Episode #140

News Items

    Interview with Eugenie Scott

    • Eugenie Scott is the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Eduction: www.natcenscied.org/She discusses, among other topics, the new ID propaganda film, Expelled: www.expelledexposed.com/

    Follow up on Robins

    • Dr. Novella,On the most recent edition of the SGU you mentioned seeing your first robins of the spring. You also stated that you had recently learned that they were non migratory and that they just move from their summer lawn/yard habitat to another habitat in winter. This is not accurate. American Robins are highly migratory. A quick look at a field guide range map shows that they vacate the entire northern half of their breeding range in the winter and that they winter in many areas of the south where they do not occur in the summer. I think where the confusion is coming from is that most people in the northeast, midwest, etc., are used to seeing robins arrive in the spring and spend the summer hopping about their lawns, only to disappear every fall. However, as you were told, robins do winter much farther north than many people are aware of as they do in your area. You were correct that these birds spend the winter in heavier cover such as areas that have evergreens, so people do not generally see them. But, these wintering birds are almost certainly not your local breeders; your local breeders migrate south and a much smaller number of northern birds arrive in the fall to spend the winter in your area. This is actually a fairly common pattern among widespread bird species such as robins, Red tailed Hawks, Horned Larks, and Song Sparrows, the local birds leave for the winter and are replaced by members of the same species (though often a different subspecies) arriving from further north. As a last point, the scientific name for the American Robin is Turdus migratorius. I think the meaning is pretty clear even to those who don’t speak Latin.Thanks for a great podcast and blogs. Keep up the good work.Sincerely,Aaron BreesDes Moines, IA
    • Yes, the basic idea of a surfactant is a hydrophobe head group and and a hydrophilic tale. One end sits in the water and the other end likes the oily side. However, there is a huge number of different surfactants. They come in anionic, cationic, nonionic and amphoteric varieties. Using these surfactants in a formulation can do all sorts of different things. If you use one type you can really dry out your skin as it will strip away the natural oil and grease on your skin. Another surfactant could be much milder and leave more of the grease. Baby bath soaps use this kind usually. These things depend on the active ingredient levels but mostly on the formulation used. It is not a case that if somebody came up with something new everybody wouyld copy it. These formulations can be patent protected and often are. We carry over 11 patents, all on surfactant formulations. Most of these do something pretty unique even though the individual ingredients are the same as others are using.MarkFrom the SGU Boards

    Science or Fiction

    • Item #1 Science

      Falling coconuts kill more people each year than shark attacks.

    • Item #2 Fiction

      Astronauts in orbit cannot burp.

    • Item #3 Science

      DNA was first discovered and isolated by Swiss biologist Johan Friedrich Miescher in 1869.

    Skeptical Quote of the Week.

    “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong