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The Countdown

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    The Countdown, a collaboration between Scientific American and YouTube's Spacelab, is a biweekly video show highlighting the best stuff happening in space, astronomy and physics. The companion Countdown blog features links to all of the stories mentioned in the show and more. Science journalist Sophie Bushwick is the show's host.
  • 5 Essential Facts about Gravity Waves from the Big Bang – The Countdown, Episode 44

    On March 17th, physicists with the BICEP2 experiment announced they had detected the remnant of gravity waves in the cosmic microwave background, the light left over from the Big Bang. While still needing confirmation, the discovery lends weight to the idea that the early universe underwent rapid expansion. More to explore: BICEP2 page Simple Gravitational [...]

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    5 Space Photos that Speak to Our Human Existence – The Countdown, Episode 43

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    Since at least the 1960s, astronauts and satellites have been snapping photos of planet Earth from on high. While many of these photos possess an intrinsic beauty, some hold important clues about the goings-on of the inhabitants below. In this episode of The Countdown, we bring you five images that speak loudly about the challenges [...]

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    5 Strange Ways to Clean Up Our Space Junk – The Countdown, Episode 42


    According to NASA, more than 500,000 pieces of debris are tracked as they orbit earth. Individual pieces can travel at speeds of up to 28,000 kilometers per hour, creating a potentially dangerous situation for both satellites and astronauts alike. In this episode of The Countdown, we look at some of the strangest proposals to combat [...]

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    5 Everyday Products Developed from NASA Technology – The Countdown, Episode 41


    NASA is known for hi-tech wizardry when it comes to spacecraft, but some of its technology has floated back down to earth and made it into products we use everyday. In this episode of The Countdown, we look at five products you’d never suspect were influenced by NASA. More to explore: NASA Spinoff Website – [...]

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    5 Things You Need to Know about Rosetta, the Comet Chaser – The Countdown, Episode 40


    We’ve put robots on both the moon and mars, but scientists have never tried to soft-land a robot on a comet–until now. In this episode of The Countdown, we cover everything you need to know about the European Space Agency’s groundbreaking Rosetta mission. – More to explore: Comet Craft Approaches Its Target (Nature) Rosetta: To [...]

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    5 Remarkable Facts about the Northern Lights – The Countdown, Episode 39


    What causes the sky near Earth’s poles to light up with swirling, colorful light? In this episode of the Countdown, we explore the physics behind auroras and more. More to Explore: Visit for more images of the Northern Lights from Abisko National Park in Sweden. Aurora Forecast (NOAA) Written in the Sky: Aurora Borealis [...]

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    Top 5 Space Stories of 2013! – The Countdown, Episode 38


    We rounded up the coolest, biggest and most important space stories of 2013 and asked the editors of Scientific American to vote for their top five. Here they are in our latest episode of the Countdown. More to explore : The Top 5 Space Stories of 2012 Scientific American‘s Top 10 Science Stories of 2013 [...]

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    5 Signs of Life on Mars – The Countdown, Episode 37


    Could Mars support life? In this episode of The Countdown, we run through five intriguing lines of evidence that the red planet was not always as desolate as it appears, and may even be habitable today. More to explore: New Signs of Water on Mars Ramp Up Search for Life (Scientific American) A River Runs [...]

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    5 Things You Should Know about Comet ISON – The Countdown, Episode 36


    If you live in the U.S., chances are good you’ll be munching on turkey tomorrow in celebration of Thanksgiving. But millions of miles above your head, Comet ISON will make its closest pass to the sun. It’s still a big question mark what will happen next: ISON could be torn apart by the sun’s gravity. [...]

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    An Asteroid with 6 Tails, and More – The Countdown, Episode 35

    More to explore: Bizarre Asteroid with Six Tails Spotted by Hubble Telescope ( Liftoff! India’s First Mars Probe Launches Toward the Red Planet ( Kepler Telescope Finds Plethora of Earth-Size Planets (Scientific American) Chelyabinsk Eyewitnesses Help Scientists Resolve Meteor Mysteries (Scientific American) Gravity Maps Reveal Why the Moon’s Far Side Is Covered with Craters (Nature [...]

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