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BTN LiveBIG: Iowa grad student attempts to unravel secrets of the universe

Space: The Final Frontier. That iconic phrase opened every episode of the original Star Trek series, which featured a team of intrepid space explorers that included the colorful, quotable Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Today, another McCoy is exploring new parts of outer space, even if he’s not actually going there. That would be Jake McCoy, an astrophysics graduate student at the University of Iowa who was recently selected for a three-year NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. It’s hard for even the brightest scientific minds to break into NASA’s orbit, but McCoy managed it on his first attempt. “It was the

BTN LiveBIG: Big Ten professors helping NASA look for life on other worlds

Coming out of the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution of the 18th century, scholars understood two things their predecessors hadn’t known about the universe: It’s incredibly vast, and the Earth isn’t at the center of it. Together, these realizations started a new vein of inquiry in the sciences and beyond, one that boiled down to a single question — is there life out there? Finding the answer to that question has captured the human imagination ever since. Encounters with extraterrestrials have been featured in works from artists ranging from H.G. Wells to Steven Spielberg. And scientific programs to find life of any

BTN LiveBIG: Ohio State student is no 'space oddity'

More than 30 years ago, Sally Ride became the first American woman and the youngest-ever astronaut to travel to space. Today, Jillian Yuricich, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering at Ohio State, wants to follow in the footsteps of Ride and 57 other women who’ve made that journey. Though it’s a relatively small, exclusive group, Yuricich is confident that she’ll be joining their ranks soon. And thanks to their pioneering efforts, the trails she’ll be blazing will be mostly above the stratosphere. “I never felt alienated from my interests because of my gender,” she said. “I just follow my dreams.