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174 – Stem Cells

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(average: 4.58)
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Stem cells are an important part of today’s medical practice, and their importance will grow in the future based on research conducted today. One of the researchers in Derrick Rossi of Harvard and the Boston Children’s Hospital. In the episode we introduce the different kinds of stem cells and their role in the body and in medical treatments. We then discuss some clinical use cases as well as current research (in general and in Derrick’s group).

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172 – Chasing Bears with the Phantom

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(average: 4.65)
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In this episode we talk to former RAF pilot Nick Anderson about his time flying the F-4 Phantom II in the cold war. We start out by describing the Phantom itself, the specific of the British Phantoms, and how it flew from a pilot’s perspective. We then discuss flying in the cold war and walk through a typical intercept mission. We close with a Nick’s personal perspective on the time and his flying, as well as with a quick view on the recent intercepts of Russian bombers in Europe. Nick has also kindly provided us with captioned images, which you can if you click through to the episode page.

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170 – Race Car Design

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(average: 4.54)
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In this episode we talk about the design, engineering and testing of race cars. I have visited Toyota Motorsport earlier this year and talked with Alastair Moffitt and a few of his colleagues. We start out with an introduction to TMG (Alastair Moffitt), then talk about component and full-car testing (Marco Gehlen), and then discuss wind tunnels and aerodynamics (Antonio Pavesi and Rene Hilhorst). We also cover design trade-offs, team/driver integration, the role of the driver during development, the cockpit, the elements on the steering wheel as well as testing. We close with a look at additive manufacturing (3D Printing) in TMG’s work.

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167 – The Apollo Guidance Computer

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(average: 4.71)
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This episode is a mix between computer architecture, programming and (historic) space flight. We cover the ins and outs of the Apollo Guidance Computer. Our guest ist Frank O’Brien, who wrote an incredibly detailed book about this machine. In the episode we cover the hardware architecture, the instruction set, the various layers (native, executive and interpreter) as well as some mission programs.

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166 – Flying the Concorde

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(average: 4.86)
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Here is another episode in our ongoing (and hopefully never ending :-)) series on flying iconic airplanes. This time we talk with former Concorde pilot John Hutchinson about flying this Mach 2 airliner. We discuss the cornerstones of the design and construction of the aircraft, its operation (mostly with British Airways), flying characteristics as well as the infamous accident in Paris in 2000 (on which John has some very specific opinions).

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164 – Satellite-based Earth Observation

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(average: 4.49)
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This episode is a conversation with Ruud Hoogeveen from the Netherlands Institute for Space Research about satellite-based Earth observation, and primarily about measuring the concentration of gases such as CO2 or Ozone from space. We talk about the effects of these gases on the atmosphere, how the sensors work in principle, and about the history and evolution of the sensors over the various missions. We conclude with a look on detecting and measuring aerosols and at the future challenges and current research for satellite-based earth observation.

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162 – Shuttle Mission Control

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(average: 4.75)
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In this episode we talk about mission control for the Space Shuttle. Our guest is Dan Adamo, a former flight dynamics officer (FDO) in the Mission Control Center. We cover the organization of mission control, the various roles, qualification and training, the specific tasks of the FDO as well as a little bit of history. Dan also relates many interesting episodes from his time “in the trench”.

This is the last episode in 2014. Nora and Markus wish you Merry Christmas, a few quiet days between the years and a good start into 2015. Stay tuned, there’s a lot of good stuff coming on this station :-)

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159 – Analog Computers

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(average: 4.59)
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This episode is about analog computers, which are computers that compute using a physical model of a real system, often using analog electronic devices. Our guest is Bernd Ulmann who runs the Analog Computer Museum near Wiesbaden, Germany. In the episode we talk about what analog computers are (mechanical, electronic, digital), how they are programmed, what they are used for and why they should (and will?) be used in modern computing as well. We close the episode with a short discussion of the VAX and the AN/FSQ-7, both computer systems near and dear to Bernd.

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157 – Fusion at ITER

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(average: 4.83)
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This episode is about ITER, the international project to build an experimental fusion plant in southern France. While on vacation in that area, I had the opportunity to visit the site and talk to Richard Pitts about many aspects of the project. We focus mostly on the physics and the engineering challenges, but also address some of the organizational aspects of this huge scientific project. Note that this episode is essentially a continuation of omega tau 022 – Nuclear Fusion at MPI für Plasmaphysik; I recommend to listen to this episode first, if you haven’t done so yet.

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153 – High-Performance Computing

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(average: 4.63)
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This episode is a conversation with Iain Bethune from the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Center about high-performance computing: the topic has played an implicit role in many previous omega tau episodes, and this episode treats it explicitly. We discuss different architectures (supercomputers, commodity clusters, grid computing), programming languages and software design as well as application areas.

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