Season Two

S02E01 Portals - With Dr Leah Broussard

Broussard grew up on a Louisiana farm with plentiful cattle, rice, crawfish, soybeans and sometimes—her childhood favorite—sugarcane. This high-school valedictorian was well-rounded—science-club president, cheerleader, debater, marching-band member, and winner of a history fair, art contest and regional math tournament.


While she could have kept her career options open, she always knew she wanted to be a scientist. “I was always curious and methodical in understanding how things work,” she recalled. “I picked physics for kind of silly reasons. I wanted to know what the hardest thing was that I could do, and someone told me physics, so that’s what I determined to do. Growing older, you sort of put away the childish things, but I realized that physics is fun because it is hard, because I don’t always understand it.”


Receiving her doctorate in 2012, Broussard accepted a Seaborg Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory. One of her experiments there probed ultra-cold neutrons. “They are so low-energy that they’re sensitive to the strong force,” Broussard said. “They can reflect off of walls from any angle. You can even bottle them.” She wanted to control the depth to which low-energy neutrons could penetrate materials that are sustaining nuclear fission chain reactions. “For the first time, we were able to control where in the material the fission is occurring,” she said. “That has interesting implications for stockpile stewardship and nuclear material aging.”


Away from work, Broussard spends time with her husband, who is a physics professor, and enjoys hiking, festivals, board games and fantasy football. At ORNL, she conducts three experiments aimed at solving physics puzzles.

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S02E02 ( PT1) Time machines + Time loops - With Dr Gaurav Khanna and Caroline Mallary

Dr. Khanna is a Professor in the Physics Department, and the Associate Director of the Center for Scientific Computing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He works on a variety of challenging problems in theoretical and computational physics. This primary research project is related to the coalescence of binary black hole systems using perturbation theory and estimation of the properties of the emitted gravitational waves. This research is of relevance to the recently established NSF LIGO laboratory (and the upcoming space-borne missions) that have just succeeded in making a direct observation of these waves. Dr. Khanna has extensive parallel and scientific computing experience as a regular user of NSF’s XSEDE facilities, and also has detailed knowledge of a variety of computer architectures (multi-core CPU, GPU, heterogeneous, etc.). He has published nearly seventy (70) research papers in top international journals and secured over a million-dollars in research funding to date.

His research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), MA Space Grant Consortium (NASA), US Air Force Research (AFRL/AFOSR), private foundations (FQXi and others) and the computer industry (Apple, IBM, Sony, Nvidia and others).


Caroline Mallary, a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has published a new model for a time machine in the journal Classical & Quantum Gravity. This new model does not require any negative mass exotic material and offers a very simple design.

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S02E03 (PT2) Time machines + Time loops - With Dr Gaurav Khanna and Caroline Mallary

Dr. Khanna is a Professor in the Physics Department, and the Associate Director of the Center for Scientific Computing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He works on a variety of challenging problems in theoretical and computational physics. This primary research project is related to the coalescence of binary black hole systems using perturbation theory and estimation of the properties of the emitted gravitational waves. This research is of relevance to the recently established NSF LIGO laboratory (and the upcoming space-borne missions) that have just succeeded in making a direct observation of these waves. Dr. Khanna has extensive parallel and scientific computing experience as a regular user of NSF’s XSEDE facilities, and also has detailed knowledge of a variety of computer architectures (multi-core CPU, GPU, heterogeneous, etc.). He has published nearly seventy (70) research papers in top international journals and secured over a million-dollars in research funding to date.

His research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), MA Space Grant Consortium (NASA), US Air Force Research (AFRL/AFOSR), private foundations (FQXi and others) and the computer industry (Apple, IBM, Sony, Nvidia and others).


Caroline Mallary, a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has published a new model for a time machine in the journal Classical & Quantum Gravity. This new model does not require any negative mass exotic material and offers a very simple design.

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S02E04 Multiverses - With Professor Ken Olum + Professor Yasunori Nomura

Professor Yasunori Nomura is the director of the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He also serves as a senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a principal investigator at Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo. He received his Ph.D from the University of Tokyo in 2000. After serving as a Miller research fellow at University of California, Berkeley and as an Associate Scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, he was appointed to the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in 2003. Professor Nomura is a leading theoretical physicist working on particle physics, quantum gravity, and cosmology. He developed theories of grand unification in higher dimensional spacetime and constructed the first realistic composite Higgs model in which the Higgs boson arises from a symmetry breaking. He also proposed that the eternally inflating multiverse is the same thing as quantum many worlds. Professor Nomura is a recipient of the DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, Hellman Faculty Fund Award, Simons Fellowship in Theoretical Physics, and Fellowship of the American Physical Society.


Ken Olum is a research professor at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, USA. He got his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Stanford in 1982, worked as a computer programmer, then went to graduate school in physics at MIT and received his Ph.D. in 1997. Since then he has worked in the Tufts Institute of Cosmology, first as a postdoc and then as a research faculty member. His research interests include cosmic strings, in particular as a source of gravitational waves, the possibility of time travel and other exotic phenomena in general relativity, and anthropic reasoning in cosmology, in particular how to make sense of a universe or multiverse so large that it contains duplicate copies of us.

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S02E05 Time travel - With Dr Paul M. Sutter

For those who want to know how the universe works, Paul M. Sutter is a new, fresh voice in science communication. An astrophysicist, author, speaker, producer, and on-air host everywhere from podcasts to TV, Paul strives to bring science to new audiences. By breaking down formidable concepts, emphasizing the human and artistic aspects of the scientific process, and making science accessible with his characteristic conversational, humorous approach, Paul is the one and only Agent to the Stars!


An established scientist, Paul has authored over 60 academic papers on topics ranging from the earliest moments of the Big Bang, to the emptiest places in the universe, to novel methods for detecting the first stars. He received his PhD in Physics in 2011 as a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellow, and prior to his current position he held research fellowships in Paris and Italy. He has given over 100 seminars, colloquia, and conference talks at institutions around the world.

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