“To me it was fascinating and infuriating that there is so much going on that I just couldn’t see. That the answers to your questions, like: are there aliens around the star – the answers exist – they’re out there, like it’s happening out there or it’s not, but we just can’t see it. It’s sort of like someone showing you a box saying inside this box are amazing facts about the universe waiting to be discovered, but you can’t open it. To me that was really intriguing and alluring, but also frustrating and I thought I’ve got to figure this thing out and crack this box open, so I found a niche where I could be answering big questions about the universe, like: what is everything made out of, and where do crazy particles from space come from, but also enjoy the day to day craft of writing little computer programs to solve mental puzzles.”
Today my guest is Daniel Whiteson. Daniel is a Physics professor at UC Irvine, and a fellow of the American Physical Society. He does research using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and together with his co-host Jorge Cham, he is also behind the popular science podcast Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe. Daniel is a wonderfully engaging guest and we had some laughs along the way, so I hope you are sitting comfortably and happy to stay with us.
We started our chat with me asking Daniel about his science podcast Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe and how it’s progressing (00:30), and about their second book inspired by the podcast called Frequently Asked Questions about the Universe (02:30), before moving onto why Daniel chose to become an astrophysicist (06:29). I went on to ask Daniel if the level of intelligence we have in our time will look inconsequential to future people (08:48), then we talked about new developments at CERN (11:20) and the current health of funding for projects in astrophysics (13:13). Over the second half of the episode, we discussed potential threats to Earth in the form of objects from space (17:10), life beyond our planet (24:30), and the next big steps forward in astrophysics (35:70). Toward the end of the podcast I asked Daniel what he is reading, watching or listening to at the moment (44:21).
- Explain the Universe podcast
- Daniel on Twitter
- Daniel at University College Irvine
- For more, hear my conversation with Robert Jacobs, Dr. Johanna Vos and Mat Kaplan.
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