Show cover of Third Pod from the Sun

Third Pod from the Sun

Third Pod from the Sun is back, and we’re going weekly! We’re breaking things up into six-week mini-series and our first series is all about the true, personal stories from scientists, for everyone. Join us as we combat misconceptions about sharks, learn how to lasso lizards, hear from a Martian here on Earth, spark science joy via TikTok, journey to Antarctica, and fight over food with some capuchins!

Tracks

Tales from the (manus)crypt: This is the end
Horror stories (especially movies) have a tradition of long series capstoned by an “ending” movie. Halloween Ends. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. THE Final Destination. And while Third Pod isn’t a horror movie, we are ending (but like some of those stated “final” movies, we may someday return).Join hosts Shane Hanlon, Vicky Thompson, and a special guest, to reflect on the highs, and the highs (of course there weren’t lows!) of the podcast over the years, and what it has meant to them.This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Art by Jace Steiner.
14:55 11/6/23
Tales from the (manus)crypt: The sound of screams
There’s something powerful about the sound of a scream. Whether it pierces the silence of an empty building or rings out through a crowded room, it forces you to stop what you’re doing and take note. It turns out there’s a scientific explanation for that. Our brains are hardwired to recognize the sound of a human scream as a distress signal so that we can respond accordingly. We talked to neuroscientist Luc Arnal about what particular sounds make a scream a scream and how he studies the brain circuits that interpret them. This episode was produced by Andrew Saintsing and mixed by Collin Warren.
30:48 10/30/23
Tales from the (manus)crypt: Zombie-making fungi
Carolyn Elya is the Zombiologist in Chief, aka incoming Assistant Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. She’s been obsessed with parasites for a while, but it was the flies zombified by a fungus that made them climb, perch, and die that really caught her fancy. We talked with Carolyn about how fungi control flies and other insects, and the evolutionary implications for the zombie-making fungus and its doomed victims. This episode was produced by Devin Reese and mixed by Collin Warren. Art by Jace Steiner.
44:21 10/23/23
Tales from the (manus)crypt: Volcanic video games
One of the scariest things for scientists is watching entertainment media portray your field of study inaccurately—the horror! Flood resilience officer and social volcanologist Jazmin Scarlett turned her hobby of playing video games into a paper discussing the depictions of volcanic hazards in games such as Pokémon, LEGO DC Super Villains, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The typical video game volcano nearly always has molten lava, but would these games be even more fun to play if they incorporated fissure eruptions, pyroclastic flows, and the dangerous effects of ash and toxic gasses? Jazmin talked with us about her views on natural disasters in fiction media, what scares her about volcanoes, and why she left volcanology to work on flood resilience with the UK’s Environment Agency. This episode was produced by Katrina Jackson and mixed by Collin Warren. Art by Jace Steiner.
44:16 10/16/23
Tales from the (manus)crypt: Mind-controlling mushrooms
The video game and TV show “The Last of Us” captivated audiences with the concept of a fungal pandemic. The story is set in a world ravaged by a fungus that infects people and turns them into zombies. But what’s the likelihood a human fungal pandemic could happen? Scientists Teresa O’Meara and Tim James separate fungal fact from fiction and talk about what real fungal fears keep them up at night. This episode was produced by Molly Magid and mixed by Collin Warren. Art by Jace Steiner.
33:13 10/9/23
Tales from the (manus)crypt: Evolved bloodsuckers
We're diving into the intriguing world of vampire bats and their unique genetic adaptations to a blood-based diet. Shenglin Liu is a researcher at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany tells us that vampire bats have evolved specialized traits, from teeth modifications to brain enhancements, to thrive on a diet of blood. The episode also explores the surprising social behaviors of these bats, including blood-sharing among friends, shedding light on their intelligence and adaptability. You will get a picture of these "cute, blood-sucking, smart, and generous bats" and the remarkable feats of evolution that make them stand out in the animal kingdom. This episode was produced by Anupama Chandrasekaran, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
26:22 10/2/23
Tales from the (manus)crypt
It’s that time of year again! For many of us, temperatures are cooling, leaves are changing, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are…latte-ing. While that all sounds lovely, it’s also spooky season, and we’re celebrating with a special series we’re calling, Tales from the (manus)crypt. Get it?! It’s like Tales from the crypt but with science! Join us in the coming weeks to hear the stories about vampire (bats), (fungal) zombies, volcano (horror), and more! This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
14:09 9/25/23
Invisible forces: Weathering the (academic space) storm
As a young child in India, Nithin Silvadas picked up Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and it may have changed his life. From that moment on, he was enraptured with they universe. An undergraduate in engineering (where he literally helped build satellites) and PhD focused on radiation belts around planets (including Earth) later, he’s now a Research Scientist with NASA Goddard studying space weather. Wait, what’s space weather? We talked with Nithin about plasma fields, how social class affects science, and who science really should serve. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez
26:06 9/15/23
Invisible forces: Gravity of the (Venus) situation
What goes up must come down, right? Well, what if things go up and come down slightly slower than you might expect? Are there balloons attached? Filled with helium? Are you on Venus? Probably not, but the planet does have a similar gravity to Earth and its planetary scientist Gael Cascioli’s job to learn about gravity, specifically gravitational waves, on Venus and beyond. We talked with Gael about an upcoming mission to Venus, the importance of diverse collaborations, and why we shouldn’t put some much emphasis on the “publish or perish” model. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
25:27 9/8/23
Invisible forces: Through the cloud of atmospheric aerosols
If you’re a scientist in an oceanography department, you’re probably studying the ocean, right? Well, part of your job might be studying things like phytoplankton, the tiny oceanic powerhouses that play a crucial role in our planet's ecosystem. But how about clouds? Oh, and the properties of light, too? Wait a minute… Atmospheric scientist Kirk Knobelspiesse sat down with us to talk about how atmospheric aerosols interact with clouds, the intricate dance of light and its polarization, and what it’s like to look up when everyone else is looking down. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
22:55 9/1/23
Invisible forces: Fielding Earth's magnetic mysteries
What was the first big project you worked on at your job? An important report? An interesting experiment? How about helping to build a satellite? Ashley Greeley, research scientist in the Heliophysics Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, joined us to talk about becoming an expect in talking about imposter syndrome, building innovative devices that measure radiation from space weather, and how stubbornness can be an asset for a budding scientist. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
18:29 8/25/23
Invisible forces: Sharpening our cosmic vision
When you look up into the night sky, what do you see? Is it a clear picture? Do you see anything at all? What if we could enhance our view of the cosmos and develop technology that promises to clear away cosmic blur? We talked with astrophysicist and nuclear engineer Priya Ghosh, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, who builds and develops radiation detectors to detect neutrons and gamma rays, and also studies and analyzes cosmic ray data to understand better the chemical composition of the galaxy. We chatted with her about changing the narrative on nuclear energy, writing magical realism fiction, and trying to build a good pair of eyeglasses so the galaxy becomes less blurry. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
27:34 8/18/23
Invisible forces
We’re journeying into the mysterious world of invisible forces that shape our lives in ways we often overlook for our next series! Join us as we, explore nuclear energy, feel the pull of magnetic fields, and more. We'll also uncover the hidden social and personal elements of science, delving into the subtle currents of bias, perception, and unseen dynamics that drive scientific discovery. Prepare to be amazed by the invisible, as we shine a light on the forces that quietly shape our world. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interviews conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
13:39 8/11/23
Fieldwork rocks: Icy balloons & (natural) gaseous fumes
What do Antarctica, Nepal, South Korea, and rural NE Pennsylvania all have in common? They’re all places where Doug Goetz of UC Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has done fieldwork. From releasing balloons next to an active Air Force base and being followed by helicopters, to close calls with a milk truck turned mobile lab and being extracted from a foreign country after an earthquake, we talked with Doug about why fieldwork is a crucial, and perhaps misunderstood, part of the scientific endeavor. This episode was produced Shane M Hanlon and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
46:05 8/7/23
Fieldwork rocks: Can it be accessible for all?
The mountains are calling! But the trail to get there is pretty bumpy…can everyone come along? When we imagine a geologist striding through the mountains, carrying heavy samples and equipment, the picture omits a lot of people. Scientists with mobility, vision and hearing impairments or other disabilities have a much longer road to walk to get to the field sites geologists often seek. We talked to Anita Marshall, a researcher and advocate for accessible field courses about innovative practices for bridging the gap between remote field sites and curious scientists who may not be able to easily reach them in person. This episode was produced by Avery Shinneman and mixed by Collin Warren. Illustration by Jace Steiner.
48:16 7/28/23
Fieldwork rocks: Tree rings of the Civil War
Many of us know that tree rings can tell us how old a tree is. But there’s so much more we can learn from these seemingly simple lines.  In the mid 1800’s, right before the start of the U.S. Civil War, North America began to experience unusually low rainfall that lasted approximately 10 years. This drought, on par with the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, may have played a role in the near extinction of the American Bison due to the migration of people to areas that were lusher and more conducive to farming. Max Torbenson, formerly a postdoc at The Ohio State University in their Civil Engineering Department, now a Research Associate at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, studied tree rings to learn about past environments and climates. While he admits that it’s difficult to attribute the effects of the drought to altering any specific part of the Civil Wars, reports do describe issues in supply chains due to rivers drying up and shortages of water for troops and animals used for transportation.    In the latest episode of AGU’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun, Max describes how the work he and others are doing can inform us about how climate change has been influencing wildlife and humans for hundreds of years. Listen as Max recounts his journey as a scientist, takes us to remote field locations full of danger, and fills us in on why he fell in love with U.S.   This episode was produced Shane M Hanlon and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
27:44 7/21/23
Fieldwork rocks: Marooned on purpose
You might think of a deserted island when you picture being marooned, but for some geology researchers the island is their research ship. To collect samples of rocks and sediments from deep beneath the ocean, scientists park a ship called the JOIDES Resolution in place out at sea. That gives them plenty of time to drill for their samples, but it also means spending two months offshore. We talked with Luan Heywood, a marine science technician who sails for six months a year on the JR and with Ally Peccia, a grad student who sailed on a two-month expedition, about the science they do on the ship and how they felt about their time at sea. This episode was produced by Sara Whitlock and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
30:33 7/14/23
Fieldwork rocks: Head in the (funnel) clouds
Every year between June and November, researchers take to the skies to better understand and measure hurricanes. Heather Holbach is part of NOAA’s Hurricane Research division and is one of the scientists on the flight team who gets up close and personal with hurricanes. Flying directly into the eye of the storm gives her insight and information, that tracking the storms on the ground doesn’t. This field work is essential for informing forecasting models and the response on the ground. This episode was produced by Katrina Jackson and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
33:33 7/7/23
Fieldwork rocks: From sea to quaking sea
Seismologist Margaret Boettcher has ventured to the depths of South African gold mines and the middle of the Pacific Ocean in a quest to find earthquakes that are predictable enough to measure and simple enough to understand. Performing fieldwork in these locations presents unusual challenges, such as being so crammed in an elevator shaft with miners that Margaret’s feet couldn’t touch the bottom, and dredging rocks from the seafloor using a bucket on a 3.5-kilometer-long cable. On Margaret’s most recent series of expeditions to the Gofar transform fault 1,500 kilometers west of the Galapagos Islands, she and many of her team members couldn’t even join the cruises due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, they worked out ways to participate remotely, which had the added benefit of opening up the research to more people. This episode was produced by Katrina Jackson and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
30:37 6/30/23
Fieldwork rocks: Picturing science
Joris De Raedt, a passionate scientific illustrator dedicated to capturing the beauty and significance of nature through his art, strives to foster a deep connection between people and the fauna and flora that inhabit our world. Despite utilizing modern tools like a graphic tablet, his illustrations pay homage to a timeless style of documenting the natural world. Joris’s field experiences, both alongside his family and within various projects, have enriched his understanding of the intricate relationships within ecosystems. Through his art, he aspires to instill a sense of respect for nature and highlight the immense value of endangered species and ecosystems. This episode was produced by Anupama Chandrasekaran and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
27:04 6/23/23
Fieldwork rocks
It’s that time of year again where many scientists head out into the field, from far-flung locations to local backyards. In recognition of the lengths that some scientists go to to get answers to questions that only the field can provide, we’re sharing stories of science from quaking earth, to roaring winds, to choppy seas, and beyond! And, as a special treat, head over to our newsmagazine Eos for their special issue this month, Out of office, featuring some of our interviewees talking about their fieldwork experiences. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young.
18:04 6/16/23
Solving for climate: Understanding the "wild" in wildfire
Wildfires seem to be happening more often, and in 2020, Colorado experienced the worst fire season in its recorded history. Extreme fire events are often assumed to be caused by climate change, but it is not immediately clear this is the case. Heat, humidity, precipitation and wind speed all play a role in fire risk, and the exact way that these factors combine changes from day to day. Forest management practices and increased human activity in high-risk areas can also increase fire risk, and this makes it more challenging to pinpoint the reason why more fires are occurring. Colorado State University professor Dan Cooley has used multivariate statistical analysis of Fire Weather Index data to demonstrate that climate conditions in northern Colorado have changed in ways that make fires more likely to occur there – even if it is often impossible to attribute individual fires to this climactic shift. This episode was produced by Ty and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner. Find a companion to this episode from our friends over at Carry the Two.
20:36 6/9/23
Solving for Climate: The silent killer in your urban backyard
The different temperatures humans experience can be as localized as the variance from a suburban area to its urban center. The urban heat island effect - UHI for short - is one such danger. Cities are hotter due to concrete and asphalt absorbing and retaining heat, less tree cover, AC units pumping out hot air, and more. Most worrying is how hot it remains at night, when bodies are trying to cool down and recover from hot daytime temps. Scientists like Angel Hsu are using data collected by satellites and citizens to translate these urban effects into numbers policymakers can use when leading climate change mitigation efforts on local levels. This episode was produced by Jace Steiner and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
31:08 6/2/23
Solving for climate: Earth’s next top (climate) model
We all know the saying “history repeats itself” but to what extent is that true when it comes to Earth’s climate? In order to understand and even predict future climates, transitions from one historical climate state to another can be mathematically modeled by atmospheric scientists like Dr. Matthew Huber. However, there’s something special about how anthropogenic climate change is impacting climate transitions, and it’s Dr. Huber’s job to capture this oddity with math! This episode was produced by Katrina Jackson and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner. Find a companion to this episode from our friends over at Carry the Two.
27:14 5/26/23
Solving for climate: (Health and) safety in (climate) numbers
We’ve all probably heard about how climate change is affecting the ice sheets and polar bears, but what about human health? More severe and numerous floods, droughts, and heat waves impact a wide range of health outcomes, and shifting biomes may spread diseases to new places. How do scientists understand which portions of health effects are caused by climate change, and how can health organizations be prepared? To find out, we talked with Kristie Ebi, who founded the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE) at the University of Washington. In addition to the effects of climate change, Kris told us about how many of the mitigations for climate change—e.g. switching from coal to renewable power sources, creating more environmentally-friendly transportation systems, and reducing meat in our diets—will coincidentally improve public health. She also introduced us to the rap stylings of Baba Brinkman, whose song “Climate Hero” summarizes several of the points Kris made in our episode. This episode was produced by Katrina Jackson and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner. Find a companion to this episode from our friends over at Carry the Two. “Climate Hero” and other science raps by Baba Brinkman will be released via Spotify and other streaming services soon on a forthcoming science rap album, which can be previewed here: https://music.bababrinkman.com/album/rapsode.
32:08 5/19/23
Solving for climate: Do go chasing hurricanes
Jane Baldwin is a storm chaser, only her mode of chasing is computational modeling using multiple streams of data. As an Assistant Professor of Earth System Science at UC Irvine, she models how hurricanes and other natural hazards respond to atmospheric dynamics. We talked to Jane about the challenge of forecasting not just the damage to buildings from cyclones, but also the economic and social impacts. And how climate change factors into the outcomes. This episode was produced by Devin Reese and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner. Find a companion to this episode from our friends over at Carry the Two.
37:59 5/12/23
Solving for climate: Coasts in the machine
The Earth's oceans play a crucial role in regulating the planet's climate by absorbing and storing vast amounts of heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, the oceans are warming at an alarming rate. This increase in ocean temperature is causing a range of devastating impacts, from more frequent and severe storms to rising sea levels and bleached coral reefs. To better understand the complex interplay between ocean warming and its impact on land, scientists like Maike Sonnewald are using climate models to simulate and predict changes in ocean currents and temperatures. These models allow researchers to analyze how different factors, such as greenhouse gas emissions, ocean circulation patterns, and solar radiation, influence ocean warming and its effects on the Earth's climate system. Through these efforts, scientists hope to develop strategies to mitigate the harmful consequences of ocean warming and protect vulnerable communities and ecosystems. This episode was produced by Anupama Chandrasekaran, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Jace Steiner.
34:40 5/5/23
Solving for climate
Are you a math person? Does thinking about math make your head hurt? Well, we hate to break it to you, but we’re all math people! Math is part of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. And math is a crucial part of understanding our climate and climate change. In recognition of this reality, we’re kicking off a special collaboration with the Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation and their podcast, Carry the Two, exploring how math and climate intersect. Join us every Friday on our feed and then head over to Carry the Two the following Tuesday to hear more from our guest on the mathematical side of things. This episode was produced by Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young.
20:10 4/28/23
One giant leap: For first-generational beginnings & talking rockets!
Peter Falcon is an Earth Science communications specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with an atypical background: behavioral science. As a communications specialist, Peter acts as a liaison between NASA projects – such as the CloudSat program – and students, teachers, and the general public. Peter sits down with us to talk about his academic upbringing, the important role family has played in his life and career, and how every moment builds toward the potential of our character. This episode was produced by Zoe Swiss and Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interview conducted by Ashley Hamer.
24:58 4/21/23
One giant leap: For beating the odds and troubleshooting telescopes
Hashima Hasan is the program scientist for NASA’s James Webb, XP, and NuSTAR telescopes, helping to bring those missions from cradle to grave. Hashima followed the space race closely growing up in India, which inspired her to navigate into the sciences from a world where girls were told that they couldn’t. She talked with us about writing simulation software for Hubble, troubleshooting its first blurry images, and spending 9/11 on lockdown in DC while choosing where the James Webb Space Telescope would one day be built. This episode was produced by Zoe Swiss and Shane M Hanlon, and mixed by Collin Warren. Artwork by Karen Romano Young. Interview conducted by Jason Rodriguez.
34:17 4/14/23

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