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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3 wonders of the universe, explained

Astronomer Michelle Thaller schools us on what atoms really look, the Big Bang theory, and the speed of light.

  • Most people have seen atoms illustrated in textbooks and know about the Big Bang and the speed of light, but there is a good chance what you think you know is not scientifically accurate.
  • Michelle Thaller, an astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication at NASA, is here to clear up the misconceptions and explain why atoms don't actually look that way, why the Big Bang is a misnomer, and why the speed of light is more than just really fast.
  • Is there an edge of space? Does light experience time? Watch this video for answers to those and other interesting questions.

#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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Do aliens exist? If they did, would we know?

We still don't have proof of intelligent life beyond that on Earth.

  • One of the biggest questions is whether we are alone in the universe — could there be other intelligent life, besides us, out there? Currently, we don't have any evidence aliens exist.
  • There may have been a chance for a civilization to start billions of years before life began on Earth — one that is far more advanced, technologically speaking, than us. However, they're not making it very obvious. We have no proof of this.
  • If such an advanced civilization exists, though, it probably relies on solar energy to fuels its everyday activities.

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