New Library of Congress Podcast Explores “Space on the Page”
The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress is pleased to announce the release of “Space on the Page,” a new podcast that explores the universe not with a rocket but through ideas.
In six episodes, hosts David Baron and Lucas Mix will interview authors and scientists who think and write about space exploration and the search for life beyond Earth. Baron and Mix are holders of the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration and Scientific Innovation, as well as researchers and authors on the connection between science and humanity.
In the first three episodes, available today, the subject is Mars and our society’s fascination with the red planet — past, present and future.
The first episode describes the Mars “craze” that struck Earth at the start of the 20th century, leading humans to run wild with speculation that the red planet might harbor an advanced civilization. Historian of astronomy and affiliate of the Lowell Observatory William Sheehan explains the science that spawned this imaginative idea, and the optical illusion that caused some astronomers to believe Mars was covered with irrigation canals.
In the second episode, Georgetown University biologist Sarah Stewart Johnson joins Baron to explain how new discoveries about Mars, missions like NASA’s Perseverance Rover, and a better understanding of life on Earth have propelled the quest to find microbial life on Mars, and Johnson ponders what the answers might say about life elsewhere in the universe.
In the third episode, science journalist David Whitehouse discusses the dream of sending human missions to Mars, looking at the concrete steps forward being taken by NASA, other space agencies and private entrepreneurs, as well as the many constraints and risks — biological, technological, and social — that must be overcome before we see the first footprint in red Martian soil.
In the next three episodes, which will be released on April 13, Mix brings science fiction writers Nnedi Okorafor, Becky Chambers and John Scalzi into conversation with scientists Betül Kaçar of the University of Wisconsin, Rika Anderson of Carleton College and Frank Rosenzweig of Georgia Tech. Together they examine how the human imagination depicts everything that we anticipate, hope and fear about what is currently unknown.
Baron and Mix are recent holders of the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration and Scientific Innovation at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Chair holders are charged with a mission to investigate the interface between human society and the scientific exploration of the cosmos and to bring the fruits of that investigation to the public.
The Kluge Center’s mission, as established in 2000, is to reinvigorate the interconnection between thought and action, bridging the gap between scholarship and policymaking. To that end, the center brings some of the world’s great thinkers to the Library to make use of the Library collections and engage in conversations addressing the challenges facing democracies in the 21st century.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
The NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific Innovation represents an opportunity for high-level scholarship to understand the interface between human society and the scientific exploration of the cosmos. In the spirit of Barry Blumberg, whose life and work spanned multiple disciplines, the Blumberg Program is interested in the concept of exploration broadly defined to include any aspect of space exploration within the parameters of NASA’s mission to “reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.”