Coast to Coast

By Sean Carroll | December 1, 2006 9:35 pm

This Sunday night (Dec. 3) I’ll be appearing on Coast to Coast AM, a popular radio show hosted by Art Bell. The show is broadcast live, starting at 11:00p.m. Pacific time (2:00a.m. Eastern), and runs for three hours. Since I’m sure everyone will want to stay up to listen, you can find your local affiliate here.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, Coast to Coast (originated by Bell, now hosted by him on weekends and by George Noory during the week) specializes in discussions of, how shall we put this, esoteric phenomena. UFO’s, psychic powers, ghosts, that sort of thing. The hosts generally take a non-judgmental attitude, while callers and guests have been known to get quite enthusiastic. But the show also tackles more straightforward science topics, as well as politics, religion, civil rights, and what have you. Bad Astronomer Phil Plait has been on the show several times, debunking the craziness of Richard Hoagland and other crackpots.

I won’t be sharing any inside information about alien abductions — we’ll be talking about time travel and the dark sector. Okay, to the untutored eye, those topics don’t seem any more respectable than the paranormal, but we’ll be sticking quite closely to the normal, thanks very much. I hope to get a chance to talk about how respectable science is distinguished from UFO and ghost studies — it’s not quite so easy to move beyond the “I know the difference when I see it” level of distinction. But I think it’s crucially important to preach not only to the converted, but also to the skeptical. The fact that we can talk about dark energy and time travel in a rigorous scientific context should be all the evidence anyone needs that the real world is more than marvelous enough; there’s no reason to cling to ideas that don’t fit in with what we know about science.

And for C2C regulars who are just discovering Cosmic Variance for the first time, here are some older posts that touch on the ideas we’ll be talking about on the show — dark matter, dark energy, and the nature of time. Looking forward to the show!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Personal, Science and the Media
  • r stevens

    If you’re a time traveler,you need to adjust your clock;C2C starts at 10p.m. PST;1a.m. Eastern. lol

  • Eugene

    Surely, you can still talk about Fadeev and Popov!

  • Sean

    That’s true — maybe I can work in something about ghost condensation.

    r stevens, you’re also right, but the first hour will just be Art Bell. I’ll come in at 11pm Pacific. So, in a me-centric view, the show starts then.

  • Prince

    Why do we automatically accept that dark matter should exist of individual particles? Could a “particle”, like an electron not be a localised wave which is stationary relative to the electron’s inertial reference frame; i.e. its charge is continuously distributed within a smaller volume than the wave. It thus has a centre of charge and its ground-state QM-energy is then the mass of the electron (which is like the charge also distributed within the wave)? How is a free electron localised? Probably by an electric field interaction over a fourth space dimension(dark energy?). How does dark matter form? Why not by forming a single boson wave (a single “entangled entity”) within which mass is continuously distributed over a large region of space (and within which time does not play a role). Other matter can then move through it with impunity, without colliding at all.
    Maybe my arguments are stupid; but I think the time has arrived where all possibilities should be copnsidered.

  • Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer

    Cool! Thanks for the shout out, too. I’ve not been on with Art Bell (that’s a complicated story) but I expect you will find him to be a civil host, and I’m sure you’ll have fun. He has a HUGE audience, and so you’ll get a nice bump in your hit rate here. :)

  • Paul Valletta

    Sean, being that “George Noory explores the world of the paranormal on a new TV show”, and has referenced things such as “OUT_OF_BODY/NEAR_DEATH” experience ?..maybe you can educate the audience that these experiences are nothing more than pre-cognitive “Brain” experiences, they are really the very first recorded event within the Brain of human Birth. Humans come from a Liquid environment inside the DARK womb,into a GAS environment, at birth LIGHT penetrates form the outside_in.

    This is the “Light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel” event. Humans as they grow up and evolve with their environments, put their brains through all sorts of relative spacetime experience’s, sometimes when events take a drastic turn such as life threatening accidents, or medical operations, these events trigger the “truamatic” resurgence of “Light in Dark” scenarios.

    Humans are NOT conscious at birth, and evently are mostly conscious at death, the “near death” experiences are on a par with “near life” experiences, you know the moment of transition at birth.

    As for time travel. whenever you remember something, thats visiting a PAST moment, its the nearest human action to “spacetime transition”, that may be classed as “Time Travelling”?..and this is another aspect of conscious action.

  • Randy

    As a non-scientific musician, I enjoyed your chat on the C2C show. Enjoyed your ability in answering various levels of call-in questions in a positive manner. Thanks. Hope you will do this show again at some point.

  • Jack

    Hi, there was something that you said on the C2C show that I didn’t quit understand. You were saying the the law of the consevation of energy and matter falls apart with the expanding universe theory, because, dark energy is the same dencity everywere and something about photons disapating?
    Well if dark energy is something that we cannot yet observe, why couldn’t you just say that the photons that disappear are just changing form, into Dark energy?
    We use to think that fire consumed say, wood. Now we believe that the wood just changes its state, from solid to liquid to gas and then to energy. So why can we not just concider Dark energy and Dark matter to be just another state of matter?
    This would allow us to change from “Light” matter and energy to Dark and back again under the correct circumstance. After all does’nt the Bible say that in the begining everything was dark and without form, until the Lord said let there be light?

  • Cindy

    Woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. Turned on radio and caught the last hour of the program. (I always hope to catch the scientists and avoid the pseudoscientists.) Your handling of the obviously uneducated callers, who want so much to hold onto their beliefs, was masterful. Michael Shermer believes that science itself, and not confrontation, will change minds. Others believe in confrontation. I believe both methods work with the proper audience. You clearly chose the method that would gain you the respect that you indicated scientific pioneers should rightfully receive.


    (It would be nice if you were allowed to make this show available to the community without the need to purchase it.)

  • Sean

    Thanks; I enjoyed doing the show.

    Jack — we know something about how matter behaves, and turning into dark energy isn’t something that we think happens. In particular, the amount of matter in the universe should be relatively constant, to be consistent with cosmological observations. It’s interesting to wonder whether matter and dark energy somehow interact with each other (I’ve thought about that myself), but the interactions would have to be fairly weak.

  • Carl Brannen

    I suddenly realize that I heard at least part of the show. I keep the radio on at night when I’m typing on my damned book. I heard enough to say that I think you did well.

  • TBB

    Sean, I heard the entire show while up all night sniffling and sneezing, and I thought you did a great job – it was an interesting show (haven’t listened to C2C since Phil Plait was on with George Noury). You treated the callers respectfully, in fact, you probably made the security guard who described a black hole feel quite good. I knew someone would call in with question regarding UFOs, and the ex-airforce man’s time-travelling UFO scenario was nicely answered, though probably to his disappointment. I also thought you handled the Einstein-quoting/Big Bang caller’s comments very smoothly – a bit of a deflection and segue into the nature of “cause” in one swoop. Nice. (Having just received one of those slide-show emails at work on Friday that quotes Einstein, I thought, “Oh, no, here we go again.”)

    I realize you cosmologists and physicists get frustrated when laypeople try to grasp quantum theory ideas without really having a solid foundation in classical physics, but these terms are thrown around on the Science Channel (or worse, by Deepak Chopra), so in regards to the bit about about observing your particle in LA and Art observing his particle in the Philippines – his confusion and saying “There has to be some communication between them!” was confusing, and he brought it up several times. People like spooky ideas (or they wouldn’t believe in ghosts and alien UFOs), and better that people wonder about black holes and dark matter of which there is some evidence, but the quantum part was confusing.

    If you were to go on the show again, it seems further explanation of the Big Bang might be useful, and more about time travel and relativity. I’ve mentioned on Jennifer’s blog that Professor Wolfson uses a nice example of a spaceship travelling at .8c to a star 10 light years away (how 25 years pass on earth, 15 for the traveller on the ship), which he explains in less than 10 minutes. The guy asking about looking back at the dinosaurs might have benefitted from such an explanation.

    Anyway, it was a long show but it was fun listening. I concur with Cindy’s last sentence above about method, and you’re a good speaker as well. Thanks.

  • Sean

    Thanks, TBB. Sorry that the archived shows cost money to hear; they have to pay the bills somehow.

    I do need to work on a better 30-second description of entanglement, and why it doesn’t allow superluminal communication.

  • Jack

    Sean, I understand that the amount of matter and energy
    in the universe is reletively constant. that was the whole point, nothing is distroyed, it just changes states.
    ie. if I take steam and remove energy from it, it will turn into water, remove more energy and it turns into ice. so what would happen if we remove all energy?
    We would have a particle that would be totally neutral.
    At absolute zero.
    from what I have read, most dark matter is only two or three degrees kelvin.
    The conservation of Energy and Matter is an established theory, that, according to your own standards is a requirement for any new theory.
    I also read that a resent experiment that colided two neutrons together, in order to create an extremely high temperature, found that the particles reacted as a liquid instead of like a gas.
    This might also show different states of energy itself.
    So, if Dark matter and energy are in this universe then we must include them in the total and we should see some sort of interation between known matter and energy and Dark matter and energy. Just because we haven’t found any relation yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It could also be that the answer is so simple that we exnore it.
    Thank-you for your response.

  • Jack

    I have another question, the two different times you were talking about. Is there and equation to discribe the relation to each other.
    Like you said we travel through time at 1min/min. except when we are traveling at high speeds or are close to extream Gravity.
    So as we aproach the speed of light, inside the capsule we slow down in relation to someone on earth. Do we have an equation to discribe this relation?
    in other words, do we have an equation for the accelleration of time verses time,
    or the velocity of time verses time?

  • TBB

    >>I do need to work on a better 30-second description of entanglement, and why it doesn’t allow superluminal communication.

    I thought that was funny. Don’t you know you spent all those years in school so you could condense your knowledge into 30-second soundbites? 😉

  • Sean

    Jack– yes, we have equations for all of those things. You might look at the book Gravity From the Ground Up by Bernard Schutz, which explains things with very simple math.

  • Eugene


    Yes yes yes! I’ll love a 30sec version of why quantum entanglement does not allow superluminal communication. My version runs more than a minute, and it uses hard words like “correlation”. It’s one of the most popular questions out there, and it’s really such a good question it deserves it’s own CV post methinks!

  • Moran

    sean do you have a link to a free mp3 of the show?

  • George Schneider

    Sean, Did you comment on the heating of the earth’s core by dark matter as a major cause of earthquakes,volcanic eruptions, ocean heating and global weather warming? I was half asleep listening and am not sure it was you. I believe I heard your data, over the past decades, of tremendous earthquake activity. Thanks for your attention. Regards, George S

  • John

    It has been observed often but not consistently that when spacecraft appear over a certain area or terrain, shortly thereafter there is a significant seismological event. These entities have the power to pull the electro-magnetic strings so to speak. From their ships, which are operating on principles of anti-gravity, they can alter time/space energy fields, fracturing electro-magnetic vortices, causing any level of disturbance they desire. Naturally, they are capable of much more than this. They could probablly destroy the planet if they desired.
    As an experiment genetically created aboard their spacecraft, we are in a sense their children. I’m certain they mixed either their genetic material with a Cro-magnon or Neanderthal or some other species to create us. It ‘s that simple.
    Religion has an enormous influence on these entities, especially ceremonial magick and the like.


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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