Third pod from the sun

Third Pod from the Sun is the American Geophysical Union’s podcast about the scientists and methods behind the science. These are stories that you won’t read in a manuscript or hear in a lecture.


E1 – Parking Lot Lava:

In a parking lot behind the Comstock Art Facility at Syracuse University, geologist Jeff Karson and sculptor Bob Wysocki cook up something almost unimaginable – homemade lava. Using a gas furnace the size of a small truck, the two professors melt gravel typically used for roadbeds into hot molten rock that they pour onto sand to recreate natural lava flows seen in places like Hawaii, Iceland and Italy.

In this episode, listen to Bob and Jeff describe their eight-year lava-making journey, from googling “how to buy basalt” to pouring hot lava into the cavity of a frozen chicken. Learn what Jeff has discovered about the dynamics of volcanic eruptions and hear how Bob has turned pouring lava into an artistic performance. And finally, find out what happens when a scientist and an artist team up to create something truly unique and spectacular.

Watch a video of the duo’s lava pours on the AGU YouTube channel and read more about their story on


Nanci BompeyNanci is the manager of AGU’s public information department, where she oversees publicity of new AGU research and the organization’s social media channels. Prior to coming to AGU in 2013, Nanci was a managing editor at FDA Week, a weekly publication covering the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, DC., and a health care and environment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times in North Carolina. Nanci’s reporting has been recognized by the North Carolina Press Association and the Education Writers Association, and she was a National Press Foundation 2012-2013 Paul Miller Fellow. She has also worked as a chemist at a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey. Nanci holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Colgate University.

Shane M HanlonShane is part of AGU’s Sharing Science program (@AGU_SciComm) where he helps scientists explain their research to non-scientists. He is a science communicator, ecologist by training, science-policy, advocate, educator, and storyteller. His love of science led him to study frogs and turtles, a PhD in conservation biology, a couple science-policy fellowships, and his current gigs with AGU and has a host/producer of the DC branch of the science storytelling organization The Story Collider. Find him @EcologyOfShane and