M81 is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light years away. Image by NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
M81 is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light years away. Image by NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Cosmic Queries – Fan Grab Bag

Photo Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, we’re celebrating you! The fans! Neil deGrasse Tyson and Chuck Nice are answering a special batch Cosmic Queries submitted by some of our most supportive fans. 

Before we dive into questions, Neil and Chuck reflect on IQ tests. What happens when the person taking the test is smarter than the person who wrote the test? You’ll learn what it was like for Neil to be a student. Then we dive into the questions. Why are there so many spirals in nature? Neil tells us about his experiences filming Cosmos in a redwood forest and seeing spirals along the trunks of trees. You’ll learn about spiral galaxies and “density waves.” 

Then, we investigate the rise and fall of the Arecibo Observatory. Neil gives us a history lesson on the significance of the telescope and it’s functionality. We discuss the slow demise and eventual shut down of the telescope. You’ll also learn about the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope in China that’s currently the world’s largest filled-aperture radio telescope. Neil also explains why the plight of the Arecibo Observatory is a metaphor for science in America. 

We ponder if machines can ever truly make art. Neil gives us his definition of art and why he thinks the only way for a machine to make art is to be a genuine artificial intelligence. What’s the most fascinating thing we’ve discovered in the known universe? Neil tells us why you can’t beat black holes. You’ll hear how scientists first discovered signatures of a black hole. All that, plus, discover more about the expansion of the universe and if it will end with the annihilation of spacetime.  

In this episode, we’re spotlighting Cosmic Queries submitted by Patron Joel Cherrico. If you would like to have your questions featured in an episode through audio/video interaction with Neil, check out our Custom Queries reward on Patreon.

Thanks to our Patrons Joel Cherrico, Cory Farnum, Patti Weber, Vegard Gjertsen, Christopher Ludwig, Maria Atienza, Darshan Parmar, Larry Streeter, Kaleb Saleeby, Gregory Newman, and Jeffrey Moore for supporting us this week.

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

In This Episode

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