From the birth of the devil in ancient Persia, where a beloved family dog becomes a seething beast, to a searing story of saintliness among macaque monkeys, join an exploration into the human potential for change. One of history's greatest monsters is transformed into one of its shining lights.
2020 • Astronomy
In what kind of world can a child born in 2020 expect to grow up? When did our slide into planetwide environmental destruction begin? Enter the possible world that awaits a 2020 baby in her twenties: one darkened by our refusal to confront the real and mounting challenges we face but one which still offers a message of hope.
2020 • Astronomy
Gamma-ray bursts are not only incredible to study, but their discovery has an epic story all its own. Today Phil takes you through some Cold War history and then dives into what we know. Bursts come in two rough varieties: Long and short. Long ones are from hypernovae, massive stars exploding, sending out twin beams of matter and energy. Short ones are from merging neutron stars. Both kinds are so energetic they are visible for billions of light years, and both are also the birth announcements of black holes.
While Jupiter is nowhere near massive enough to initiate fusion in its core, there are even more massive objects out there that fall just short of that achievement as well called brown dwarfs. Brown dwarfs, have a mass that places them between giant planets and small stars. They were only recently discovered in the 1990’s, but thousands are now known. More massive ones can fuse deuterium, and even lithium, but not hydrogen, distinguishing them from “normal” stars. Sort of.
In the aftermath of a 8 – 20 solar mass star’s demise we find a weird little object known as a neutron star. Neutrons stars are incredibly dense, spin rapidly, and have very strong magnetic fields. Some of them we see as pulsars, flashing in brightness as they spin. Neutrons stars with the strongest magnetic fields are called magnetars, and are capable of colossal bursts of energy that can be detected over vast distances.