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The Best of Our Knowledge

The Best of Our Knowledge # 1064



Part Two: Students Studying Physics, The Scientific Mind, and Are We Alone? -

Even as adults, we experience child-like wonder when we gaze up into the night time sky amazed at what we see full of questions about how our world could have come to be and what chain of events had to occur for humans to be standing on Earth, looking out at the universe.

That's the way it was too for our guest, Dr. Harold Levison. He set about making that dream become a reality. And now, he's a Planetary Scientist with the Southwest Research Institute.

Dr. Levison's principal research interests lie in the area of the dynamics of astronomical objects. In particular, he focuses on the long-term behavior of bodies in the solar system. He is perhaps best known for his work on the early evolution of the outer solar system, and is an author of the most comprehensive model to date.

Last week, we defined what the Oort Cloud is, and heard about Dr. Levison's Nice Model. You can hear and read about that story in show # 1063 online at this hyperlink: http://www.wamc.org/prog-tbook.html

This week, we speak with him about the importance of students studying physics, the scientific mind, and ask him are we alone?

Glenn Busby reports. (12:09)

The preceding was made possible by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, through support of the New York Center for Astrobiology, located at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - in partnership with the University at Albany, the University of Arizona, and Syracuse University.

**(For additional information about this story, or any of the other more than 180 stories featured in this current exclusive Astrobiology series and our past Origins of Life radio series, or if you would like to hear them again via your computer, the website given at the conclusion of the above segment is: www.origins.rpi.edu.)**


Remember in the movie, "Contact" where Jodie Foster's character is asked, "Do you wanna take a ride?" Well, one woman has made that a reality and many more people will likely have the opportunity, as private space travel is rapidly becoming our future.

Take for example, the Dragon Spacecraft. Space X has been successfully launching its Dragon into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket and safely returning it to Earth. This is part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.

This means space travel is no longer just a space race for prestige among nations and governments. And no longer is it only professional astronauts who venture out to the final frontier.

Anyone can go. Right now, that would be anyone with enough money to pay for the private space flight. And it's not inexpensive. Space Adventures organizes flights to the International Space Station, with the Russian Space Agency providing the transport.

In fact, four years ago, Anousheh Ansari became only the fourth private person to make that journey. Like our first guest, since childhood, Anousheh has been fascinated by the stars, the science of astronomy, and the idea of space. She was determined to travel to space, regardless of risk or cost.

Radio Netherland's, Marnie Chesterton, speaks with her for TBOOK.

Marnie Chesterton reports. (4:20)


This week's episode features Dr. Phil Kesten, Associate Professor of Physics and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Santa Clara University.

The Academic Minute is hosted by Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, a celebrated philosopher and medical ethicist, and President of Mount Holyoke College. (2:30)