“Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds” with Dr Dan Hooper

Scientists now have a good understanding of how our universe evolved over the past 13.8 billion years, but we know very little about what happened in the first few seconds after the Big Bang. Dr Dan Hooper, a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Lab and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, emphasises that understanding the earliest moments of the universe is vital to tackle, and to decipher mysteries such as dark matter and dark energy. In his book “At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds” Hooper outlines four foundational questions as puzzles that we must solve and the key to solving these puzzles is in understanding what happened at the very beginning of our universe.

In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with Dr Dan Hooper. We discuss intriguing questions and fascinating research that he presents in the book “At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds”. At the start of the book Hooper gives a thorough description of the timeline of how we got here where we are now from the Big Bang to the present day and how did our universe evolve over the past 13.8 billion years; he presents this narrative backwards, from the present time to the Big Bang. I open our conversation by asking him to describe this timeline and this journey from the present day to the Big Bang. We then discuss the four puzzles that Hooper outlines in the book and examine that understanding what happened in the first few seconds after the Big Bang holds the key to solving these puzzles. We also discuss the progress that is being made in developing a theory of everything, gravitational waves and his views on the multi universe theory. This has been a fascinating discussion with a very passionate researcher.

Compliment Professor Hooper’s insights with equally fascinating discussion with Dr Katie Mack “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking”, and then listen to discussion with Nasa’s Spitzer project scientist Michael Werner “Spitzer Space Telescope: Discovering “More Things in the Heavens”.

By |September 20th, 2020|Cosmology, Physics, Podcasts|

“The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)” with Dr Katie Mack

Throughout history philosophers, poets and explorers have been pondering upon and debating the question that what the long term future of our universe would be. The focus has been on two intriguing perspectives: would the universe continue to exist forever or would it end at some point in time in future. Modern scientists seem to be in agreement that in the distant future the world will end; our universe will die. At that time, humanity might still exist in many unrecognizable spinoff forms, venturing out to distant space, finding new homes and building new civilizations. But the death of the universe if final. It is hard to contemplate that a time will come when, all that we care about, all that we have imagined and built, that all will end. It is equally hard to address the question that how our universe will end. In her latest book “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)”, Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack outlines five different ways the universe could end, and discusses in detail the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important concepts in physics. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Dr Katie Mack about her research and about these possible endings of our universe.

Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist who studies a range of questions in cosmology, the study of the universe from beginning to end. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University, where she is also a member of the Leadership in Public Science Cluster. Throughout her career she has studied dark matter, the early universe, galaxy formation, black holes, cosmic strings, and the ultimate fate of the cosmos. Alongside her academic research, she is an active science communicator and has been published in a number of popular publications such as Scientific American, The New York Times, Slate, Sky & Telescope, and Cosmos Magazine, where she is a columnist.

We start our conversation by discussing with Dr Katie Mack the beginning of the universe; we then discuss nature and the large scale structure of the observable universe. We discuss cutting-edge research on two important unknowns that we are faced with: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. In the book Dr Katie Mack outlines a number of ways in which this universe could end. We discuss in detail two of these possibilities. Finally we discuss the models and theories that we presently use to study the cosmos and how might a “theory of everything” enhance our ability to understand the true nature of reality. This has been a fascinating discussion with one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics.

By |August 27th, 2020|Cosmology, Physics, Podcasts|

Spitzer Space Telescope: Discovering “More Things in the Heavens” with NASA’s Spitzer Project Scientist Michael Werner

Since 2003, in a unique Earth-trailing orbit around the Sun, the Spitzer Space Telescope has been observing in infrared an optically invisible universe dominated by dust and stars. Astronomers have been studying visible universe for thousands of years; however due to interstellar dust clouds and other obstructions to visible light, it was not possible to observe various regions of the universe. The Spitzer Space Telescope, the most sensitive infrared space observatory ever launched, has enabled us to study such optically obscure regions and processes in infrared. “The Spitzer Space Telescope has opened up a new window on the cosmos, yielding new perspectives and crucial insights into the genesis of planets, stars and galaxies”.

Michael Werner and Peter Eisenhardt are among the scientists who worked for decades to bring this historic mission to life. Their book “More Things in the Heavens: How infrared astronomy is expanding our view of the universe” outlines an inside story of how Spitzer continues to carry out cutting-edge infrared astronomy to help answer fundamental questions that have intrigued humankind since ancient time: Where did we come from? How did the universe evolve? Are we alone? In this episode of Bridging the Gaps podcast, I speak with Michael Werner, one of the authors of this insightful book. Discussing various features of Spitzer’s mission and numerous topics covered in the book, this podcast presents a fascinating view of how infrared astronomy is aiding the search for exoplanets, enabling us to study exoplanet atmospheres, and is transforming our understanding of formation of stars and galaxies, and of the history and evolution of our universe.

Michael Werner is a senior research scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He has been the lead scientist for the Spitzer Space Telescope since 1984.

By |July 2nd, 2019|Uncategorized|