On a high plateau in a remote desert in northern Chile lies the largest observatory on Earth, ALMA, or Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array. The name refers to a network of 66 massive radio telescopes, working in unison to observe the birth and death of stars and planets, and answer centuries-old questions about the origins of our universe. Witness the history of ALMA, the remarkable product of a 20-year global effort, and see how it is already changing our basic understanding of the cosmos, and astronomy itself.
2013 • Astronomy
Now that gravitational waves are definitely a thing, it’s time to think about some of the crazy things we can figure out with them. In some cases we’re going to need a gravitational wave observatory - in fact, we've already built one.
The episode, devoted to the planet Mars, begins with scientific and fictional speculation about the Red Planet during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, Edgar Rice Burroughs' science fiction books, and Percival Lowell's false vision of canals on Mars). It then moves to Robert Goddard's early experiments in rocket-building, inspired by reading science fiction, and the work by Mars probes, including the Viking, searching for life on Mars. The episode ends with the possibility of the terraforming and colonization of Mars and a Cosmos Update on the relevance of Mars' environment to Earth's and the possibility of a manned mission to Mars.