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Scientists Venture Into ‘The Most Unknown’

The new film “The Most Unknown” from Motherboard is both documentary and experiment. It takes viewers on a stunning visual journey into surprising corners of the world and follows along as nine scientists meet for the first time.

The researchers are from disparate backgrounds: one studies time, another microbes, and yet another dark matter. What ties their stories together is their pursuit for answers to some of the biggest human questions: What is consciousness? How did life on earth begin? And how do planets and stars emerge from the dark abyss?

Rachel Smith is a Raleigh-based astronomer featured in the film who is tackling that last question. The film crew follows her to Mauna Kea in Hawaii where she introduces another scientist to her work using infrared imaging to track down baby stars. Later she heads to Costa Rica as the guest at an ocean-research station and plunges to the depth of the sea in a submersible.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Smith about her experience working on the film. Smith is an observational astronomer with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and the curator of the museum’s meteorite collection.

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Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.