Episode #116

News Items

    Interview with Marc Abrahams

    • Marc Abrahams produces the Annals of Improbable Research and the annual IgNobel Awardswww.improbable.com/

    Follow up on 30 Year Battery

    • Corrections and additions to last week’s discussion
    • I want to begin by saying I generally consider myself a very grounded, down to earth guy. I don’t drink the ‘dojo kool-aid’ as it were. However I spent time studying Juijitsu under an old Korean grand master, who had dabbled in qigong amongst many other styles. Physically for his age, his skill as a martial artist was exponentially better than his English, but on one particular night he selected my friend to demonstrate what you’d probably call ‘magic’. I don’t have any video of him slamming a blade into his arm, and that’s a strike against me I know, but with extreme focus he could render a person unconscious from a pace or two’s distance. He would extend index and middle finger, place the other arm behind his back, and go through a very audible breathing routine as he focused. Within maybe 20 to 30 seconds, my friend would begin to teeter back on his heels and eventually slump to the ground. I was always the guy to catch him, and can say with absolute certainty that he was not only unconscious, but also not breathing (or breathing faintly enough I couldn’t detect it with my arms around him). He would quickly sweep forward, slide his arms under my friends and around the back, then with two quick hits to the back, bring him to. I understand the skeptic is on constant vigil and in a state of disbelief, especially in a realm so overexploited by hacks and liars such as martial arts, but it was entirely and completely legit. Having known this individual since kindergarten, I can say without doubt he was not buying in to something if it wasn’t going to work. He wasn’t folding to spare the teacher humiliation. He was out like a light. So take it for what you will. I don’t buy in to much myself, and consider myself to be entirely rational, but I can see in no way how it could have been explained by anything other than what it was. Other mutual friends of ours had seen it themselves, and though just as rational, were and remain just as sold. It will always be something people can write off, and maybe rightfully so, but in this particular case I can without hesitation assure you of it’s legitimacy.Either way, I figured a more down to Earth account of martial arts ‘magic’ might do good to weigh in against the BS that is indeed out there. Love the show. Keep it up.Joshua McCurryyoutube.com/watch?v=Fi3t1yVE-gkyoutube.com/watch?v=drz-CMespEM

    Science or Fiction

    • Item #1 Science

      A theoretical physicist has proposed a testable model of the universe with two time dimensions.

    • Item #2 Science

      New study suggests that humans evolved their upright body plan 15 million years earlier than previously thought – about 21 million years ago.

    • Item #3 Fiction

      Harvard linguistic scientists have created a mathematical model of language evolution that predicts that the past tense will eventually disappear from the English language.

    Skeptical Quote of the Week.