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Get to know the speakers, scientists and thinkers who’ll be exploring all things extraterrestrial in the next season of Bach, the Universe & Everything.
Sun 21 Oct – How to leave the planet
Dallas Campbell launches our season with an exhilarating tour of the past and future of space travel.
Having begun his broadcasting career on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, Dallas has presented a number of groundbreaking shows on the BBC including The City in the Sky and Stargazing Live, which charted astronaut Tim Peake’s maiden voyage to the International Space Station.
His latest book Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet, is a quirky, informative and moving primer on to how to leave our planet which covers everything from Elon Musk’s plan to colonise Mars to 17th century dreams of reaching the moon using geese.
Professor Suzanne Aigrain looks for planets outside our solar system – known as exoplanets. She tells us how we go about detecting the ones that might harbour life.
Suzanne developed an interest in exoplanets as a trainee at the European Space Agency’s ESTEC research centre in the Netherlands. A phd followed, and she’s now head of a research group at the University of Oxford which focuses on the detection and characterisation of exoplanets and their host stars. Detecting these planets is extremely difficult, but of great importance – discovering the existence of many other worlds like our own would change the way we think about our place in the universe.
Sun 16 Dec – Engineering for Space
We’re joined by Maggie Aderin-Pocock, presenter of the legendary BBC series The Sky at Night since 2014. With extensive experience building satellites, she talks about the challenges of engineering for space.
An early aptitude for science and a telescope-building workshop led Maggie to begin a glittering career building instruments for projects like the Gemini telescope in Chile, which examines the light of distant stars, and the Aeolus satellite, which measures wind-speeds to explore the effects of climate change.
She divides her time between working on such projects and promoting science to thousands of kids in schools, for which she was appointed an MBE.
Professor Alan Fitzsimmons explains the mystery of ‘Oumuamua’, the first known interstellar object to pass through our solar system.
Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast examines ‘minor bodies’ – comets and asteroids in our Solar System. Last year he regularly featured in the news as the lead researcher on the team which tried to make sense of ‘Oumuamua. Their discoveries on this unusual object will hopefully lead to the discovery of more interstellar objects in the near future.
Sun 24 Feb – Cosmic Dawn
How did the universe emerge from its dark ages after the Big Bang? Dr Emma Chapman tells us about her work researching early stars.
Emma is a Royal Astronomical Society research fellow based at Imperial College London. She focuses on a rather sci-fi sounding subject – the Epoch of Reionization – which is the period when the universes’ dark age ended, and the light came on. The race is currently on to discover this period using radio telescopes and Emma’s work at the European telescope LOFAR suggests she might be the one to do it.
Sun 17 Mar – Hunting for Aliens
Lewis Dartnell closes our season with a look at the latest research in astrobiology – the search for extraterrestrial life.
Formerly a UK Space Agency fellow at the University of Leicester, Lewis’ work has focused on how microbial life might survive in extreme conditions, such as the radiation-heavy surface of Mars. Now a Professor of Science Communication at the University of Westminster, he regularly writes articles for publications like the New Scientist, and has published three books on subjects like how to how to rebuild the world after an apocalypse.