Podcast #77 - January 10th, 2007
Interview with Spencer Weart, author of The Discovery of Global Warming; News Items: Stem Cell Updates, Enviga, Hawking in Space, Weight loss pill firms fined; Your E-mails and Questions: Corrections, The Moon, True belief skeletons; Randi Speaks: Coincidence; Science or Fiction; Skeptical Puzzle
- Enviga Coke claims new product has 'negative calories'
- FTC Fines Weight Loss Pill Firms www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/04/ap/health/mainD8MEN78O0.shtml
- Hawking in Space www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/08/nhawking08.xml
Questions and E-mails
- Corrections and Clarifications 900 Foot Jesus
The 900 Foot Jesus was seen by the Reverend Oral Roberts in the 1980s. He believed that if he didn't raise enough money, that Jesus would take him away. Unfortunately, he raised the money he needed, and we'll never know if Jesus would have taken him away.
I have really enjoyed your show over the last year and a half. It just seems to be getting better every show. However, I believe that you may be misinformed (at least partially) on the action of capsaicin. There are receptors in primary sensory nerves that are sensitive to capsaicin called TRPV1. The sense of pain from hot peppers is not due to death of neurons.
Here is the wiki on capsaicin: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsaicin
Nature 389, 816 - 824 (23 October 1997)
Thanks again for a great show!
Article indicating that both the pain and subsequent relief are at least partially due to the death of neurons.
Topical capsaicin in humans: parallel loss of epidermal nerve fibers and pain sensation. Pain. 1999 May;81(1-2):135-45.
- Shoot the Moon Hi Guys,
Only a 'baboon' could mistake the Moon for a UFO huh? Well I'm delighted to be able to supply solid video evidence against this outragous notion! Being able to back up Rebecca, too, just makes it all the sweeter!
Rebecca: you are absolutely correct, and if I were you, I wouldn't be putting up with such close-minded thinking!
You see, a number of years ago, 2002 I think, I was intending to film the Moon as it rose above the River Tay, in Scotland for a small movie project known as 'being bored in charge of a video camera.'
What I filmed was this:
I didn't think I was going to get anything at all because of the clouds, but a small break in the cloud did indeed appear at the right time. Now because the clouds were appearing in streaks, only the centre portion of the Moon was visible. Chopping the top and bottom of off the moon meant that only a rectangular portion in the middle was actually visible. And because there was evidently a large amount of dust in the atmosphere at the time, the result was bright red. The whole apparation lasted for a few minutes.
Now I know full well that this was the Moon; I'd planned for it at that place and that time using some astronomy software. I defy anyone to have casually glanced at this apparently bright red rectangle hovering over the river for a minute and immediately thought of the Moon!
Anyway, thanks for the podcasts which keep me entertained on my walks to work in the morning!
P.S. Always amusing when someone across the pond attempts a Scottish accent!
- True Believer Skeletons Heya guys (non-gender specific from where I'm from), let me begin by saying that not only is your podcast 'numero uno' in my opinion but that you are without a doubt the greatest collective of skeptic minds that I have been exposed to in my lifetime.
My question for you however is about not so skeptical beliefs that you may have held previously in your lifetime. Are there any major psuedoscientific or 'true believer' style notions that you have given credence to or truly believed yourselves in the past? Come on guys be honest, and I'm not talking about Santa Claus-esque fantasies, were any of you believers in psychics, dowsing, extra-terrestrial visitations, ESP etc?
- Interview with Spencer Weart Dr. Weart is the author of the book The Discovery of Global Warming.
He is also the Director of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in College Park, Maryland, USA. Originally trained as a physicist, he is now a noted historian specializing in the history of modern physics and geophysics.
His site, a complete history of the controversies:
with a links page:
NOAA says 2006 warmest on record for US, partly due to the 'long-term warming trend, which has been linked to increases in greenhouse gases':
Professional climate scientists' blog on current news and
Union of Concerned Scientists report on Exxonmobil's publicity campaign and lobbying:
An institution leading denial since the 1980s, although even they now admit that 'the climate change risk is real':
- 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: Coincidence
Science or Fiction [ Show Answers ]
- Question #1 Science Men are struck by lightening four times as often as women.
- Question #2 Fiction Since people have been putting artificial satellites into orbit, over 40 satellites have been damaged or destroyed by meteors.
- Question #3 Science The crack of a whip is made by the tip exceeding the speed of sound, causing a small sonic boom
- Question #4 Science Russian scientists thawed out a salamander they believe to have been frozen for 90 years, and it was still alive.
- Puzzle This Week's Puzzle
I have something that was said to have existed in the first century
That was first written about in the eighth century
That was actually produced in the 14th century
That was almost destroyed in the 16th century
And proven to be a hoax in the 20th century
What do I have?
Last Week's Puzzle
I read red lines on a white background
But occasionally, the background is not white
I interpret stress patterns
But by nature, I struggle to stay upright
I analyze vessels and the directions they travel
But their movements mean nothing
And though its lone job is to protect you
I have the power to see beyond this purpose
What is my profession?
Mike from the SGU boards was the first to give the correct answer
Quote of the Week
- Quote 'The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny.'
- Isaac Asimov