The Boy They Left Behind

The main site at ALMA is at an elevation of 16,400 feet. Roughly half the atmosphere is below you at that point, and oxygen levels are pretty low. It can have some minor adverse effects in the best conditions, and downright life-threatening effects in the worst. So you have to pass a basic physical on site, and if you don’t pass, you don’t get approved for the ALMA high site.

I didn’t pass. Read more


Open Skies

As we’ve been traveling across Chile, we’ve seen billions of dollars worth of astronomical equipment. These are big projects, and in the case of ALMA, driven by a large multinational consortium. With all the money and effort put into creating these projects, you might think that the ability to use the facilities would be limited to an exclusive club of astronomers. Surprisingly, it’s not. Read more


Antibiotic Resistance/Origin of Elements

Amino acids are one of the building blocks of life. They allow our bodies to grow and repair themselves. Our guest today is Dr. André Hudson, an Associate Professor of Biology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He will explain how amino acids could also be the key to helping our bodies fight infections from bacteria that are becoming more resistant to traditional antibiotics. In the second half of our show we’ll talk about the origin of the elements, and whether amino acids form naturally in space.

Host: Brian Koberlein
Guest: André O. Hudson
Producer: Mark Gillespie
Music: Marcus Warner

The One Universe at a Time Podcast is produced at the Rochester Institute of Technology with support from the RIT College of Science.


Arrakis, Dune, Desert Planet

Yesterday we arrived at the Atacama region of Chile, and are staying in the small town of San Pedro. Atacama is perhaps the driest region in the world, and San Pedro is at an elevation of about 8,000 feet. That combination can be quite a punch. Fortunately we’ve been at a similar elevation the past couple of days at CTIO, so that isn’t too bad. The arid air, however, is a different story. Hydration is key at this point. Read more


They Should Have Sent a Poet

Astronomy requires dark and clear skies, and that often means you need to build telescopes in remote places such as Cerro Tololo, where we have been staying the past couple days. While it’s dark skies that brings us to Cerro Tololo, it as also a region of profound beauty. It is a land so wondrous that I feel inadequate to the task of describing it. Read more


Moving Through a Dream

It’s 12:30 am as I write this. The day starting with meetings at AURA, and a tour of some of the facilities. After that long day we went to Cerro Mayu observatory to observe the southern sky. It was the first time I got to see Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross with my own eyes. While I’m somewhat familiar with the southern constellations from drawings, drawings don’t give you a sense of their actual scale in the night sky. The experience was a combination of familiarity and strangeness. Read more


Behind the Curtain

Neil Armstrong didn’t go to the Moon. He was sent to the Moon by a skilled and hardworking team known as NASA. Armstrong wasn’t just along for the ride, but he didn’t do it alone. We don’t remember most of the NASA team, but we do remember Armstrong. Read more

Credit: Peter Detterline

Valley of Stone and Sky

Santiago is bounded by ocean and mountains. What’s amazing to see is just how large, rugged and close the mountains are to downtown. When walking among the city buildings, you’ll catch a glimpse of the mountains that seem to hold Santiago in a valley of stone and sky. While this makes for stunning views, it also makes for a region of ideal observing conditions. Read more


Lift You Up

There’s nothing like a 10-hour overnight flight from Atlanta to Santiago to get a person thinking about flying. As much as we love to complain about crowded seats and bland food, modern flight is pretty amazing. And it’s all thanks to a complex bit of physics. Read more