I am interviewed by the Weinersmiths

By Phil Plait | October 12, 2011 3:00 pm

Zach Weiner, of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and Kelly Smith, of Weinersmith, interviewed me for their new podcast, The Weekly Weinersmith. I am actually only their second guest, so we’ll see if the podcast survives.

We talked about the James Webb Space Telescope, mostly, though as usual when I talk to Zach we both revert to 15 year old boys. But only briefly, and only if 15 year old boys paid attention in world history class.

I’ll note I made a mistake in the interview: I said JWST will have 6 mirrors, but it actually has 18. D’oh! I remember very clearly picturing the telescope in my head (it’s hard to do a web search during an interview) and for some dumb reason I was thinking of the old MMT, which I’ll admit is a little bizarre. Heat of the moment, I guess. I wasn’t even within an astronomer’s usual factor of two, so I guess I have to give myself three geek demerits.

I think I made up for it by calling JWST — since its future is uncertain — "Schrödinger’s telescope".

In fact, the stuff I said about JWST deals mostly with its politics and budgetary woes. I’ve written about this before:

Where will JWST’s money come from?
The Senate has “saved” JWST? Hang on a sec, folks…
The watershed moment for JWST
Hubble’s successor: doomed or saved?
Congress puts NASA and JWST on the chopping block

So there you go. I’ll note that it’s mostly wondering about JWST’s and NASA’s future until about 45 minutes in, and then we get all optimistic and fun.

Zach and Kelly were great hosts, letting me blather on until I ran out of air. Knowing them both — Kelly’s a scientist, and Zach a hugely devoted science enthusiast and supporter (he’s teaching himself advanced calculus and blogging about it) — this will be a podcast to keep your ear on. Subscribe to it!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Astronomy, Humor

Comments (8)

  1. Bigfoot

    Relax, Phil — astronomers only need to be within an order of magnitude.

  2. Chris

    I don’t think that’s advanced calculus he’s talking about. It seems pretty first year to me. When he gets to cyclic integrals then you can start calling that advanced calculus.

  3. @ Bigfoot:

    He was still off by more than a factor of 2.511886, though.

  4. Who are all these people who don’t remember Hubble’s faulty mirror? OK, maybe people significantly younger than me have an excuse, but I struggle to comprehend that anyone who was paying attention to science news at the time could possibly forget!

  5. “Schrödinger’s telescope” – I like it. I’ll credit you when I steal it.

  6. Patrik

    Scene at bar:
    Astronomer 1 – ..and then I said the JWST have 6 mirros
    Astronomer 2 – but it has 18!
    Astronomer 1 – I know, absolutely hysterical
    [senseless laughter]

    At this point the girl they were trying to chat up 5 minutes earlier discretely withdraws towards the exit.

  7. I thought the people who made weiners were weinerwrights not weinersmiths.

  8. M.L. Fuhrmann

    Advanced Calculus is generally when you prove all the things you accepted in Calculus 1-3. Sometimes called Real Analysis, although they’re not perfect synonyms.


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