a16z Podcast

From Big Bang to James Webb: Exploring Space with Nobel Laureate John Mather

Steph Smith and John Mather

Posted August 18, 2023

From artificial limbs to memory foam, many inventions have emerged from our quest to understand the cosmos.

In this episode we explore cosmic history, space’s impact on technology, and the enduring human fascination with space exploration. To take us on this journey is astrophysicist John Mather, a Nobel Prize winner for his work on the COBE satellite and a key figure in the James Webb Space Telescope project.

Prepare to be intrigued and left with a sense of wonder about the universe’s influence on our world.

Show Notes

00:00 –  Innovations through the pursuit of space

03:52– John’s early life

06:44 – Proving The Big Bang Theory

13:30 – The mysteries of quantum mechanics

15:10 –  Leading the James Webb Telescope

17:12 – Images from James Webb

20:32 – Are we alone?

24:20 – New telescopes

25:18 – Engineering in space for earth

29:31 –  What would you like to see solved in your lifetime?

32:24 – What came before The Big Bang?

25:04 – Misconceptions about space

37:17 – Can humans be a multiplanetary species?

38:20 – Private vs public spending in space

40:24 – What’s the future of space exploration?