Hiding in the shed this episode are Andrew, Maddy, Ti and Steve as we try to express our delight at the wonderful Hidden Figures. The only thing more exciting than such a wonderful film being released is that NASA's Dr Renee Horton, currently working on the Space Launch System, joined the Cosmic Shed for this, our 40th episode.
Renee Horton tells us just how it feels when the phone rings and it's NASA calling to tell you that you've got a job there, how NASA compares now to the one we see in the film and so much more.
Quite apart from all the wonderful science and engineering Dr Horton does, she's busy writing children's books about Dr H and friends and is the president of the National Society of Black Physicists. Oh and she's just bloody wonderful.
Dr H's adventures are coming soon and we'll post the link to the Kickstarter as soon as we get it.
NASA made the most stunning announcement they've made for some time when they told us they'd found seven potentially Earth-like planets orbiting the star Trappist 1, just 40 light years from Earth.
The lead scientist on the discovery was Michael Gillon. He describes the system as something straight out of science fiction so we were somewhat delighted when Michael agreed to join Andrew for a very special episode of the Cosmic Shed.
Michael tells us which science fiction he likes to chill out to and why he finds it such an inspiration for the amazing science he is doing looking for habitable exoplanets around ultracool dwarf stars in our stellar neighbourhood. He describes what we might see if we stood on the surface of one of these stunning planets and gives us a real insight into what it is to be a scientist, like him, at the forefront of discovery.
Andrew tries to excuse the lack of a Cosmic Shed episode for a few weeks by saying he's been recording episodes of the Physics World podcast. It actually turns out to be true, believe it or not and you can listen to them here.
Rachel Ignotofsky's new book Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) from Hypatia in ancient Alexandria to modern day science like the discovery of the Higgs Boson by the team led by Sau Lan Wu.
Rachel is an illustrator, designer and author with a passion for science fiction, comics and fantasy as well as science and history.
Andrew caught up with Rachel and they talked about Rachel's work, inspiration and some of the amazing women featured in the Women in Science book.
Rachel tells Andrew about her work for Fandango.com including these infographics on the Hunger Games and The Hobbit. Click on the images to see them in full on Rachel's website
Andrew asks Rachel about the designs she did for this Ray Bradbury collection, sadly not for sale, and her Ecosystem infographics and, of course, her work on the Avengers infographics. Again, click on the images to see Rachel's work in its full glory on her website.
The BBC's flagship Natural History Series Planet Earth 2 has broken all records. More than that; It's undyingly wonderful. As such, it was with no little excitement that Andrew, Maddy and Steve welcomed two of the show's producers into the shed for an exclusive chat. Exclusive in the sense that only 5 of us can fit in the shed. Anyone can actually listen to it here.
Emma Napper and Chadden Hunter sit back in the shed and we talk about what it takes to make such a landmark television series. We talk about that cayman, that iguana, that fieldmouse, that music...and so much more.
Did Andrew enjoy it? To quote John Motson. "Look at his face! Just look at his face!"
As we've discussed SETI and life in the universe quite a bit recently, we thought we'd look at Supernatural Belief this time...following on from our Ghostbusters episode. A revelation about R2D2, Moses and a fair bit about Jesus followed.
Francesca mentions animals appearing to have rituals attached to an "afterlife" belief. As it happens, the BBC's Emma Napper was in the audience (and in the shed the next day) and has filmed an elephant funeral which you can see here.
Andrew didn't mention this in the episode but had this song in his head for most of the evening...particularly when Professor Francesca was speaking.
On a cold, frosty night in December a skeptical ghosthunter, a physics expert and a science communicator who believes in ghosts gathered in a crumbling garden shed somewhere in surburban Bristol where they found Andrew keen to chat to them about all things ghostly.
Just as the story in both film and book focus on Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguistics expert who has her worldview changed by experiencing the language and culture of an alien race, we're joined by Professor Dan Everett, a linguistics expert who has his worldview changed by experiencing the language and culture of an alien tribe. You can read Dan's book "Don't Sleep, There are Snakes" for the whole story.
We're also delighted to be joined by SETI astronomer Seth Shostak to discuss life in the universe and much more...including what makes him throw up all night long.
In the episode, Ti mentions the Q&A podcast which we highly recommend and Andrew mentions these episodes of the Reasonable Doubts podcast on Determinism and Free Will. Again, we highly recommend them and all other episodes of the Reasonable Doubts podcast but don't wish to waste any more of our lives worrying if we have free will or not.
Ti has an event coming up called Cancel The Trumpocalypse where you can join him in a pub in Bristol to watch 24 hours of monster movies to raise money for charity.
A warning about mankind's self-destructive nature? A Christ metaphor? Or simply a sci-fi classic?
After the success of our 50th anniversary Star Trek screenings, Bristol Sunset Cinema and The Cosmic Shed podcast are teaming up again for another sci-fi spectacular at At-Bristol's Bristol Planetarium, which will include a special HD screening of The Day the Earth Stood Still.
After the film, there will be a special live recording of the Cosmic Shed podcast. Obviously, we'll release that audio afterwards.
On the panel will be special guest Bruce Hood, Professor of Development Psychology in Society at Bristol University who will be discussing the psychology of supernatural belief. Professor Hood first joined us for our episode on Inside Out.
Update: We're delighted to announce a second special guest. Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou will be joining us for this special event. Professor Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. You may have seen her on a number of television series including the BBC series The Bible's Buried Secrets.
There will also be an audience Q&A and several surprises!
We hear about turtles using the magnetic field to navigate the world and find their way back to the very beach they were born on, why an octopus will change its colour in the dark depths of the oceans and how a grown man can never have seen Star Wars...No, seriously!
Close Encounters in the Cosmic Shed as we consider what turns out to be one of Ti and Andrew's favourite films of all time...and left Steve, Maddy and Ben a bit less enthralled.
We are delighted to be joined by NASA's Lynn Rothschild, an evolutionary biologist and astrobiologist. Lynn spoke to Andrew about astrobiology, synthetic biology and life in the universe...and at NASA.
Ben pops in for a poem, Steve brings us news of the new Space Race and Maddy find parallels between the work she is doing on proto-life and the work taking place at NASA.
In other words, it's our first full, not live, proper Cosmic Shed episode since June. We're back!
In the show we chat about Yuri Milner, having misheard Lynn Rothschild when she was talking about Urey-Miller experiments. Fortunately, over on our Facebook page, one of our listeners pointed out our error. Thanks Rusty.