Close Black Holes and Second Life

Josh, Addie and Tracy look ahead to the violent merger of supermassive black holes, the kind of event that would send out a large ripple of gravitational waves. These waves in space-time are a consequence of Einstein’s theory of gravity known as General Relativity, but measuring tiny ripples in the shape of space-time turns out, oddly enough, to be a bit tricky. Who’d a’ thunk it? Maybe it’s something that can be seen in Second Life, a virtual world where Josh is setting up virtual office hours for his physics students. Now if only he can figure out how to give his avatar a nice head of hair.
Video visualization of the black hole merger from Space.com
A news story about the black hole observations.

Geoengineering at the AGU

We kick off the new year with a look back at the 2014 Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, featuring some 25,000 scientists and at least a handful of not-so-scientists. In episode 27, “Geoengineering and the AGU” we tackle such difficult questions as “which is worse: imagined pollution to prevent the damage from actual pollution, or actual pollution?”. If this question seems senseless to you, then you’ll want to tune in and hear our take on random encounters at the AGU, live sound bites from the meeting, and a peak ahead at exciting spacecraft encounters for 2015. Download episode 27 and all our past episodes on iTunes or at our media blog.