Test Tube Holder with multicolor chemicals
Test Tube Holder with multicolor chemicals

Cosmic Queries – Astrochemistry with Kate the Chemist

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About This Episode

How is chemistry different in space? Neil deGrasse Tyson and comedian Matt Kirshen explore cosmic chemistry, the periodic table, and more with Kate Biberdorf aka Kate the Chemist. Is the periodic table complete?

How long after the Bing Bang did chemistry start? Learn about the chemistry of the universe and nuclear chemistry. Are molecules common in space? Could the periodic table of elements be different in different parts of the universe? Is the periodic table full? Discover what it takes to make a new element and learn about the work of Dr. Yuri Oganessian. How is chemistry on Earth different from other parts of space? We break down STP and a rare molecule made out of xenon.

To create life, is all you need just the right ingredients and enough time? Could aliens have a nitrogen-based system instead of a water system? Why are UV rays hostile to biology? We explore how sunscreen works and how UV radiation kills cells. We also discuss the logistics of hydrogen powered cars.

In a supernova explosion, how do we get heavier elements than iron? Is there a maximum molecule size? What is the most powerful chemical explosion we know of? Discover the difference between TNT and dynamite. Can we use light spectra to see alien pollution?

Thanks to our Patrons Matt Jones, Robby League, Jason D. Belcher, Timothé Payette, and Scott Hosier for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.