Ozone Disaster Redux

Scientists in 1985 discovered something that threatened the world we live in:

The ozone layer had a hole in it.

A big one. And this hole was growing very quickly. If it continued to grow, the consequences would be dire.

Presented with the science, world leaders came up with an international agreement. The Montreal Protocol, as the treaty was called, may elicit shrugs today. But it staved off disaster for Earth. It was a remarkable success story, and our planet today would be a very different place if not for the Montreal Protocol and the so-called “blue sky” scientific research — research for curiosity’s sake — that led to the discovery of the rapid deterioration of the ozone layer, and its causes

In this episode, we return to a program originally broadcast in January 2017 — one that is perhaps even more relevant today.

Orbital Path is from PRX and produced by David Schulman. Justin O’Neill produced this episode. Orbital Path is edited by Andrea Mustain, with production oversight by John Barth and Genevieve Sponsler. Hosted by Dr. Michelle Thaller.

Support for Orbital Path is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science, technology, and economic performance.

Fireside Physics: A Solstice on Saturn?

In this darkest season of the year, Dr. Michelle Thaller and NASA astronomer Andrew Booth curl up by the fire. Gazing into the embers, red wine in hand, they consider the meaning of the winter solstice — on other planets.

Like Uranus, where parts of the planet go 42 earth years without seeing the sun. Or Mars, where winters are made colder by an orbit politely described as “eccentric.” Or Saturn — where winter’s chill is deepened by the shadow of the planet’s luminous rings. 

Marshmallow, anyone?


Orbital Path is produced by David Schulman. The program is edited by Andrea Mustain. Production oversight by John Barth and Genevieve Sponsler. Hosted by Dr. Michelle Thaller.

Photo credit: NASA

Winter’s Night Sky

These days, astrophysicists like Dr. Michelle Thaller use instruments to probe the distant reaches of our galaxy, and far beyond. They use interferometry, the Hubble space telescope, and other technology impossible to imagine when the constellations of the winter sky were named.

But, as the season changes and Orion returns to view, Michelle still finds plenty of wonder left for us to see — even with the naked eye — in the cold, clear air of a winter’s night.



Orbital Path is produced by David Schulman (who returns this episode to answer Michelle’s questions about his recent alleged alien abduction). The program is edited by Andrea Mustain. Production oversight by John Barth and Genevieve Sponsler. Hosted by Michelle Thaller.



Photo credit: abductee# 29JE0391-RL-4S