Coming later this year! Set your radio to 1280AM and listen to The Star Spot every Tuesday and Sunday at 6PM!

Late 2014 Ryerson Radio was approved for a broadcast license. That means you’ll be able to find us on the radio dial at 1280AM by end of 2015. The Star Spot will provide updates. Check out the press release
For now you can still listen us to online at  The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time.  Listen live here

Episode 67: The Accelerating Universe, with Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Brian Schmidt

220px-Brian_SchmidtThe 1929 discovery of the expanding universe by Edwin Hubble forever changed our picture of the cosmos and our understanding of our place in the universe. In 1998 we learned that wasn’t the only surprise. That’s when two teams of astronomers announced that the expansion of our universe isn’t slowing down as everyone assumed. Its speeding up. Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Distinguished Professor Brian Schmidt who won the Nobel Prize for discovering our accelerating universe.

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Current in Space

Anuj describes the Orion spaceflight, the first mission since Apollo eventually aimed at deep space. Then Tony wonders if the stuff of life could seed itself on other worlds following the disocvery that DNA returned from the exposure to the vacuum of space in good working order. And Dave extends the lifetime for Mars’ watery past after learning an ancient lake may have lasted tens of millions of years. Finally Celine explains how “cliff-bots” now being tested in the Moroccan desert may one day dig up deposits left over from such long extinct bodies of water.

About our Guest

Dr. Brian Schmidt is Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University Mount Stromlo Observatory and holder of an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship. In 2011 Schmidt received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his co-discovery that the universe isn’t merely expanding, it’s actually accelerating in its expansion. Shmidt is Fellow of the Royal Society, a recipient of the Pawsey Model, the Dirac Medal and the Shaw Prize in Astronomy.

Links

Brian Schmidt Website

Nobel Lecture: The path to measuring the accelerating universe

 How to Listen to the Show

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The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com

Sharing my fascination with the cosmos: The Star Spot partners with Rexdale Summer of Innovation Camp

Over the last couple of years we have had some remarkable accomplishments here at The Star Spot. We’ve interviewed leading scientists, we’ve covered major conferences, we’ve formed meaningful partnerships and we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with our audience directly at many wonderful events.

This month I had another unique opportunity. As a sign of the growth and maturity of our program, The Star Spot came to the attention of the Rexdale Summer of Innovation Camp, a project of the Rexdale Community Hub. The camp is the brainchild of Amra Munawar, a dedicated community activist and a champion of youth education. Working with major sponsors United Way and IBM, she pioneered the idea of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) focused summer camp for students in the Rexdale neighborhoods. Rexdale is one of Toronto’s priority neighborhoods, having been identified as a vulnerable community due to higher rates of school drop out  and other metrics. As with so much the answer is education.

On two separate Monday mornings in August I was invited in to lead a 2-hour session on astronomy and space exploration before groups of grade 9 and 10 students. My goal was to give the students some new Canadian role models to emulate by showcasing actual Canadians contributing to the adventure of space. This was easy to do since I have had the pleasure of interviewing several great Canadian leaders in this area: Paul Delaney, Sarah Seager, Bob McDonald, Ralf Gellert, to name a few. But I also wanted to demonstrate how a youth might consider contributing to astronomy and space exploration through both typical and unusual channels. My co-host Denise Fong’s interview with artist Catherine Hazin made for an ideal example.

My first go at this was a good learning experience. It turned out when attempting to wake students up with the early bird Monday morning presentation, best to lead in with engaging icebreakers. On my second attempt I shortened the interview excerpts, but opened with some good old fashioned space trivia followed by a clip of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s overview of the scale of the universe from the first episode of Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey. That got them hooked.

The experience at Rexdale reminded me of my camp counsellor days, where you aim to be simultaneously entertaining and insightful. Ultimately the goal is less the transfer of particular bits of information and more the desire to leave youngsters with a fascination for a new area of exploration and a thirst for a lifelong adventure of learning and engagement.

The mere report that at least a few of the students were heard considering careers in astronomy and space was enough to tell me I had done my job.

– Justin

 

 

Episode 56: The Art of Astrononomy, with Robin Kingsburgh

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Robin Kingsburgh

robinAlbert Einstein once said “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well.” To help us understand the dynamic between the arts and the science of astronomy, today Robin Kingsburgh joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot.

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Current in Space

Some like it hot. But what happens when it gets a little too hot? For those who like to work those tans, Benjamin warns you to beware. Scientists have discovered the highest UV index ever, though not near any beaches you’d probably be travelling to this summer.

Dave shares the mystery of the magic island, a structure that appeared and disappeared within a matter of days on the seas of Titan.

And Benjamin on the fascinating field of archaeoastronomy in which we learn about ancient civilizations down here on Earth by studying the sky the ancients would have seen up above.

About our Guest

Robin Kingsburgh received her PhD in astronomy from her studies of stars and planetary nebulae. A renaissance woman, she now teaches in the faculty of arts and sciences at the Ontario College of Art and Design and in the division of natural sciences at york university. She combines her love of art and science by introducing astronomy subjects to artists and through her own work curating exhibits like Occam’s Razor: art, science and aesthethics, currently on public display.

Links

Robin Kingsburgh’s Website

Ontario College of Art and Design Faculty Page

Occam’s Razor: Art, Science and Aesthetics Exhibit

Video: Royal Canadian Institute Lecture
Look for “When Art Meets Science: Broadening Horizons through Interdisciplinary Practice – A Discussion @ Toronto”

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com

 

Episode 55: Where Have All The Anti-Matter Gone?, with Scott Menary

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Scott Menary

PENTAX ImageAre there anti-matter galaxies out there in space? Will we ever be able to make anti-atoms of heavy elements? How do you trap something that is detroyed immediately upon contact? And of course, will anti-matter become an energy source for space exploration propulsion systems a la Star Trek?

Professor Scott Menary joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot to discuss his work studying the properties of anti-matter, the relationship between anti-matter and anti-gravity, and his attempts to answer one fundamental question: where did all the anti-matter go?

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Current in Space

Benjamin brings us a whiff of space, helping us add the sense of smell to our repertoire of data on alien worlds.

About our Guest

Scott Menary is professor of physics at York university. He works on the ALPHA experiment at CERN to produce and trap antihydrogen atoms in order to study their properties. He has also worked at Fermilab studying neutrino oscillation physics and charm quarks. He is also a recipient of the Polanyi Prize in honour of the 1986 nobel prize winner John Charles Polanyi.

Links

Video: Angels & Demons: The Science Revealed (York University talk)

Confinement of antihydrogen for 1,000 seconds (Scholarly article in Nature Physics)

York University faculty page

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com

Episode 53: Stump the Astronomer! at International Astronomy Day 2014

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

ddoInternational Astronomy Day 2014 occurred on Saturday, May 10. The Star Spot celebrated at the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, Ontario, which boasts the largest telescope in Canada. The Dunlap Observatory was once the second largest telescope in the world, second only to the Hooker Telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory, famously used by Edwin Hubble to discover the expanding Universe. The Dunlap is now used purely for educational and outreach purposes and is maintained by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre, one of The Star Spot’s affiliated organizations.

On this episode of The Star Spot we bring you highlights from our event, Stump the Astronomer, held as part of International Astronomy Day 2014 at the Dunlap Observatory.

How big is space?  Is string theory the end of physics? Will an elevator ever take us into space? what happens if a regular matter black hole comes into contact with an anti-matter black hole? And most critical of all, was our astronomer stumped?

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Current in Space

Ben introduces us to the sun’s potential first known sibling, a star that is now thought to have formed in the same nursery, or nebulae, as our own. Then Anuj explores the search for hidden ancient impact craters on Earth and what they tell us about the history of our planet – and the evolution of life. And back to Ben for continued breaking news coming from the study of gravitational distortions of the early universe.

About our Guest

img3_me_at_scopeWe were very fortunate to put on the spot at The Star Spot our resident amateur astronomer Ed Hitchcock, also known as SciTeacherEd on Twitter. Ed Hitchcock is an evolutionary biologist, high school science teacher and volunteer telescope operator at the Dunlap Observatory. He blogs about science education at teachscience.net and amateur astronomy at BudgetAstronomer.ca. He describes himself as a life long science geek.

 

Links

Follow SciTeacherEd

www.TeachScience.net

www.BudgetAstronomer.ca

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com

Episode 52: Neutrino Geophysics: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Norman Sleep

normansleepHave you ever wondered what the massive internal hot core of the Earth has to do with space? Enter the world of neutrino geophysics. It might sound technical, but in probing the nature of the mysterious centre of the earth scientists are getting closer to determining the habitability of other planets in space. Co-host Denise Fong opens the program as Professor Norman Sleep joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot.

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Current in Space

Dave reports on the next stepping stone in our search for Earth’s twin, the discovery of the first habitable Earth-sized planet within the habitable zone of its star. Anuj asks if the Martian atmosphere was ever a biosphere, citing studies of the chemical composition of Martian rocks found on Earth that are telling us about changes in the Martian atmosphere over time. And finally The Star Spot’s poet-in-residence Benjamin shares a paean to recent geological work that contributes to our understanding of the Red Planet.

About our Guest

Norman H. Sleep is a professor of geophysics at Stanford University. He has collaborated with NASA on topics related to life on the ancient Earth and on other planets. Dr. Sleep studies how the insides of planets work and he was a member of a committee to advise NASA on planetary habitability. He has made ​​major contributions to problems of plate tectonics and many other areas of geology and planetary sciences. Sleep has won numerous awards and hounours around the world, including the 2008 Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London. He is also the author, with Kazuya Fujita, of the book, Principles of Geophysics.

Links

Standford School of Earth Sciences Page

Principles of Geophysics (Amazon)

Scientists Reconstruct Ancient Impact That Dwarfs Dinosaurs Extinction Blast

‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’ — “The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth” (Preview & Background)

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com

Episode 51: Quasar Storms of the Early Universe, with Sarah Gallagher

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Sarah Gallagher

sarahgallagherQuasars are among the most energetic and mysterious phenomena of the ancient universe. Spiralling gas is heated to such extremes that the neighbourhood around the quasar glows brighter than the entire surrounding galaxy. In the process, quasars generate dust grains, winds and storms of unimaginable violence. To help us understand the growing pains of the young universe, today Sarah Gallagher joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot.

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About our Guest

Sarah Gallagher is assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the university of western ontario. She completed a  Spitzer postdoctoral fellowship in 2006 based on her studies of quasar winds. Since her PhD work she has specialized in X-ray studies of these active supermassive black holes at the centres of distant and ancient galaxies. Gallagher has worked at Penn State, MIT, and UCLA and at NASA observatories Spitzer and Chandra. A well rounded individual, Gallagher has coached soccer and has an interest in art history.

Links

Sarah Gallagher Western Webpage

Western News In Profile

Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Spitzer Space Telescope

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com

Episode 50: Mapping Our Galactic Neighborhood: Dark Matter, Galactic Collisions & Our Local Sheet

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

The Star Spot Celebrates Episode 50 

highlights

Today marks the 50th time I’ve welcomed you and our guests to the The Star Spot. It is also our two year anniversary. I wanted to thank each member of our great team of volunteers for getting us this far. We’ve had some amazing guests on the show. We hunted extraterrestrials with Jill Tarter and we built a universe from nothing with Lawrence Krauss. We explored saturn with Carolyn Porco and we chased comets with David Levy. We contemplated humanity’s future on Mars with Chris McKay and we searched for signs of life beyond the solar system with Sara Seager. We’ve talked with some truly fascinating people: astronomers, physicists, engineers, planetary scientists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, educators, historians, artists, activists, authors, journalists, and even a space travel agent! But the best has yet to come. So thank you for continuing to join us here at The Star Spot.

Feature Guest: Marshall McCall

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Today we’re joined by Marshall McCall for a special interview originally held in front of a live audience at an event hosted by the University of Toronto Astronomy and Space Exploration Society. A video excerpt from the event, featuring Professor McCall demonstrating the evolution of a galaxy, can be watched below

MarshallMcCallIn front of a live audience, Professor McCall joins Justin Trottier for a wide ranging discussion on all things galaxies. McCall tells how he wound up as a gardener at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, briefly the largest telescope on Earth, and then off to the opposite corner of the world working at observatories in Australia. A debate with the audience ensues over northern versus southern skies.

The two then discuss whether our galaxy is unique, the importance of dwarf galaxies, and get controversial exploring alternative theories of gravity. McCall explains the role of dark matter in giving rise to the superstructure we see as cosmic webs of sheets, filaments and voids. If dark matter dominated our past, the Andromeda galaxy will dominate our future when, in 3 billion years, we collide.

DSC00134The conversation concludes with a focus on McCall’s recent research on our mysterious local sheet of galaxies. Out to 20 million light years galaxies surrounding the Milky Way appear to lie on a surprisingly flat sheet. McCall describes this puzzling structure, which he dubbed the “council of giants,” and how work with his graduate student George Conidis is leading to startling revelations that suggest our neck of the woods might have some special qualities after all.

Current in Space

What effect does microgravity have on an astronaut’s internal organs? Ben gets to the heart of the matter. Then Anuj introduces us to an object called a Centaur which lives like an asteroid, behaves like a comet and has rings like a gas giant. And finally Dave shares the startling announcement  of an equally puzzling new addition to our family, a dwarf planet in the inner Oort Cloud and the possibility that its discovery could point to a super-Earth far out beyond Pluto.

About our Guest

DSC00136Marshall McCall is Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York University. After graduating with degrees from the University of Victoria and the University of Texas at Austin, McCall spent two years observing southern skies at Mt. Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories in Australia. His research interests focus on the structure, evolution and formation of galaxies and galaxy aggregates. He was involved in recent discoveries of two hitherto unknown galaxies in the neighborhood of the milky way, research that is providing a new understanding of the puzzling arrangement of galaxies around our own.

Links

York University Faculty Page

York U astronomer maps out Earth’s place in the universe among ‘Council of Giants’ (Media release)

Council of Giants (YouTube video)

How Giant Galaxies Bind The Milky Way’s Neighborhood With Gravity: Universe Today

Where The Milky Way Stands In The ‘Council Of Giants’

George Conidis interviewed by York Universe on research investigating the local group of galaxies, the local sheet, and finding analogues of those out in the Universe

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to starspotpodcast@gmail.com