TED Talks for Space Junkies
10 Awesome TED Talks for Space Junkies
Carter Emmart demos a 3D atlas of the universe: Over a decade's worth of painstaking work by artists, scientists and programmers went into organizing the hauntingly gorgeous Digital Universe. Fans of astronomy and space travel will certainly enjoy Carter Emmart's brief walk-through of the wondrous program brings the furthest stretches of the entire universe to glorious, 3D light. Users are even able to track the trajectories of various missions as well! Back here on Earth, Digital Universe brings together educational institutions from around the world, including Cambodia and Ghana, in the interest of promoting broader scientific (and aesthetic!) understanding.
Peter Diamandis on Stephen Hawking in zero g: Space junkies longing to someday experience the thrill of a no gravity environment should switch on Peter Diamandis' short talk and live vicariously through both him and Stephen Hawking. The X-Prize founder absolutely adores space travel and innovation, and he wielded his resources to make one of the world's foremost astrophysicists achieve his dream. Dr. Hawking, unsurprisingly, harbors a desire to explore outer space, but a jaunt to the atmosphere's zero g levels definitely sufficed. The entire process took six months, and the distinguished participants were joined by the 20 donors who raised $150,000 for various children's hospitals.
Andrea Ghez: The hunt for a supermassive black hole: More than just inspiration for a thoroughly awesome Muse song's title, supermassive black holes pique the curiosity of both space professionals and hobbyists. Andrea Ghez explains the complex physics involved in the establishment of these bizarre entities, positing that one may exist in every (or almost every) galaxy — which, in turn, heavily influences their gravity. She uses findings from the Keck Observatory to support her claims and looks towards the Milky Way's structure for answers. As of 2009, Ghez's work revolves around finding the Schwartzchild radius of supermassive black holes in order to determine how they work and subsequently impact the heavenly bodies around them.
Steve Truglia: A leap from the edge of space: As a stunt man, Steve Truglia gleefully tests the boundaries of both technology and the human body without losing sight of safety and spectacle. With over 13 years of experience to his name, this brave individual now hopes to design one of the most ambitious stunts ever performed. High jumps are a staple of his career, but this one will take him to the very boundaries of Earth's atmosphere — where outer space technically begins. Funding, as one can imagine, has proved something of an issue, but Truglia remains optimistic about the venture. Project Space Jump requires vigorous training and cooperation from various academic and scientific organizations, and the ambitious stunt man has even made several trial runs in wind tunnels to prepare.
David Hoffman shares his Sputnik mania: Sputnik Mania, a documentary by filmmaker David Hoffman, chronicles the social, economic and political fervor swarming about the landmark Russian satellite. In this brief presentation — only 3 minutes and 47 seconds — he shares some favorite clips and discoveries from his research and subsequent film. The 1957 launch of Sputnik 1 inspired both the Soviets and Americans to heavily fund science and math education programs. And, of course, it sparked the Arms Race. From a broader perspective, Hoffman sees it as a commentary on the role mass media plays in forming ideas and cultures. For good and for ill.
Carolyn Porco flies us to Saturn: Planetary scientist Carolyn Porco shines some light on Saturn's incredible system, whose rings and moons captivate the attentions (and affections) of astronomical types. As part of the Cassini mission, she learned plenty of amazing facts about one of Earth's most colorful neighbors. Out of its 47 (if not more) moons, two in particular stoke Porco's fascination, Titan and Enceladus. The former, Saturn's largest satellite, boasts a truly bizarre atmosphere rife with obscenely freezing temperatures, rain and "haze particles," which result in a sludgy substance on the moon itself. Enceladus sports a number of massive fractures due to its rampant geologic activity, and poles much hotter than the rest of the sphere. The cracks startled scientists when they began launching ice plumes hundreds of miles upwards! Porco thinks a large body of water may be responsible, and if it proves true, then the moon may prove viable for human settlement someday.