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Cosmology & the Universe

Date: 07-16-09
Host: George Noory
Guests: Marcia Bartusiak, Craig Nelson

Professor of Science Writing at MIT and award winning author, Marcia Bartusiak discussed the birth of modern cosmology that came with Edwin Hubble's announcement in 1925 that our universe was far larger than previously believed, and filled with other galaxies. Continued research by Hubble forced Einstein to reevaluate his own cosmic model and accept the idea that the universe was expanding.

Yet, Hubble's conclusions were built on the work of lesser known astronomers, she pointed out. For instance, in 1912, Henrietta Leavitt discovered a kind of "cosmic measuring tape," by connecting blinking stars to their luminosity and distance. Another astronomer, Vesto Slipher, actually was the first to discover the movement or expansion of galaxies, she noted.

By imagining the reverse of galaxies' expansion, we can get an idea of the Big Bang, the tiny "primeval atom" (proposed by Georges Lemaitre) from which the universe emerged. The universe expanded into a kind of "Swiss cheese" pattern, with galaxies clustered together in web-like structures, separated by empty space, she detailed. Our entire universe could actually be a slower-paced part of a faster, expanding universe, she said. Bartusiak noted that we are living in a golden age for astronomy, with a number of telescopes that can capture data beyond the visible spectrum, including radio, X-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet.

Apollo Moon Mission

First hour guest, author Craig Nelson talked about the Apollo 11 moon landing & mission. Among the interesting facts he shared:

  • Pigs were first used as test subjects in space, before being replaced by monkeys.
  • Neil Armstrong was almost killed three times during NASA test missions.
  • From the Moon, the Earth appears like "a blue sun"-- it's 8 times brighter than the Moon appears to us on Earth.

Note: The website We Choose the Moon, presents an interactive 'real time' recreation of the Apollo 11 mission, in celebration of the 40th anniversary.

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Website Upgrades

Website Upgrades

Thank you to all who have offered feedback on the new site. I read each and every email, and I am committed to constantly improving the site's usability by listening to you, the fans who use the site daily.

Of course, we can't do everything, but we're working hard to do everything we can. We've made a number of recent changes based on what we heard. We paid particular attention to our Streamlink members and enhanced their experience.

Here is a list of the changes:

- Photo Gallery. The issue with image sizing is now fixed. Large photos are automatically sized to fill the entire available space. We still need to go back and resize the photos in the archive, but everything going forward will be as large as possible.

- Show Archive. For Streamlink members, we've expanded the on-demand library from 90 days to a full year! Subscribers can now stream shows or download MP3s that go back a full 365 days. So, for subscribers who missed a show or just want to revisit an old favorite, we now have seriously improved the experience.

- No Ads. Many Streamlink users have asked us to turn off the display ads on the site, noting that they're paying customers. Well, we agree. Streamlink subscribers should notice that the site no longer displays any 3rd party ads after they have logged in. We may occasionally present Coast notifications, but we've otherwise turned everything off for subscribers.

- Link Format. Since the refresh, our standard for links was bold yellow text. Many of you weren't clear that these were links, so we changed our link standard to underlined yellow text. Hopefully that clears things up. We want to make sure that our fans see the links on every page to take them to the places they want to explore!

- Dropdowns. The Category pull-down menus (on the Show, Photos, Guest and Article pages) are a really powerful tool for finding information, and many people have been overlooking that feature. To make it more visible, we changed the background to white and bumped up the font. We also changed the default to "Click to Select a Category". Try looking for a past show by year, by host or by topic!

- Interior Page Content Modules. We added Most Popular and Twitter modules to the right-hand side of all interior pages. Most Popular is commonly overlooked on the homepage and we want to make users more aware of it. And, we included the Twitter feed because we want you to be the first to know when breaking information is posted.

- Feedback. Very few people are still going to the old site (which we stopped updating back in April). So, we removed the "Return to Old Site" link and put back the "Feedback" link at the top of the page. It'll still be possible to access the old site at http://archive.coasttocoastam.com, but we think it's most important to provide a direct channel to us.

We're excited about these changes. If you have further feedback or requests, please keep it coming! Click on the Feedback link or email us at feedback@coasttocoastam.com.

Rest assured, we're committed to continuously improving the Coast to Coast experience. Thanks again, we truly appreciate your participation!

Brian Lakamp
Executive Vice President, Digital Media

Bumper Music

Bumper music from Thursday July 16, 2009

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