Podcast #64 - October 11th, 2006
Interview with Stuart Vyse, Author of The Psychology of Supersition; News Items: Friday 13th, Teaching Evolution in Michigan, Science in the UK, Comet to hit Earth; Your E-mails and Questions: Water Cycle, Selling the Moon; Name That Logical Fallacy; Randi Speaks: Aromatherapy; Science or Fiction
- Friday 13th (Paraskevidekatriaphobia) urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th.htm
- Comet to hit Earth http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1716655/posts
- Score One for Evolution in Michigan news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061010/ap_on_re_us/michigan_science
- New Science Curriculum in the UK news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6038638.stm
Questions and E-mails
- Corrections Just a comment on the show from 2 weeks ago, about the loris in the pants. Not to be pedantic, but I want The Skeptics Guide to maintain its biology street cred. Perry, a loris is not a monkey, but belongs in the prosimian group or clade along with the lemurs, pottos, and bushbabies. A clade is an evolutionary branch which includes all members on that branch and only members on that branch. The term 'monkeys' is an artificial grouping, not a clade, usually referring to new world monkeys and old world monkeys as a group and excluding the apes (orangs, chimps, gorillas, gibbons, and humans). The technical term is that the term 'monkeys' represents a paraphyletic grouping. Rebecca might respond that using the example of a loris versus a bird of paradise would be phylogenically like pitting a chimpanzee versus a Komodo dragon (I'm betting against the 'monkey' there!). The loris shares a relatively recent common ancestor with the other primates including chimps just as the Komodo dragon shares a relatively recent ancestor with the birds.
Keep up the good work. Love the show!
Correct, here is a link: pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/links/nycticebus
As the self-appointed Resident Brazil Specialist, I must correct what was said in this latest podcast about the girl who cried pieces of glass.
She absolutely wasn't brazillian; she wasn't even south american.
With a little googling, I found out her name (Hasnah Mohamed Meselmani), and her nationality: she was Lebanese, and the case took place in 1996.
From the Message Boards
Again, correct: Although the story was original broke on Brazilian television, hence the confusion.
- Water Cycle My children were taught in science that the amount of water on the earth is a constant and has been forever. It may change from being frozen, vapor in the form of clouds, or deep under ground, but there's always the same amount of water (I presume measured by mass of water molecules?).
I wondered when my kids informed me of this, and now I'm wondering again because my mother was at an ecology lecture where she was told the same and it amazed her so that she had to share it with me.
My question: I believe that water vapor is a byproduct of certain combustions - like when hydrogen is burned as a fuel. Isn't this using a chemical reaction to create water molecules where before there were only hydrogen and oxygen. On the other side of the equation, I believe I have heard of separating the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water molecules to obtain oxygen.
If water is a byproduct of a chemical reaction burning hydrogen, and we can separate water into it's component elements, how can the amount of water on earth remain constant?
Are the ecologists giving us bad information?
- The Moon and Stars I'm just flabbergasted and here's why: tinyurl.com/qmukt and here's the link to the folks who are selling land on the moon: me.moonestates.com/ Can this really be done? Can anybody really 'own' the moon or is this just some fun conversation piece to share with friends and nobody actually owns part of the moon?
Similar scam - the international star registry:
Name That Logical Fallacy
- Logical Fallacies From: www.ianjuby.org/tour1.html
The Creation Science Museum of Canada
Submitted by Manny G. on our forums
'Many types of bacteria swim through water by spinning a rubber-like 'tail' called a flagellum. Because it's rubber-like and because the semi-solid 'hook' holds it at an angle, the flagellum takes on a corkscrew shape, acting like a propeller in the water.
This is like you being able to spin you head around, and around, and around! So how does it do it? Scientists are pushing the limits of modern technology to be able to dissect these bacteria to see just how on earth they spin their tails. It turns out that the bacteria has something that is just like an electric motor built inside of it!
When we take a look inside the bacterial flagellum, we see a stator (the C ring, held in place by the STUDS), a rotor (the M & S rings), the drive shaft (the ROD), the bushing or bearing (the L & P rings), it even has what many have called the 'universal joint', the hook - which is what changes the direction of the rotational force.
But what of the bacterial motor? It is no different than the electric motor! How could it have evolved? If any one of those parts isn't quite evolved, the whole system breaks down, our bacteria can't get around and it dies! If any one of those parts suffers a change in its attempt to 'evolve', it no longer does its original job, the whole motor fails, the bacteria dies!
In modern times we think something is a superior technology if it's smaller, faster, more energy efficient. Well, this motor is so small 8,000,000 of them can fit on the tip of one of your hairs! An electric motor cannot reproduce, or find its own energy, or repair itself! The bacteria can do all of these.
Where there is design, there is a designer.'
- Interview with Stuart Vyse Stuart Vyse is a professor of psychology at Connecticut College.
He is the author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, (Oxford University Press, 1997) which has been published in Japanese and German and received the 1999 William James Book Award.
- James Randi The Uncompromising Observations of a Veteran Skeptic
Each week James Randi gives a skeptical commentary in his own unique style.
This week's topic: Aromatherapy
Science or Fiction [ Show Answers ]
- Question #1 Science Research indicates that brief internet counseling is effective in the treatment of depression, as effective as traditional psychotherapies.
- Question #2 Science Robot gardener - a robot designed at the university of Illinois, will move up and down the rows of a crop field, recognize weeds by sight, and then cut and spray them.
- Question #3 Fiction Sony just announced plans to release a new version of their popular playstation that they claim can be played 'hands free,' with the use of the mind alone.
Quote of the Week
- Quote 'Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.'
- Carl Sagan