SaraMartnezW’s image of a man in a city entering a portal to a forest.
SaraMartnezW’s image of a man in a city entering a portal to a forest.

Things You Thought You Knew – What Are Wormholes?

SaraMartnezW, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What is a wormhole, really? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice explore things you thought you knew about the physics of falling objects, white noise, and wormholes. Why do things break when they fall? 

We tease out the physics of what is going on with a falling plate. How much energy is holding the plate together? Learn about binding energy versus kinetic energy. What is gravitational potential energy? Find out how roller coasters work. Why do you slow down going up hills? We find out: If a plate falls off a high shelf, who really broke the plate? 

What makes white noise? We explore high energy versus low energy sound and the frequencies that contribute to white noise. Do kids these days even know anything about TV static? We go back to the days of TV antennae and back even farther to the age of Isaac Newton.  When did we first start to figure out frequency and the electromagnetic spectrum? Where did we get ROYGBIV from? What is black noise? How are white light and white noise related? 

Rick and Morty? Dr. Strange? Monsters Inc.? We discover what a wormhole is and what depictions in science fiction seem most accurate. How would wormholes change our lives? We talk about wormholes versus transporters from Star Trek. What if your refrigerator was a wormhole? Finally, we imagine a world with wormholes and what we would be able to accomplish with them. 

Thanks to our Patrons Morrigaine E Wolf, Kevin Wolfe, Alien Ghostship Animation, Kenneth T Godwin, Eugene Thompson, and Hope LaVelle 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.