Dr. Brian Keating is an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. His specialty is cosmology, and he is the father of the original BICEP project (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) that sought to unravel one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Big Bang. He is also the author of over 100 scientific publications. We chatted about his early years at age 12 in New York and the spark that ignited his interest in astrophysics. And then we got very geeky on cosmology. Brian recently published a terrific, courageous book about his team’s research, some life lessons, the challenges of scientific research, and he makes some valuable suggestions concerning changes to the Nobel Prize award process. After listening to our chat, you’ll want to read his excellent book.
Dr. Chiara Mingarelli is an astrophysicist currently working at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics where she’s a Flatiron Fellow. Chiara received her Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2014, and her specialty is the study of gravitational waves: ripples in spacetime born of a cataclysmic collision of distant, super-massive objects. She’s been a Marie Curie International Fellow at Cal Tech and has worked at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. We chatted about her early years, how she was inspired by the night skies of her hometown in Canada and her early years studying mathematics and physics. There were definitely some challenges in her early career, but her mathematician father nurtured her through. If you’re curious about gravitational waves and Pulsars, this is the show for you.
Rich Smith, at The Motley Fool, is enthusiastic about a new book by Dr. Ethan Siegel, a Lewis & Clark College astrophysics professor, called Treknology. In that book, Dr SIegel describes some Star Trek technologies that we could see in our lifetime. Namely, transparent aluminum (oxynitride), deflector shields and tractor beams. The book is cool and author Smith’s essay about it is also cool.
Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist with a Ph.D from U.C. Davis. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. This is her third appearance on Background Mode. In this episode, Kiki and I once again get geeky with science: an in-depth discussion of 1) Whether it’s a bad idea for our AI agents to have human names, 2) How attitudes about some science affects all science budgeting, 3) The wholistic system effects of climate change, 4) A fascinating discussion about the human microbiome and how the digestion of key nutrients affects whole body health and 5) How astronomers use Pulsars to detect gravitational waves. Kiki has a special way of inspiring one to learn about … everything, so don’t miss this very special guest.
Dr. Kelly Holley-Bockelmann is an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt University. Her research specialty is black holes and gravitational waves. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be an astrophysicist. In our interview she tells the story about, as a teenager, lying in a field under dark Montana skies and gazing at the Milky Way (the edge of our galaxy). She wondered about all those stars and planets and whether there were other civilizations out there looking up at their own starry skies. It was transformative. Today, she uses a Mac and supercomputers to study how black holes generate ripples in the fabric of spacetime and deepen our astronomical understanding and perspective. Kelly, her students and associates are also devoted Mac users, and she tells me why.
Dr. Christine C. Moran is an astrophysicist who specializes in computational astrophysics, high performance computing and big data visualization. She’s interested in the gravitational force, which she’s described as the most beautiful and mysterious of all of nature’s fundamental forces. In her undergraduate life, she studied both physics and philosophy, great background for her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Zurich. Along the way, she’s also worked for, notably, SpaceX and the M.I.T. Media Lab. She’s also a Mac user and iOS app developer. We talked about her interest in gravity, computation, and hobbies: flying and martial arts (Kung Fu). Also, in November, 2016, she returned from the South Pole (radio) telescope where she did research on the Cosmic Microwave Background. Come take a cosmic journey with John and Christine as she tells her story.