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249 – Plasma Physics

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(average: 4.80)
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During my trip to the US I also visited the Basic Plasma Science Facility at the UCLA in Los Angeles. I talked with the two professors who run the facility, Walter Gekelman and Troy Carter. We discuss the basics of plasma, the research questions of plasma physics and some of the experimental challenges. I also get (and report on) a tour through the facility, which was very impressive, mainly because the whole system was built by the team around Walter and Troy!

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248 – Distant Early Warning, SAGE and the F-106 Delta Dart

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(average: 4.75)
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In this episode we look back at (aspects of) the North American Air Defense system in the cold war. In particular, we look at the distant early warning line(s), the F-106 interceptor and the SAGE computer system. For DEW, we talk with Mike Milinkovich and Brian Jeffrey who have both worked on the DEW line; Brian also maintains a great website on DEW. For the F-106, we talk with Richard Embry who has flown the interceptor. And for SAGE, we speak with Bernd Ulmann, who has written a very detailed book on SAGE’s underlying AN/FSQ-7 computer system. Bernd has also been a previous guest on Episode 159 on analog computers.

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247 – Bulk Metallic Glass

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(average: 5.00)
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Dr. Douglas Hofmann works as a scientist in the Metallurgy Lab at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I visited Doug during my US trip earlier this year, and we chatted about metallic glass. In particular, we discussed its properties, how to create it in bulk, how to test its properties, as well as how and why it is interesting for use in space.

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245 – Glaciology Research at the Darwin Glacier

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(average: 4.14)
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During my visit to DLR’s Earth Observation Center earlier this year I also talked to Dana Floricioiu about her work in glaciology. We discuss a couple of her recent publications, and then focus on her trip to the Darwin Glacier in Antarctica. Together with a team of fellow scientists, she camped on the glacier for three weeks to conduct various in-situ experiments. We discussed the work, but also life on the glacier.

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243 – Formal Specification and Proof

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(average: 4.59)
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The increasing complexity of software requires increasingly sophisticated means of ensuring its correctness — “just” testing is not necessarily good enough, depending on the domain in which the software is used. Formal specification, verification and proof is a field with a long tradition in computer science that is gaining more (practical) relevance these days; and in this episode, we cover the basics. Our guest is Benjamin Pierce, professor of computer science at UPenn. We discuss the nature of (good) specifications, how verification and proof is different from testing, and where and how these techniques are successfully used today.

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