Guiding Skeptics to the Universe

By Phil Plait | July 19, 2009 8:23 am

Last week I recorded an interview with the gang of rogues at the Skeptics’ Guide the Universe. We talked Cassini, geysers on Iapetus Enceladus, gamma-rays from uranium on the Moon, panspermia, the lost Moon tapes, and then made fun of the TV show "Impact". And yes, I really did like "She Spies". The first season, at least.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy

Comments (21)

  1. Stone Age Scientist

    Which proves once and for all that not all dudes (including yours truly) have an aversion to watching chick flicks.

  2. jeez,

    I thought you put up a post about the latest Skeptics Circle.
    :)

  3. Flying sardines

    She Spies … with her little eye? ;-)

    Never heard of it – have you mentioned it here at all?

    And what do you have against the current Endeavour space shuttle ISS mission? ;-)
    I thought you would have talked about that some more on this blog.

    I gather thirteen people in space together is a record & its been covered in the Aussie newspapers but not here – why?

    I know, I know its your blog & you write what you want & fair enough but … I’m puzzled as to why this hasn’t had a bit more of a mention here, Phil.

    Has the ‘Endeavour’ done something to hurt or offend you or what? :-(

  4. Phil, it was Enceladus, not Iapetus, if my memory serves me well.

    BTW, that was a great SGU episode. I hope they’ll put you on more.

  5. Which one is a giant spaceship.;-)

  6. Asimov Fan

    @ # 3 Robert Madewell :

    I agree. The geysers are on Enceladus with its “tiger stripe” sulci (plural form of sulcus? Those blue cracks on its surface where the geysers are) and not Iapetus.

    (Iapetus’ old name was Japetus & it was the original location of the second Monolith in Arthur C.Clarke’s ‘Space Odyssey 2001′ novel btw.)

    @ 4 davidlpdf :

    According to John Varley’s novel ‘Titan’ (Futura, 1979) the giant living spaceship which Cirocco “Rocky” Jones & her partner Gaby explored was “Themis” – a wholy fictional living moon-sized spaceship. Great read btw! :-)

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_(John_Varley)

  7. “Phil is testing us. :) This isn’t the first time.”

    What happens to those who are unworthy?

  8. Stone Age Scientist

    What happens to those who are unworthy?

    The egos of those who passed get inplaited, while the egos of those who did not pass get deplaited.

  9. Oops! Mental typo on my part, so I fixed the moon.

    As far as Endeavour goes, I have been very busy and cannot follow the mission.

  10. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Well, that sucked. I can’t get the TSGTTU podcast to run without interruptions that makes it ineligible.

    Steve Novella on Neurologica blog:

    we have an “N” of 1. Until we start discovering life elsewhere we have no way of knowing what is common and what is rare when it comes to life.

    Well, not quite AFAIU.

    We know that (bio)chemistry of the universe is an additive process. Then any interruptions during abiogenesis will be a redraw of missing cards.

    Without having to pin down exactly which cards are missing, impossible due to contingency and likely several pathways, AFAIU one can use the gamblers model of Lineweaver et al anyway ["Does the Rapid Appearance of Life on Earth Suggest that Life Is Common in the Universe?" - CHARLES H. LINEWEAVER and TAMARA M. DAVIS]. And so ending up with quite an appreciable likelihood for life due to it occurring so rapidly on Earth.

    Of course one can object that this is hypothesizing that life is an inevitable consequence of biochemistry in a benign environment. But so seems to be the case when tested by abiotic synthesis of basic biomolecules. At the very least it seems to be a likely null hypothesis.

    Arguing the other way is then akin to argue for a non-evidential gap. And we all know what to think of such gaps. :-o

  11. Ryan Smith

    mmm, she spies. Now thats something I can believe in!

  12. Woof

    SGU servers seem to be Tango Uniform at the moment…

  13. PAN

    I couldn’t even watch ‘Impact’ it was so bad, and I really tried. On the other hand, “Meteor” is on tonight, part 2. I only started to watch it because it said it is starring Christopher LLoyd!… and then he dies about 10 minutes in, but we still have Jason Alexander! and that one guy that was in Ghostbusters, and Congo! And others!
    I think my favorite parts are when they are shooting down the meteors with stinger missiles, the definition of awesome. Go meteors! Take evasive action! I love it, they are pulverizing all the rocks into teeny tiny pieces, even the big 60 mile ones (there are two!), and this won’t cause to Earth to be pummeled by all the little pieces anyways because…..?

    Oh, right, it’s crap. The science in the show anyway, as a movie it’s better than Armageddon! I highly recommend this show to anyone who needs a good laugh, I’m not sure it’s meant to be a comedy but it sure seems like one. An awesome one.

    Tonight at 8! 7 central!

  14. Stone Age Scientist

    There goes the TEST theory. :)

  15. Flying sardines

    @ 10. Phil Plait Says:

    As far as Endeavour goes, I have been very busy and cannot follow the mission.

    Pity. :-(

    It’s doing pretty well & interesting IMHON.

    As I noted earlier (how did the post no.’s all get changed dang-nabbit?) we now have a grand total of thirteen people up in space & all in the combined (docked) Endeavour-ISS which I understand is some sort of record. I’d love to see your take on this BA. Hope it gets less busy & you find the time to do this soon-ish. Not that I’d dream of telling you what to post about o’course! ;-)

    But please …

  16. Stone Age Scientist

    Hi Flying Sardines,

    I’ve been intrigued by the romanticness of a “porch” in space. Somehow, the recently-installed Kibo facility conjured up to mind the movie “Up,” wherein a house with a small porch flew through the air by the use of balloons. Anyway, I just saw these vids at Space.com (if you haven’t seen them already). The vids give an overview of Japan’s Kibo lab in the ISS. Some nice animations for all ye peeps.

    http://www.space.com/common/media/video/player.php?videoRef=SP_090626_kibo1

    http://www.space.com/common/media/video/player.php?videoRef=SP_090626_kibo1

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Tango Uniform

    Thank the Web for the Urban Dictionary. And thanks Woof for the NSFW ROFL!

    we now have a grand total of thirteen people up in space

    And immediately (as I mentioned on another blog as among the most likely endangering phenomena of long term missions) a loo has gone poo. (And there are rumors, not necessarily true, about sharing problems on the remaining ones.)

    Space toilet technology must have some sort of record in untrustworthiness. Or is it what they feed astronauts? :-o

  18. 14. PAN Says:
    On the other hand, “Meteor” is on tonight, part 2. I only started to watch it because it said it is starring Christopher LLoyd!… and then he dies about 10 minutes in, but we still have Jason Alexander! and that one guy that was in Ghostbusters, and Congo! And others!
    I think my favorite parts are when they are shooting down the meteors with stinger missiles, the definition of awesome. Go meteors! Take evasive action! I love it, they are pulverizing all the rocks into teeny tiny pieces, even the big 60 mile ones (there are two!), and this won’t cause to Earth to be pummeled by all the little pieces anyways because…..?

    The guy from Ghostbusters (1 and 2) is Ernie Hudson. Also, Jason Alexander was killed off about 45 min into Part 2 (BTW, Chris Lloyd was killed at 30 min, including commercial breaks). I was also waiting to see if Stacy Keach would make it through the entire miniseries after Lloyd and Alexander were killed off.

    The FINAL SALVATION of the Earth is almost funny in watching the reactions to the technique… which is basically what I was expecting as the most efficient (for the situation) .

    The ‘epilogue’ to the show didn’t have something I would have liked to have seen (and people with sufficient math could explain why I wouldn’t get it…), which would be the remnants of Kassandra going into orbit and creating a ‘second moon’.

    Heck, I’ve also got all the Godzilla and Gamera movies.. plus some that make Plan 9 look like Casablanca!

    J/P=?

  19. Flying sardines

    @ 17. Stone Age Scientist : THX. :-)

  20. I’m a scientist now, and helped instill in me and all my siblings a love of science and space. My memories of collector-solar.com Apollo are inextricably entangled with memories of my father from back then too. So to me, Apollo is personal.

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