Image of galaxy IC 2051 by ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Erwin et al.
Image of galaxy IC 2051 by ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Erwin et al.

Cosmic Queries – Theoretical Physics

Galaxy IC 2051. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Erwin et al
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About This Episode

Time to get (theoretically) physical! On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and astrophysicist Janna Levin, PhD, to answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries on theoretical physics.

We start with what you would think is a simple subject: time. How does time work on the event horizon of a black hole? How does a black hole gain any mass if everything we observe falling into a black hole freezes on the event horizon? Janna tells us why black holes used to be referred to as “frozen stars.” We explore whether time is only relative to a person’s experience or if there could be a universal base time. And, we discuss the possibilities of the universe having something like a “cosmic event horizon.”

Discover more about energy. What is energy? Is energy a thing or is it the relationship between things? Janna explains why, if you’re sitting still in space, you still have kinetic energy in time. You’ll learn about quantum entanglement and how it works. Janna tells us about the experiments going on right now that study quantum entanglement. We debate quantum entanglements vs. wormholes and which one would be more effective. 

Lastly, our trio dives into what seems like a simple question on the outside but it unlocks an epic cosmic conversation: What is space made of? The answer takes us on a journey through the fabric of spacetime, Einstein’s equations, gravitational fields, and the idea that “you can never have nothing.” Investigate the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the Casimir effect. All that, plus, Janna tells us more about “virtual” particles and we ponder the nature of dark matter. 

Thanks to our Patrons Marcus Guerra, Mahmoud Hayat, Tabitha Bradley, John Ward, Cade Carter, Alan Torres, Nícolas Iensen, and James Bales for supporting us this week!

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers 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,

In This Episode

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