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Podcast: The Music of Science

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The evening of November 2, 2009 was the world premiere of “Cosmic Reflection,” an orchestral composition inspired by one of NASA’s satellites, in Washington, DC. This opus began as a simple prelude inspired by (and performed by a brass quintet at) the launch of the GLAST mission. To celebrate the first birthday of this satellite (since renamed Fermi), composer Dr. Nolan Gasser wrote a symphony which uses music to aurally portray the history of the universe.

We were able to go backstage at the Kennedy Center on the day of the performance to speak to a few of the people involved in this project, including the composer, the producer, a NASA scientist, and the “voice” of Cosmic Reflection.

More about Cosmic Reflection

Watch the GLAST Prelude:

If you’d like to read more about how Cosmic Reflection came to be, check out these websites:

Cosmic Reflection was performed by the Boston University Symphony. There is more information about the ensemble here:

More information about the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope is available here:

Host Sara Mitchell
Guests Nolan Gasser
Pierre Schwob
Peter Michelson
Carey Harrison
Interviewers Sara Mitchell
Maggie Masetti
Editor Sara Mitchell
Theme Music Naked Singularity
Additional Music Nolan Gasser
Transcript Eric Winter
Maggie Masetti
Website Support Meredith Gibb
Maggie Masetti
Producer Sara Mitchell
Responsible NASA Official Kim Weaver

The “Featured Image” for this podcast was used with permission and is credited to Michael Lutch. It shows David Hoose conducting the Boston University Symphony Orchestra.


  • Tavi Greiner says:

    The idea of music illustrating the history of our Universe is intriguing. I can imagine that such a piece could even reveal its creator’s own perception of the Cosmos.

    I’d love to hear a composition created from the various “sounds” of our Universe, such as Jupiter’s radio waves and the Sun’s acoustical pressure waves.

  • quarkspin says:

    As someone who plays in a local orchestra, it is always interesting to me to see how the arts can be used to convey a message, a concept or information. The golden record aboard Voyager, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, The Art of Exploration painting for MRO and a simple photograph of an astronaut’s bootprint on the Moon are all great examples. To tackle GLAST in this way must have been a pretty daunting task!

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