Category Archives: Lectures

Five Years of Curiosity on Mars

Nearly five years after its celebrated arrival at Mars, the Curiosity rover continues to reveal Mars as a once-habitable planet. Early in the planet’s history, generations of streams and lakes created the landforms that Curiosity explores today. The rover currently is climbing through the foothills of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mountain formed from sediment brought in by water and wind. This talk will cover the latest findings from the mission, the challenges of exploration with an aging robot, and what lies ahead.

James K. Erickson, Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager, JPL
Ashwin R. Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist, JPL

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Streamed live on 13 Jul 2017

A Journey to Alpha Centauri – Christian Marois (SETI Talks 2017)

he Alpha Centauri star system is ideal to search for habitable planets by various observing techniques due to its proximity and wide range of stellar masses. Following the recent discovery of an Earth-size planet candidate located inside the Proxima Centauri habitable zone, Dr. Marois will discuss this remarkable discovery and the planet’s potential to find life. He will also present our current instrument project for the Gemini South observatory, TIKI, to discover similar planets around the two Sun-like pair located 15,000 AU from Proxima Centauri. The Alpha Centauri system is the prime target of the Breakthrough Starshot program, a project to send small quarter-size probes to take resolve images of these new worlds, and to prepare for Humanity’s first step into a new star system.

Dr Marois completed his Ph.D. at the Université de Montréal in 2004. The main topic of his thesis work was to understand the limits in exoplanet imaging and to design innovating observing strategies. After his thesis, he did postdoctoral researches at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Univ. of California Berkeley and NRC. In 2008, while at NRC, he led the team that took the first image of another planetary system (HR 8799) using the Keck and Gemini telescopes. He is currently pursuing his research at the NRC Herzberg where he is part of the Gemini Planet Imager campaign, and leading the development of instruments for imaging Earth-like planets at Gemini South and at the TMT.

Quasars: the Brightest Black Holes

Quasars: the Brightest Black Holes – Lecture by Professor Carolin Crawford

Quasars are among the most dramatic objects anywhere in the cosmos. They emit prodigious amounts of energy, all due to a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy. Visible far across the Universe, quasars can be used to trace both the early life of galaxies, and the properties of the intervening space.

The Birth of Planets

Thousands of planets are now known outside our solar system, from rocky worlds to “hot Jupiters” to planets orbiting not one, but two stars. So where did all this diversity come from? In this lecture by Dr. Neil Turner of NASA JPL we find out about how planets form, complete with data from the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, as well as ground-based scopes. See new images and 3-D computer models astronomers are using to try to learn how planets are born into such diversity.

Unveiling Ceres

Prior to the Dawn spacecraft’s arrival in early 2015, dwarf planet Ceres was the largest unexplored world in the inner solar system. Highlights from the mission’s first science orbits will be presented.
Dr. Carol Raymond, Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator, JPL

Black Holes and Holographic Worlds from the World Science Festival

Black holes are gravitational behemoths that dramatically twist space and time. Recently, they’ve also pointed researchers to a remarkable proposal—that everything we see may be akin to a hologram. Alan Alda joins Kip Thorne, Robbert Dijkgraaf and other renowned researchers on an odyssey through one of nature’s most spectacular creations, and learn how they are leading scientists to rewrite the rules of reality.

The Black Hole Wars: My Battle with Stephen Hawking by Dr. Leonard Susskind (Stanford University)

Black holes, the collapsed remnants of the largest stars, provide a remarkable laboratory where the frontier concepts of our understanding of nature are tested at their extreme limits. For more than two decades, Professor Susskind and a Dutch colleague have had a running battle with Stephen Hawking about the implications of black hole theory for our understanding of reality — a battle that he has described in his well-reviewed book The Black Hole Wars. In this talk Dr. Susskind tells the story of these wars and explains the ideas that underlie the conflict. What’s at stake is nothing less than our understanding of space, time, matter and information!

Saturn’s Rings: An Accessible Astrophysical Disk – Matthew Tiscareno (SETI Talks)

Saturn’s ring system is an astrophysical disk that is neither light-years away nor billions of years in the past. We can visit this disk at close range and observe a number of phenomena that also operate in disks of other kinds. As a result, we see small-scale processes that shape ring texture, connect those processes to the bodies and structures that cause them, and watch closely as the disk changes with time.

We will discuss recent Cassini observations that elucidate disk processes including 1) “self-gravity wakes” and “spiral density waves,” both of which were originally proposed for galaxies but are observed with exquisite precision in Saturn’s rings, 2) “propeller” features caused by 100-meter to km-sized moonlets embedded in the disk; these are the first objects ever to have their orbits tracked while embedded in a disk, rather than orbiting in free space, and hold the potential of deepening our understanding of planetary migration, and 3) irregular edge shapes in the gaps opened up by larger moons (10 km and more), which may hold clues to angular momentum transport.

What’s New in Aerospace? Meet an Astronaut: Reid Wiseman

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman or otherwise known as @Astro_Reid recounts his launch into space on a Soyuz rocket and his stay on board the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 40/41 from the Moving Beyond Earth Gallery at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. During his 165 days in space, took all of us back on Earth along for the journey. An active Twitter user, Wiseman posted amazing images and videos from space, using the hashtag #EarthArt for many of his amazing shots of our beautiful planet.

Our Mathematical Universe with Max Tegmark

Our universe isn’t just described by mathematics, but it is mathematics. Specifically, it’s a mathematical structure. Our world doesn’t just have some mathematical properties: it fundamentally has only mathematical properties. Why is mathematics so spectacularly successful at describing the cosmos? In this Ri talk, MIT physics professor Max Tegmark proposes a radical idea: that our physical world is not only described by mathematics, but that it is mathematics. He shows how this theory may provide answers to the nature of reality itself.

Ultra-lightweight Probes to Catalyze Interstellar Exploration – John Rather (SETI Talks)

Based on present space science and engineering, interstellar travel remains highly unlikely. Applying synergistic emerging technologies to enhance capabilities for accelerated space development in the solar system may catalyze possible steps to the stars. A stepwise sequence of plausible projects will be proposed. The remarkable present progress in diverse applied sciences can be a game changer.

Large Telescopes And Why We Need Them – Professor Carolin Crawford

Beyond the Solar System, all astronomers have to work with is the light that falls to the Earth from distant cosmic objects. Newer, larger telescopes are always needed to boost scientific progress, and the next generation of facilities – whether the 42m diameter optical-infrared Extremely Large Telescope, or the Square Kilometre Array of radio dishes – will represent a huge advance. We shall look at the science driving the need for such large telescopes, through history and to the present-day and beyond. Many scientific and engineering challenges are involved in the design and construction of the largest telescopes and their mirrors, and technological developments will be essential to their success.

NASA | The Hidden Ocean of Europa: Beneath the Frozen Surface

Jupiter’s moon Europa may be a habitable world. Evidence points strongly to a global subsurface ocean beneath an ice shell. The paucity of large craters argues for a surface age of only 60 million years, implying that Europa is still geologically active. Tidal flexing and nonsynchronous rotation of the floating ice shell generate stresses that can fracture and deform the surface to create Europa’s troughs, ridges, and bands. Europa’s astonishing geology and astrobiological potential make it a top priority for spacecraft exploration.

von Kármán Lecture


Dr. Robert Pappalardo
Principal Scientist & Director’s Fellow,
JPL Planetary Science and Life Detection Section

Alex Filippenko – How will the Universe End?

14th Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate 2013 – The Existence of Nothing

14th Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate conducted by the American Museum of Natural History hosted by the Director of the Hayden Planetarium and Celebrity Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He welcomes a distinguished panel of scientist to discuss and debate the Existence of Nothing. Panelists include Richard Gott, Lawrence Krauss, Eve Silverstein, Jim Holt and Charles Seife. This is a great debate watch till the end.

The Universe in a Nutshell by Professor Michio Kaku

The Universe in a Nutshell: The Physics of Everything
Michio Kaku, Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at CUNY

What if we could find one single equation that explains every force in the universe? Dr. Michio Kaku explores how physicists may shrink the science of the Big Bang into an equation as small as Einstein’s “e=mc^2.” Thanks to advances in string theory, physics may allow us to escape the heat death of the universe, explore the multiverse, and unlock the secrets of existence. While firing up our imaginations about the future, Kaku also presents a succinct history of physics and makes a compelling case for why physics is the key to pretty much everything.

Prof. Brian Cox speaking to School Students

Dr.Brian Cox is a popular Physicist who makes science interesting for young people. In this video he is speaking to the students and teachers of schools in the UK about the universe. Please see the video patiently till the end. We have discussed much of it in our meetings earlier but hearing from Prof. Cox is different.  If you have any doubts note them down and I will clear them the next time we meet or you may leave a comment and I will try to clarify where ever possible.