The SkySimplified Podcast

Join host Pranet Sharma as he explores astronomy through the lens of various fields.

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Welcome to my podcast! I love combining fields to see what fascinating amalgamations result from their overlap. Given as such, the theme of this podcast is exploring astronomy through various perspectives—even some that you may be surprised by! So take a listen and enjoy the ride.

[S2] Episode 14: Exploring Astronomy Through the Eyes of Physics

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Larry Gladney | Join host Pranet Sharma for the first podcast episode recorded and produced in person! Meet Dr. Larry Gladney, the Yale University FAS Dean of Science and Phyllis A. Wallace Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development (as well as an accomplished experimentalist with a remarkable amount of breakthroughs to his name) to discuss the perspectives that physics has on astronomy and pursue the fundamental questions of the cosmos. Topics include: Difficult journeys through science, the transition from astrophysics to experimentation, the advent of particle accelerators, general relativity vs. quantum mechanics, the difficulty in quantizing gravity, a conflict in predictions, our philosophical assumptions about the universe, exploring the next big thing in physics, building bigger accelerators or building bigger telescopes, how telescope technology was easier to develop than accelerator technology, the limitations and benefits of the James Webb Space Telescope, the potential of the Vera Rubin Observatory, the argument ground-based telescopes and the power of surveys, the power of citizen science and crowdsourced data analysis, quantum entanglement and string theory, how persistence and optimism for the long-term is the most important element in any successful story, and why it is so essential that we evolve along with science. Visit to read more about the Vera Rubin Observatory—one of Dr. Gladney’s projects.

Episode 13: Exploring Astronomy Through the Eyes of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Thad Leister and Dr. John Zino | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down for the first-ever double feature! Meet Dr. Thad Leister, a chemical engineer in the industry, and Dr. John Zino, a nuclear engineer in the industry and a professor at NC State University, as we discuss the intersection of astronomy and chemical/nuclear engineering. Topics include: how nuclear power is within society, medical and military applications of nuclear science, how nuclear science is essential for oncology, the applications of chemical engineering, how nuclear science laid the foundation for cosmology, fusion, and spacecraft, sustaining thermonuclear reactions, spectroscopy and element identification, the ethics of science redux, cosmic radiation and ionization, the interdisciplinary impacts of astronomy, how fission is critical for astronomy, how radiation is the biggest barrier to overcome for interplanetary travel, nuclear propulsion techniques, nuclear power in submarines vs. in spacecraft, surface and propulsion reactors, and why interdisciplinarity is the most important cornerstone of education.

Episode 12: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of a Computational Chemist

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Dean Tantillo | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Dr. Dean Tantillo, a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Davis, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and computational chemistry. Topics include: LEGOs and computational chemistry, the intersection between computational chemistry and astrophysics, how the universe creates compounds that do not occur naturally on Earth, how carbon breaks the rules (but not really!), constant quantum motion, how the quantum world has the most intersection between astrophysics and chemistry, quantum tunneling, computational advancement, the importance of molecular study, accessibility in chemistry and astrophysics, utilization of tactile models, sonification techniques in both astronomy and chemistry, multisensory scientific discovery, how we are simply physics and chemistry, fusion machines in space, and the importance of self-reflection to science.

Episode 11: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of a Biomedical Engineer

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Ashwin Ramachandran | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Dr. Ashwin Ramchandran, a biomedical engineer and a postdoc at Princeton University, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and biomedical engineering. Topics include: the interdisciplinary nature of engineering, how engineering is essential for maintaining spacecraft integrity, the ways that understanding human perception is necessary for journeys in space, why the core biology of humans is necessary to be understood for astrophysical endeavors, how biology and astronomy share their core in the understanding of microscopic and macroscopic ideals respectively, how fluid dynamics is the cornerstone connecting biomedical engineering and astrophysics, the various dimensionality of fluids and their applicability, Navier-Stokes, the ways that physics is essential for biology's development, the importance of considering science as a large field on its own, and why one should always be fearless in following one's passions. Space Agencies: | | |

Episode 10: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of an Organic Chemist

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Hoby Wedler | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Dr. Hoby Wedler, an organic chemist and entrepreneur, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and organic chemistry. Topics include: visualization of organic chemistry, the modeling power of the human brain, connections between visualizing chemistry and visualizing the universe, the shared boundlessness of chemistry and astrophysics, theoretical foundations of science, exploration of spectroscopy and energetics, multiple-wavelength studies, the power of light, how astronomy is the progenitor of chemistry, the importance of supernovae to elemental creation, all humans are stardust, conservation of mass and energy and transformation of matter, theories of the structure of the universe, relative sizes across chemistry and astrophysics, electrostatic repulsion, the reconciliation of quantum mechanics and general relativity, how telescopes (and organic compounds!) are time machines, and why it is so important to never stop learning. Dr. Wedler's Website:, all social media @hobywedler

Episode 9: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of a Historian

by Pranet Sharma w/ Daniel Alexi | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Daniel Alexi, a historian at the Town Creek Indian Mound in North Carolina, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and history. Topics include: the beauty of the stars, how astronomy has been instrumental in influencing almost every major historical event, the importance of communication in science and the humanities, the delicate joy of self-discovery of science, the art of astrophotography, the required artistry in various facets of the science, how history affects astronomy, and why looking up at the sky is one of the most important things anyone can do. Town Creek Indian Mound:

Episode 8: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of an Engineer

by Pranet Sharma w/ Shannen Prindle | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Shannen Prindle, a Princeton student majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and engineering. Topics include: the way biology transitions into physics, how engineering can facilitate biology research, the way that developments in engineering are shaped by science, how astronomy provides engineering to bring the future into the present, how engineering acts as an inhibitor to uncontrolled advances, the way that all engineering branches are connected to each other and are the same at their core, why the humanities are essential for engineering and astronomy, how the commercialization of space travel and the introduction of microservices benefits research, why rovers are the best hybrid of astronomy and engineering, and why following your passion—no matter what combination of interests you have—is the most important thing. Thank you for listening, and as always, clear skies! Shannen's Twitter: @shannenp7

Episode 7: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of a Journalist

by Pranet Sharma w/ Mark Dodici | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Mark Dodici, a Princeton student and writer for The Daily Princetonian, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and journalism. Topics include: the intersectionality between journalism and astrophysics, how science communication is essential for the development of astronomy, how journalism furthers the public perception of science, how mass media is powerful for scientific exploration, how being science communicators improves journalists, why science fosters better writing skills, moments where astronomy is relevant to the public because of journalism’s influence, and why presenting knowledge is just as important as finding it. The Daily Princetonian:

Episode 6: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of an Evolutionary Biologist

by Pranet Sharma w/ Maya Mishra | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Maya Mishra, a Princeton junior and evolutionary biology major, to discuss the intersection of astronomy and biology. Topics include: the insights provided by astrobiology, the big questions of humanity, our reliance on specific conditions, the physiognomy of alien life, the existence of extraterrestrial life, communication techniques, phosphine and its relevance, the potentiality of human interplanetary travels, human life on a different planet in the future, growing crops and agriculture on different planets, the importance of water, the start of evolution and genetic information, the RNA world, the beauty of life and the fleeting nature of existence, and the approachability of astronomers. Curiosity Rover Blog:

Episode 5: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of a Robotics Software Engineer

by Pranet Sharma w/ Rishi Sundaresan | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Rishi Sundaresan, an employee of Google's Waymo and an MIT graduate, to discuss the overlap between astronomy and robotics software engineering. Topics include: the four steps of robotic perception, how astronomy research and exploration uses similar methods, the next big problem in robotics, how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be utilized in exploration, the power of path-finding algorithms, interpolating vs. extrapolating data, the importance of test data having both quantity and quality, the power of feature detection, how neural networks have improved over time, and why robotics forms one of the most interesting crossroads in science.

Episode 4: Exploring Astronomy through the Eyes of a Graduate Student

by Pranet Sharma w/ Megan Masterson | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Megan Masterson, a graduate student working on her astrophysics Ph.D. at MIT to discuss an insider view of someone studying to become an astrophysicist. Topics include: the accessibility of astronomy and the multifaceted manners in which astronomy can be enjoyed, the inherent manner in which mathematics and computer science are ingrained into astronomy, the leaps and bounds in astronomy technology, LIGO and radio interferometry, how much there is still to find out about our universe, Einstein's incredible forethought, favorite research topics, syncretism in astronomy classes across science disciplines and humanities, astronomy's inherent philosophical foundation, the power of critical thinking and questioning, and how the curiosity and hope of the public can fuel astronomy's future.

Episode 3: Astronomy Through the Eyes of a Cryptography Engineer

by Pranet Sharma w/ Saroja Erabelli | Join host Pranet Sharma as he sits down with guest Saroja Erabelli, a cryptography engineer from MIT to discuss the potential overlaps of cryptography and astronomy. Topics include: encrypting satellite transmissions and communication, quantum cryptography, the physics of sending signals longer distances, the history of data encryption in space, the cryptography behind your GPS, astronomical financial transactions (and the rising importance of monetary encryption), the advent of quantum computing and its implication for cryptography, and why astronomy could be the next catalyst for cryptography's development. Thank you for listening, and as always, clear skies!

Episode 2: Astronomy Through the Eyes of an Astrophysicist

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Patrick Treuthardt | Dr. Patrick Treuthardt, the Assistant Head of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) discusses an insider view onto the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Topics include: the similarity and difference of astronomy and astrophysics, what astrophysics really means, education paths into astronomy and astrophysics, new developments in both fields, why astronomy matters, the unsung hero of astrophysics, potential for the future, and why getting a degree in astronomy is one of the best decisions you can make. To learn more about Dr. Treuthardt, please visit In order to get involved in the citizen science project Spiral Graph, please visit Thank you for listening, and as always, clear skies!

Episode 1: Astronomy Through the Eyes of a Philosopher

by Pranet Sharma w/ Dr. Andrew Cullison | Dr. Andrew Cullison, the Director of the Janet Prindle Institute of Ethics at DePauw University, discusses the overlaps of astronomy, ethics, and philosophy. Topics include: epistemology, the definition of good evidence, the ethics of astronomy, the relevance of astronomy, inference to the best explanation, the philosophy of extraterrestrial life, the ethics of technology companies, nation-state corporations, how philosophers make the best astronomers, the importance of philosophy and ethics in the future of astronomy, and how being a good scientist means being a good philosopher. To learn more about Dr. Cullison and his research, visit Thank you for listening, and as always, clear skies!

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