The Scientific Odyssey

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This week we look at the construction of Uraniborg on the island of Hven and the astronomical work done on it.  We also discuss the ideas that informed the facility's founding and the social structure that supported its construction and operation. Tycho's observatory and laboratory was the premier scientific research institution of its time and it marked a transition in how science was done throughout Europe.
A look at Greek astronomy from the time of Hesiod and Homer to the spherical model of Aristotle.  The writings of Thales, Empedocles, the Pythagoreans and Plato are considered before moving to the sphere's of Eudoxus and Callipus and the synthesis of physics and astronomy by the tutor of Alexander the Great.
In this episode, we discuss the transition of European astronomy from the 13th century to the end of the 15th century.  We spend some time taking a look at the effects of The Great Mortality on the institutions of Europe and consider the factors of the rediscovery of atomism, the development of the printing press, the Fall of Constantinople and the rise of the new universities of central and eastern Europe in creating the conditions that would allow for new ideas to develop and spread.  We then conclude by looking at the work of Georg Peurbach and Johannes Muller that brings a full and complete understanding of the Hellenistic model Ptolemy.
Part Two of the scientific biography of Paul Dirac.  This includes a discussion of the development of the Dirac Equation, work in quantum field theory, a theory of magnetic monopoles and the first ideas of string theory.
A discussion of both the theoretical and experimental work of Enrico Fermi in the field of nuclear physics.  Additional material on the invention of the cyclotron by Ernest O. Lawrence and the first creation of artificial radioactivity by Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie.
In this episode, we follow the development of the strong force from Yukawa through to the work of Murray Gell-Mann and Georg Zweig and the first quark-gluon model of matter.
A discussion of why studying science is not only useful but necessary in today's world along with an explanation of inquiry and a brief tour of different fields and types of scientific research.
This week we dock in Venice for a questions and answers episode wherein I talk about podcasting, understanding quantum mechanics, the origin of the universe, and the evidence for human activity causing climate change.  Also address questions about how doing the podcast has affected my teaching and where some of the strange things in academia come from.  I also tell the story of the time I ran out of food but was saved by a do-it-yourself carwash in the middle of nowhere. 
A more in-depth look at the lives of Georg Peuerbach, Johannes de Regio Monte (aka, Johanes Muller, aka Regiomontanus) and Cardinal Basilios Bessarion with a specific focus on the years between 1454 and 1476.  The development of the Epitome of the Almagest is discussed as is the role of astrology in late medieval and early modern culture, specifically in relation to the practice of medicine.
Part 1 of our biography of of Johannes Kepler covering his early life from his seminary schooling to his time in Graz.
In this episode we take a look at the Scientific Revolution through the lens of David Wooten' thesis that the most important trigger for the rapid scientific development of the 16th and 17th centuries was Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World.
This week we look at the development of the idea of mathematics as a way to represent reality through perspective painting and accounting.  We also discuss the rise of the idea of laws of nature as the way in which the natural world was understood.
Part one of a biographical sketch of Italian physicist Enrico Fermi.  The episode discussed Fermi's childhood, education and Nobel Prize winning work prior to his fleeing to the United States.  Also discussed is the ride of the Italian Fascist party including personal accounts from Enrico and Laura Fermi.
A discussion of the early life of Werner Heisenberg.
Some unscripted thoughts about the detection of gravitational waves by direct observation by LIGO.  We briefly discuss some aspects of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, how interferometers work and what the significance of the detection is.  We also look at how experimental science is done and communicated.
In this episode we look at the practice of Babylonian astronomy and the tools that made it possible: cuneiform writing and arithmetical mathematics.
A discussion of the life and influence of Niels Bohr.
In this episode, we discuss the contributions of Gilbert Newton Lewis, Irvine Langmuir and Arnold Sommerfeld and push the Bohr Model of the Atom to the breaking point.
In this episode, we develop the atomic models of Hantaro Nagaoka (Saturnian Model), J.J. Thomson (Plum Pudding Model) and Ernest Rutherford (Nuclear Model).  We also consider the theoretical work of Perrin and Anton van den Broek along with the experimental contributions for Hans Geiger, Ernest Marsden, Charles Barkla and Henry Moseley.
A discussion of the development of the periodic table beginning with Prout's protyle and ending with Mendeleev.  Much of the material for this episode has been developed from Eric Scerri's, "The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance."
This episode discusses the life and contributions of John Dalton with particular focus on his development of the Billard Ball model of the atom.
In this supplemental episode we look at the scholarly work of the first of the great Arabic "hakim" and the foundations of developing a scientific method.
Here we work through the responses to Democritus' atomism by Plato, Aristotle and Epicurus.
In this episode, we trace the development of roads from their pre-historic roots (or routes) to the development of the massive arterial network of the Roman Empire.
An examination of the scientific contributions of William Whewell through the early and middle parts of his career.
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Podcast Details

Oct 13th, 2014
Latest Episode
Mar 22nd, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour
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