“The End of Astronauts”, Robotic Space Exploration and Our Future on Earth and Beyond with Professor Martin Rees

Human space exploration is challenging as well as fascinating. However, the excitement of space flight for astronauts comes at a high cost and is riddled with danger. As our robot explorers become more capable, governments and corporations must consider whether the ambition to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars is worth the cost and risk. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with professor Martin Rees who is one of the authors of “The End of Astronauts: Why Robots Are the Future of Exploration”. The book makes the provocative argument for space exploration without astronauts and suggests that beyond low-Earth orbit, space exploration should proceed without humans. In this discussion, we also touch upon some intriguing points the professor Martin Rees discusses in one of his previous books “On the Future: Prospects for Humanity”.

Martin Rees is an emeritus professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is the UK’s Astronomer Royal, a fellow of Trinity College and a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks at Cambridge University (CSER).

We start by discussing our fascination with human space journeys and exploration. We discuss the title of the book “The End of Astronauts” which seems a bit strong. We then discuss the progress in developing better and smarter robots for robotic space exploration. We discuss the progress made by private space companies in reducing the cost for space missions. Professor Rees emphasise the point that space is hostile and difficult environment and we should avoid using terms as space tourism, instead you should call it space adventures.

We then discuss the book “On the Future: Prospects for Humanity” and touch upon topics such as colonisations of Mars, post human era; genetic engineering and our future on earth and beyond.

Complement this discussion by listening to Everything a Curious Mind Should Know About Planetary Ring Systems with Dr Mark Showalter and then listen to More Things in the Heavens”” with NASA’s Spitzer Project Scientist Michael Werner

By |March 31st, 2022|Cosmology, Future, Physics, Podcasts|

“Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life” with Professor Timothy Jorgensen

Spark Book Review at Bridging the Gaps

When we think about electricity, we most often think of the energy that powers various devices and appliances around us, or perhaps we visualise the lightning-streaked clouds of a stormy sky. But there is more to electricity and “life at its essence is nothing if not electrical”. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Professor Timothy Jorgensen and we discuss his recent book “Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life ”. The book explains the science of electricity through the lenses of biology, medicine and history. It illustrates how our understanding of electricity and the neurological system evolved in parallel, using fascinating stories of scientists and personalities ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk. It provides a fascinating look at electricity, how it works, and how it animates our lives from within and without.

We start by discussing the earliest known experiences that humans had with electricity using amber. Amber was most likely the first material with which humans attempted to harness electricity, mostly for medical purposes. Romans used non-static electricity from specific types of fish. Moving on to Benjamin Franklin, we discuss how he attempted to harner the power of electricity and we discuss the earliest forms of devices to store electric charge. We then discuss experiments conducted by Luigi Galvani on dead frogs and by his nephew on dead humans using electricity. As interest in electricity grew, many so-called treatemnts for ailments such as headaches, for bad thoughts and even for sexual difficulties also emerged that were based on the use of electricity; we discuss few interesting examples of such treatments. We then move on to reviewing the cutting edge use of electricity in medical science and discussed medial implants, artificial limbs and deep stimulation technologies and proposed machine-brain interfaces. This has been a fascinating discussion.

Complement this discussion by listening to he Spike: Journey of Electric Signals in Brain from Perception to Action with Professor Mark Humphries and then listen to On Public Communication of Science and Technology with Professor Bruce Lewenstein

By |March 17th, 2022|Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Future, Podcasts, Research|