Offworld: Ad Astra Review3 Comments
We review the new science fiction space film Ad Astra! Ariel and Norm are joined by Dr. Douglas Vakoch, the President of METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to discuss the film's portrayal of space travel through the solar system, astronaut psychology, and what commercial spaceflight could look like in the near future. Spoiler warning: we discuss many plot details about the film beyond what is shown in the trailers!
Offworld: Asteroid Exploration and Mining1 Comments
Asteroids have been the subject of numerous science fiction stories, in both destructive and constructive depictions. Joining Ariel to set the record straight on asteroids are Michael Busch of SETI and planetary astronomer Sondy Springmann. They discuss the form and composition of asteroids, the state of asteroid mining, and why there are so many misconceptions about asteroids in pop culture.
Offworld: Gravity (2013)0 Comments
This week, Ariel is joined by Dr. Christianna Taylor and science youtuber Scott Manley to talk about the movie Gravity! While the 2013 film has been picked apart in popular media, we focus on the topic of orbital debris and how real astronauts and the ISS grapple with its presence in Earth orbit.
Offworld: A Trip to the Moon (1902)0 Comments
For this very special episode of Offworld, we record from NASA Ames Research Center to talk about the 1902 film 'A Trip to the Moon', which is considered to be the first science fiction film. Ariel chats with NASA scientists about how our understanding of trips to the moon have changed over the past century, and how the moon is still ripe for exploration in both reality and sci-fi storytelling.
Offworld: Frances 'Poppy' Northcutt 3 Comments
We're thrilled this week to be joined by Frances 'Poppy' Northcutt, who was a NASA Return-to-Earth Specialist during the Apollo missions and the first woman to work inside Mission Control! We talk about her experience as an engineer during Apollo, how the public remembers that era, and how media covered the moon landing. Thanks so much to Poppy Northcutt for joining us this week! You can watch APOLLO: Missions to the Moon on National Geographic on July 7th!
Offworld: Forbidden Planet (1956)1 Comments
Why are exoplanets--those outside our solar system--depicted the way they are in science fiction film? We revisit the 1956 movie Forbidden Planet to examine one of the first representations of exoplanets in cinema, and our expert guests help explain the state of exoplanet imaging and what we know about the planets astronomers have detected so far. What's your favorite exoplanet seen in film?
Offworld: Spacesuits in Science Fiction Film4 Comments
Ariel is joined by two spapcesuit afficionados: our very own Adam Savage and design professor Nicholas de Monchaux to talk about their favorite science fiction spacesuits, the role of spacesuits in film, and how real-world suits have been inspired by fiction.
Offworld: Isolation and Loneliness in Space Travel5 Comments
This week on Offworld, we explore the trope of isolation and loneliness in science fiction space travel, and how both fictional and real-world astronauts cope with being away from home for extended missions. Joining us are neuroscientist Indre Viskontas and field geophysicist Mika McKinnon for a lively discussion on how sci-fi depicts the very real challenge of isolation in space!
Offworld: The Black Hole (1979)3 Comments
From Disney's The Black Hole to Interstellar, we discuss the portrayal of Black Holes in science fiction films and the misconceptions popular media has spread about this astronomical phenomena. Fatima Abdurrahman from UC Berkeley's Department of Astronomy joins us to explain the science of Black Holes and how storytellers can exploret them in film!
Offworld: Starship Troopers (1997)2 Comments
Let's talk about the space bugs in Starship Troopers! Ariel is joined by Dr Brian Fisher and Dr Lauren Esposito from the California Academy of Sciences to discuss the science of insects and whether space bugs could exist as they're depicted in the film. Surprisingly, Starship Troopers gets several things right! Would you like to know more?
Offworld: The Beyond (2017)0 Comments
Ariel is joined by Tested science contributor Kishore Hari and cyborg anthropologist Amber Case to discus the 2017 film The Beyond, the traditional sci-fi notion of cyborgs, and what mix of human and machine actually makes sense for the future of space exploration.
Offworld: Wall-E (2008)2 Comments
This week on Offworld, we revisit the classic Pixar film WALL-E, and chat with roboticists from NASA and Softbank Robotics about the development of robots for use in space. What about the portrayal of space robots in WALL-E did we like, and what would apply to the kind of robots that would work alongside humans in space?
Offworld: The Right Stuff (1983)1 Comments
This week on Offworld, Ariel is joined by Adam Savage and retired astronaut Jim Newman to talk about the 1983 movie The Right Stuff! The three discuss the film's portrayal of early NASA missions and astronaut culture, and hear some stories about Jim Newman's flights on the Space Shuttle.
Offworld: Life (2017)0 Comments
If astronauts ever discovered microbial life in space, what would be the procedures for studying it? That's one of the plot points of the 2017 science fiction film Life, which we discuss with Dr. Penny Boston, director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute. Let's talk through the ideas of biological containment onboard the ISS and how a Mars sample return would actually work.
Offworld: Arrival (2016)0 Comments
This week on Offworld, we look at the science fiction film Arrival and its depiction of communication with alien life! Ariel is joined by cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Teon Brooks and Dr. Douglas Vakoch, President of METI (Messaging Extraterrestial Intelligence) to discuss how we might try to decipher verbal and visual language or alien origin. (Due to popular demand, we're releasing our Offworld show as an audio podcast! Subscribe today to get new episodes and catch up on our show.)
Offworld: Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979)1 Comments
Star Trek: The Motion Picture features a plot device inspired by NASA's Voyager missions, including the Golden Records that are aboard both spacecraft. Ariel is joined by David Pescovitz and astronomer Frank Drake (of the Drake equation) to talk about the film, the creation of the record, and its function in depicting human life to anyone who might find it.
Offworld: Europa Report (2013)0 Comments
We're joined by spacecraft engineer Bobak Ferdowsi and marine scientist Vicky Vásquez to talk about the 2013 film Europa Report! There's a lot to like about the film, including how it portrays the challenges of a crewed mission to Jupiter's moon. Is Europa our best bet for finding alien life in our solar system? Let's discuss! (Due to popular demand, we're releasing our Offworld show as an audio podcast! Subscribe today to get new episodes and catch up on our show.)
Offworld: The Potential and Problems of Spaceship A.I.1 Comments
How realistic are pop culture depictions of artificial intelligence on board spaceships? From Star Trek to 2001: A Space Odyssey, we discuss the potential of spaceship A.I. to assist astronauts, along with what research is being done on board the ISS to incorporate digital assistants.
Offworld: How Would Space Politics Work?1 Comments
Once humans start colonizing other planets, how will politics work between Earth and those who live offworld? Ariel is joined by author Annalee Newitz and linguist Nick Farmer--who works on the show the Expanse--to discuss science fiction's portrayal of realistic space politics!
Offworld: Star Trek Discovery Season 2 (2019)2 Comments
Offworld is back for 2019! And we kick off this season with a review and discussion of Star Trek: Discovery second season debut. We're joined by journalist and author Annalee Newitz to recap the episode and talk about our hopes and fears for this season. Spoilers abound!