The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) allows scientists to peer 13.5 billion years into the past and photograph the origins of the universe. In the short time it has been in space, its images have changed what we know about the birth of stars, how galaxies form and what makes up the atmospheres of the nearest planets.

The latest episode of It’s (Probably) Not Rocket Science explores images and early results from the telescope with John Mather, Nobel Laureate and the Webb telescope’s senior project scientist emeritus, and Tony Hull, an adjunct professor in the UNM Department of Physics & Astronomy and the former JWST program manager at Tinsley.

Mather explains the science behind some of the most captivating images taken by Webb and what they mean. The conversation with Mather also covers whether or not we might find aliens, what astrophysicists think about astrology and what the most accurate space movie is (the answer may surprise you).

The second half of the podcast hones in on the spectacular collaborative efforts required to build the Webb telescope, which required decades of complex work from nearly 20,000 people. Tony Hull, an adjunct professor in the UNM Department of Physics and Astronomy, led the team charged with polishing the 18 multi-million dollar mirrors in the telescope down to the atomic level. If a single mirror had been dropped or damaged the entire project could’ve been set back years, but Hull recounts how putting people first and emphasizing the expertise of those doing the touch labor helped make the project a success. Hull, who is an expert in optics, also provides his best practices for how to clean your cell phone.

You won’t want to miss this special podcast episode produced for Lobo Day 2024 to help celebrate the many researchers and academic disciplines that help us better understand our vast universe.

Watch the episode on YouTube or listen to It’s (Probably) Not Rocket Science on SpotifyApple Podcasts, or anywhere else you get your podcasts. Learn more about the show on and follow it on ⁠Instagram⁠ and ⁠TikTok.

To read an in-depth feature involving Mather and the James Webb Space Telescope, visit Galactic Revelations: James Webb Space Telescope unveils preliminary findings with Nobel Laureate John Mather.