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135 – High-Energy Neutrinos and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory

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(average: 4.71)
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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.

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130 – Violin Physics

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(average: 4.65)
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In this episode we investigate the physics of the violin in a conversation with Jim Woodhouse of Cambridge University. We discuss the way the bow interacts with the strings, the different vibration modes of the body and how they influence the sound and the playability of the violin as well as how scientific methods (can) help with understanding existing and creating new violins.

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119 – Chaos

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(average: 4.58)
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This episode is about chaos, or more specifically non-linear dynamics and sensitive dependency on initial conditions. We talk to Harry Swinney and Michael Marder, both from UT Austin’s Center for Nonlinear Dynamics. We discuss the basics of chaos, the kinds of systems that exhibit chaotic behavior, fractals, the phase space and the strange attractor. We also discussed practical applications of chaos theory and Harry’s and Michael’s current work.

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104 – Space Flight Dynamics

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(average: 4.77)
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In this episode we talk to Rainer Kresken of ESA ESOC Darmstadt about orbital mechanics and space flight dynamics. We have obviously addressed this topic in earlier episodes, this episode really diggs down deeper, and helped me understand the concepts and the challenges much better.

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102 – Discovering the Higgs

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(average: 4.85)
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This episode wraps up our recent coverage on particle physics by discussing in some detail the recent discovery of a Higgs particle. Our guest in this episode is Kerstin Borras who heads up the CMS group at DESY. We recap the role of the Higgs very briefly, look in some detail at the two detectors CMS and ATLAS, discuss the importance of the famous five sigma and look at the process by which such a discovery is confirmed and (re-)checked.

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096 – Controlling the LHC Beam

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(average: 4.73)
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In this fourth (and for the time being, last) episode in the series on physics at CERN we look at the LHC from the perspective of the beam producers, and more specifically, from the perspective of the control system for the LHC. To this end, we first talk to Vito Baggiolini, a software engineer in the controls group, and then we talk to Felix Ehm, a technical engineer for the beam control system. In the episode we recap what the LHC does and how it does it (you may want to re-listen to Episode 30 on the LHC), discuss the hardware elements used for beam control, some of the safety and security systems, as well as about the software aspects of the system.

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095 – Antimatter

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(average: 4.87)
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This episode is a conversation with CERN’s Niels Madsen about Antimatter. We first discuss theoretical aspects about the topic, and then focus on the ALPHA Experiment. Since Niels is an experimentalist and has helped building essential parts of the experiment, we discuss the experiment in some detail.

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094 – Neutrinos

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(average: 4.70)
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In this episode we discuss neutrinos. In the first part we talk with CERN’s Gian Giudice about the theory of neutrinos; we also discuss what it would mean if they were actually faster than light. Part two is a conversation with Edda Gschwendtner about the CERN Neutrinos to Gran Sasso experiment and the OPERA detector.

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093 – The Standard Model of Particle Physics

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(average: 4.76)
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This is the first episode in a series of episodes on particle physics and related research at CERN. In this episode we are talking to John Ellis about the standard model of particle physics, which is the current “big picture” about how subatomic matter and fields work.

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046 – The NASA TC4 Project

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(average: 4.20)
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This is a conversation with Brian Toon about the NASA TC4 project. TC4 stands for “Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling” and deals with the chemical, dynamic, and physical processes occurring in the tropical upper troposphere and tropopause transitional layer. In our conversation we cover some of the scientific goals of the project, the tools and technologies used (aircraft and satellites) as well as the general project organization. A later episode will cover the project from the perspective of an ER-2 pilot.