Are We Alone, of DEATH

By Phil Plait | May 3, 2011 2:00 pm

This week’s episode of the SETI radio program "Are We Alone" is up, complete with my semi-regular contribution to the segment "Skeptic Check". The show’s theme is apocalyptic scenarios real and imagined, so astronomer Seth Shostak and I talk about various forms of both. Supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, slamming into molecular clouds, the death of the Universe, and of course the Mayan 2012 end times-o-rama.

The whole show is pretty cool, so go check out the Are We Alone page, or if you’re impatient you can just directly download the MP3.

Related posts:

Supermoon Skeptic Check
Are We Alone Skeptic Check: Tyche, or not Tyche
Are We Alone, Death by Betelgeuse edition
Skeptic Check: Power bands

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, DeathfromtheSkies!

Comments (14)

  1. Hey, Skeptic Check sounds like a great TV show or something. Nah, maybe Bad Universe would be better? ūüėÄ

  2. Josh

    Can’t we just do a Skeptic Check on SETI itself?

  3. MBlueD

    I was revisiting some old stuff when I came across this little nugget. My eyes watered and I felt a moment of incredible envy. Since I love you all here’s the link (mercury 6 mission, first earth orbit):

    You might want to start reading the transcript from the beginning if you haven’t already, to get a real feeling for the situation.

  4. It would be nice to see an evenhanded application of skepticism, instead of just using it as a weapon against things we think are absurd.

  5. F. Mulder

    The truth is out there, Josh.

  6. Jamie

    Caledonian, if scepticism is applied properly then it is unbiased and anything that cannot stand up it do it does not deserve to be spared. Being a sceptic is not about going around bursting peoples bubbles, it’s about having a method of keeping the absurdity out of your world view.

  7. Monkey

    Ive said it before, and I ll say it again – Are We Alone is one of the nicest, most entertaining and informative podcasts out there. There are many good ones out there of course, but whenever AWA comes on my mp3 player I get that giddy feeling. Really, really going to miss this if it falls prey to the SETI funding problems.

    And skeptic check is an amazing part of the show….perhaps too short?


    Good thoughts – I like to think of skepticism as being windshield wipers. Wiping away all the dirt and rain (pseudo-reality) that blocks your view through the clear glass (reality). Everybody’s windshield has a bit of debris here and there (I mean, we all harbour some questionable beliefs somewhere, perhaps we just havent had the opportunity to look at them yet) but overall the job of the wipers (skepticism) is to clear away the junk so we can move forward safely, quickly and in the right direction.

    You can take others for a ride in your car and show them the clear view, but you cant make them use wipers themselves. Like the horse and water idiom. Teaching, education and all the stuff that we, who think the real world is just simply cool enough, put our efforts into can work some magic, too.


    Sure, go for it. I wonder how you would….

  8. Okay Josh, I’ll play your game.

    As much as I love SETI, I predict that we won’t find any intelligent life out there using our current technology. As even our own technology is indicating, we are becoming less and less detectable by going to compressed digital formats, and using technology like fiber optics. Even the Areciebo Observatory would have a hard time detecting our civilization from the obit of Pluto.

    That said, the first Model T didn’t go 55 MPG. The wright flier never broke Mach 1. Freedom 7 never got near the moon.

    So your point is? Sometimes things are worth doing for the journey, and perhaps what they teach us about ourselves in the process.

    That said, given what we know of chemistry, physics, biology, etc, I do predict that we will answer the question in the future, and I also predict that the answer will be that we are not alone.

  9. Matthew Saunders


    just imagine in the future, humanity will actually be SOLVING these nifty problems, like how to survive a gamma ray burst. Who knows, maybe there will be a sport where people can surf a nova? :)

  10. CB

    Dr. Phil, Off topic but this seems to be consistent with your preference for defining seasons:

  11. whoschad

    I’m skeptical of Jamie’s definition. In fact I’m skeptical of skepticism (this makes me the greatest skeptic EVAR!)
    Seriously though, skepticism as a system is unfounded and fraught with many problems. It’s impossible to use it objectively, even though some claim to have the ability to do so. A better way to think on these terms is with the idea of ‘defeaters’.

  12. Chris T

    The first step to being a proper skeptic is realizing that you are a biased observer. Biases can be managed, but never eliminated.

  13. Monkey

    just question stuff before you believe it, check the evidence against the statement and try to educate yourself in atopic before you go spouting (or re-spouting from others) opinions.

    Skepticism isnt a brave new science, its what we evolved to use.

  14. Davebegood

    You know who else likes the ‘Are we alone of death’? MY MOM!!


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