In Our Time

If you listen to podcasts, check out the four-part Charles Darwin special on Melvyn Bragg’s BBC show In Our Time. There will be plenty more fun to be had across the blogosphere to mark Darwin’s bicentennial and the 150th anniversary of his best known book. Tom Levenson will be a great place to start. Also check out the diverse crew at Scienceblogs, especially PZ Meyers.

In other science news, North American archaeologists found what might be a neolithic stone circle…40 feet under Lake Michigan.
Treat this as a scientific open thread. You can talk about anything, but falsifiable statements only.






50 replies
  1. 1
    mgordon says:

    Did Jesus have a pet dinosaur?

  2. 2
    robertdsc says:

    Can a process be designed to convert nuclear radioactivity to some form of usable energy?

  3. 3
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    So was the neolithic stone circle put there by God to test our faith, or by the devil to lead us astray?

  4. 4

    There is a way to convert radioactivity to fuel. There is also a way to convert spent uranium, which is something completely different, to fuel. Radioactivity comes off of the spent uranium. It is like the pile from the dog, and the scent. Two different things. Two different processes.

  5. 5
    Xenos says:

    Glaciers push rocks around in all manner of interesting ways.

    I doubt lake Michigan ever had dry land since the melting of the glaciers. Our neolithic megalith movers would have needed aqualungs. Not the Jethro Tull variety, either.

  6. 6
    Andre says:

    Obviously, the existence of said neolithic stone circle can only point to one thing:

    FISH PEOPLE.

  7. 7
    redbeardjim says:

    especially PZ Meyers.

    You did that on purpose, yes?

  8. 8
    MikeJ says:

    Lucy is going to be at the Pacific Science Center. I will finally be able to kick that football.

  9. 9
    phobos says:

    In other science news, North American archaeologists found what might be a neolithic stone circle…40 feet under Lake Michigan.

    Still waiting for that "rock carved with the image of a mastodon" evidence, but the pictures are cute.

    They remind me of the tilt-shift photo bumpers on Adult Swim.

  10. 10
    HyperIon says:

    I clicked through but am still puzzled.

    there is mention of sonar images but the big orange circles i have seen look like photographs. they have shadows.

    and what’s with the concentric circles?

    also, this is supposed to be just 40 feet below the surface; the boat shapes that are shown look too small. if it’s down 40 feet, why doesn’t somebody swim to it and take an up-close pic instead of having to interpret a view "looking down"?

    update: the mastodon pic is unrelated IMO and a figment of the imagination perhaps. i’ve seen more convincing jesus tortillas.

  11. 11
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @HyperIon:

    and what’s with the concentric circles?

    Aquatic space men made those, or smartalick fish pranksters.

  12. 12
    gnomedad says:

    This statement is false.

  13. 13

    Science is much more interesting than politics to me. In many ways science, economics, and politics seem to be merging into one big fascinating Century.

    Radiation is alphas (helium w/o the electrons), betas (those lost electrons), neutrons (neutrons), and electromagnetic energy. I have learned not to explain the fact that nuclear power is based upon friction. This can get you banished from enjoyable forums by some guy named ‘phil’, after you make fun of the name he admittedly calls himself in another forum, in response to phil’s viscous personal attacks. I really think that that was all about me telling Hilzoy that I support stripping her voting rights because of her gender. This used to be a rationally debated subject only 89 years ago. Sigh.

    But, anyway, here we are and this friction can be used to generate heat. This heat can be used to induce pyrolysis in kerogen. Voila! Fuel. This much is commonly known. Although fossil fuels or electricity would probably be more efficient, and definitely cleaner in this application. Microwaves are radiation, and are an efficient method to transfer heat to do this. But these microwaves are not waste microwaves, they are specially generated. So I don’t think they count.

  14. 14
    ppcli says:

    Gnomedad’s statement is true.

  15. 15
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @ppcli:

    Falsifiable is the coin of this realm!

  16. 16
    Xenos says:

    I have learned not to explain the fact that nuclear power is based upon friction.

    Abnormal psychology was not one of the suggested topics for this thread.

  17. 17
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    FISH PEOPLE

    Oh crap, I live in Michigan. They’ve got us surrounded! ! ! !

  18. 18
    gnomedad says:

    Whatever B. O. Bill took a couple of weeks back is some powerful shit.

  19. 19
    TenguPhule says:

    If you put a wingnut in a completely sealed compartment where no information can escape from, is it alive or dead? Or both?

  20. 20

    Back in the day I had argued that the heating mechanism of the microwaves, and the electromagnetic radiation released by a fission event was not friction. These radiations warm up the media through which they pass by making atoms excited, atoms wiggle when they become excited. But, upon reflection, I was completely right and should not have caved. The electromagnetic heat is generated by friction and wiggling atoms.

    When electromagnetic radiation passes through outer space, it does not generate heat because there is no mass, and thus no friction. Duh.

  21. 21
    gnomedad says:

    Back lit Saturn. With Earth visible, no less.

  22. 22
    JGabriel says:

    @TenguPhule:

    If you put a wingnut in a completely sealed compartment where no information can escape from, is it alive or dead? Or both?

    Unfair! No one has ever, ever, resolved the paradox of Schroedinger’s Wingnut.

    .

  23. 23
    Comrade Stuck says:

    wiggling atoms

    The Universe is full of the little fuckers.

  24. 24
  25. 25
    demimondian says:

    @Comrade Stuck: And….Oh my God! It’s full of stars.

  26. 26
    phobos says:

    Wiggling atoms. Back in the day when pizza ovens meant something.

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Back in the day I had argued that the heating mechanism of the microwaves, and the electromagnetic radiation released by a fission event was not friction. These radiations warm up the media through which they pass by making atoms excited, atoms wiggle when they become excited. But, upon reflection, I was completely right and should not have caved. The electromagnetic heat is generated by friction and wiggling atoms.

    Define friction. Because "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    For extra credit, discuss the nature of dissipative mediums, and how they relate to quantum mechanics and band theory.

    -dms

  28. 28

    Are Dolphins smarter than we are? Sorry that’s all I got.

  29. 29
    demimondian says:

    On topic, for once — and even falsifiable! _The Sunday Times_ published a report in which they quote Harvard physicist Alex Wissner-Gross’ as saying that "performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea."

    Problem is, it’s not true — or, at least, it’s not true that he said what they say he said:

    Wissner-Gross, in a phone interview, said that "The Sunday Times had an axe to grind" with Google and that he’s "not sure where they got this estimate from." He said that his work had to do with the CO2 produced while viewing general Web sites — 20 milligrams of CO2 per second of viewing — and was not specific to Google. He characterized The Times’ report as "an effort to sell a lot of newspapers."

  30. 30
    Janet Strange says:

    Thanks, Tim. As a podcast lover and a biology teacher, I’m very interested in the Darwin podcasts. But I can only seem to download programs 3 & 4. I can listen to them all, but for downloading . . . only 3 & 4. Same when I subscribed in iTunes. Didn’t see them in the archives either. Have they fallen into a too new to be archives but too old to be current hole, or am I just to dumb to find 1 & 2?

    (edit: I’m thinking this is one of those shows that can only be downloaded as podcasts for a limited time . . .}

  31. 31

    O/T (hmmmm maybe not) just watch Missippi Burning with DH. Damn people you allowed that kind of shit to go on in this country? Fuck. (Remember I am English I was never exposed to any of this utterly insane crap). I think Darwin never knew about some parts of the USA.

  32. 32

    This post adds no useful information to the thread, and is notable as being the first to admit to that.

  33. 33
    El Cid says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: What the f***ing f*** was that?

  34. 34
    Dulcie says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Whatever you do, don’t watch Rosewood.

  35. 35
    Xenos says:

    Darwin knew all about some parts of the country. Species that overspecialize gain a short term advantage yet are unable to adapt to changing conditions. They might hang on for a bit, but will not thrive and eventually face extinction.

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    Brick Oven Bill: Do you have an opinion on the evolutionary relationships between yeasts and morel mushrooms? By chance?

  37. 37
    Jon H says:

    Also, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute 2008 Holiday Lectures are up at http://www.hhmi.org/biointerac.....index.html

    The 2008 Holiday Lectures on Science

    What is mind?

    Can molecular biology help us understand mental function?

    Eric R. Kandel, M.D. and Thomas M. Jessell, Ph.D.of Columbia University will help us understand how the nervous system turns an idea into action—from the complex processing that takes place in the brain to the direct marching orders the spinal cord gives to the muscles. Modern neuroscience equates mind with the organ we call the brain, an astounding network more than 100 billion neurons connected in a vast complicated web. The presenters will help us puzzle out how the brain is organized and identify the seat of human memory. The question of understanding how the brain functions is rivaled by the question of how such a complex network of cells develops in the first place.

  38. 38

    @Dulcie:

    I just read the synopsis. WTF? My only comfort in this is that these type of people (if there are any of them left) will suffer a collective head explosion on Jan 20, 2009 and we will be rid of them at last.

  39. 39
    demimondian says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: There are lots of them left — and they won’t be much affected by their heads exploding.

    Think "Sarah Palin versus Sam Wurzelbacher".

  40. 40

    Dmsilev. Fair enough. I understand friction to be the following:

    1. Physically, friction is the force that resists relative motion between two objects in contact.

    2. Thermodynamically, friction is that mechanism that converts kinetic energy (fission products and radiation) to heat.

    This is the heat which boils water and spins turbines. I do not know much about morel mushrooms except that an old girlfriend’s mom used to collect and sell them.

  41. 41
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    What are "viscous personal attacks"? Do they involve spraying motor oil on someone?

  42. 42
    pbfishtaco says:

    I love ‘In Our Time’. It’s like being a fly on the wall… at Cambridge University.

    I don’t always understand everything that’s discussed, but I definitely FEEL smarter when I’m done.

  43. 43

    It was pretty bad Comrade. In all kinds of ways, it basically boiled down to this with swear words.

  44. 44
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: That website’s pretty strange, BOB.

  45. 45
    bcwbcw says:

    @JGabriel:

    This is false: a wingnut and information can not occupy the same point in space.

  46. 46

    Sometimes I believe we really are living it Comrade.

  47. 47
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Janet Strange: The BBC’s podcasts are only up for seven days, which is annoying. (They don’t vanish once you’ve downloaded them, but they aren’t available any more from the site.) Email [my nym, no spaces]@gmail.com and I’ll hook you up.

  48. 48
    Gravenstone says:

    face/palm

    One of these days I’ll learn to stop reading BOB. I swear I lose IQ points each time I inflict his ramblings upon myself. Maybe I’m just indulging a latent masochistic tendency…

  49. 49
    Lee says:

    Fighting against the autism crazies

    I cannot agree more with this paragraph

    Many doctors now argue that reporters should treat the antivaccine lobby with the same indifference they do Holocaust deniers, AIDS deniers and those claiming to have proof that NASA faked the Moon landings.

    I would also include the creationists (and regularly do when talking about them).

  50. 50
    Jon H says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: " (They don’t vanish once you’ve downloaded them, but they aren’t available any more from the site.) "

    In Our Time’s website does have an archive of old episodes that can be streamed, but not downloaded. I imagine there are programs that would let you record the stream as an MP3 you could store on your computer.

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