Big Picture Science
February 25, 2019: Radical Cosmology
400 years ago, some ideas about the cosmos were too scandalous to mention. When the Dominican friar Giordano Bruno suggested that planets existed outside our Solar System, the Catholic Inquisition had him arrested, jailed, and burned at the stake for heresy.
Today, we have evidence of thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Our discovery of extrasolar planets has dramatically changed ideas about the possibility for life elsewhere in the universe.
Modern theories about the existence of the ghostly particles called neutrinos or of collapsed stars with unfathomable gravity (black holes), while similarly incendiary, didn’t prompt arrest, of course. Neutrinos and black holes were arresting ideas because they came decades before we had the means to prove their existence.
Hear about scientific ideas that came before their time and why extrasolar planets, neutrinos, and black holes are now found on the frontiers of astronomical research.
- Alberto Martínez – Professor of history, University of Texas, Austin, and author of Burned Alive: Giordano Bruno, Galileo & the Inquisition
- Anne Schukraft – Associate scientist, Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory
- Ephraim Fischbach – Professor of physics and astronomy, Purdue University
- Chris Impey – Professor of astronomy, University of Arizona, and author of Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes