Author Topic: Episode #602  (Read 225 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #602
« on: January 21, 2017, 12:29:38 PM »
Interview with James Randi; Forgotten Superheroes of Science: Dorothy Andersen; News Items: E-Waste, IBM Predicts Future Tech, Returning to the Moon, Two Trillion Galaxies; Who’s That Noisy; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide

Offline Gold

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2017, 01:55:59 PM »
Hmm...  Just like the premium episode for 601 (which is still showing a 404) episode 602 is also looking like it hasn't been uploaded yet.

I'm wondering if Steve has a script that does all this and something has changed at the hosting end for the premium content that is preventing the uploads.
(include witty truism here)

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2017, 05:31:08 PM »
I've never heard Alzheimer's as old timers before. But maybe that's a native language thing.

Offline esperto

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2017, 05:56:05 PM »
So it isn't just for me, that's a relief.

I'm getting error 404 for both ad-free episodes #601 and #602.

Is there anyway to get their attention about this issue, I've sent and notice via the contact form last week but didn't get any answer back.
nasci pelado careca e sem dente, o que vier é lucro.

Online daniel1948

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2017, 06:58:53 PM »
Yep. Me, too. Episode 602 gets error 404, "file not found." I listened to the regular version instead. I don't mind the ads. I subscribe to support the show, not just to get the ad-free version.

Comments on the show:

I think it was Steve who jokingly asked Cara if she got her dog's genes tested to see if she was related to her dog. Cara is most definitely related to her dog. We are all related to Cara's dog. I mean, we share 50% of our genes with a mushroom, for crissakes. 

On the predictions from Microsoft: I think we will have technologies to do a lot of that stuff, and they may involve very big expert systems operating on very fast computers, but I don't think they'll be anything a reasonable person would call "intelligent." I think that in a decade the mainstream will have recognized that true artificial intelligence is beyond our grasp and will have settled for better expert systems.

There was a comment that something was "ten times fewer" or "ten times less" than something else. That's, IMO, very poor choice of words. I think what was meant was that it would be one tenth as much. When you mean one tenth, don't say "ten times fewer." That construction is just abysmally awkward.

On climate change: The problem, and I've said this before, is that the people in position to make the decisions have a very short time horizon. A 70-year-old man is just not likely to want to spend money now to avert a disaster in 20 years. You invest money when you're young, to have when you're old. When you're old you spend your savings to enjoy your retirement. Obviously, not everyone is callous about the future, but by and large a government of rich old men is not going to want to spend money on a problem they perceive as hitting after they're dead. Especially when they make bucketloads of money contributing to the problem.

I got SoF wrong. I thought that if we did stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere, the warming would level off and stop worsening in a decade or a few decades.
"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2017, 07:26:45 PM »
Good thing there's a minimum age on being eligible for president and congress, but not a maximum age.

By "Good thing" I mean "Why is it the case that", and by "." I mean "? I get that there has to be some minimum, but maybe 35 (for president) is a bit high. Or if we're going to be that concerned about the age, maybe there are a number of other qualifiers that should be there as well, like not being funded by special interest groups, or not being funded by private money at all. Elections should be publicly funded. And at least as important as people having the experience of age, is there being a broad variety of experiences and backgrounds among the representatives. Which doesn't seem to be the case now.".

Offline mddawson

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2017, 07:59:47 PM »
One potential benefit of a Trump presidency might be renewed interest in a US moon base. Just show Trump an artist's impression of the Trump Interstellar Hotel located on the moon.  ;D
"I only take scientific comments when they are peer-reviewed rather than being published in a small local newspaper or scratched on a toilet wall somewhere."
Professor Peter Brown (2005).

Offline bachfiend

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2017, 08:03:38 PM »
Well, the reason why humans haven't been back to the Moon since the '70s is because it's very very expensive to fake Moon landings....

I had my dog DNA tested to determine her breed.  The Animal Refuge thought she was a Staffie cross kelpie, but the DNA testing came back 100% confident that she is a full breed Australian cattle dog.

I'm a little doubtful.  DNA testing is only as good as the data base.  She really doesn't look like the pictures of ACDs I've seen (although many of the pictures of ACDs differ markedly from each other too).

Offline lonely moa

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #8 on: Today at 12:23:56 AM »
I sort of couldn't believe that the Rogues didn't know that Svante Arrhenius published his thesis in 1896.  I thought every thinking person knows this.  Guess not.
“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.”

Garrison Keillor

Offline Gravity Allen

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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #9 on: Today at 02:34:08 AM »
In last week's Who's That Noisy, Jay et al. spent some time wondering out loud about whistled languages, and hoped someone might write in to answer some of their questions. And someone did! Alas, my e-mail didn't make it onto the show. So my response won't have been entirely in vain, I thought I'd post the body of it here, for anyone who might have been interested in learning more. ;)

First, it looks like they aren't exactly languages, per se, so much as they are registers -- versions of a language spoken in specific contexts, like the formal and informal varieties of English that speakers use in different social settings, maybe involving different vocabulary choices. What the Silbo Gomero -- "the Gomeran whistle" -- does is encode and transmit (via whistle) certain important aspects of the spoken language, meaning it doesn't really have an existence independent of ordinary speech.

To understand the advantage of whistling over speaking, you need to know a little something about what makes speech comprehensible in the first place. When you bring together your vocal folds, which are the membranes stretched across the opening inside your larynx (or voice box), and force the air out of your lungs, you generate an oscillation in them via the Bernoulli effect. As they come together and move apart, you can either tighten or loosen them, modulating the frequency of your voice. This frequency corresponds to the pitch of your voice, and plays many roles, including relative emphasis (a stressed syllable has a higher pitch than an unstressed one), communicating age or gender (on average, a young woman will speak with a higher pitch than an older man), and asking questions (think about ending a sentence with a rising intonation).

But what actually makes speech intelligible, and lets us convey complex ideas, is the way we filter the sound generated by our voice box. When our vocal folds vibrate, they do so not only at some fundamental frequency, but at whole-number multiples of that frequency. So, if I produced a sound at 100 Hz, I would also be producing sound at 200 Hz, 300 Hz, et cetera. These are the harmonics of human speech. And depending on how you configure your tongue (and your teeth, and your lips), you either amplify or dampen certain harmonics, in ways that are characteristic to each configuration. In other words, the sound that finally comes out of your mouth is marked with he signature of the shape your mouth was in when it was produced. To grossly oversimplify things, an /i/ sound ("eeeee") amplifies higher harmonics, while an /u/ sound ("ooooo") amplifies lower ones. We tell apart vowels by how our mouths effect the harmonics (consonants are a little more complicated, relating to harmonic transitions).

And like you guys said, lower frequencies travel farther than higher ones, since higher frequencies lose energy more quickly. Moreover, harmonics are always quieter than the fundamental frequency. So, the qualities that make speech speech are represented in high frequencies at a low volume. This kind of information can't carry very far at all, because it starts off quiet, and drops off fast as you move away from the source. I don't know how reliable Guinness World Records is generally considered, but they claim that the normal range of a man's voice outdoors is about 600 feet. In contrast, whistling can be heard for miles; I've heard numbers like 1-3 miles at the low end, and 7-10 miles at the high end. You could scream, but you'll strain your voice, and you're still starting off with a handicap: all the important stuff is still at a quieter, higher frequency, and so it just won't travel that far.

Ultimately, the reason whistled languages carry farther than speech is because, in encoding the sounds of a language in this way, you pour all your vocal energy into transmitting the information that actually matters. Recalling that it's what we do with the harmonics of speech that really makes the difference, more than the original fundamental frequency, the absolute frequency of the whistle corresponds directly to the harmonic frequencies that would normally allow you to tell apart an /i/ from an /u/. You can see how this works for yourself by placing your tongue where you'd normally put it to make an /i/ sound, and then whistling; you'll get a high pitched note. If you place your tongue where you would to make an /u/ sound, and then whistle, you'll get a low pitched note. So, speakers train themselves to speak and understand whistled speech by interpreting the changing frequencies of the whistle as the different speech sounds (both vowels and consonants). And with almost all your acoustic energy being dumped into the whistle, the key info ends up making it that much farther.

I'd be happy to expand on these points in more detail, or share more of what I learned researching whistled languages, if there's interest. :)


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Re: Episode #602
« Reply #10 on: Today at 07:56:37 AM »
I am also getting error 404 for both ad-free episodes #601 and #602.

I also sent and notice via the contact form last week but didn't get any answer back either.