About The Show

Let me ask you a question, "Do you know what happens when you put a cow into space?"

Depending on your personality, you will go about answering this question in one of two ways:

The first response is to laugh at the absurdity of it and respond, "I don't know, it will probably explode - space is not a very nice place for cows." You're thinking of cartoons where an astronaut takes off a helmet. More importantly, you're open-minded and interested, and the person asking the question might have already done the research or have a story to tell, so you throw it back, "Do you know what would happen?"

The second response is to take a funny hypothetical completely seriously, using known science experiments and case studies to hypothesize what would happen. Then a few days later you come back as if the question had just been asked and begin to lay out what you think would happen in the first 5 seconds, then in the next 25 seconds, then in the next minute... In fact, you're probably ready to give a lecture on the subject. 

In either case, a purely hypothetical scenario has made you ready to learn and has fostered a new conversation. This is precisely what our two hosts want to do as we explore questions related to life, health, and physiology in the most extreme environment possible - space. 

In fact, this mission statement reveals the double meaning behind the show's name.

Demystifying the Spherical Cow

First, a Spherical Cow is a joke from theoretical physics - poking fun at the limits of scientific models. Complex phenomena are very hard to simulate and even understand. So physicists, economists, and other scientists have been known to simplify objects down to spheres, leave out terms in calculations, and ignore friction - at least in initial theories.

Since we'll be talking about cutting edge or even theoretical science and engineering topics we know that sometimes our conversations will be far out and, hopefully, the name will remind us to bring things down to Earth. In each interview, we will ask our guests for advice on how to follow in their footsteps and thereby make careers in space sciences and industries more tangible for our audience.

Second, a spherical cow helps answer the question I asked at the beginning. While it will not explode, the cow would begin to swell and become rounder. The lack of atmosphere around the cow means that the air inside will begin to expand. This would be the worse case of the bends and so the cow would swell up until its skin stretches enough that the air cannot expand further. So it wouldn't be a perfect sphere but it would start to look like an over-inflated cow. 

A little intense and please know that no cows (or other animals) were harmed in the making of this show. We hope to tackle the interesting hypotheticals proposed by "Space Medicine" with serious science and case studies and will always work to include links to relevant articles and interview top-rate academics working in the sciences and humanities that help us ask these questions in the first place.

Our Hosts

Nick and Dominic met in fall 2018 as volunteer counselors for a charity summer camp. Unbeknownst to them during that humid 2018 summer - they both shared a love for teaching and importantly the intersection of biology and space. After this initial meeting, and a NASA Internship, they would go on to build an in-person seminar course at their university on Space Medicine. This course eventually became the first-ever undergraduate taught digital course and will always be freely available as an introduction to Space Medicine: https://www.coursera.org/learn/space-medicine-duke 

Dominic Tanzillo

Dominic first came to the field of space medicine from his work as an EMT. In college he worked alongside flight nurses and paramedics and learned about the fascinating application of protecting the lives of patients, as an ascending helicopter meant increased g-Forces, changing oxygen in the air, and dropping temperatures. In these extremes, the science of emergency medicine is pushed to its limit.

From there, he applied to NASA Internships and in the spring and summer of 2020 worked at Johnson Space Center and worked with Nick to build the initial course syllabus. After working with a NASA contractor to build medical devices and software, he's off to medical school in the fall of 2022.

Nick Saba

Nick has always held an interest in the universe beyond our atmosphere. He entered college with hopes of creating his own major in Astrobiology, an emerging field he discovered in his research with the EPA and the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute. Times changed and Nick ended up graduating with a degree in Genomics, but he never lost his interest in space - having researched how environments have and will affect the evolution of the human genome.

He was explaining one of his papers concerning the changes space exhibits on extremophile DNA when he connected with Dominic. Their mutual passion guided him to the world of space medicine, and the two of them establish a learning environment for space enthusiasts around the globe. Apart from this journey, Nick currently works as a Bioinformatics Data Analyst at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and hopes to one day pursue a master’s and join the Space Industry.