This artist's rendering illustrates the evaporation of HD 189733b's atmosphere in response to a powerful eruption from its host star.
This artist's rendering illustrates the evaporation of HD 189733b's atmosphere in response to a powerful eruption from its host star.

Cosmic Queries– Exoplanetary Exploration with Dr. Aomawa Shields

Image Credit: NASA
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About This Episode

Exoplanets? Low Mass Stars? Goldilocks zones? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Negin Farsad explore the universe of exoplanets, science communication, and acting with astronomer and speaker Dr. Aomawa Shields. Should Neil get an MFA in acting? 

We discuss Aomawa’s Rising Stargirls program and how she applies her theater background to science communication. How do you connect people to the universe from an early age? Find out why Neil names lobsters before cooking them. We explore what forces lead Aomawa to acting away from astronomy and what phenomena lead her back. Is there ever too much school? 

We ask some patron questions: How does having an MFA in acting help Aomawa communicate? Does it help get her funding? Are there any drawbacks? Discover Neil’s role in the cinematic arts and what he’s learned during his small forays into acting. Is it possible to terraform with current technology? Should we terraform if given the option? We break down the conditions where it may be morally acceptable to terraform a planet. Would it be better to just fix earth and explore for the sake of exploring? 

Could young red dwarf stars create a volatile goldilocks zone for otherwise habitable planets? What are the upsides of being a planet orbiting a low mass star? If you had to choose another planet to go to, where would you go? You’ll learn about fascinating planets in far off systems and what we know about them. We take a look at non-carbon-based life and whether we are biased in our search for other life in the universe. What about life that depends on wine instead of water? You’ll also find out the shape of black holes. Are they just a big landfill in the sky? Are we going to be able to travel to other planets if the universe is expanding so fast? All that, plus, learn about TESS– Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite– and other projects to discover distant worlds! 

Thanks to our Patrons Jacob D. Fisher, Siosiua Hufanga, Thomas Cochran, Jasmine, Louis Cirigliano, Savanah Bisson, Jason Mahoney, Connor Snitker, Heffron, Lizzie B, and Mark Rodgers for supporting us this week.

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

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:
“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.


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