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The Earth's atmosphere is good for some things, like providing something to breathe. But it does get in the way of astronomers, who have been successful at launching orbiting telescopes into space. But gravity and the ground are also useful for certain things, like walking around. The Moon, fortunately, provides gravity and a solid surface without any complications of a thick atmosphere -- perfect for astronomical instruments. Building telescopes and other kinds of scientific instruments on the Moon is an expensive and risky endeavor, but the time may have finally arrived. I talk with astrophysicist Joseph Silk about the case for doing astronomy from the Moon, and what special challenges and opportunities are involved.
Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/07/17/243-joseph-silk-on-science-on-the-moon/
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Joseph Silk received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University. After serving on the faculty at UC Berkeley and Oxford, he is currently Professor of Physics at the Institut d'astrophysique de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, and Homewood Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his awards are the Balzan Prize, the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, and the Gruber Prize in cosmology. His new book is Back to the Moon: The Next Giant Leap for Humankind.