Author, astronomer, and educator, Jeffrey Bennett, discussed his new work exploring Einstein's theory of relativity as well as the search for ET life throughout the universe. "Relativity is our modern scientific theory about space, time, and gravity," he said, "and that means it tells us about our whole foundation of the universe." He noted that Einstein's theory of relativity actually consisted of two parts which were published ten years apart. The first, known as the 'special theory of relativity' seemed to solve all the "known problems" facing theoretical physicists, despite ignoring the role of gravity. However, Einstein went on to pen the 'general theory of relativity' and solved scientific holes in the original publication by including gravity. This development, Bennett marveled, "really took us, probably, a couple of decades beyond where we would have been had he not been around."
While Einstein was quickly lauded in scientific circles for his groundbreaking work, Bennett recalled how the acclaimed physicist did not earn his mainstream fame until four years after publishing the 'general theory of relativity." He explained that the theory contained a prediction for how gravity would "bend light in very specific ways." The prediction was subsequently tested and confirmed during a total solar eclipse, which led to Einstein becoming a household name after "every newspaper in the world reported on it." Although Einstein's concepts have been "challenged constantly" over the years, Bennett noted that, every time alternative suggestions have been able to be tested, they have fallen apart.
Regarding the search for intelligent life in the universe, Bennett observed that the Kepler mission has revealed that "at least 20 percent of all stars have an Earth-sized planet orbiting them." Additionally, he pointed out that the Milky Way galaxy has a whopping 100 billion stars, which makes the number of potentially inhabitable worlds even more plentiful. In light of humanity's relatively recent technological achievements, Bennett opined that, if there is life 'out there,' they are likely far more advanced that us. However, he also lamented that the ability to travel in space also allows for knowledge of how to create destructive weapons, which means that advanced races may have suffered similar planetary strife as humans and caused their own demise before visiting Earth.
In the first hour, analyst of geopolitics and foreign policy, Craig Hulet, talked about the missing Malaysian Airliner as well as the upheaval in the Ukraine. He expressed concern that Flight 370 could have flown over the island of Diego Garcia, described as the "launchpad" for all Pentagon operations in that region of the world, which may indicate some form of nefarious American intelligence involvement in the disappearance. Beyond that, Hulet noted that twenty of the passengers on the plane worked for a technology company which may have contracts with the intelligence agencies and that their presence could have been what led to the plane disappearing. On Russia's annexation of Crimea, Hulet argued that the people there have the "right to self-determination," but he worried that it could set the stage for World War III as a means of attempting to halt an economic collapse in America.
Using over 10,000 photos taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA has created an amazing interactive map of the moon's North Pole. The remarkable program functions similar to Google Earth and allows users to zoom in on specific areas of interest or simply roam the virtual lunar landscape. You can check it out at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter website.
Bumper music from Tuesday March 18, 2014