Got a question for Michelle Thaller? Ask it here!

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think's studio soon to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.

Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!

This March, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, such as, "How big is the universe?" or "Am I really made of stardust?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"

All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!

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Ask an astronomer: What was Einstein’s most mind-blowing discovery?

Do space and time really exist? NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller looks at the implications of Einstein's famous equation E=mc2.

  • NASA astronomer and science communicator Michelle Thaller explains that the real brilliance of Albert Einstein is that he was able to bridge ideas that appeared to others to be in different realms.
  • The thing Einstein is most famous for is the equation E=mc2. Thaller explains why that equation is so mind-blowing: Pure energy and matter are the same thing. That means, as humans, we are both made of matter and of pure energy, and as pure energy, we would not experience space or time.
  • "I think that, once we really understand this, we're going to be in for some very difficult truths to accept," says Thaller. "It may be that there is no space or time as we know it, really."

#1: A mind-blowing explanation of the speed of light | Top 10 2019

We have arrived: Big Think's most popular video of 2019 tells us light exists outside of time.

  • Taking the #1 spot on Big Think's 2019 top 10 countdown, NASA's Michelle Thaller reminds us the only things that travel at the speed of light are photons.
  • Nothing with any mass at all can travel at the speed of light because as it gets closer and closer to the speed of light, its mass increases. And if it were actually traveling at the speed of light, it would have an infinite mass.
  • Light does not experience space or time. It's not just a speed going through something. All of the universe shifts around this constant, the speed of light. Time and space itself stop when you go that speed.
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#5: Is the universe a hologram? The strange physics of black holes | Top 10 2019

Next on Big Think's 2019 top 10 countdown, black holes may give us a glimpse of the underlying nature of reality.

  • Big Think's fifth most popular video of 2019 explains that, because energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed, some argue that information — arguably a form of energy — cannot be destroyed either. So then, what happens to information when it is absorbed into a black hole? Scientists don't know for certain, but some posit that it may be possible for it to leak away from the black hole over time.
  • Black holes may hold information in a two-dimensional manner similar to a hologram, which take on three dimensions when light is shone through them. Some theorize that the underlying nature of reality can be glimpsed through black holes — that all the information about the entire universe is somehow held on a two-dimensional space of something.
  • To better understand how black holes work, as well as the elements surrounding them, we may need a level of physics to be developed.
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Moon mission 2.0: What humanity will learn by going back to the Moon

Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.

  • July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
  • Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
  • NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.
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