132 episodes

Explore the mysteries of the cosmos with the California Academy of Sciences. Based in San Francisco, the Academy is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring and explaining the natural world and addressing the challenges of sustainability. Learn more by visiting: http://www.calacademy.org.

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    • Science

Explore the mysteries of the cosmos with the California Academy of Sciences. Based in San Francisco, the Academy is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring and explaining the natural world and addressing the challenges of sustainability. Learn more by visiting: http://www.calacademy.org.

Subscribe to get direct access to newly published content in this collection.

    Catherine Espaillat, Baby Planets and their Nurseries

    Catherine Espaillat, Baby Planets and their Nurseries

    We know that planets are born in the protoplanetary disks that surround stars when they are young. How these disks evolve into planetary systems is a fundamental question in Astronomy. Observations have revealed remarkable structures in disks that may indicate the presence of newly born planets. This talk reviews these key observations and compares them to current theoretical predictions of planet formation. Finally, Dr. Espaillat discusses possibilities for future progress.

    • 57 min
    Laurance Doyle, Humpback Whale Song as an Intelligence Filter for SETI

    Laurance Doyle, Humpback Whale Song as an Intelligence Filter for SETI

    We have been applying the mathematics of information theory—originally developed for human communication systems and computers—to humpback whales in order to measure the complexity of their vocalizations. Is their "language" as complex as ours, or even more complex? Are there general rules for communicating knowledge that even messages from extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) will have to obey? As astrobiology uses Antarctica as a proxy for Mars, so we are using non-human but complex communication systems as a proxy for an ETI signal if and when one may be received. Humpback whales grew up on the same planet, and around the same star, as humans did, but their communication systems are certainly not human! Thus we can deprovincialize our thinking and approach to the detection of intelligent life in space.

    • 56 min
    Belinda Wilkes, Celebrating 20 years with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory

    Belinda Wilkes, Celebrating 20 years with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory

    The launch of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in 1999 brought X-ray astronomy into the main stream, with 10 times the resolution and the ability to see objects 100 times fainter than previous x-ray satellites.
    As Chandra celebrates its 20th year of operations, Dr. Wilkes will review some of the major discoveries and highlights of its scientific progress to date. This encompasses determining whether habitable exoplanets can survive the birth of their stars, to finding very distant supermassive black holes when the Universe was 10 percent of its current age, and everything in between: the birth and death of stars, merging galaxies and black holes, and unexpectedly chaotic clusters of galaxies.

    What does the future hold for new Chandra scientific opportunities now and over the next decade, and what might follow Chandra when it ends its illustrious career?

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Michael Busch, Near Earth Asteroids, Space Missions, and the Impact Hazard

    Michael Busch, Near Earth Asteroids, Space Missions, and the Impact Hazard

    The near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are a population of objects on orbit around the Sun that cross or come near the orbit of Earth; remnants of material from the early solar system that never accreted into planets. NEAs are accessible targets for space missions, but also pose a hazard due to potential future impacts onto Earth. Dr. Busch, of SETI Institute, will review the near-Earth population and efforts to address the asteroid impact hazard. He will also discuss past, current, and future missions to near-Earth asteroids, including missions by NASA, ESA, JAXA, the Chinese National Space Agency, and potentially other groups.

    • 50 min
    Juna Kollmeier, Mapping the Universe, The Sloan Digital Sky Survey

    Juna Kollmeier, Mapping the Universe, The Sloan Digital Sky Survey

    The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is an unprecedented all-sky spectroscopic survey of over six million objects. It is designed to decode the history of the Milky Way galaxy, trace the emergence of the chemical elements, reveal the inner workings of stars, and investigate the origin of planets. SDSS will also create a contiguous spectroscopic map of the interstellar gas in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies that is 1,000 times larger than the state of the art.

    • 53 min
    Luisa Rebull, The Universe in the Infrared: Spitzer’s Final Voyage

    Luisa Rebull, The Universe in the Infrared: Spitzer’s Final Voyage

    The infrared lies beyond the red end of the visible spectrum of light. Cool and dusty things throughout the Universe appear bright in infrared. The Spitzer Space Telescope is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, designed to observe the universe in infrared light. It was launched in 2003 with an expected lifetime of 5 years. Spitzer has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations, observing things from dust in our Solar System out to dusty galaxies at the edge of the Universe. On January 30, 2020, Spitzer will complete its mission. Dr. Rebull will summarize some of the interesting engineering that made this mission so successful, and cover several scientific highlights from the past 16 years of Spitzer operations.

    • 45 min

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