Author Topic: Episode #582  (Read 3187 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #582
« on: September 03, 2016, 09:24:06 AM »
Interview with Seth Shostak; Forgotten Superheroes of Science:Peter Fleming; News Items: NASA One Year Mars Simulator, Muscle Confusion, Biofuels Study, Building Solar Panels on the Moon; Who’s That Noisy; What’s the Word: Glycolysis; Your Questions and E-mails: Exoplanet Gravity; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline lonely moa

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2016, 03:14:34 PM »
I'd think that the fuel used to cultivate, harvest and transport corn for ethanol is one contributor.  Manufacture, transport and application of fertiliser is another contributor.  There is a lot of carbon released when the soil is disturbed drilling.   Permanent pasture is a much better way to sequester carbon and provide sustenance for humans. 
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Warren Zevon

Offline lonely moa

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2016, 03:20:45 PM »
It's not a small percentage of people that regain the weight they lost from bariatric surgery.

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Conclusion: Weight regain was observed within 24 months after surgery in approximately 50% of patients. Both weight regain and surgical failure were higher in the superobese group. Studies in regard to metabolic and hormonal mechanisms underlying weight regain might elucidate the causes of this finding.

It isn't will power, Cara.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18392907
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Offline lonely moa

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2016, 03:25:45 PM »
I've been an athlete for fifty years, using both aerobic and resistance training; lots of progressive resistance.

I'd win the marshmallow race.  I might struggle with a blue sirloin, though.
"The home of the brave and the land of the free; the less you know, the better off you'll be"

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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2016, 03:42:28 PM »
I'd like to know how exactly they propose to transmit power from solar satellites down to the Earth. I'd imagine lasers, to keep the beam narrow enough to be contained within the receiver dish. But a satellite capable of transmitting that much energy in that narrow a beam would be dangerous, and possibly a potential weapon. And governments are not known for passing over any opportunity to make and use a new kind of weapon.

On the same news topic, self-replicating robots (to fabricate the panels on the moon) are at present science fiction. As Steve commented toward the end of the piece, all we have to do is invent an as-yet nonexistent technology and our problems will be solved. Or, in this case, invent that technology and the military will classify it in the name of national security and do its best to turn it into a weapon.
Daniel
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"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."
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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2016, 06:41:34 PM »
Naked gymnasts - I guess I thought this was well-known:

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The gymnasium in Ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked".
Amend and resubmit.

Offline bachfiend

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2016, 09:55:26 PM »
What I can't work out with manufacturing solar panels on the Moon is that first of all you'd need fuel to launch the newly manufactured solar panels from the Moon's surface to be dropped into the Earth's gravity well resulting in them moving at close to 11.2 km/sec or around 40,000 km/ hr when they've reached the near vicinity of the Earth and then slow them down to orbital velocity of around 25,000 km/hr.

Is it proposed to manufacture the fuel on the surface of the Moon too?  Perhaps hydrolysis of lunar water (although I can imagine better uses for that)?  Otherwise sending fuel from the surface of the Earth, landing it near the manufacturing sites and sending it back to near the Earth again would be extremely expensive.  Making the solar panels on the Earth and sending them into low Earth orbit would be simpler, and probably cheaper.

As an aside, as I was listening to the item in the interview about the enigmatic output of a particular star, with its 22% drops, a hypothetical and paranoid thought occurred to me - it's not due to a partially completed Dyson sphere around the star.  It's due to an enormous fleet of large starships between the Earth and the star, but much closer, on the way to invade the Earth.

Just suggesting, hypothetically...

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2016, 10:18:01 PM »
I'd like to know how exactly they propose to transmit power from solar satellites down to the Earth. I'd imagine lasers, to keep the beam narrow enough to be contained within the receiver dish. But a satellite capable of transmitting that much energy in that narrow a beam would be dangerous, and possibly a potential weapon. And governments are not known for passing over any opportunity to make and use a new kind of weapon.

On the same news topic, self-replicating robots (to fabricate the panels on the moon) are at present science fiction. As Steve commented toward the end of the piece, all we have to do is invent an as-yet nonexistent technology and our problems will be solved. Or, in this case, invent that technology and the military will classify it in the name of national security and do its best to turn it into a weapon.

The usual assumption is microwave transmission, which could be accomplished with beam intensities that, even at the center of the rectenna, could be kept within levels considered safe for occupational exposure.  Moreover, such systems could be built as a phased array requiring a pilot beam located at the center of the rectenna for focusing of the emitter.  Such a system would be physically incapable of focusing its beam anywhere but the source of the pilot beam, and failure of the pilot beam would instantly unfocused the transmission beam.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline bachfiend

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2016, 07:56:31 AM »
Actually, the distance from Marathon to Athens isn't 42.195 km (or 26 miles and 385 yards).  The marathon distance was standardised as 42.195 km for the 1924 Olympics in Paris based on the distance used in the 1908 Olympics in London for some reason or another (and it's suspected that the winner of the 1924 marathon didn't actually run 42.195 km having taken a few shortcuts using an intimate knowledge of Paris geography).

The Athens Marathon is still run from Marathon to the Olympic Stadium in Athens (in the sensible cooler month of November instead of August), but it includes a 2.2 km loop around the Marathon War Memorial at around 4 km in order to bring the distance up to 42.195 km.

There's a so-called Comrades Marathon in South Africa which is anything but, being around 87 km in even up years from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and less in the down odd years in the reverse direction (but I'm told that the shorter down marathon is harder than the longer uphill one - which I did once, and once is definitely enough - because there's more strain on the quadriceps muscles).  And its distance is variable - if there's any road works in progress on the course on the day with a detour, then the course is longer.  Tough luck.

It's always struck me as being unfair that the winner of the Olympic Marathon is lucky to win one gold medal, whereas a swimmer can, and often does, win multiple gold medals in different events including relays at different distances from 100 metres upwards.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2016, 09:04:16 AM »
I'd like to know how exactly they propose to transmit power from solar satellites down to the Earth. I'd imagine lasers, to keep the beam narrow enough to be contained within the receiver dish. But a satellite capable of transmitting that much energy in that narrow a beam would be dangerous, and possibly a potential weapon. And governments are not known for passing over any opportunity to make and use a new kind of weapon.

On the same news topic, self-replicating robots (to fabricate the panels on the moon) are at present science fiction. As Steve commented toward the end of the piece, all we have to do is invent an as-yet nonexistent technology and our problems will be solved. Or, in this case, invent that technology and the military will classify it in the name of national security and do its best to turn it into a weapon.

The usual assumption is microwave transmission, which could be accomplished with beam intensities that, even at the center of the rectenna, could be kept within levels considered safe for occupational exposure.  Moreover, such systems could be built as a phased array requiring a pilot beam located at the center of the rectenna for focusing of the emitter.  Such a system would be physically incapable of focusing its beam anywhere but the source of the pilot beam, and failure of the pilot beam would instantly unfocused the transmission beam.

Okay. So it could be done safely. But the military will build a version to be used as a weapon. Asimov's rules of robotics prohibit a robot from harming a human. But the first robots were self-guided missiles. We can propose safety procedures. But we cannot impose them on governments, whose first use of any technology is to make a weapon out of it if at all possible.

In this case I'm not too worried, though. I think the technology will not be available during my natural lifetime.
Daniel
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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2016, 09:51:32 AM »
I understand your concern, but I think the question of governments creating space-based beamed weapons platforms is quite independent of the question of orbital power transmission.  I'm quite sure that governments are working on such technologies and will eventually build them when they become feasible.  I don't think that developing orbital power stations will significantly advance that.

In a broader sense, though, I think the attitude you're expressing is not a good one.  There are many technologies that benefit our society but that can be used to wage war more efficiently and effectively.  Be it internal combustion engines, airplanes, ships, rockets, nuclear fission, modern logistics, computers, or even antibiotics. Suppressing such technologies is not, in my opinion, the correct solutionn to the problem of their misuse.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2016, 12:10:01 PM »
I understand your concern, but I think the question of governments creating space-based beamed weapons platforms is quite independent of the question of orbital power transmission.  I'm quite sure that governments are working on such technologies and will eventually build them when they become feasible.  I don't think that developing orbital power stations will significantly advance that.

In a broader sense, though, I think the attitude you're expressing is not a good one.  There are many technologies that benefit our society but that can be used to wage war more efficiently and effectively.  Be it internal combustion engines, airplanes, ships, rockets, nuclear fission, modern logistics, computers, or even antibiotics. Suppressing such technologies is not, in my opinion, the correct solutionn to the problem of their misuse.

You're probably right.

Again, I'm not too concerned because I think this technology is a long way off. In particular, the notion of using self-replicating robots on the moon to fabricate the panels assumes technologies that are not even yet on the horizon.
Daniel
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"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 Crash

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2016, 03:35:51 PM »
I think I know exactly where the carbon is coming from in the biofuel study.  Yeast metabolism.  I believe ethanol is still made using fermentation.  Ethanol is a waste product of yeast.  The other waste product is CO2.  Bakeries, breweries and other ethanol producers dump millions of tons of CO2 into the air.  I have heard estimates that ethanol only accounts for 10% of the original calories that were available in the substrate grain. 
 

Offline Rueful Rabbit

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2016, 04:28:07 PM »
The "Who's that noisy" answer reminded me of a hurdy-gurdy, which is also a stringed instrument bowed by a rotating wheel.  Are they related?

Offline Ron Obvious

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Re: Episode #582
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2016, 06:24:12 PM »
I'm sorry to say that I really detested that NFL (or was it college football?) ad.  I don't mind the tasteful, NPR-style ads read by the rogues themselves, but that was really jarring and annoying.  There's a reason I haven't been able to listen to commercial radio in decades, and it's the tone and loudness of ads that speak to you as though you were a moron.  Additionally, the vast majority of your listening audience outside the US couldn't give a crap about this.

Please, no more!  It was thoroughly beneath you and this show. I'm currently not in a position to become a contributing member, but I hope to be one day.

 

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