World renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking died early Wednesday morning in Cambridge at age 76. The visionary scientist is best known for his work with black holes, general relativity, and quantum mechanics, but as physicist Adam Frank says, Hawking’s story is about more than the science. At age 22, Hawking was diagnosed with ALS and given only a few years to live. He used a wheelchair and a voice synthesizer to speak. As Frank says, Hawking’s story is about the triumph of the human spirit and the ability to push at the frontier.

Our guests discuss his life and work:

  • Brian Koberlein, senior lecturer of physics at RIT
  • Roger Dube, research professor and director of the Science Exploration Program at RIT
  • Mike Campbell, director of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester
  • Adam Frank, astrophysicist at the University of Rochester, and contributor to NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture blog

It's a name you haven't heard, but Dave Stevenson is a "legend" in the world of interplanetary science. That's according to the U of R's own Adam Frank.

Stevenson is visiting Rochester for a series of lectures this week, and our discussion covers the very nature of how planets are formed, and where life can exist. It's particularly poignant, as human beings continue to struggle with the climate on our own planet. Is there anywhere else we could go hang out for a while?

In studio:

NASA researchers recently announced that they've discovered the future home of Earthlings, after climate change leaves this planet uninhabitable. Okay, not exactly, but it's a tantalizing discovery: a star system not too far away with seven Earth-like planets.

Should we be looking to the stars for future homes? Could we ever get to this star system in a human lifetime? The RIT Science Exploration students are learning to predict what type of life might appear on exoplanets -- if there's life there at all. Our guests:

  • Brian Koberlein, senior lecturer of physics at RIT
  • Roger Dube, research professor and director of the Science Exploration Program at RIT

Our Monthly Science Roundtable looks at gravitational waves. The remarkable story of the first detection of gravitational waves confirms that Einstein was right, which is not exactly news, but in this case it was: Einstein figured these waves exist, but he also figured that we'd never be able to build anything sensitive enough to detect them. So in that sense, Einstein was wrong.

Our panel explains what the waves are, how we detected them, where they came from, and what we might discover next. And there happens to be local connections, which we explain as well. Our guests:

Who is the single best science communicator in the world today? On the short list of candidates is Brian Greene, whom the Washington Post calls the "single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today." Greene is a physicist, an author, co-founder of the World Science Festival, and the host of The Fabric of the Cosmos on PBS. He's coming to Rochester later this month as a guest for NEXUS-NY Clean Energy Demo Day, where he'll be talking about the scientific possibilities for innovation.

Greene will be joined on Connections by Doug Buerkle, Executive Director of NEXUS-NY.

We landed a probe on a comet. How in the world did we do that?

In November, the Rosetta spacecraft completed a 10-year journey to catch up to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Then it dropped a little probe on the surface. It hasn't all gone as intended. We'll learn what's happened to the probe and what Rosetta is teaching us about the comet with Michael Richmond, a professor of physics at RIT and the next speaker in the lecture series at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.