Associate professor and science writer, Charles Seife, discussed the state of science including the end of the Space Shuttle program, as well as recent discoveries and theories in physics and astronomy. "Good riddance" to the Shuttle program, he said, noting that the program ate up a lot of NASA's budget ($400 million per Shuttle launch) and didn't produce that much in the way of scientific discoveries. There were only three peer-reviewed publications that came out of Shuttle science in the 1990s, and things didn't improve much in the last decade, he commented.
While the Shuttle program played an important role with the International Space Station, their science projects, aside from a few exceptions, weren't much better than a high school science fair, he continued. Part of the rationale for the Shuttle design was for military purposes and rocket launches, and this was never fully realized. The whole Shuttle program lacked a goal, "and in some ways NASA has been dying a long protracted death ever since the Apollo missions ended," Seife stated.
In addressing various cosmological topics, he suggested that it's possible our universe is just one sheet in a larger dimensional universe, and "the Big Bang was actually our sheet colliding into another sheet." The Planck satellite has been collecting data on cosmic background radiation, which may eventually point to the idea that the universe is a 4-dimensional sheet in a 11-dimensional universe, he reported. Seife's wish list for NASA is to launch more robotic missions to planets that haven't been explored, as well as launch satellites to observe stars in as many wavelengths as possible. "Astronomy just really suffers from a lack of observation," with astronomers fighting over telescope time, he lamented.
First hour guest, constitutional lawyer specializing in food and drug law, Jonathan Emord, shared updates on new FDA regulations. The FDA has adopted a New Dietary Ingredient guidance plan, which could in effect force out of the market numerous supplements and herbs that are presently consumed safely, he warned. A proposed Dietary Supplement Labeling Act could also reduce product availability, he added.
News segment guest: Marla Martenson
Bumper music from Tuesday July 19, 2011