Author Topic: Episode #548  (Read 3723 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #548
« on: January 09, 2016, 11:56:01 AM »

Forgotten Superheroes of Science: Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green; News Items: FTC Smacks Down Lumosity, Picky Eaters, New Elements; Who’s That Noisy; What’s the Word: Fugacity; Name That Logical Fallacy: Learning Styles; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
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Offline dgiors

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2016, 02:55:06 PM »
LOL guys! Just minutes before listening to this episode I had set my thermostat... to 71 Fahrenheit.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2016, 04:10:41 PM »
Regarding to skeptical quote of the week by Dawkins, I agree with Dawkins' sentiment, and I don't think Evan defended it properly. Here is the full quote:

Quote from: Richard Dawkins
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?

In other words, it is about the unlikelihood of one existing due to the many ways DNA can end up in an individual. One's genetic heritage is not all of an individual, but I think it's fair to say that it is an essential part.

Below is Dawkins reading it, combined with fitting imagery. :)


Offline bachfiend

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2016, 06:38:27 PM »
I can't see any reason why a supernova explosion shouldn't produce transuranic elements, even in the hypothetical 'island of stability' with its conjectured million year long half lives.  In the 4.54 billion years of the solar system any element with such a short half life would well and truly have disappeared.

Anyway.  Both neptunium and plutonium both exist naturally as a result of natural fission of uranium-238 in uranium ore, with neutron capture by other U-238 atoms. 
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Offline Ambious

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2016, 07:10:42 PM »
I always set the volume in my home theatre to multiples of five. Anything else just seems wrong.
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Offline RMoore

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2016, 10:07:31 PM »
My personal OCD, part 1: When driving in my car, I set the volume to even numbers. I started out always setting it to 42 (the answer to the ultimate question, naturally), but that was sometimes too loud and sometimes too soft, so it evolved into 42 +/- 5, 42 +/- 10, etc. I would think of the volume in terms of how far from 42 it was. Soon I realized I wanted finer control, so I decided on 42 +/- any multiple of 2 -- in other words, even numbers, but I still think of it by distance from 42.

My personal OCD, part 2: Again in my car, I set the A/C thermostat to odd numbers. This is because the maximum setting is 85 and the minimum is 65, so I can include both extremes. I often set it to 71!

As far as my home thermostat, I don't seem to care. I set it long ago and don't think about it, unless I feel too hot or cold and decide to override it. Then I just bump it one, two, or three degrees (depending on how much adjustment I feel like I need). For the home entertainment, I usually use the remote to set the volume, and I can't read the display that well from the couch, so I'm not that aware. But if I get up and use the volume knob, I usually set it around either a multiple of 2 dB or 5 dB.

Offline RMoore

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2016, 10:15:28 PM »
Regarding life in globular clusters: I'm doubtful. The problem that came to mind was one of the ones mentioned -- that nearby stars would perturb planetary orbits too frequently. Ejecting a planet from a star's system is not necessary to screw up the evolution of advanced life forms -- it only needs to be perturbed so that it is out of the Goldilocks zone. Another possibility is more frequent collisions with asteroids or comets (assuming these exist in globular clusters), causing mass extinction events. With stars packed so tightly, such setbacks might happen every few million years, far more often than in systems such as ours. I haven't seen the study, but it seems like they are downplaying these possibilities too much.

Offline RMoore

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2016, 10:31:34 PM »
I can't see any reason why a supernova explosion shouldn't produce transuranic elements, even in the hypothetical 'island of stability' with its conjectured million year long half lives.  In the 4.54 billion years of the solar system any element with such a short half life would well and truly have disappeared.

Anyway.  Both neptunium and plutonium both exist naturally as a result of natural fission of uranium-238 in uranium ore, with neutron capture by other U-238 atoms.

When you think about it, ununoctium and other synthesized transuranic elements have *definitely* been produced in the aftermath of a supernova explosion -- because we are part of that aftermath. And if we are ever capable of producing a very heavy "island of stability element", then that will also be supernova aftermath.

Offline Aki

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2016, 06:39:33 AM »
"Globular clusters / are likely locations / for extraterrestrial / civilizations / Burma-Shave".

Why yes, I did register just to post that.

Offline God Bomb

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2016, 10:48:59 AM »
Pointing out that the proximity of stars in a globular cluster makes interstellar travel more easy seems moot.  The question is 'how likely is it that life is there?' not 'how advanced are they?'  Let's not put the cart before the horse.

Also I didn't really think Bob's point was addressed.  If first generation stars can't produce heavy elements in abundance but we are seeing rocky planets around these stars, doesn't this raise a hell of a lot of more pertinent questions?  Where are the heavier elements coming from?

Has anyone ever thought about what life on a goldilocks planet around a red dwarf star might be like?  The temperature would be OK, but are there any other factors that would make the planet inhospitable?  The wavelength of the light would be different, the sun would be much much closer, does this have an effect on tidal forces? Radiation?  I don't know enough to comment... maybe someone else does.


what is the opinion on transuranic elements here?  I've always considered them fairly uninteresting.  This island of stability doesn't seem very promising, even if they were hundreds of times more stable than their neighbors their existence would still be fleeting.  I see no reason to predict any magical properties either.  Suppose stability is possible, it would still be enormously expensive and inefficient to produce enough atoms to even study their chemistry.  Don't want to sound pessimistic but I think it's a dead end, we are like alchemists, half understanding the problem but lacking the technology to tackle it.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 10:56:06 AM by God Bomb »
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Offline mrsuperguy

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2016, 05:45:56 AM »
My personal OCD, part 1: When driving in my car, I set the volume to even numbers. I started out always setting it to 42 (the answer to the ultimate question, naturally), but that was sometimes too loud and sometimes too soft, so it evolved into 42 +/- 5, 42 +/- 10, etc. I would think of the volume in terms of how far from 42 it was. Soon I realized I wanted finer control, so I decided on 42 +/- any multiple of 2 -- in other words, even numbers, but I still think of it by distance from 42.

My personal OCD, part 2: Again in my car, I set the A/C thermostat to odd numbers. This is because the maximum setting is 85 and the minimum is 65, so I can include both extremes. I often set it to 71!

As far as my home thermostat, I don't seem to care. I set it long ago and don't think about it, unless I feel too hot or cold and decide to override it. Then I just bump it one, two, or three degrees (depending on how much adjustment I feel like I need). For the home entertainment, I usually use the remote to set the volume, and I can't read the display that well from the couch, so I'm not that aware. But if I get up and use the volume knob, I usually set it around either a multiple of 2 dB or 5 dB.

Holy crap!!! I thought I was the only one who did that!!! I'm not OCD or anything (I have weird quirks but but they don't disrupt my ability to function... I think) but I think i do things that are common in people with OCD.

Offline God Bomb

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2016, 06:28:51 AM »
everyone having "OCD" is so 2015 guys.  Nothing is more boring than listening to other people's irrational neuroses.
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Offline brilligtove

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2016, 10:49:56 AM »
My personal OCD, part 1: When driving in my car, I set the volume to even numbers. I started out always setting it to 42 (the answer to the ultimate question, naturally), but that was sometimes too loud and sometimes too soft, so it evolved into 42 +/- 5, 42 +/- 10, etc. I would think of the volume in terms of how far from 42 it was. Soon I realized I wanted finer control, so I decided on 42 +/- any multiple of 2 -- in other words, even numbers, but I still think of it by distance from 42.

My personal OCD, part 2: Again in my car, I set the A/C thermostat to odd numbers. This is because the maximum setting is 85 and the minimum is 65, so I can include both extremes. I often set it to 71!

As far as my home thermostat, I don't seem to care. I set it long ago and don't think about it, unless I feel too hot or cold and decide to override it. Then I just bump it one, two, or three degrees (depending on how much adjustment I feel like I need). For the home entertainment, I usually use the remote to set the volume, and I can't read the display that well from the couch, so I'm not that aware. But if I get up and use the volume knob, I usually set it around either a multiple of 2 dB or 5 dB.

Holy crap!!! I thought I was the only one who did that!!! I'm not OCD or anything (I have weird quirks but but they don't disrupt my ability to function... I think) but I think i do things that are common in people with OCD.

I didn't think I had any particular OCD type behaviours until reading this.
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Offline Crash

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2016, 12:36:43 PM »
One thing the Rogues seemed to have missed during the discussion of learning styles is that some teachers and others have a hard time describing concepts in a way that can be easily understood. The fault for not understanding is not with the listener but with the speaker.   I think there is such a thing as a "teaching disability".   Some people just can't seem to get the point across no matter how wordy. 
  I encounter it frequently in design/architectural portion of the building trades.  No matter how hard someone tries to explain a visualization, it is often much easier to draw a sketch to get to the point.   

Offline Friendly Angel

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Re: Episode #548
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2016, 12:39:02 PM »

I didn't think I had any particular OCD type behaviours until reading this.

Do we have enough material for an OCD thread?

I don't do any of these things.  But I remember in high school when I was taking a typing class (yes real typewriters!) somehow I got an OCD of typing out words in my head.  So I'd hear a word, and I would type it in my mind over and over again - my fingers mentally (and sometimes physically) going through the motion that would be required... and the only thing that would get me to stop is hearing another word and I'd switch words  words   words   words words... oh crap crap crap crap.
Amend and resubmit.

 

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