Our Accidental Universe
Listen now
Professor and presenter, Chris Lintott, talks about his new book Our Accidental Universe; a tour of chance encounters and human error in pursuit of asteroids, pulsars, radio waves, new stars and alien life. Even with incredible technological developments, the major astronomical events of the past century are largely down to plain ol’ good luck; discovered not, as you might assume, by careful experiment, but as surprises when we have been looking for something else entirely. For instance, the most promising habitat for life beyond Earth turns out to be Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus, whose oceans were revealed when NASA's Cassini probe did a drive-by and, we get the most from the Hubble Space Telescope by pointing it at absolutely nothing! A new company has launched which aims to mine Helium-3 on the moon to sell on Earth. This rare isotope is used for supercooling quantum computers and some scientists dream of using it in nuclear fusion as a new source of renewable energy. But is this ambition realistic and, if so, could it be within reach anytime soon? Planetary scientist Sara Russell of the Natural History Museum explains all. There are many moons in our solar systems, but one of the strangest is Titan; the largest moon of the Saturn system. It gets colder than -100 degrees Celsius and has a thick atmosphere that creates weather. But its biggest mystery is the enormous, coffee-coloured dunes that cover a large part of its surface. Where did they come from? Planetary scientist Bill Bottke has a cunning theory. In our universe, some stars are twins. They originate from the same molecular clouds and should be identical, but some pairs are not as similar as you’d expect. Marnie speaks to astrophysicist Yuan-Sen Ting about his new paper which illuminates how this difference might occur. His theory is that one of the stars, perhaps the evil twin, has been busy eating up vulnerable planets...  Presenter: Marnie Chesterton Producers: Louise Orchard, Florian Bohr and Imaan Moin Editor: Martin Smith Production Co-ordinator: Jana Bennett-Holesworth  BBC Inside Science is produced in collaboration with the Open University.
More Episodes
As the UN tries to get a global agreement on plastic waste we hear from two delegates at the conference in Ottawa; John Chweya, a Kenyan waste picker, and plastics scientist, Steve Fletcher, discuss the impacts of plastic pollution and the possible solutions. Taylor Swift’s new album, The...
Published 05/23/24
Published 05/23/24
Earlier this week, some of the world's leading astrophysicists came together at The Royal Society to question the very nature of our Universe. Does the Lambda Cold Dark Matter model, which explains the evolution of the cosmos and the Big Bang, need a rethink? Dr Chris North, an astrophysicist...
Published 05/16/24