The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an international treaty, still being ratified, that bans all nuclear tests. An important ingredient to the test is monitoring, whether nuclear tests will be performed nonetheless. To this end, the CTBT Preparatory Commission has established a world-spanning monitoring system that relies on seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide monitoring. In this episode, our guest is Randy Bell who runs the international data center and is thus responsible for running the monitoring network and evaluating the collected data.
Joseph Tainter, our guest in this episode, is an anthropologist and historian. In 1988 he wrote a book called The Collapse of Complex Societies in which he argues that societies inevitably increase their inherent complexity, and, if and when the complexity becomes too “expensive” (diminishing returns), a society will collapse. In this episode, Joe explains his rationale and provides historic examples for collapse. We then discuss his theory relative today’s world, concluding with a not alltogether positive outlook.
Megaprojects can be identified by their size — in the Billions — and also by the fact that most of them are considered a failure in terms of cost overrun, delay or the benefit delivered. Why do over 90% of such projects fail? Professor Bent Flyvbjerg of the Said Business School at Oxford University has spent his career finding out. Together with his teams he has collected lots of data about successful and unsuccessful megaprojects, and has also developed tools to help such projects increase the likelihood of success. In this episode, Bent gives us an insight into his important research.
The Gemini programme of the mid-sixties is relatively unknown, even though it was an important stepping stone in the Apollo moon programme: Gemini is where NASA learned to fly in space. In this episode we cover Gemini with our two guests David Woods (who has been on the show talking about Apollo) and David Harland. Together they wrote a book on Gemini that serves as the rough outline of this conversation. We talk about the Gemini spacecraft itself, the launch vehicles, some of the achievements and learnings of the programme as well as some of the specifics of some of the missions.
In this episode we talk with Peter Sollich of King’s College, London about disordered systems, statistical mechanics and complexity. In particular, we discuss the difference between quenched and annealing disorder, the relation to entropy, complexity and chaos, the formalisms used to tackle such systems as well as a whole lot of examples from physics and other sciences.
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).
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.
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.
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.