In episode 2 of Totally Tell Me Everything — a monthly podcast hosted by podcasters and friends, Sarah Woloski and Bryn MacKinnon — we tackle the topic of Space! As always, we’ve got three questions to ask and answer about this episode’s topic, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Question 1: What is it about space and how did your interest in space begin?
- Bryn kicks off the conversation (and reveals just how old she really is) with the Space Shuttle program and then quickly diverts us to a downer story about the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster in 1986. Small redemption in the story about seeing the final space shuttle, Endeavor, on its trip to the California Science Center.
- Sarah saves the day by sharing the very relatable story of building a remarkably accurate model of the solar system in 3rd grade with her engineer father, Peter Heitman, which sparked her interest in the vastness we call space.
- We talk at length about the excellent space/science/romance movie, “Contact,” starring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey. And let’s not forget Sarah and her mother’s shared love of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Related links and rabbit holes:
- Influence of TV shows, films and books about space: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Star Wars, Apollo 13, Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, The Right Stuff, more The Right Stuff
- The Very Large Array
- Art and science come together in the music of space: Alan Silvestri, composer of the soundtracks for Contact and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
- Pine Cones vs Pine Nuts
Question 2: What do we want to learn about space?
Interestingly, we both did research on and want to talk about life beyond our planet, but from slightly different angles.
- Sarah takes deep into the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, particularly the SETI Institute, the non-profit in Silicon Valley that listens to and analyzes the sounds we can hear from space, with the hope of finding intelligent life out there. SETI was founded 1984, by Tom Pierson and astronomer Jill Tarter, and played a large role in “Contact,” which Sarah assigned Bryn to watch as podcast homework before we recorded this episode.
- While Sarah dove into the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, Bryn looked into communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, or CETI.
- Arecibo message
- Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Lambros D. Callimahos at the NSA
- Do we need a special language to talk to aliens?
- How do you communicate with an intelligent entity you know nothing about? Or with whom you have no common cultural background?
Question 3: What are you excited about regarding space?
Sarah can’t wait to get involved in space research, and you can, too!
- SETI’s Planet Patrol: You can inspect stars from home and help with SETI’s research
- Citizen Science for NASA: Collaborate with NASA scientists on many different projects from your cell phone or laptop.
- NASA Solve: There are problems to solve, and you can get involved! You might even win a competition.
Bryn is excited to catch the space action as it happens. Here’s how you can, too!
- International Space Station
- The Mars Rovers!
Tangents and corrections:
- Astronaut ice cream, Reese’s Pieces, Pia Zadora, Tang, The Black Hole
- Bryn got this quote so wrong: “Planting seeds in a garden you never get to see” is a line in the song “The World Was Wide Enough” from Hamilton, an American Musical. She blames the pandemic.
We wrap it up by revisiting Bryn’s husband’s statement that space exploration is the manifestation of our biggest dreams, goals and questions as humans. Space exploration, whether up there in rockets, shuttles and space stations or from down here on our home planet, captures and expands our imaginations. It is ambitious, dangerous, difficult and risky. But as Ellie Arroway’s father says in the movie “Contact” when she asks him if he thinks there’s people on other planets: “I don’t know, Sparks. But I guess I’d say if it is just us… seems like an awful waste of space.”
Thank you for joining us for this episode of Totally Tell Me Everything. We’re so happy to share this space and time with you.
As always, huge thanks to the totally talented “John Williams of Podcasting,” Rob Dehlinger, his wife, Lisa Dehlinger, and their daughter, Zoe, for our super theme song. Check out Rob’s stellar band, the Alpha Rhythm Kings.
We hope you’ll come over and sit by us for our next conversation, episode 3…about Books!
About Totally Tell Me Everything
Two friends, one fun topic, three burning questions = lots of fun conversation! Each month we pick a topic and ask each other three questions about it – we learn about the subject, our past and each other. So come sit by us and we’ll totally tell you everything!
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