In April 2010, physicist and outspoken lover of science Brian Cox spoke at a TED meeting about the state of science funding in the UK and the world, and why we do science. Trust me, you need to find the 17 minutes today to watch this.
Man, he’s good. Someone should give him a TV show.
Tip o’ the LHC to Goran Prunk.
The Symphony of Science strikes again! This time, it’s The Case for Mars:
These songs are very catchy and ethereal. And what fun to see my friends Brian Cox and Penelope Boston in this one! Penny is made of win. She rocks.
Having said that, I have some comments. In general I agree with the general thrust of these videos, making science cool and interesting and even — dare I say it? — fun. But this is the first one where I’m not sure I agree with the premise.
Last year I linked to Crispian Jago’s brilliant Skeptic Trump playing cards, featuring a few of skepticism’s stars. He included me in that constellation… but apparently was determined to make up for it by updating the cards and implying I have gained weight, presumably all in my mandible:
Hmph. I think Rebecca faired better, though apparently she ironically has the mumps (I blame Jenny McCarthy). To be fair, though, he nailed Ben Goldacre’s hair and Brian Cox’s teeth. And, I’ll admit: it’s not bad company for a chipmunk.
I have not yet seen "Wonders of the Solar System", because it hasn’t aired in America yet. It’s a BBC astronomy documentary hosted by my friend Brian Cox, and from what I have heard is an extraordinary event. I can’t wait to see it.
Some folks, though, have a different opinion. Brian, like me, is an outspoken skeptic, and will brook no nonsense. In one episode of the show, he said, "…astrology is a load of rubbish."
This is, of course, completely accurate. Astrology has no mechanism, no predictability, and no physical way of working. When tested even using its own standards it fails miserably.
Astrology doesn’t work, and anyone telling you otherwise is selling something.
Just as obviously, those people who are selling something have taken umbrage at Brian’s impolitic uttering of truth. They have started a Facebook page where they can get together and reinforce their silliness, make fun of Brian, and grossly misrepresent science. My favorite bit is this, in the page description:
His careless assertion was unresearched, unsubstantiated and unscientific. Has he done any empirical studies? Has he explored his birth chart? Can he cite any scientific studies disproving astrology that are not fundamentally flawed? Of course not. I have certainly never seen him at an astrology conference or read anything written by him about astrology. Cox is simply not qualified to speak on astrology and his comments amount to no more than prejudice.
Yes. Brian, a PhD physicist with decades of training in the scientific method, research, analysis, logic, and critical thinking, who has written a book on relativity and works at CERN on the Large Hadron Collider, is not qualified to speak on astrology. Heh.
By the way, astrologers: in the link above I do cite scientific studies that are not flawed and show astrology to be nonsense, just as they trash flawed studies that support astrology. I have explored birth charts and found them to be nothing more than tarot cards/Ouija boards/tea leaves/cold reading tools. I have seen empirical studies, and they all show astrology = nonsense.
And "prejudice"? No, it’s not prejudice. You just assume that because we disagree with you. But I’ve studied astrology, and I conclude that it’s garbage. That’s not prejudice. That’s reality.
And don’t forget:
My friend and fellow science promoter Brian Cox will be on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross tonight on BBC America (it already aired last week in the UK). Brian is funny and smart, as is Wossy (as Ross is called), so this should be a great time. And speaking of Matt Smith and Doctor Who, Mr. Smith will be on Wossy’s show as well.
Speaking of speaking of Doctor Who, oh how I wish this were true.
Tip o’ the sonic screwdriver to Fizzygoo for the Obama link.
Starting tonight on the BBC, a new series premiers called "Wonders of the Solar System". The host is some guy named Brian Cox. He’s a particle physicist! I don’t see the BBC hiring me to do a show on the Large Hadron Collider, so this doesn’t seem fair. And I’m a little concerned about how much Brian knows about the LHC, anyway.
Still, it looks cool. Here’s the trailer:
Seriously, this will be awesome. I can’t wait to see it!
If you want to lose weight, then you should avoid this Ebay auction, where someone has a Higgs boson up for bids.
The Higgs boson, for those not up on their Standard Model of Particle Physics, is the subatomic particle that is theoretically responsible for giving all the other little particles their mass, and its detection is one of the main goals of the Large Hadron Collider. Come to think of it, the folks at CERN could’ve saved a lot of cash had they simply bid here instead of building a bazillion dollar machine to look for the Higgs. But then how would Brian Cox find work?
And I love that graphic. 10∞? That’s a big number. You’d think magnifying the Higgs by that amount would make it look bigger.
Anyway, read the whole thing, because it’s pretty funny. Of course, this is a joke, and Ebay will no doubt take it down soon, so look before it’s gone and you’re doomed to travel the Universe forever with your mass kicked.
Tip o’ the spin 1/2 lepton to BABloggee Martin Kielty.
As promised, Brian Cox was on The Colbert Report last night, and hit it out of the park. The whole show was better than average (which is saying a lot) but Brian truly rocked!
If you missed it (and live in the States) the whole episode is online (Brian’s segment is about 13:50 into the episode). Comedy Central won’t allow embedding the whole show (sigh), and Brian’s segment isn’t separated out on the CC site, but right before he was on Colbert ragged on physics and the LHC:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
In the full segment, they talk about Brian’s book Why E=mc2, which was excellent. I’ll try to write a review of it as soon as I can. In the meantime, I do have to praise Colbert for his insight; as Brian points out he was correct in his ideas! I was cheering along with the segment. It still cracks me up that the smartest and most insightful commentary on TV is not from any of the "real" news stations, but from satirical shows like Colbert and The Daily Show. They have better science coverage than CNN, MSNBC and anyone else combined.
My friend, the physicist and rock star and TV documentary host Brian Cox will be on "The Colbert Report" tonight, Wednesday October 28! I assume Brian’ll be plugging his new book, Why E= mc2, which I have read and is excellent (review coming soon).
Brian is quite funny (as you may have noticed) and comfortable on television, so I suspect this will be quite a treat.
And congrats for him being able to do something I have yet to achieve: goad Colbert into an invitation. I hold out hope: eventually he’ll run out astronomers to interview, and he’ll have to have me on the show. And that’s the Wørd.