Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska — The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska — The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake

Things You Thought You Knew – Big Bang Dilemma

United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Are we rethinking the Big Bang? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice explore features of the James Webb Space Telescope, magnetism and how the aurora borealis works, and if the Big Bang is being debunked. 

Learn how the JWST is more than just its pictures. What bands of the electromagnetic spectrum can the it see in? Find out about William Herschel and his discovery of infrared light. How does the JWST avoid detecting itself? Learn about features to keep the JWST cool and infrared-free.

Will Earth’s poles flip? We discuss Earth’s precession (wobble), bob, and flip. Learn about the magnetic poles. Does your compass actually point to the magnetic north pole? Are the north pole and the magnetic north pole the same thing? Why do we even have a magnetic field? Discover Earth’s molten core, creating a dynamo, and why dead planets like Mars don’t have one. How often do Earth’s magnetic poles flip? Find out what magnets and aurora borealis have to do with each other. Will something bad happen if the poles do flip?

We explore the frontier of scientific research and what ideas are being contested. We walk through the scientific process and experimentations. What are the core tenets of the Big Bang Theory? Could the Big Bang just be a small piece of a bigger theory? Learn about Vulcan, the hypothetical planet pulling on Mercury that was invented to save Newton’s Laws. When Einstein’s relativity came along, why didn’t Newtonian physics go away? All that and more on another episode of StarTalk!

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