Long news

Started on project Catch Up Chronologically To The Podcasts I Subscribe To [on 2015-0-17]. This is something I have attempted a few times since 2012, periodically restarting as I devise more satisfying (i.e. completist) ways of going about it. The furthest I got was covering the span from 2005 to early 2008, by the close of 2013. Since then I have gone through a few restarts and fads but hope to have finally settled on a scheme which will stick. The last few iterations have mostly been refining spreadsheets and completeness of archival access but I think I have hit a limit on that - the most recent reset based on having the inspiration that otherwise inaccessible back episodes of SETI Radio might have been uploaded to the Internet Archive and indeed they were - although not I think by the artists themselves. Rather, it appears to be the work of some audience member who has uploaded a few other radio shows (consequently there appear to be a few missing episodes but as they are so far as I know genuinely inaccessible this does not bother me as much as I feared it might).

Currently it is a bit lonely all the way back in 2002 where the only accessible show from my subscriptions is Planetary Radio [this show was not part of the 2005-2008 set as its RSS feed does not include episodes from so far in the past, and originally RSS was the standard I was going by]. There are at least two other shows from my subscriptions that were airing at the time - The Naked Scientists, and SETI Radio's Are We Alone? - but the episodes for one cannot be downloaded for that period and for the other, those episodes appear to have disappeared off the internet entirely. So Planetary Radio it is.

The show starts off a bit timid, a bit shaky. At first the guests are all people with strong connections to the Planetary Society - the guests for the first two shows are society's Executive Director and Director of Projects, respectively. Then David Anderson of the SETI@Home project, which they helped get off the ground, and a conversation with Freeman Dyson recorded when he had visited their offices a couple of months previous. What I am saying is, it takes a little while to develop into the fun, consistent show I remember from two previous attempts at this project.

It was interesting even in the very first episode from November 2002 hearing mention of missions which are current and active right now - the two Mars Exploration Rovers (not yet named Spirit and Opportunity, but they did promote their competition for kids to name them!), and New Horizons - both of which had not yet launched at the time of airing. Also a bit of question-raising about whether Pluto is or is not a planet, but at the time they suggested the question could wait for the probe to visit before we decide.

Last episode of the year shifts into the more familiar format, with Emily Lakdawalla doing Questions & Answers instead of Random Space Facts, and random space facts being moved to the concluding What's Up segment, along with the introduction of the trivia contest. Bruce Betts and Matt Kaplan relaxing into their roles gradually which, their banter is a lot of what makes Planetary Radio so fun for me to listen to. I wonder how much this may have changed in the future beyond my previous listenings (somewhere in 2006 I think...)?

At the time of writing this I left off listening part-way through the 2003-01-20 episode in which the interview is about a joint Palestinian-Israeli student experiment aboard the shuttle Columbia. That always gives me chills because at the time they recorded and broadcast the mission was already doomed and no one knew it. So they talk excitedly of anticipated results and how they hope the mission might be remembered. My feelings about that episode are also shifted by having read earlier this year the two autobiographical volumes [I Saw Ramallah; I Was Born There, I Was Born Here] by Mourid Barghouti about his experiences as a Palestinian and returning to Palestine after having lived in exile.

The last episode of 2002 also featured a guest who I think is the first to not be affiliated with the Planetary Society, Andre Bormanis "Star Trek writer and consultant". I felt a bit embarrassed to learn he would occasionally incorporate elements such as a neutron microscope in one episode of Enterprise, knowing that by current understanding such a technology is nonsensical but wanting to suggest the greater advancement of the period, or to get the audience pondering how it might become possible - since that is the sort of element I likely would scoff at. Although transporters are pretty impossible-seeming too and I do not scoff at those, so what is with this line-drawing?

Also, one of the Q&A segments was on what would happen to an astronaut suddenly exposed to vacuum. The focus in that answer was on water vapourisation due to decompression and forecast likely unconsciousness in about 10 seconds, which I think is rather harsh compared against other attempts at assessing what would happen. That answer did come from a NASA medical specialist so it probably has a lot of substance behind it, but it seems strange to me that - as my impression is - there seems not a lot of agreement about what would happen to a person in a vacuum or how survivable an experience it might be. I suppose perhaps we have very limited data on this, which is probably a good thing.

Not planning to write about every single episode of everything as I listen, but I do want to write about anything that stands out to me or inspires me to want to say something. That is, as you might put it, a goal here.

So what else? The music used for about the first year gives me strong Sim City SNES vibes. Last night I ended up taking a break from writing this for a few hours because I was swept up in a passion and determined inspiration to make another attempt at tracking down 'lost' back archives for a few other podcasts and I succeeded on two of them: Science Talk (Scientific American) and House to Astonish. The latter was actually only a solveable problem since the beginning of this month when they uploaded their first 50 episodes to the Internet Archive. The former I could have solved at any time if I had only thought a bit more carefully and put my search skills to use. I had been too focused on finding the episodes within the website hosting them, when it is actually far more effective to use a search engine to search within the site on a specified date range. And now I can rest a bit easier.