#53 – November 2016

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The Discussion: In a month when the European Space Agency succeeded and failed in the first part of their Exomars saga, we go through the glory and the debris of Mars exploration, hanging out with astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra, conducting exoplanet research, provide some advice about studying astrophysics and explain why the effects of dark matter aren’t witnessed in our own solar system.

The News: Rounding up the space and astronomy news this month we have:

  • Exomars, round one
  • Another look at the Viking mission data that may have discovered Martian life
  • Hubble discovers that the universe contains 10 times more galaxies than thought
  • A philosophical discussion about the chances of life existing elsewhere
  • Venus was habitable when life began to flourish on Earth
  • Elon Musk’s plans for colonising the solar system
  • The ethics of colonising other planets
  • An update of NASA’s Juno mission at Jupiter
  • And the latest taikonauts and astronauts.

The Hat of Woo: Paul’s Hat of Woo is the repository for all festering and rancid conspiracy theories that have no basis in truth and yet persist in any dark and stinking corner of the internet.

This month we pull one of the biggies out of the putrid hat: Evil aliens and a reptilian rival for the title of overlord.

The Interview: This month we return to writer, broadcaster and researcher Dr Chris North from Cardiff University to answer a listener’s question on Chris’ interview in last month’s episode.

Dr North mentioned that we can see Gravitational Waves to discover all sorts of information from these waves, such as size, distance & velocity, which I can understand (through Amplitude and frequency and rate of change of the signal), but how is it also possible to infer things like the spin and spin rate from the wave signal? (ignoring the question of how does a black hole spin if it has mass but no matter as Dr North mentions, and how do events happen inside a black hole since as you get closer to the event horizon doesn’t time appear to us to slow down to us as an outside observer?) Mark de Vrij in Poland.

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