Universe will end? In the far future, everything that we know, see, measure and perceive today will someday decay away, becoming something very different from what we know it as today. The Earth will cease to harbor life,...
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Starts With A Bang #19: Is Time Travel Possible?

Is time travel possible? Of course it's inevitable in some sense, as we always move through the Universe at the "boring" rate of one second per second. But what about traveling into the future? If we go, can we ever come back? And what about back in ti...
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Starts With A Bang #18: Why isn't Pluto a planet anymore?

In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto: our Solar System's ninth planet. For over 60 years, the Plutonian system was the only one known beyond Neptune, and Pluto retained its planetary status for all that time despite its diminutive size. Yet an expl...
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Starts With A Bang #17 - When Was The First Star Born?

Our Universe was born pristine, with no stars, galaxies, molecules or even stable atoms, some 13.8 billion years ago. Yet today, we're filled with all the complex structure we see today, including with planets, organics and even something as complex an...
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Starts With A Bang #16: How fast is the Universe expanding?

The discovery almost 100 years ago that the Universe was expanding was a revolution for science, for cosmology and for our conception of existence. Hubble discovered what Einstein's couldn't imagine, and after that, the race was on to learn exactly wha...
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Starts With A Bang #15: Is our Universe the inside of a black hole?

Black holes are incredibly massive objects that are so dense that, from within a given region of space, nothing can escape, not even light. Yet it's arguable that from our point of view, nothing can escape our observable Universe. Moreover, even though...
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Starts With A Bang #14: Are Parallel Universes Real?

Ever since we first uncovered the quantum nature of our Universe, humanity has struggled to interpret it. Is there a wavefunction that collapses? Is it the quantum operators themselves that change? Does the end state evolve? Or are there an infinite nu...
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Starts With A Bang #13: How Many Galaxies Are In The Universe?

Did you hear the news, that it isn't "billions and billions" anymore, but that there are TWO TRILLION (or 2,000,000,000,000) galaxies in the observable Universe? Come get the science behind this amazing story, including how we know, what it means and w...
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Starts With A Bang #12: Exoplanets, beyond our Solar System and Proxima b

For thousands upon thousands of years, we didn't know whether the other stars in the Universe were even like our Sun, much less whether they had planets around them like we find in our Solar System. Over the past 25 years, however, that question has no...
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Starts With A Bang #11: Was The Big Bang The Beginning Of The Universe?

Our Universe has been expanding and evolving since the hot, dense, expanding state known as the Big Bang first came to be. But there was a "day without yesterday," where the Big Bang occurred at a moment in time! Was that the birth of space and time it...
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Starts With A Bang #10: The Last Star In The Universe

While there are presently more than ~10^23 stars in the Universe shining today, each one of them is fated to live only for a finite amount of time. While more and more will continue to form, we're already past the point of peak star formation in the Un...
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Starts With A Bang #9: Interstellar Travel

Ever since humanity had the thought that the distant, twinkling stars might be Suns like our own, with their own planetary systems and chances at life, we've dreamed of extending humanity's reach to the galaxy and beyond. What are our actual chances of...
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Starts With A Bang #8: What is Dark Energy?

How will the Universe end? Will it recollapse in on itself, ending in a Big Crunch? Will it expand forever, ending in a Big Freeze? Or will it tear itself apart, ending in a Big Rip? With the discovery of dark energy, we finally think we know, but the...
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Starts With A Bang #7: Our Solar System's Planet Nine

Could there be a ninth planet in our Solar System, farther out than Neptune? Recent evidence points to a tantalizing possibliity, and searches are underway to look for it. Here's the science behind the full 'Planet Nine' story, in one amazing, easy-to-...
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Starts With A Bang #6: The most distant galaxy in the Universe

The Hubble Space Telescope has just shattered the record for most distant galaxy in the Universe. How did we break this record, and what do we expect to find even farther back?
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Starts With A Bang #5: Gravitational Waves and LIGO

In February of 2016, less than six months after first becoming operational, LIGO (the laser interferometer gravitational wave observatory) announced the first-ever direct detection of gravitational waves. What are they? What does it mean? What did we l...
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Starts With A Bang #4: The story of Pluto and Charon

In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh serendipitously discovered Pluto: the first object in our Solar System out past Neptune. For 48 years, it was the only object known out there, until Charon -- its giant moon -- was discovered. But the 1990s brought with it a sle...
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Starts With A Bang #3: Why is there more matter than antimatter?

Everywhere we look in the Universe, we find that planets, stars, galaxies, and even the gas between them are all made of matter and not antimatter. Yet as far as we know, the laws of nature are symmetric between matter and antimatter: you can't create ...
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Starts With A Bang #2 - Size Of The Universe

Although it's been only 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang, we can see objects as distant as 46.1 billion light years away. How is this possible? Ethan Siegel explains in the second Starts With A Bang podcast. Plus, how to see Comet Catalina in the ...
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Starts With A Bang #1 -- Water (and life?) on Mars

In the first inaugural Starts With A Bang podcast, astrophysicist Ethan Siegel discusses the latest evidence for water on Mars, what it means for Earth and potential life on the surface, as well as other topics. Guest (and Patreon supporter) Maciek mak...
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