Blue Dot 223: Titan Of American Space Science: A Conversation With Donald Gurnett
Dave talks to retired University of Iowa Physicist Donald Gurnett about his amazing career as a pioneer of the field of space plasma physics. Don was only 17 when legendary space scientist James Van Allen took him under his wing at the university and Gurnett never left spending 60 years as a Hawkeye student, teacher, and researcher.
His work on "whistlers" (strange-sounding radio waves created by lightning interacting with Earth's magnetic field) recorded from space was groundbreaking but that was eclipsed by his work on the epic Voyager missions. Gurnett recounts how he inferred where the heliopause is -- the region in space where the Sun's electromagnetic influence ends and where interstellar space begins -- and how Voyager 1 proved him right in 2012.
Gurnett taught every level of courses at the University of Iowa from introductory astronomy to advising graduate students who would go on to become the next generation of space scientists. He is truly an American treasure.
Toward the end of the program, during Blue Dot's "Teachable Moment," Matt Fidler asks Dave to explain what the bottom line is on the recent government report on UAP's (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena -- previously known as UFO's). Dave then calls in reinforcements with special guest David Grinspoon to give us his take on this mystery being encountered by U.S. military pilots.