Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conspiracy Skeptic,

Think water is refreshing, but not the best medicine-- turns out lots of Brits agree.  Go to the see what they are up to and give them some love at the 10.23 Campaign.

This week on the Conspiracy Skeptic Karl Mamer interviews Stuart Robbins, graduate astronomy student, and CS’s own "Phil Plait" updating topics discussed on Robbins two earlier appearances.

When the Robbins was interviewed earlier on the moon landing hoax, the latest photos of the lunar surface had not been imaged and transmitted to Earth. The latest images are of the various Apollo landing sites, some of which reveal the footpaths and rover trails left by the Astronauts while they roamed the lunar regolith. Basically, Robbins indicated that while some more less ardent lunar landing deniers might be convinced by the images that the landing did indeed occur, predictably the more hardcore deniers simply deny the authenticity of the images. Robbins also engaged in an interesting discussion that if some of the accusations of the deniers are true, then fundamental parts of science/technology in general cannot be true. He used the experiment of taking a picture of the moon at night from your backyard, and if you properly expose the camera for the moon the stars will not show in the picture. However, if you expose the image to get the stars onto the image the moon will be over exposed. The same holds true on taking images on the moon, but deniers use the lack of star in the images as evidence of them being a hoax.  Something has to give, right?

Mamer and Robbins also discussed an update to the impending end of the world in 2012, and interestingly many fundamentalist Christian groups link to Robbins website to calm the fears of their flock that the world will not end in 2012. I suppose it is not verified by the bible, so it is not considered canon for the end times. Robbins discusses how a lot of what is on his site contradicts many of the theological disagreements these same sites have with science.  He pointed out the obvious disconnect that on the one hand his site is just fine to buttress the proposition that the end is not nigh, but wrong that the Earth is a lot older than 6,000 years.  The science is the science.

Robbins discussed the recent Russian announcement that they are making plans to deal with the Aphosis asteroid which the Russians seemed to be implying was due to hit the Earth in a few decades, but which most other astronomers considered to be an extremely unlikely event. It may be that the Russians were using this more as a rallying cry to do some planning just in case we have an actual threat someday, and the press reported it inaccurately. The Russians could be cranks.

Mamer also had Robbins discuss a new supernova threat from a star which we have know for some time will someday go Supernova, but a new study that has been present but not yet peer review and published places the star about a third closer than earlier estimates. If the star is where the earlier estimates state and the star goes BOOM, life is Earth is going to be fine unless you are an astronaut in space, then it’s sorry Charlie. However, if the star is closer than originally thought, it’s sorry Charlie for life on the planet. Luckily, even under the worse case scenario nothing is expected to occur for a good long time, or at least not before the next season of Mad Men returns.

As always Mamer proved an excellent and studied host, and gabbed easily with his guest. There were plenty of dungeon and dragon references, most of which I did not remember as I have not played DD since middle school, but it was fun to hear nevertheless. There was an interesting discussion as to why events that will someday snuff out life on Earth a billion or so years hence cause people alive now so depressed.  Robbins revealed he enjoys getting his share of woo from Coast to Coast AM, and he is a connoisseur of chocolate. (Not the Hershey variety, but I'll let that pass.)  They also discussed Robbin's studies to verify the conclusions of the global consciousness project, which so far he has not been able to replicate. Mamer made a statement that Robbins skeptical work on the global consciousness project could land him an interview on the SGU. This struck me.  An interview on the SGU has the same cache to the skeptical community as landing a gig on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson used to have with entertainers. If find yourself on the SGU then you know you’ve made it.

Robbin is a good recurring guest host. As you can see, the episode did not go into depth with any singular topic, but it was an enjoyable to listen.

Lady Whitehall and I are on vacation next week, and we'll be getting ready to depart this weekend, so this is likely my last post for a week or so ‘cause I’m going to the colorful Disney World! I have been lucky enough to have a rising skeptical star kindly agree to guest post in my absence.  I have no doubt one or more insightful and entertaining posts will be shared.  Don’t forget to check in during the coming days.

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