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157 – Fusion at ITER

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(average: 4.95)
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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: 4.62)
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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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150 – The European Extremely Large Telescope

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(average: 4.81)
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In this episode we talk with Jochen Liske from the European Southern Observatory about the E-ELT Telescope for which construction is about to start. We discuss the engineering challenges of building a 40m mirror and the associated telescope, as well as the science that is planned to be addressed with the E-ELT once it is finished. We also discuss a number of issues around optical astronomy in general that were not covered in our episode about the LBT.

Joe Liske is also the host of both the HUBBLEcast and the ESOCast, two video podcasts about astronomy you may want to check out.

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148 – Flying the Harrier

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(average: 4.53)
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In our little series on interesting aircraft, this episode covers the Harrier, the iconic VTOL fighter. Our guests are Joe Anderson and Art Nalls, who both fly Art’s civilian Harrier in airshows. We discussed the history of the Harrier and its predecessors, talked about its use in the military and the advantages of STOVL and then discussed in some details the intricacies of flying a Harrier (compared to other aircraft). We concluded by talking about Art and Joe’s airshow activities.

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146 – Container Shipping

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(average: 4.89)
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This episode is a conversation about the world-wide container shipping infrastructure with Martin Clausen, the former general counsel of Maersk and Nicolas Guilbert from Ange Optimization. We discuss the history of containers, routing, some details about the ships and container terminals as well as a brief outlook on the future of the container shipping industry. In part two we take a deeper look at optimisation of container stowage on ships and network planning.

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144 – Flying from Aircraft Carriers

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(average: 4.21)
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This is the long-awaited episode on flying from aircraft carriers. Our guest is Scotty Bates who flew from US carriers in the 70s. We discuss all aspects of carrier aviation including training, cat shots, arrested landing, pattern work and how all of it changes at night or in bad weather.

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143 – Collision Avoidance with FLARM

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(average: 4.62)
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In this episode we talk with Gerhard Wesp, Development Manager Avionics at Flarm Technology GmbH about FLARM, a collision avoidance system for gliders and general aviation. We talk about the history of the FLARM system as well as about newer developments such as the PowerFlarm. Mostly, however, we talk about how FLARM works and how PowerFlarm integrates with Transponders and ADS-B systems.

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142 – Making Ayreon’s Music

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(average: 4.63)
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In this episode we talk with Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the man behind Ayreon about his music. We discuss about composition, instruments, recording, editing, mastering, as well as about some other random relating to his music and the music business. The episode also contains some of his songs to give non-Ayreon fans the necessary background. We also included parts of those songs Arjen cited as influences or used as examples for classical sounds.

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140 – Self-Driving Cars

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(average: 4.52)
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This episode is about autonomous vehicles (aka self-driving cars). Our guest is Jonathan Sprinkle, assistant professor at the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona. We talk about the topic mainly from the perspective of (software and systems) engineering, but also address legal and societal questions.

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135 – High-Energy Neutrinos and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory

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(average: 4.69)
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This episode covers the discovery (strictly speaking, “strong evidence”) for high-energy (astrophysical) neutrinos. The discovery was announced on 22 November 2013. In this episode we talk with DESY‘s Markus Ackermann about the the evidence for astrophysical neutrinos and why they are important. We also discuss how the the IceCube Neutrino Observatory works, which opened up this new field of astronomy. We conclude with a brief conversation about traveling to, and living at the south pole, where IceCube is located.