Direct Current is a podcast about energy -- the kind that lights our homes, powers our lives and shapes our world. From the U.S. Department of Energy’s digital team in Washington, D.C., Direct Current brings you fresh, insightful stories of how we generate and use electricity, what that means for the planet and the cutting-edge science that’s driving a global energy revolution.
Mars 2020, Part 2: SuperCam Does It All
It zaps. It snaps. It scans. It even dusts! SuperCam is the NASA Mars Perseverance Rover’s multitalented “Swiss Army Knife” of planetary science. In this episode, we hear from the Los Alamos National Laboratory team behind SuperCam about what it’s like to shoot lasers at rocks on Mars — and how it could help us find hard evidence of ancient extraterrestrial life on the Red Planet.
Mars 2020, Part 1: Powered by Plutonium
NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover is loaded with technology developed by the Department of Energy and our National Labs, including a nuclear battery fueled by plutonium-238. In this episode, Direct Current follows the rover’s power source on its incredible seven-year, 5,000-mile journey from the lab to the launch pad.
AI: Safer, Smarter, More Secure (Live at AAAS)
Artificial intelligence is all around us — even if we don’t realize it. Whether it’s in a self-driving car, a food delivery app, or our nation’s electrical grid, the rapid spread of AI and machine learning raises some big questions about security. How do we make sure AI-controlled systems are working as intended? And how do we protect vulnerable technologies from outside interference? Our guests from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are working hard to answer those questions — and to get more scientists, engineers and tech leaders to start asking them.
The Future of Water & Wildfire (Live at AAAS)
Human health is at the top of all of our minds these days, with COVID-19 posing an unprecedented global challenge. One of the things that has a major impact on our health — and our security, the environment, agriculture, energy, transportation, you name it — is water. Water is one of our most precious resources, yet even small environmental changes can have massive consequences. In this episode, find out how the Department of Energy’s National Labs are using everything at their disposal — from supercomputers to sifting through the ashes of wildfires — to keep us one step ahead of our shifting water cycle and help us bounce back faster from natural disasters.
National Labs Respond to COVID-19
An interview with Dr. Chris Fall, Director of the Department of Energy Office of Science, about the agency’s response to COVID-19. Secretary Brouillette has tasked Dr. Fall with coordinating efforts across the Department and its 17 National Labs, where scientists are hard at work performing critical research to help us better understand the virus and limit its spread. Learn more at https://energy.gov/coronavirus.
Tribal Energy: Powering Self-Determination
For hundreds of Indian tribes and native communities across the United States, energy represents many things: a lifeline, a source of income, a path to sovereignty. No two tribes are alike, which is why the Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy partners with tribal communities to develop energy projects that fit their specific needs. On this episode, learn how this small office delivers a big boost to tribes' efforts to take control of their energy destinies.
The music at the beginning and end of this episode is courtesy of the Library of Congress. The songs are from an LP titled "Indian Songs of Today" that was reissued by the American Folklife Center in 2016.