Astronomy Highlights: Stellar Magnetic Fields, Zooniverse

This is the first episode of a series where we hear about recent research presented at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) January 2024 meeting.

(Credit: AIP/J. Fohlmeister)

Magnetic Braking in Old Stars (starts at 3:13)  Dr. Travis Metcalfe from the White Dwarf Research Corporation talks about studies of one particular star, 51 Peg, that has gone through magnetic braking. He discussed how studying magnetic fields around similarly middle-aged and older stars not oly can help us in our search for life on other planets, but also provide a clue of what might have impacted the evolution of life here on Earth.

Citizen Science with Zooniverse (starts at 13:21) Dr. Laura Trouille from the Adler Planetarium is the Principal Investigator of the Zooniverse project.  She explains how “citizen science” works, which crowd-sources science research in a wide range of projects not only in astronomy, but topics ranging from biology and physics to arts and literature.

Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Show Producer and Host: Joel Parker

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Astrobiology and the Anthropocene
Astrophysicist Adam Frank.

As part of the Conference of World Affairs, which is being held this week at the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, we are speaking today with astrophysicist Adam Frank. Frank is a professor at the University of Rochester, where he studies the final stages of evolution for stars like the sun. He is also the author of an upcoming book, “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth”, which will be published in June of this year. We spoke with Frank about ideas from this new book, including how the science of astrobiology can provide insights into how humanity can address planetary scale challenges like climate change.

Host: Alejandro Soto
Producer: Alejandro Soto
Engineer: Maeve Conran
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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The Alien Hunter & SETI

Contact cover-lrgToday’s show offers the following feature:
Extraterrestrial intelligence? (start time: 6:30): It’s mid-summer, a time when many of us like to spend leisurely time outside at night, gazing at the stars and planets, and asking the big existential questions, such as, Are we alone? Is there intelligent life waaay out there? Our guest today, science writer Sarah Scoles, has pondered these questions for several years. She discusses with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker her just-published biography, Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Tarter, an astronomer, directed the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research. Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel Contact” illustrates Tarter’s astronomical work. In the 1997 movie Contact (stemming from Sagan’s novel) actor Jodi Foster played a character  who was loosely based on Tarter.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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Earth in Human Hands – Shaping our Planet’s Future

Dr. David Grinspoon (photo by Lawrence Cheng)
Dr. David Grinspoon
(photo by Lawrence Cheng)

Sometimes when we are having personal or health problems, it helps to get an outside perspective: talk to other friends who have experienced similar problems and how they dealt with them, and other friends about how they avoided those problems.  Talk to experts.  Then using all that input, we try to make the best choice to solve the problems and to live a long and happy life.  This is perhaps the situation we find ourselves in now with the health of our environment and the long-term viability of the human race.  So where to we look for that “outside perspective” and expert help?  The answer may be: look to other planets and talk to those who study them.  This is the approach astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon takes in his new book: “Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future”. Dr. Grinspoon is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, and in 2013 he was appointed the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress.  We had a chance to talk with Dr. Grinspoon about how he compares Earth’s story to those of other planets, and how our present moment is not only one of peril, but also great potential, especially when viewed from a 10,000-year perspective.

The podcast of the show is below, and you also can hear the extended interview here.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional contributions: Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Earth in Human Hands – extended interview



This is the full interview with Dr. David Grinspoon, author of the book “Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future”.  Excerpts of this interview by Joel Parker aired on How on Earth on our January 10, 2017 show.

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Across the Universe – You Can’t Get There From Here

This special edition of How on Earth is produced in conjunction with the Conference on World Affairs.  Our guests are two of the participants of the Conference: astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon and physicist Dr. Sidney Perkowitz.  In keeping with the traditional format of the conference panels, our guests will start by talking about their interpretation of the topic “Across the Universe – You Can’t Get There From Here”, and we’ll go from there and see where in the universe we end up.

Host / Producer / Engineer : Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender

Click below to listen to the show: