Broadcast 857 (Special Edition)

20 Dec 2007 Fraser Cain, Dr. Pamela L. Gay
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Guests: Dr. Pamela Gay and Fraser Cain. Dr. Pamela L. Gay and Fraser Cain were the guests for this program to discuss Astronomy Cast, which they each co-host (visit www.astronomycast.com for more information). We discussed the types of programming that Pamela and Fraser have on the program. As you listen to the discussion, you will hear their interactions just as you would on Astronomy Cast. They received many astronomy related questions from listeners, commencing with a discussion of higher education in astronomy, both in getting a master's degree as well as a PhD, then the employment opportunities for those having obtained these degrees. As we learned, careers are challenging because of tight funding, lots of competition for the few open slots (40 or 50 applicants per job in some areas), and not so many openings in these fields. They also discussed some of the more unusual job positions one can fill with a masters in Astronomy, such as being a consultant on Star Trek . Dr. Gay discusses this topic at length; you will want to hear what she has to say. Fraser reports to us that the situation is very similar in Canada. Another hot topic that came up was the NEO that is heading toward Mars with a 1 in 75 chance of colliding with the planet at the end of January 2008. Both Pam and Fraser explained what such a collision would mean, what we might see, and how it could be best observed if it did hit Mars. Toward the end of the program, a student sent in a question which asked Dr. Gay to clarify the difference between the fields of astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. You will want to hear how Dr. Gay describes these different disciplines and what her recommendation was to the student. Many listener questions came up about the math needed to do science and astronomy, plus the ability of those of us in the general public and especially the media to understand science. We talked about scientists being able to communicate more effectively with the public and even among themselves. One listener suggested that scientists be required to add communication courses to their curriculum in order to improve this communication. Listen to see why this recommendation did not go over well with our guests. Other listeners asked about science funding and this subject was discussed at length during the program with our guests. It was suggested that were we not at war in Iraq, portions of that money would be going to science. I challenged that assumption because there is no real way to know what government would do with the money now being spent in Iraq. Would it flow to the space program or science, would it go someplace else? Like our guests, I have a wish list for government programs but I suspect my wish list would not resemble what Congress did with such savings. It's a discussion you will want to hear. Another listener asked about cooling down Venus and terraforming Mars. This led to quite an interesting discussion about both planets and subjects. Again, you will want to hear what our guests say about both planets. We talked about many of their Astronomy Cast programs , such as the program on unique universal numbers, amateur astronomy and the tools amateur astronomers need, and astronomy in science fiction. If you want to send a comment, question, or inquiry to our guest, please use info@astronomycast.com and put Space Show in the subject line.

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