Cover image of The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Podcasts
(54)
Science & Medicine
Natural Sciences

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Podcasts

Updated 13 days ago

Science & Medicine
Natural Sciences
Read more

Public lectures by noted astronomers on new developments in our exploration of the universe. These lectures are recorded at Foothill College near San Francisco.

Read more

Public lectures by noted astronomers on new developments in our exploration of the universe. These lectures are recorded at Foothill College near San Francisco.

iTunes Ratings

54 Ratings
Average Ratings
46
7
0
0
1

Really good!

By rwpcola - Jan 01 2015
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Thanks for putting this out there for free

Great podcast

By Dominic Vaiana - May 13 2011
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Sound quality can be a bit of an issue bur otherwise it is fantastic!

iTunes Ratings

54 Ratings
Average Ratings
46
7
0
0
1

Really good!

By rwpcola - Jan 01 2015
Read more
Thanks for putting this out there for free

Great podcast

By Dominic Vaiana - May 13 2011
Read more
Sound quality can be a bit of an issue bur otherwise it is fantastic!
Cover image of The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Podcasts

The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Podcasts

Updated 13 days ago

Read more

Public lectures by noted astronomers on new developments in our exploration of the universe. These lectures are recorded at Foothill College near San Francisco.

Rank #1: The Monster Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy

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By measuring the rapid orbits of the stars near the center of our galaxy, Dr. Andrea Ghez, UCLA, and her colleagues have moved the case for a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way from a possibility to a certainty. She reports on her pioneering observations and discusses some of the surprising results this work has led to. Recorded January 25, 2017.
Mar 20 2017
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Rank #2: The Many Mysteries of Antimatter

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Antimatter is just like matter with all its properties reversed. Scientists think there may have been equal amount of matter and antimatter in the early universe, and yet today we have lots of matter and very little antimatter. How and when that imbalance developed is one of the great mysteries in understanding the underlying properties of the universe. Dr. Helen Quinn, Professor of Physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator and co-author of a popular book on antimatter, discusses the history of our understanding of antimatter and how we use the little bit of antimatter around today to study some of the highest energy processes among the stars and galaxies. (This talk is a bit more technical than our usual lectures, but well worth exploring if you are interested in some of the most exciting frontiers of physics.) Recorded March 10, 2010.
Apr 12 2010
1 hour 17 mins
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Rank #3: Multiple Universes and Cosmic Inflation: The Quest to Understand Our Universe (and Find Others)

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Our improving understanding of the cosmos points to an early epoch during which the universe expanded at a stupendous rate to create the vast amount of space we can observe. Cosmologist are now coming to believe that this "cosmic inflation" may do much more: in many versions, inflation goes on forever, generating not just our observable universe but also infinitely many such regions with similar or different properties, together forming a staggeringly complex and vast "multiverse". Dr. Anthony Aguirre (University of California at Santa Cruz) traces the genesis of this idea, explores some of its implications, and discusses how scientists are seeking ways to test this idea. Recorded May 18, 2011.
Jun 18 2011
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Rank #4: How Things in the Universe Came About and How They Ended Up Within Us

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Dr. Tom Abel (Stanford University) takes us on an illustrated journey through the early stages of the universe, using the latest computer animations of how the first (massive) stars formed and died, and how stars built up the first galaxies. He also discusses how the early stars seeded the cosmos with the chemical elements necessary for life. Recorded April 6, 2016.
Jul 25 2016
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Rank #5: Einstein’s Blunder Undone: The Runaway Universe

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In the past 20 years, astronomers have shown that the universe is not only expanding, but speeding up. In this talk, Harvard University's Dr. Robert Kirshner, who was in many ways the "godfather" of these investigations, discusses the methods used to discover cosmic acceleration and presents the evidence that we live in a Universe that is only 4% matter like the atoms of the periodic table. Recorded November 11, 2015.
Jan 19 2016
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Rank #6: Black Holes: The End of Time or a New Beginning?

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While black holes are popularly associated with death and doom, astrophysicists increasingly see them as creators, not destroyers -- playing a major role in the formation and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. Dr. Roger Blandford of the Kavli Institute at Stanford University (whose research interests include black holes, galaxies, and cosmology) summarizes why scientists now think that black holes of various sizes actually do exist, describes some of their strange properties, and explains their "environmental impact" on the universe at large. Recorded November 14, 2012
Dec 19 2012
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Rank #7: Hearts of Darkness: Black Holes in Space

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Black holes are regions of space where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape! No longer confined to the imaginations of science-fiction writers and theoretical physicists, black holes have recently been discovered in large numbers by observational astronomers. Learn about the remarkable properties of these bizarre objects from Dr. Alex Filippenko (University of California, Berkeley), one of the finest explainers in the field of astronomy. Recorded May 19, 2010.
Aug 03 2010
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Rank #8: The Dark Side of the Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

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In the last decade or so, astronomers have been forced to accept two mysterious observations. About a quarter of the universe is made of "dark matter," which attracts things with its gravity, but is otherwise invisible. And roughly two-thirds of the universe is composed of "dark energy," which causes space itself to expand at an ever-increasing rate. That means only a small fraction of the universe is made of ordinary matter -- the stuff we understand! In this non-technical presentation, Dr. Patricia Burchat of Stanford University explores the evidence for the dark side of the cosmos, and the experiments that are being developed to investigate it further. Recorded May 20, 2009.
Jun 30 2009
1 hour 24 mins
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Rank #9: Finding a New Earth: Exoplanets and the Habitable Zone

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Over 1500 new planetary systems have now been discovered, many of which include planets quite different from those in our own Solar System. A key step towards finding “Earth 2.0” will be to identify rocky planets that occupy the “Habitable Zone” of their stars. Dr. Stephen Kane (San Francisco State University) describes what the idea of a Habitable Zone means and shows examples of planets that lie in their star’s Habitable Zone (even if the star is not like our Sun.) Recorded May 11, 2016.
Jul 25 2016
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Rank #10: The Dawn of Creation: The First Two Billion Years

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All the great islands of stars got their start in the first billion years after the beginning of time, the Big Bang. Every deep picture of the sky reveals thousands of these galaxies, each made up of billions of stars like the Sun. Modern instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope have made it possible to look back to a time when the universe looked very different that it does today. Dr. Stephen Beckwith of the University of California discusses some of the deepest images of the universe ever taken and shares recent discoveries about the early days of the cosmos. Recorded March 4, 2009.
Apr 01 2009
1 hour 55 mins
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Rank #11: 100 Years of Einstein's Relativity (And How it Underlies Our Modern Understanding of the Universe)

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2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s completion of his General Theory of Relativity, the comprehensive theory of space, time, and gravity. Dr. Jeffrey Bennett (University of Colorado) explains the basic ideas of Einstein’s work (both the special and general theories) in everyday language and shows how Einstein’s remarkable ideas are being confirmed today by astronomical observations. He concludes with four reasons why relativity should matter to everyone. Recorded May 6, 2015.
Jul 07 2015
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Rank #12: Saturn's Moon Titan: A World with Rivers, Lakes, and Possibly Even Life

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Titan, Saturn's largest satellite, is the only moon with a thick atmosphere. In many ways, Titan is a cold twin of the Earth, with liquid methane playing the same role there as water plays on our planet. Life on Earth is based on liquid water; could there be life on Titan based on liquid methane? Dr. Chris McKay from the NASA Ames Research Center (co-investigator on the Huygens probe that landed on Titan) discuss the new picture we have of this alien world, with its lakes, its rivers, and its rocks made of water ice. Recorded March 9, 2011.
Mar 24 2011
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Rank #13: Will the 21st Century be the Time We Discover Life Beyond Earth?

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In 2004, Craig Venter & Daniel Cohen suggested that if the 20th Century was the century of physics, the 21st Century will be the century of biology on our planet. Jill Tarter believes that their idea will be extended beyond the surface of our world and that we may soon have the first opportunity to study biology that developed on other worlds. She talks about her vision of the future of understanding life on Earth and beyond our planet. And she discusses projects that are underway and are planned to learn more about the possibility of intelligent life among the stars. Recorded October 11, 2017.
Oct 11 2017
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Rank #14: The Copernicus Complex: Are We Special in the Cosmos?

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Is humanity on Earth special or unexceptional? Extraordinary discoveries in astronomy and biology have revealed a universe filled with endlessly diverse planetary systems, and a picture of life as a phenomenon intimately linked with the most fundamental aspects of physics. But just where these discoveries will lead us is not yet clear. We may need to find a way to see past the mediocre status that Copernicus assigned to us 500 years ago. Dr. Caleb Scharf from Columbia University helps us to come to grips with the implications of some of the latest scientific research, from the microscopic to the cosmic. Recorded October 8, 2014.
Oct 30 2014
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Rank #15: Monster Black Holes: What Lurks at the Center of Galaxies?

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Black holes are among the most fascinating objects in the cosmos, in part because they can grow to monstrous size, swallowing the mass of millions or billions of suns. Dr. Chung-Pei Ma (University of California, Berkeley) describes recent discoveries of record-breaking black holes, each with a mass of ten billion times the mass of the Sun. New evidence shows that these objects could be the dormant remnants of powerful “quasars” that existed in the young universe. Recorded May 24, 2014
Jun 25 2014
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Rank #16: How the Universe Went from Smooth to Lumpy: The Modern Origins Story

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Dr. Eliot Quataert of the University of California, Berkeley, provides an overview of the modern understanding of our origins in astrophysics. The story begins in the infant universe, which we now know was remarkably smooth compared to what we see around us today, with only tiny differences in its properties from one part to another. By contrast, in the present universe there are enormous differences in the properties of matter in different locations. Dr. Quataert describes how the universe has evolved to its current state, emphasizing how gravity reigns supreme and builds up the planets, stars, and galaxies required for biological evolution to proceed. Recorded October 2, 2013
Oct 29 2013
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Rank #17: The Ultimate Fate of the Solar System (and the Music of the Spheres)

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The long-term fate of the planets in our Solar System has intrigued astronomers and mathematicians for over 300 years. Although the planetary orbits are often held up as a model of clockwork regularity, the Solar System is in truth an extremely complex and chaotic system. Dr. Gregory Laughlin of the University of California, Santa Cruz explains how recent advances in computing technology have finally given us a solution to the problem. He also shows how the delicate gravitational interplay between the planets can be interpreted as a true "music of the spheres", and auditions the unsettling compositions that can result in the event that the planetary orbits go haywire in the extremely distant future. Recorded October 20, 2010.
Nov 23 2010
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Rank #18: How Galaxies were Cooked from the Primordial Soup

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The lumpiness of today's universe of galaxies is a fundamental characteristic that took billions of years to grow. Dr. Sandra Faber of the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of California Observatories reviews the prevailing "Cold Dark Matter" theory for galaxy formation (which she helped create) and compares its predictions to present-day observations. It's a remarkable saga involving invisible dark energy and matter, the properties of the Universe an instant after it was born, and the creation of structure from quantum fluctuations. (Just a few days before giving this talk, Dr. Faber received the 2013 National Medal of Science from President Obama, and she shares an anecdote from that ceremony.) Recorded February 6, 2013
Feb 26 2013
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Rank #19: Our Explosive Sun: New Views of the Nearest Star and the Largest Explosions in the Solar System

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Recent satellite missions are giving scientists dramatic new views of the Sun and the huge magnetic explosions in its outer layers that cause flares and the ejections of huge masses of superheated gas. Dr. Thomas Berger of the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab takes us on a beautiful tour through our Sun's atmosphere with images and movies from these missions. Recorded April 20, 2011.
May 13 2011
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Rank #20: Report from the Planetary Frontier: The Latest from New Horizons at Pluto

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On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft flew 7,800 mi above the surface of Pluto and sent back fascinating images of the dwarf planet and its large (and intriguing) moon Charon. Many of the images show unexpected beauty and complexity on Pluto’s surface. Dr. Jeff Moore from NASA Ames Research Center shows the latest photos and fills us in on the current thinking among the New Horizons team members about Pluto, its moons, and the unexplored frontier that lies beyond. Recorded March 2, 2016.
Jun 24 2016
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