The Black Hole At The Center Of The Galaxy, Shipwreck Microbes. Oct 16, 2020, Part 1 from Science Friday

From Science Friday - The 2020 Nobel Prize winners have been announced, and among them is UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez, who split the prize with Roger Penrose and Reinhard Genzel. Ghez, also the fourth woman to ever win the Physics prize, won for her 1998 work that resolved a decades-old debate among astronomers: What lurks at the difficult-to-observe heart of the Milky Way? After innovating new ways to peer through the obscuring gas and dust, Ghez and her team observed the orbits of stars around the galaxy's seemingly empty center–and found they fit a pattern explained so far only by a supermassive black hole of at least four million times the mass of our Sun. In the decades since, she and her team have investigated the gravitational forces of the galactic center, and how well they match Einstein's theory of relativity. (So far, her team has concluded, Einstein seems mostly right, but his theories may not fully explain what's going on.) Ira talks to Ghez about how our understanding of the center of the galaxy has evolved, plus the questions that still puzzle her. Plus, off the coast of North Carolina is a large lagoon called the Pamlico Sound, which supports a diverse ecological landscape. It's also home to the Pappy's Lane Shipwreck, a World War II vessel that's partially submerged in the Sound. This wreck has become an artificial reef, and the life that surrounds it, big and small, is ripe for research. Just as humans have their own microbiomes, which are different for everyone, shipwrecks have microbiomes, too. Scientists study them to better understand what's living on these sunken ships, and how to preserve them for future generations. While the vessel is not a natural part of the Sound, its role as an artificial reef makes it an important part of the ecosystem. By better understanding its microbes, scientists hope to help preserve this non-renewable cultural artifact. Joining Ira to talk about the marvelous microbes on the Pappy's Lane Shipwreck is Erin Field, assistant professor of biology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. 
The Black Hole At The Center Of The Galaxy, Shipwreck Microbes. Oct 16, 2020, Part 1
2020-10-16 11:15:25
The 2020 Nobel Prize winners have been announced, and among them is UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez, who split the prize with Roger Penrose and Reinhard Genzel. Ghez, also the fourth woman to ever win the Physics prize, won for her 1998 work that resolved a decades-old debate among astronomers: What lurks at the difficult-to-observe heart of the Milky Way? After innovating new ways to peer through the obscuring gas and dust, Ghez and her team observed the orbits of stars around the galaxy's seemingly empty center–and found they fit a pattern explained so far only by a supermassive black hole of at least four million times the mass of our Sun. In the decades since, she and her team have investigated the gravitational forces of the galactic center, and how well they match Einstein's theory of relativity. (So far, her team has concluded, Einstein seems mostly right, but his theories may not fully explain what's going on.) Ira talks to Ghez about how our understanding of the center of the galaxy has evolved, plus the questions that still puzzle her. Plus, off the coast of North Carolina is a large lagoon called the Pamlico Sound, which supports a diverse ecological landscape. It's also home to the Pappy's Lane Shipwreck, a World War II vessel that's partially submerged in the Sound. This wreck has become an artificial reef, and the life that surrounds it, big and small, is ripe for research. Just as humans have their own microbiomes, which are different for everyone, shipwrecks have microbiomes, too. Scientists study them to better understand what's living on these sunken ships, and how to preserve them for future generations. While the vessel is not a natural part of the Sound, its role as an artificial reef makes it an important part of the ecosystem. By better understanding its microbes, scientists hope to help preserve this non-renewable cultural artifact. Joining Ira to talk about the marvelous microbes on the Pappy's Lane Shipwreck is Erin Field, assistant professor of biology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. 

47 minutes, 5 seconds

More Episodes from Science Friday

Covering everything about science and technology -- from the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies -- Science Friday is your source for entertaining and educational stories and activities. Each week, host Ira Flatow interviews scientists and inventors like Sylvia Earle, Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and more.

Orange Bat, Greenland Bacteria, COVID Anniversary, Alien Argument. Jan 22, 2021, Part 2
Orange Is The New Black–For Bats For a newly-described bat from West Africa, dubbed Myotis nimbaensis (mouse-eared bat from the Nimba Mountains), scientists are reaching for a different part of the color wheel. While Myotis does have some black on its body, the overwhelming majority of the...

Finding Lead Pipes Through Algorithm, How Soil Could Save The Planet. Jan 22, 2021, Part 1
After Flint's Crisis, An Algorithm Helps Citizens Find Lead Pipes It's been nearly seven years since the beginning of Flint, Michigan's water crisis, when high levels of lead from corroded lead pipes led to water shortages and health issues for city residents. Since then, many other cities around...

Valley Fever And COVID-19, Structure of Conspiracy Theories, New Climate Wars. Jan 15, 2021, Part 2
How The West Is Battling COVID-19 And Valley Fever For the past year, the COVID-19 crisis has taken up much of our attention. But the pandemic can come with complications: Some states face an onslaught of pre-existing diseases. In the American West, doctors, scientists, and patients continue to...

How The COVID-19 Vaccine Was Developed And Is Being Distributed. Jan 15, 2021, Part 1
How Did A Vaccine Get Developed In Less Than A Year? From the first discovery of a strange new respiratory virus in Wuhan, China, in January of 2020, it took less than a year to get a vaccine into the arms of frontline healthcare workers. More than two dozen vaccine candidates have made it from...

COVID Fact Check, Aging Cells, News Roundup. Jan 8, 2021, Part 1
Fact Check My Feed: What's Up With These COVID-19 Mutations? It's a new year, and that means there's a whole slew of new COVID-19 news to dive into, including an overwhelming amount of new information about vaccines and mutations. The U.S. has now administered roughly five million doses of COVID-19...

Fundamentals of Physics, Giant Ancient Birds, 2021 Space Outlook. Jan 8, 2021, Part 2
Finding New Particles On The Frontier of Physics As a theoretical physicist, Frank Wilczek has made a career out of dreaming up new ways to understand our physical universe–and he's usually right.  In the early 1980's, he predicted the existence of a new quasiparticle, called the anyon–which was...

They Might Be Giants, Animal Sounds Quiz, Luxury Ostrich Eggs. Jan 1, 2021, Part 2
They Might Be Giants With A Timely Reminder: "Science Is Real" Fans of the band They Might Be Giants are likely to be familiar with the band's version of the 1959 Tom Glazer song "Why Does The Sun Shine?" As they sing, "The sun is a mass / of incandescent gas / a gigantic nuclear furnace." In their...

Christmas Bird Count, Black Birders Week, Science Diction: Vaccine. Jan 1, 2021, Part 1
Where Did The Word 'Vaccine' Come From? As we head into 2021, there's one word on all of our minds: Vaccine. It may be in headlines right and left these days, but the word was actually coined more than a century ago.  In the 1700s, smallpox seemed unbeatable. People tried all sorts of things to...

2020 In Review, Charismatic Tubeworms, Dog Evolution. Dec 25, 2020, Part 1
2020: The Year In Science, With Wendy Zukerman It's the end of the year, and time to reflect. While there's no doubt the coronavirus and efforts to combat it led the science pages this year, there was more to this year than masks and hand sanitizer.  Wendy Zukerman, host and executive producer of...

Indigenous Astronomy, Auroras, Inclusive Science. Dec 25, 2020, Part 2
Nature's Own Holiday Light Show The spectacular glowing green of the Northern Lights is caused by charged particles from the solar wind interacting with gas molecules, atoms, and ions in the atmosphere. Protons and electrons streaming from the sun follow the Earth's magnetic field lines,...

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.